Whenever he has talked to reporters this offseason, Chip Kelly has been hesitant to put a label on his defense.
And for good reason. He just got them out on the field for the first time last week, and the roster won’t be complete until the draft is over.
While we should gain some clarity on scheme after the Eagles make their selections, it’s worth taking note of what the team is telling prospects.
For example, Florida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd joined Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic today and was asked if he would be miscast in a classic 3-4.
“I know I’m disruptive in a 4-3, but the package the Eagles run is the hybrid 3-4, which is a 4-3 in a sense,” Floyd said. “It’s just the outside linebacker walks out. So it’s not a bad deal. It’s still a 4-3, but it looks like a 3-4 front. It’s more of an under front, and we did that at Florida. We did the 3-4, we did the 4-3, and we also ran under. So it’s all the same, just a walk-down linebacker. That’s all it is.”
Back in February, we discussed some of the intricacies of the 4-3 under. And Greg Cosell of NFL Films recently wrote a Yahoo Sports column about the differences between a true 3-4 and a 3-4 look with 4-3 principles.
A true 3-4 is a two-gap scheme, Cosell explains:
The supposition with 3-4 fronts has always been it’s a “2-gap” scheme, with the two defensive ends aligned directly over the offensive tackles, and the nose tackle head up on the center. The term “2-gap” derives from their responsibilities as run defenders. All three of those defensive linemen are responsible for two gaps along the line of scrimmage. They do not penetrate through a single gap at the snap of the ball; rather, they stalemate the blocker in front of them, at the same time reading where the back is going. They are accountable for the gap to each side of their respective offensive lineman. Once the back declares, the defensive linemen ideally shed their blockers and get to the ball.
That’s where the question arose with Floyd. His strength is bursting into the backfield and creating disruption. In the two-gap 3-4 described above, that strength would be negated.
But given what he said, I’m not ready to rule out guys like Floyd or even Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson as bad scheme fits. They both seem versatile enough to be potential options. Floyd could play DE in a 3-4, and he and Fletcher Cox would form an impressive duo in four-man fronts.
As for the 4-3 under, Floyd or Cox could potentially line up as the weak-side defensive tackle (3-technique), and maybe the other plays strong-side DE (5-technique). There’s also the strong possibility that the Eagles will use some kind of rotation on defense.
It’s only April, and there would be plenty of details to work out. And admittedly, we’re just guessing here. But if Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are off the board, and the Eagles are committed to taking the best player available, Floyd’s name should probably be in the conversation with guys like Oregon OLB Dion Jordan, Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson and Utah DT Star Lotulelei.
Answers will come soon enough.