Eagles Wake-Up Call: Prepping For the 3-4

There is a good chance the Eagles switch over to a 3-4 under Chip Kelly — a sizable project in what will turn out to be a rather extensive remodeling effort this offseason.

Kelly hasn’t publicly committed to the transition, and perhaps it would be best to officially have a defensive coordinator in place before doing so. But there is a sense that he would like to make the move.

According to Howie Roseman, the team’s preparations for such a change predate Kelly coming on board.

“What we do when we have have our meetings is make sure we are talking about guys in different schemes,” said Roseman. “As you can see, Andy [Reid] went to a 3-4 in Kansas City and he’s always talking about versatility. In the last year or two we’ve been talking about getting versatile players. When we have our first meetings in December we’re making sure that we’re talking about them in both schemes on defense and what they can do in different schemes so that if we were to make a transition, we could do that more readily.”

Fletcher Cox is a perfect example of what Roseman is talking about. Most seem to believe he could move outside in a 3-4 and do very well. But not everyone comes off as a natural fit. How would Trent Cole and Brandon Graham fare, for example? Graham is on record as saying that he would welcome the chance to take his fist out of the dirt, but could he realistically cover well enough? How would Vinny Curry do?

There are questions to work through. It can be done, but it will take some tweaking to get it right. Some pieces will need to be added (tackle sticks out in particular), some subtracted.

And what of DeMeco Ryans? He was arguably the Eagles’ best defensive player last season, but part of the Texans’ reasoning for shipping him to Philadelphia had to do with him not fitting in a 3-4. Kelly needs to figure out how much truth there is in that.

“He’s a good player,” said Roseman of Ryans. “Good players play in any scheme — they are able to adjust — and DeMeco is a good player.”

Kelly says he hasn’t watched enough film to determine whether the team has what it take to make the change, and make it somewhat painlessly. It will be interesting to see just how deep the reshaping will go if and when he pulls the trigger.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Will Kelly alter his practices now that he’s in the bigs? Sheil takes a look.

Gus Bradley talked about the crazy stir he caused for a moment in Philly.

Oregon lineman Kyle Long takes us inside a Chip Kelly teaching moment.

Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel wants to play for Kelly.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Speaking of Manuel, a recent mock draft done by Peter Schrager of Fox Sports boldly has the Florida State QB going seventh overall.

By the time the Senior Bowl, the combine, and all the pre-draft second, third, and fourth guessing is done — EJ Manuel will leap over Matt Barkley, Tyler Bray, Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib and all the rest of the other quarterbacks ranked above him on other mock drafts. Bruce Arians is going to bring a new and innovative offense to Arizona, and though the offensive line needs to be addressed, Arians goes with a quarterback and a fresh new start in the desert. Manuel has the height, athleticism, experience, and  leadership to be a great quarterback in this league. Seeing all the new wrinkles, formations, and possibilities he used in Indianapolis and what other coordinators did in Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco this season — Manuel is the guy. I could be wrong — I’ve been wrong many times before — but I like the Florida State kid’s game in the pros more than Geno Smith or Matt Barkley’s.

Jim Washburn talked to the Detroit Free Press about landing a gig with the Lions, and his time in Philly.

Washburn, who’s not coaching with the Lions in the Senior Bowl, as he recovers from shoulder-replacement surgery, spent the last two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles but was fired in December, during their 4-12 season.

He said he was happy to be in a place where the focus is on football again.

“I enjoyed my time with the Eagles, but, wow, it’s different,” he said. “Just wasn’t a good fit. But this is a perfect fit.”

COMING UP

More Senior Bowl coverage live from Mobile.

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