Eagles Wake-Up Call: Midterm Grades (Defense)

barwin_400_103013We went over the offense on Tuesday. Now here’s a look at how the defense grades out through the first half of the season.

Defensive line: B-

This group has shown more improvement than any other on the team from Week 1 to Week 8. And defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro deserves credit for that.


Cedric Thornton is playing lights-out on a weekly basis and leads all Eagles D-Linemen with 45 tackles. Fletcher Cox has really come on as of late and has three sacks to go along with a team-high 15 hurries (no other Eagle has more than seven). Isaac Sopoaga was a non-factor, but players like Clifton Geathers on the second team are starting to show flashes.

Opponents are averaging 3.7 YPC vs. the Eagles. Only five teams have posted a lower number.

Outside linebacker: C

Connor Barwin has three sacks and a team-high 4.5 tackles for loss. He's been great against the run and had some good moments as a pass-rusher.

Trent Cole has done his best to embrace his new role, but he has no sacks and five hurries on the season. Cole plays with great effort, but in the 3-4, the Eagles need more pass-rushing production from their outside linebackers.

Brandon Graham has been a rotational player and has one sack and three hurries. He clearly looked more comfortable as a pass-rusher in last year's 4-3.

Inside linebacker: C-

DeMeco Ryans has been very good against the run and leads the team with 94 tackles. He's notched a pair of sacks and an interception too. Ryans, however, has had issues in coverage.

Mychal Kendricks has not made the second-year leap and has lacked consistency, although he played well last week vs. the Giants. He has the athletic skills to be a great cover linebacker, but has yet to put it all together.

The Eagles are 23rd in the league at covering opposing tight ends, per Football Outsiders.

Cornerbacks: C

Bradley Fletcher has been targeted quite a bit and is second in the NFL with 12 passes defensed, according to STATS, Inc. That's not to say he's been perfect. Fletcher has given up his share of completions, but he keeps receivers in front of him and competes.

Cary Williams has been up and down. He's not a shut-down corner, but is physical and a sure tackler. Williams had probably his best game of the season last week against the Giants. 

Brandon Boykin has been solid as the nickel.

Safety: D

This is an overall grade, and early on the safeties were a disaster, but they've definitely improved. Nate Allen is playing a lot better than he was at the beginning of the season. Earl Wolff has been up and down. He's willing to get physical and has had some nice moments in man coverage, but still gets lost at times.

The safeties are instructed to keep everything in front of them. That has led to issues with slants and other underneath routes. But they've done a good job limiting damage from the deep ball.

WHAT YOU MISSED

An All-22 look at what's going on with the Eagles' offense right now.

An animated Chip Kelly offered up some interesting thoughts about why he's not focused on the future at quarterback.

One national writer wonders whether Kelly could be fired after one year. Really.

T-Mac tackles a variety of issues in his Twitter Mailbag.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Chris Burke of SI.com has the Eagles 28th in his power rankings:

Movie: Re-Animator

IMDB plot summary: "A dedicated student at a medical college and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue when an odd new student arrives on campus."

Why it fits: Bizarre experiments! Odd new student! There was no other choice for Year 1 of the Chip Kelly saga.

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com weighs in on Jason Peters in his game review:

A bad omen on Sunday happened on the 2nd play of the game. Peters pulled to the inside and went to block the MLB. Jon Beason knocked Peters back. When 240 beats 340…not a good sign. Beason then tackled Shady and only gave up a yard. A better block and Shady gets at least 5 yds. Failed to get good block on JPP on 3rd Qtr run to his side. Let JPP go inside and that limited Brown to a yard. Peters did a good job in pass pro.

COMING UP

Another day of practice at NovaCare. We'll have you covered. And it's Birds 24/7 on 97.5 The Fanatic tonight from 6 to 7. Stop by Smiths in Center City and say hello.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • Will

    I’d Give the Defense an Overall grade of a C at 3-5. I think you gotten the most out of these current player’s. It’s time to get new player’s on the roster and to finally part ways with the mediocre to vastly improve this team. Please start with the secondary which is 32nd or dead last in passing yards given up. That’s upgrades to LB’s, CB’s and especially Safeties cause what we have isn’t cutting it. We are blessed to have the right Coaches and schemes in place now that are very effective when executed properly no excuses. It is up to the player’s to execute and to the Coaches to eradicate guys who are just mediocre to have the best team possible out on the field.

    • DirtyWaters

      I agree. We all knew this wasn’t a one year fix. I’m pleased with where we’re at now. Foundation is laid. Let’s build the house.

      • Will

        Yup 2-3 seasons to flip the roster and get Chips guys in here.

        No that’s football Waiver’s apply to all veterans released….. BGN article here’s a link…hope that clears the matter up for you…get to stepp’in Howie lot’s of work for you…

        http://www.bleedinggreennation

        The Eagles will have a decent shot at claiming some quality talent as the season moves forward.

        The NFL trade deadline has come and gone. For several NFL teams, players that they wanted to trade but could not get value for could now be subject to waivers. The league has already seen the practice used by the Ravens on Wednesday when they waived veterans Michael Huff and Marcus Spears. Despite being “vested veterans,” both will be subject to the waiver wires due to the end of the trade deadline.

        More: Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter
        Prior to the deadline, all veterans with four or more years of experience would simply be released and automatically become free agents. With trades no longer eligible, those veterans are now at the mercy of the waiver wire with the Jaguars and Raiders sitting pretty to collect. For the Eagles, this is not necessarily a bad thing. With a 3-4 record and last year’s struggles, Philadelphia is positioned well for the veterans released by teams.

        Over the next few days, the teams around the league are likely to drop unwanted talent, so it will be Howie Roseman’s job to search through the trash to find some treasure.

    • justin

      No love for Demeco’s int? Or the fact that he repeatedly makes plays in the backfield. What about Conner Barwin’s int? Our guys are better than the stats you posted. Our offense just ain’t helping them out.

      • Will

        Barwin, Ryans,Boykin,and Fletcher would keep add the rest…

  • nicksaenz1

    Sheil, instead of Football Outsiders, do you think we could consider using ESPN’s fantasy rankings for standard scoring leagues? Football Outsiders is a nice resource, but often gives an incomplete assessment.

  • Andy124

    Off Topic, but anybody watch the 6ers last night?

    I’m not much of a basketball fan, but MCW looked amazing. He might make me start watching basketball again. My wife will kill me. Hopefully that game was just an anomaly, because their lose for lottery balls plan didn’t look too likely last night.

    • cliff henny

      MCW! anyway we can get Hinkie to do double duty!??!!?

    • Adam

      That was unreal.

    • Token

      Yea they cant even lose right.

      The last thing the Sixers need is to win games. They desperatly need the 1st or 2nd pick to get a franchise player. Best case scenario is the Pelicans also end up with a pick between 6-10. That would be awesome.

      Great first game for MCW though. If he ends up being a real player thats great. But for this season they gotta lose.

      • theycallmerob

        Yes, because the Bobcats have proven that being terrible for a year is a sure way to get better quick.
        They’re 1-0. Long year. And being the worst does not guarantee the first pick anyway. I think when it’s all said and done, they’ll end up with 2 Top-10 picks (+ a good coach and smart GM). If only every team in Philly were so lucky.

        • Richard Colton

          Rob, the 76ers are 1-0. By the rules of Philly Fan-dom, they are the greatest team in the history of sport. Their point guard is a consensus lock for MVP/Rookie of the Year. When Noel finishes his redshirt year and they get two high draft picks next year, their championship run will make the Celtics and Lakers blush.

          • theycallmerob

            my apologies, been awhile since I was interested in bball. I just don’t get how Token can be grumpy so early in the morning.

          • Andy124

            they are the greatest team in the history of sport. Their point guard is a consensus lock for MVP/Rookie of the Year. When Noel finishes his redshirt year and they get two high draft picks next year, their championship run will make the Celtics and Lakers blush.
            ^This, but without the sarcasm.

          • Richard Colton

            hope springs eternal

        • Basscase

          Good coach + smart GM combo is so rare in the NBA these days. You can still be good and set yourself up for the future without having to tank your season. I never understood the mentality of “lose now so we can win later”. After umpteen years of losses, when do you say “enough”?

        • Token

          They need a top two pick. Thats the only way to become a contender in the NBA. You need to draft that franchise caliber star. Then you can attract other FAs.

          The Sixers are terrible, so im not that worried about it.

          The GM seems to know exactly what hes doing.

          If MCW is actually a player and they end up with two top 10 picks…..in addition to Noel next year. You could say theyd be in the best situation of any team in the city.

          I just hope all these kids come out this year. We could be looking at 1-3 franchise type players and really good players throughout the top 10.

      • cliff henny

        just 1 game. Heat took thm lightly, mean, 19-0 run to start was bit of a give-away. MCW can play, i had my doubts. doubt we’ll see 4-6 from 3′s too many more times, but he has 2 yrs to get that down. but his all court game, saw glimpses at Syracuse.
        .
        plus, Noel can flat out play. doesnt matter he’s pencil thin. has a yr to fatten up. hopefully taking 1000 12-15 footers while knee heals.

        • Token

          MCW isnt a good shooter. Last night was pretty strange for that reason. His defense looked really good.

          Noel and MCW both have to work on their shot. Noel is getting his completly rebuilt this year from what I hear. His frame will never be a huge guy. But he can get stronger for sure.

          Interesting team if the ping pong balls fall right.

          • cliff henny

            enough guys, not worried. any of the top 4, with another top 10, mcw and noel, plus crazy cap space. by ’16, sixers could be a force. about time…probably the worst run frachise for past 30 yrs. amazing what happens when you get guys that obviously knw what they are doing

          • GEAGLE

            Things may be tough this year but Brett brown is a godsend,,,first coach we had since before Larry brown with the patience and ability to actually develope young players….they will play an entertaining brand of ball this year but lose…but this time next year we will be looking at a roster that’s 10 deep wih young athletic talent, in Brett browns nurturing loving, mentoring arms…MCW isn’t a good shooter, but his shot isn’t broke either, Brett is one of the best shooting coaches in the game…we will have a bright future next year when Brett is developing a young roster like:
            MCW
            Wayne Seldon (the next James harden…watch)
            Wiggins or Randle
            Nerlens Noel
            James Anderson
            Tony Wroten
            Arnette Moultrie
            Orton aka baby Mahorn
            Doug McDermott or Hezonja… We will get a 3rd 1st rd pick from a contender at the deadline
            Darius Morris

            2015 draft will also provide some studs, and we will add ATleast one more top 8 talent….
            ….
            Things will get ugly this year, but 365 days from now we will be looking at a promising young roster to develope

          • cliff henny

            Brown sold me with getting rid of the long 2…and not 1 dribble handoff last night. like wroten and Orten, might be servicable bench guys.
            .
            should sell baby t-rex arms Turner tonight! he actually got his shot off, but miami is all that long.

          • GEAGLE

            We will earn a great draft pick this year by being bad…we won’t be as bad next year, but we are going to be sooooo YOUNG that we will still end up in these lottery…who knows, if we can have some crazy lottery luck next year, and end up in these top two like we did the year we got Evan Tuner, then our roster becomes scary when you add a FORCE at center in Jhalil Okafor or a power forward with Nowitski type skills in Towns Jr…Brett brown is connected to Australia, and you KNOW he would love to land Dante Exum…
            ..
            It’s crazy to say, but sixers have the brightest future in philly
            ..
            It’s crucial that while we lose games this years, Hawes ET and Thad inflate their states because they will all be moved at the deadline…ideally we can get a 3rd first round pick from a contender for 2014, a first round pick in 2015, and a young but skilled player who needs time to develope burries on the bench on a contender who wants to go all in and win a championship adding an ET, Hawes or Thad for their bench at the deadline…for example Harrison Barnes from the warriors, Jeremy lamb from the Thunder, even a Greg Monroe from the pistons…

            Thad, ET, and Hawes alone won’t be good enough to get us all that compensation, however we have the cap space to absorb bad contracts to free up cap space for contenders and that’s a very valuable trade commodity…

            So while Thad young wouldn’t be enough to get you Jeremy lamb and the thunders late first round pick, if you take back a bad contract that won’t come off the books for two years! the deal could be manageable..the fact that Hawes and ET contracts expire at the end of the year make them way more valuable then they would normally be..

            We have all the cap space in the world, but we aren’t going to be signing expensive FA,,,The cap space is here as a trade Chip to take back bad contracts which is such a valuable Chip in today’s NBA…teams will give you a draft pick just to take one of their high paid bad players…after the 2015 draft, when we have a very talented young roster in place, that’s when we will start to sign free agents because that’s when we will know what we still need, and that’s when we become attractive enough to get better players than Brand or Josh smith to sign with us.

          • cliff henny

            figured it’d be pretty hard to lure top free agent till after ’13 and ’14 class play a yr or 2 together. heck, if get the right players, might not even need FA.
            .
            so you think turner, young and hawes will be traded for bad contract (agree, i think so too) and young players? thought it would be combo of contract and pick, especially if a contender had a previous pick in hand that could get in 10-15 range. havent looked, wonder if anyone has that asset?

          • GEAGLE

            I think all 3 will be traded at the deadline.

            Thad ALWAYS has value to a contenders bench. like picture how valuable he could be on the bench of a good team like the thunder and his contract isn’t bad,,,A team like the thunder who is sick of getting close, and wants to go all in, could give you a talented young player who needs a few years for Thad who provides immediate help, especially since Thad is still so young…Sto Thad straight up can get you a talented young kid who won’t help a team for a while..if you take another bad player or two with a bad contract or two like Jason Richardson, then they would also have to give up a draft pick..

            Even if ET and Hawes sucked so bad that the team trading for them wouldn’t even play them! they have value because they are expiring contracts. the fact that a contender could free up cap trading for an expiring contract who will also help during their championship run, becomes even more valuable….and like I said, if you are also willing to take bad contracts back, the value increases drastically…

            We have 3 valuable chips that ii believe we will cash in at the deadline…we won’t get three 2014 first round picks, some will be a 2015 pick..but Hinkie knows exactly what he is doing…the NBA model is so screwed up, and Hinkie has taken advantage of it and put us in a fantastic position, providing plenty opportunities to improve,,.its insane to say that the sixers provide the most hope in the city, but it’s true….Brett isn’t stupid. he had options. He knew the roster sucked, but he knew how brilliantly Hinkie positioned us to get off the damn hampster wheel and build a real perennial contender…tip my pimp hat to the man :)

          • cliff henny

            not like sixers wont be back in lottery in ’15, most likely. get a 3rd top 15 pick this yr from one of those 3 guys, roll other 2 into ’15 picks and package again to get another lottery pick in ’15. nothing like fantasy gm’g, but after that jrue trade, wouldnt doubt hinkie. man, be some serious young ballers in philly

          • GEAGLE

            I wouldn’t put that past Hinkie at all..the guy is agressive and knows how to take advantage of the screwed up NBA model. He will maximize our assets and get good value in return, he won’t lock us into anything dumb…and the most important thing, is he isn’t ok with being the 8th seed in the playoffs. That is not acceptable to him, he would rather be bad and take a major loss in revenue….that tells us that he is Truley committed to getting us to the point where we are contending for a title every year

      • kellyspringles

        The pelican’s 1st round pick is a top ten protected pick – meaning that if they fall within 1-10, the sixers don’t get the pick…the pelican’s get to keep it.

        • GEAGLE

          Wrong! It’s top 5 protected,,,so the best pick we can get from them is the 6th….they lost last night, and the lost Ryan Anderson to injury for up to 3 weeks…they have a nice roster, but will need time to gel, and establish roles for all that talent…
          ……
          Whatever happens, Hinkie needs to find a way to parlay the pelicans pick into WAYNE SELDON….the kid is the next James harden….

          • cliff henny

            cant wait for college ball this yr. seldon eh? check him out while drooling all over wiggins. kentucky games will be must see too.

          • GEAGLE

            I’m going INSANE waiting for college season, aka “shopping for franchise players season”…
            ….
            We HAVE to get SELDON!!!! The kid will be special. I would love to keep him and Wiggins together with a long athlete like MCW distributing to them…those 3 give us crazy length on these perimeter, and 3 long, fantastic athletes in the backcourt..
            ..
            I don’t even care if we don’t get wiggins, as long as we get Seldon. A SF like Jabari Parker would be AWESOME with Seldon and MCW if we miss out on Wiggins,,,
            ….
            And I damn sure won’t complain about sticking Julius Randle and his excellent post scoring, and smooth step out jumper, right next to a defensive force like Nerlens…Commanding a double team in the post, kicking it out to Seldon as he BOMBS away!!!

            Normally it you miss out on these first pick, it’s the end of these world…this year, I couldn’t care less about missing out on number 1…heck if we get the first pick, I’d consider trading it to Charlotte who has 4 first round picks, I would give up the first pick for the 3rd and 11th picks in these drafts..I’d do that in a heartbeat…wiggins is awesome, but so are the other two..

            but Seldon is going to be special and will fall out of the top five because it’s so stacked…we have to parlay the pelicans pick into Seldon…worst case scenario. Hezonja baby ginobili…ideally we aquire a 3rd first round pick at the deadline and get both

          • cliff henny

            sixer’s will be top 4. team isnt deep, MCW will come back to earth and get rookie legs in a couple months, turner and young will be dumped, sixers are going to lose and lose alot. but glad these young guys got that victory taste, hopefully it’ll take them thru this season.
            .
            long as they get top 3 or 4, pelicans pick is just the cherry on top. sure turner and young will be converted into picks, wont be surprised if hinkie works a 3rd lottery pick in there. does Hawes carry any value? he might be decent as backup center for a contender.

          • GEAGLE

            Absolutely..we will def draft in The top 4…people will get crazy about last night, but we will certainly come back down to earth…we aren’t deep is an understatement lol…especially when we guys get dinged up and you have to play without ET, Hawes or Thad for two weeks

          • cliff henny

            win was nice, but the play of MCW was tremendous, obviously. he wont score like that, and the defense was helped miami does have true pg so he could freelance, but the rips and running the offense, that should be there game in game out. in just 1 game, him at 11 looks like a steal.

          • GEAGLE

            Nov 12 baby,,,Duke vs, Kansas. Parker and Hood vs. Wiggins and Seldon
            “..
            Wiggins had 16pts 6rebounds and an insane alley oop the other night in a glorified scrimmage against Pittsburg state..

            Heck yeah Hawes as value! ESPECIALLY this year! he sucks to us because we need him to be batman or robin, and he just isn’t ever going to be that guy…but he can be a pretty darn good “Alfred” as a complimentary piece to a contender..Even in a bench role, he would be valuable to a contender at the deadline who is gearing up for a playoff run, especially since he is an expiring contract…contenders usually don’t have the best cap situation….so offering a contender Hawes and cap relief will get you some value from a contender like the Thunder who keep getting close, but want to go all in..

            Hawes not only is an expiring contract which is ALWAYS valuable at the deadline even if the player sucks, but we also have the cap space to take a bad player with a bad contract off a contenders hands,,The ability to offer cap relief by providing BOTH expiring contracts AND taking back BAD contracts is so darn valuable in Henne screwed up NBA, when you can offer that, in a player that is actually skilled and will contribute to a playoff run, that becomes extremely valuable!!! That’s good enough to get a Harrison Barnes and a late first round draft pick, but you would also have to take back a bad contract or two….

          • cliff henny

            really? awesome…hinkie wont sleep the week after that game, he’ll be figuring out a way to get them ALL! add in the crazy talent just at kentucky, scouting pretty easy this yr.
            .
            Hawes and value in same sentence just doesnt look right.

          • GEAGLE

            Lol the NBA model is so screwed up, but Hinkie knows exactly how to take advantage and exploit it’s flaws. Brett isn’t stupid, the man had options..he saw a terrible roster, but he also saw how brilliantly our GM had positioned us providing plenty of opportunity for dramatic improvement in the near future…if we were hopeless we would have never been able to land Brett

          • cliff henny

            it’ll take 10 yrs of fixing just to be considered just screwed up. been begging for the blowup for 15 yrs. good the new owners have more money than microsoft, can take a 1 yr hit at the ticket window

          • GEAGLE

            Exactly…finally off the hampster wheel. finally owners willing to take such a big financial hit in order to actual build something the right way…I really really like our smug GM, I like it even more that he feeds our media nothing and drives them crazy…and when I think back to that DOPE Eddie Jordan or that CHARLATAN DC who gutted our roster, stunted ETs development and then ran off like a their in the night…I can’t help but to feel so darn lucky to have Bret Brown!!!

          • cliff henny
          • GEAGLE

            Love that site

          • cliff henny

            might have to create an account. sixers yr will be all about the macro-economic side of sports, stuff i really like.

        • Token

          Top 5 protected, not top 10.

    • KimbaFuzz

      Hell yeah!! That was awesome! Especially since any time the Heat lose, angels sing in celebration. That first quarter was a thing of beauty. It reminded of the first half of Eagles opener against the Skins.

      • Andy124

        Really good analogy.

    • southy

      I was watching NBA coast-to-coast last night, and after the 19-0 run to start the game and the Heat were chipping away, either Bowen or Brussard blurts out “I GUARANTEE you the Heat still come back and win this game.” And the other 3 guys start laughing.

      Asshats.

    • Weapon Y

      I don’t mind if they try to win the first few games just so they can accurately evaluate the guys on their team for next year. As long as they do go into tank mode for 80% of the season, I’m ok with trying to get some good film on the 76ers players.

  • anon

    Wow Soap. http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/patriots/content/20131030-new-patriot-sopoaga-brings-personality-to-match-his-size.ece

    On being traded… “It’s like a dream come true, to be honest,” he said. “[I] respect these
    guys — the last 10 years, they’ve won three times; the Super Bowl. It’s
    just awesome, an awesome feeling.”

    • Adam

      Wouldn’t put too much weight into what he says in press conferences. He said the Eagles were going to shock the world (which I guess was right, just for the wrong reasons). He can barely speak English.

      • Basscase

        Yeah, he didn’t say “thank you for rescuing me from that cesspool of a defense!” SOP for a guy trying to get in good with the team.
        Nothing to see here, move along…

    • Richard Colton

      I predict the Eagles get the same level of productivity from Sopoaga next week as they did the first 8 weeks.

  • Adam

    Bad but getting better. That’s all I really hoped for with a defense this void of talent. Look to add a high caliber safety and pass rusher this off season via free agency or the draft. Having somebody who can actually get to the QB will make the rest of the defense look better.

    • anon

      I think we gotta wait until GB/CHI to see if we are any good.

    • Andy124

      Amazingly, I think our OLB is a bigger need than S right now.

      Of course, Nate Allen could go all Nate Allen on us and switch that right back to safety…

      • cliff henny

        there is no way Nate can get another yr, just no way! he playing better, but that is a realitive term. need at least a ball hawk from a guy playing centerfield.

        • Adam

          If he continues to get better I have no problems bringing him back for another year to compete with Wolff for the spot opposite whoever we bring in (Byrd hopefully).

          • cliff henny

            i just dont know. sometimes it’s just better to move on. get another 3-5yr vet to back up byrd/wolff combo. he’s had his chances to make a mark on this team, and has failed miserably.

          • anon

            I doubt we get Byrd, i sort of doubt we do anything crazy in FA. Remember, we are trying to build this thing the right way…

          • cliff henny

            crazy is signing 29-30 yr old free agents. byrd still has 3-4yrs of top football left in him. these are the guys you do break the bank for. pick up Ward, he seems decent and in the sweet spot age range, 24-26 and go after top corner. so many ways to go.

          • JofreyRice

            So many needs, though. It’s tough to address everything through the draft. Good teams get the main parts through the draft, and fill wisely in FA with contributors. With the track record on drafted safeties, I think they need to go after Byrd.

          • cliff henny

            fans are just gunshy from NNamdi. Byrd is still young, plenty of time to grow with team, and a very good player at position of need. him, or someone similar, like ward.

          • Andy124

            Just occured to me that I don’t think I’ve ever stated an opinion on Byrd. I think it’s because a corner of my mind labeled at as too-good-to-be-true so don’t waste time thinking about it.

            If he’s fully healthy and you can sign him to a contract that isn’t flat-out stupid, DO IT!

            Byrd + (What we think Wolff can be) would be freaking sweet.

          • JofreyRice

            I’d be down with either of those guys, but I think Byrd is more valuable because he’s an awesome center fielder. The ability to scheme in front of a single-high safety is invaluable. Richard Sherman is a fantastic player, but I think Earl Thomas is the most valuable player on that defense. He was out of his mind in the playoffs last year, and their ability to leave him alone back there was how they shut the Skins triple-option down.

          • quarterback pessimist

            Allen should get the entire year for that to be decided. Nothing wrong with keeping him around as a back up if he gets beat out in camp. This front office too often brings in vets that suck…

          • cliff henny

            so we keep guys we drafted that suck.

          • 1972

            People hang on til the bitter end. He’s not physical and he’s not a ball hawk. So what good is he?? I don’t want to kill him too much. But he doesn’t make plays

          • anon

            i’d let him test FA and then he can come back and sign one of howie’s show me deals. but that said, it’s a roster spot and those are valuable. hope he can play special teams too.

          • Adam

            No, you keep guys until you know you have someone better that can replace them. Wolff has been solid but it’s been in flashes.

            I’m not gonna sell my beater of a car because I really really really want and think I need a Porche. Once the Porche is in the drive way, then I’ll get rid of the beater.

          • cliff henny

            well, howie needs to hang up his gm gloves if he cant find someone better than Allen.

          • theycallmerob

            IMO, it’s the toughest position in the league to draft. The lack of good safeties speaks to that. Getting Wolff in the 5th seems great now, seeing as how other rooks are faring back there (‘sup, Rambo)

          • 1972

            Players his age don’t usually come back for one year deals. One of the reasons I think he’s playing better is this is his contract year

          • Absecon

            I think Allen’s better because the coaches are better. Also, Chung is the first experienced saftey that was any good since Quinton Mikel to mentor him. Don’t kid yourself that those facts don’t matter.

          • Basscase

            Chung is NOT good. Don’t kid yourself.

          • Andy124

            Chung is a solid SS when healthy. Problem is he can’t stay healthy. Only reason NE let him go in the first place.

          • Basscase

            NE let him go because he wasn’t good. Injuries were the icing on the cake.

            Buddy of mine is from NE and follows the Pats closely, and was aware of how bad their secondary was last year. He was benched on THAT secondary. So when I say he’s not good, it’s coming from a guy who has watched him since becoming a Patriot.

            That’s why I keep saying he’s not good. Yeah, he can hit, but a one-dimensional safety is still a bad safety. He’s a complete liability in the D backfield.

          • theycallmerob

            ….but that 1 dimension was better than any dimensions we had last year. Which is to say, none.
            I don’t argue the move too much, if I remember right they grabbed Chung early in FA before a few guys like Pollard were cut loose. Like most of the FAs, he was a stopgap. His injury hasn’t been a huge deal because of Wolff being able to step up so quickly.

          • Basscase

            I get it, but I’d like a little more improvement, especially in FA/draft. F- to D- isn’t enough for me.

            On a somewhat related note, I forget what I was reading/watching, but someone was trying to put forth the argument that Kurt Coleman should be put back there. Short memories or no brains, take your pick.

          • theycallmerob

            hahaha, if you find the link PLEASE let me know. I have a good Kurt Coleman wall going in the basement. But I could use a few new articles/pics for the dartboard, the old ones are pretty ragged.

          • JofreyRice

            You are correct. Chung is a bad player. Really not even the hitter he’s advertised as. I’d have preferred Bernard Pollard as a hammer that can’t cover. We have to stop making other team’s trash our treasure. Belichick knows a thing or two about D, and benched him when the Pats secondary was one of the worst in the league.

          • 1972

            Chung is actually what a SS is suppose to be. Physical hard hitter with some issues in coverage. Unfortunately he’s too injury prone to be trusted

          • Adam

            Not uncommon for a guy who under performs on his rookie deal to be brought back for another year on a show me deal.

        • Andy124

          Thinking in terms of using need to weight players’ grades in the draft, OLB would get a higher weight that S right now.

          Still need to seriously upgrade both.

      • Adam

        As I said below, bring someone in and let Allen and Wolff compete for the other job.

        • 1972

          allen cant play ss.. he’s a terrible tackler. He was suppose to be a ball hawk coming out of college. Thanks ANDY lol

          • theycallmerob

            Don’t think we’d have to worry, I can’t imagine him beating out Wolff. A rookie thrown into the fire, having only played 8 games, is already better than Nate IMO

          • Andy124

            You’re welome?

          • Absecon

            Tackling problem was last year….

          • 1972

            Do you like Nate Allen as your starting fs on a championship winning team? If so, tell me why

          • Absecon

            I would guess on a championship winning team the rest of the defense and coaching would be pretty talented to get to that point…so sure, doubt one guy would be carrying the load and stand out on this team’s joke defense the past two years. Allen seems to play up or down to the level of the players around him. Pretty sure there are a lot of guys like that in the league.

          • 1972

            What do you like about him as a player? he’s not a sure tackler, his instincts are below average and he doesn’t intercept passes, so what do you like about him?

          • Absecon

            Not sure why you knock his tackling now. It has clearly improved 100% and looks pretty sure to me now. He has more tackles this year than 2/3 of the safties on the All-Pro ballot! Instinct is a very subjective term. The scheme a player is in can be counter to instincts. I think that gets way overblown. The coaches and Dawkins are already on the record with what they think of Allen, so I’ll take their word for it. They all seem to think he has the skills and will continue to develop into a servicable saftey. Do you think they are lying? I think he was given a raw deal the past two years (coached down by the scheme, played on a terrible defense, the other DB’s were worse) and deserves a full season with the current coaching staff to see where he is at the end of the year. I may be in the minority, but I don’t see him as a problem on a defense that gets pressure and lets a saftey do their job. The way teams are racking up passing yards around the league, I see safties getting lit up all the time. Do you really think they should dump him if he’s doing the job he’s asked to do by the end of the year. What if he’s the most dependable of the group by then? You don’t try to resign him? He’s not going to be expensive, and he already knows the system. Not saying they can’t draft a guy or pick up a free agent to compete next year, but I think a lot of you have tunnel vision on this one based on the past, not the present.

          • 1972

            President of the the Nate Allen fan club party of one.
            You wrote a lot of things yet you still didn’t answer my question.
            What does he do in your opinion that makes him a top tier safety in the NFL???????
            And instincts aren’t subjective if you watch the games.
            Against the chiefs deep in their territory he had ONE READ!! he reacted late and the drive continued and they scored on that drive.. This is one of many times that he hesitates and costs us.
            Game 1 against the giants. single high safety last line of defense. he lets cruz get behind him and boykin has to get a pass interference. It goes on and on.
            You’re related to this guy.. gotta be

          • GEAGLE

            Doesn’t matter, Nate won’t be here next year…isn’t good enough to make us cut a better special teams player in Chung..neither are good enough to start in a secondary with wolf,Bradley and Cary..and he can’t beat out Chung on ST, Chung is under contract, Nate isn’t…..no way ii see Nate back here next year especially with the emphasis on ST. That Chip has shown to put in is backups

          • Absecon

            Nice try with all the Chung PR, but he can’t stay on the field. Seems like that was an issue before, too…

          • Absecon

            Never said he was a top tier safety. Serviceable sounds familiar to me. Not related, just have a different opinion. Bring in a top tier guy and he’ll have the job. Good luck with that. They tend to stay on the team they’re with. Gotta draft one. Oh wait, we need a few more top tier players at some other key positions, too…oops, there go the first three picks…

          • 1972

            oh and a lot of tackles isn’t a good thing for a free safety to have. One of the reasons the top FS safeties don’t have high tackles is partially because of the front seven but mainly because they’re on time to break plays up

          • Absecon

            Except a lot of Allen’s tackles are running plays. Guess that backs up the idea that he’s not exactly playing on a team that stops guys before they get to the safety. And if you’ve noticed, he doesn’t play FS exclusively in this scheme.

        • JofreyRice

          As red-hot as my hate has been for Nate Allen, at times, I wouldn’t mind that scenario, provided the someone they bring in is legit. Between him and Wolff, I think you can get a marginal starter, and a player that can be competent depth. They aren’t getting two Jarius Byrd’s in one offseason.

          • Adam

            We could do a lot of worst than Nate Allen as first guy off the bench.

        • GEAGLE

          No, Nate Allen can’t be here. Chung is under contract, he has more value than Nate in a compete with Wolff role because unlike Nate, Chung will make monster contributions to ST..

          Nate is playing much better, to the point where I wouldn’t be asking him to get cut at the end of the year if he was still under contract, but you can’t re sign him unless you plan on penciling him as the starter for the next 3 years…we seen how much ST play has a role in dictating who our backups are…there is just no way you are going to cut a better ST player in Chung, so that you can re sign Nate especially when Nate will never be drastically better than Chung…Chung works his butt off, like you saw Wolff And Nate improve as they got comfortable! we would have seen the same out of Chunger…

          No matter what, we can’t start a combo of Wolff,Nate and Chung…if you are going to start two of them,then you will need to immediately and drastically improve your corners..However, if you add a stud safety, a guy who would be the most talented player in your secondary..he could provide our CBs with enough help to be he long term…the corners aren’t playing bad, and they aren’t playing with great safeties, and they arent playing behind much of a pass rush.

          Even if they have played better then people thought, there is just no way that they won’t play much better once the pass rushers develope more and we add a double digit sack force at OLB across from Barwin…a Safety who is the a playmaker and most talented player in our secondary and Anthony “Von Miller” Barr or Khalil “Damarcus Ware” Mack will make Barwin, Cary, Bradley, and Wolff so much better…

          Nate can’t return, Jarius Byrd needs to be signed, and we need our first round freak OLB double digit sack man…those aren’t cheap investment, but it’s the quickest past to have the personel in place for a good defense….if you add THAT type of high quality at those spots, the rest of the guys in place will prove to be good enough especially as they continue to gel and grow into our new scheme..if you skimp on the quality that you add at those positions, then we might not to change some of our current starters,,,,its best to just break the bank open for Byrd now and take advantage of an amazing draft for freak OLB pass rushers and just make the first round investment now…it’s the quickest path to a good defense, the ingredients would be in place and they can start growing together

      • theycallmerob

        Amazingly, I think our OLB is a bigger need than S right now.

        incredible what a good pass rush will do for the rest of a defense. true playmaker position, especially in a 34.
        I know we all saw and predicted a dropoff in Cole, but 0 sacks after the first half of a season? Unreal

        • Richard Colton

          Not getting much from Cole. and Graham can’t take more than 20% of his snaps? Halfway through, is it too soon to say the move from DE to OLB was a failure for both players?

          • Basscase

            It’s definitely been disappointing. I’d wait to give the F later, but teams haven’t really been attacking Cole in coverage.

            Kendricks, however, hasn’t been good when he isn’t rushing, and that’s putting it mildly.

          • Andy124

            I’ll pencil in a D- and save the ink for after the season.

    • morgan c

      I think the CB grade is too harsh. Williams and Fletcher have actually played above expectations in my mind, and deserve a B.

  • cliff henny

    the good…d-line. Like the direction it’s headed, shouldnt need to spend top resources there for couple yrs. Fletcher, wasnt high of signing, mostly cause i never heard of the guy and that’s generally not a good sign. as a #2 corner, i’ll take him.
    .
    the bad…kendricks. sure he’ll get his playing well into next yr, but it’s getting close to nervous time on this guy. can say Allen, but he wont be here next yr, so while his play is annoying, not someone i focus on.

    • anon

      yeah i think we gotta try to trade Kendricks, hope to get something back — hopefully he has a better second half of the year.

      • theycallmerob

        Don’t quite get the rush to just trade guys. There’s a reason it’s so rare in the NFL. We would get a mid to late round pick at best, or another team’s unwanted/underachieving player. And that’s one position with almost no depth.

        • 1972

          Him and boykin seem to be the only two players that can get to the QB consistently. I think they should use kendricks more like polamalu. Around the line of scrimmage stopping the run and blitzing

    • Adam

      Pretty cool fact.. we have 6 DL on the roster right now, none of them over the age of 25. Could be a big strength going forward. Just need OLB help.

    • Stuart Philp

      We could use a NT and DE at some point. Cox and Thornton seem capable, but we need guys for rotation who can play at the same level, if not higher.

      • 1972

        See that’s the problem, our d line is capable. We need dominance, im tired of capability. Thortons a decent player, he cant dominate a game though. Cox seemed to be on his way to dominance until they changed his positon. We don’t have any dominant players on this team.
        Peters use to be, but with that Achilles he’s been pretty average

        • Stuart Philp

          Yeah, it’s not the biggest problem we have, but we do need to get better. Hopefully Cox gets used to the new position and gets back to causing havoc.

        • Adam

          Cox and Thornton are playing like one of the better 3-4 DE pairings right now. Outside of JJ Watt, you’re not going to get a lot of big flashy numbers and sack totals out of that position, they’re going to be eating blocks, playing the run and opening up things for your OLB, but unfortunately our OLB’s can’t take advantage of the situation.

          • 1972

            k.c the jets, cincy, those are dominant d- lines. I like our combo but I need more of a disruptive force on passing downs. One of the reasons were good against the run look at the teams weve played. the giants twice and the cowboys don’t have good running backs.

          • Andy124

            I can’t agree with you here.
            KC has disruptive LBs. Their DL is there to eat up blocks.
            Cincy runs a 4-3 and is not a meaningful comparison.
            NYJ may be more disruptive than the typical 3-4 DL. Anybody know if they run a 1-gap or 2-gap?
            Houston runs a 1-gap 3-4, completely different responsibilities for their DL than ours.

            What Adam said is accurate. We’re playing a traditonal 2-gap 3-4. The DL is not designed to be disruptive, but to eat up blocks so the LBs can make plays. Any added disruption is a bonus. IMO, Cox and Thorton have been more disruptive than the average 3-4 DL. I have no idea how well they’ve done keeping the LBs clean in comparison to others though.

          • Adam

            Cincy isn’t a 3 man front, KC has better players around those guys. I would argue we have more pound for pound talent at DE than KC. NYJ is great combo, probably the best in the league, but I don’t think us using a top pick (which is what you need to get a dominate player) on another 3-4 DE is a good use of resources when Thornton is playing at a such a high level.

          • 1972

            on passing downs whos suppose to get pressure then. Davis said in a lot of passing situations he went to a traditional 4-3 . but I hear you, I just want a boifide star like Richardson Hali Suh, Atkins. we don’t have anybody on that level

          • Andy124

            Hali is a LB now and that’s exactly what we’re all hoping for when we list OLB as a top need.

          • 1972

            Do you consider any player on our defense great? That’s really what im getting at. Im all for playing well, but that obviously isn’t winning games. Who is great or has the potential to be in your opinion

          • theycallmerob

            a great rush OLB makes the DL seem “great”. And I think Cox and Thornton at least have to potential for good-to-great, which is pretty friggin’ sweet production for 2gapping DEs

          • 1972

            COX LOGAN THORTON COLE BARWIN .Those are the pass rushers on this team. Do they get a good enough push for you without blitzing?

          • theycallmerob

            Only Cole and Barwin on the true rushers; the DL don’t have primary rush responsibility in a 2gap 34. Again, the point im making is OLB is the big issue, not saying the DL is other-worldly. They’re doing their job (and more), but Cole/Graham at the predator spot is killing the team re: pressure

          • 1972

            Agree,There better be high draft picks used on OLB and FS. And we need to get more pressure on obvious passing downs

          • theycallmerob

            IMO, the best player coming out of the draft (non-qb) is the OLB Barr from UCLA. If we can’t get whichever qb Kelly is in love with, I wouldn’t mind him as the 1st rd pick. Don’t know of any safeties or corners with that high of a grade.

            Also, one of the more surprising results is the lack of pressure on some of the 3rd down, 4man front looks we show (with Cole and Barwin at DE, and usually Cox and Thornton inside). Figured at least on those downs, we’re playing to some of their strengths.

          • 1972

            I haven’t watched many UCLA games this year, but he looked good against Oregon. I would definitely do it. Clinton dix is pretty high but not as high as Barr.
            And that lack of pressure is the point I was making. Thorton and cox have been very good on 1st and 2nd down. 3 rd and long the front 4 is nowhere to be found

          • Richard Colton

            Geagle’s been yeasting up Barr for some time. If it looks like we’re out of the running for a top QB – I agree, premium pass rusher could hide a lot of the other problems on D. Like what I’ve seen from Barr so far.

            I’ll get killed for saying this but if we wind up picking after the top 3 QBs, and Barr/Clowney…its a solid year for OTs at the top. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see a Lewan or Matthews.

          • cliff henny

            rather see Evans or wadkins. if not getting qb, give foles or barkley a weapon opposite d-jax. think full off-season for Ertz will help. that tri-mester bs is total garbage.

          • Richard Colton

            they’re students first Cliff, athletes second.

            he said with a straight face

          • theycallmerob

            Upvote for proper use of yeasting.

            Re: your last paragraph, I wouldn’t mind trading back with a T needy team. Might allow us to get more talent, like a big WR and Haha Dix together. Big Balls Howie needs to hit a home run.

          • Richard Colton

            good idea, because (caveat – it’s pre combine) it looks like the two guys I mentioned are head & shoulders above the other OTs. I hate overdrafting positions unless its QB. So OK, you want to tell me we’re going to drop 10 spots in round one, grab the premier safety, and with the extra #2 grab a 22 year old American Guard with no firefighting experience and a mean streak who can start day one? Sold.

          • Andy124

            Is there really any such thing as proper use of yeasting?

          • Andy124

            Yeah, no one is “great” right now. Agree with Rob that Cox could be great.

            We all want a Great OLB and a Great Safety. The only thing we’re disagreeing on here is the position of focus. Your initial post cited a lack of a dominant DL as a problem.

            We’re just saying that’s not a problem, lack of dominant LB is the real problem. Cox and Thorton are good enough to be the starting 34 DEs in a top-5 defense right now.

          • 1972

            My apologies, dominant front 7. And ced thorton isn’t a great palyer, im sticking to my guns on that one. Cox played better last year, but he’s been playing better the last 3-4 games

          • JofreyRice

            Cox will be in that conversation sooner than later, IMO. Thornton is a great run defender.

            I will say, I actually wanted either Vaccaro or Sheldon Richardson at #4. I’m partial to defense, and dislike taking tackles that high, though.

          • 1972

            Damn I wanted vaccaro too. He’s been great for the saints

          • Richard Colton

            As I remember, you were really high on Sheldon Richardson and had him on your list of players to consider at #4. Yeah – he’s a beast. Three best defensive rookies, IMO, Vaccaro, Richardson, Alonzo

          • Andy124

            You forgot about Jordan…

          • Richard Colton

            haha – somewhere Geagle’s ears are ringing. Jordan hasn’t really lived up to billing yet, has he?

          • Andy124

            Nope. Not at all to this point.

            John’s still high on him. Just needs time. I can’t argue with that. If there’s one thing I sound like a broken record on, it’s giving playerscoachesgm’s more time.

          • JofreyRice

            You could be right that he needs more time to develop, but when you jump up in the draft to take a guy at #3, I think you want more production than they’re getting. Especially with the way the season has unfolded–they needed a T, and have not done a good job protecting Tannehill with the guys they had in place. They probably put too much faith in Jonathan Martin’s development in the 2nd year. You draft guys based on their ceiling, to a certain extent, but I think a guy that’s going that high needs at least a reasonable “floor”.

          • Andy124

            Totally agree. But let’s say he were to develop and become a stud, would anyone care that he was slow out of the gates?

          • JofreyRice

            Richardson was just a crazy athlete for that position. I doubt either of those guys would be quite as good in Midnight Green, though. Those Ryans know how to coach and develop players.

          • JofreyRice

            I think they get a chance to cut loose in sub packages. It looks like they are shooting gaps on pass downs–which , really, is the way you want it, IMO, because we know neither of the OLBs offer much passrush.

          • anon

            sad but true.

          • JofreyRice

            And JJ Watt isn’t 2 gapping on run downs. They play one gap across the board. Spending 2 downs controlling blockers takes a lot out of guys that do it, it’s kind of amazing that Cox has been able to get the pressure he has. Most 2 gap 3-4 DEs are atrocious pass rushers, Ty Warren, Tyson Jackson, Mike Devito, Red Bryant, Ziggy Hood.

        • Basscase

          I think you could say that for the entire team, actually.

        • cliff henny

          let’s not jump to conclusions on Peters. a double operated achilles, yr off, limited pre-season and learning new scheme. reasons for concerns, yes, staring at that 10m contract next yr, sure. hopefully the last 4-6 games we see improved play. doubt we’ll get ’10 peters back.

          • 1972

            Peters has been slightly above average, but I definitely don’t want him gone.

  • 1972

    Cole and Allens positions need to be upgraded next year.
    Trent cole is older and out of position time to move on
    Nate Allen? I don’t trust him. He’s not making mistakes, but he’s not making an impact either. He’s 25 on the last year of his contract. He’s going to want a multiple year deal. I’ll pass.
    Oh and kendricks? I don’t know,he’s faster than most TE And RB but he cant stay with any of them, and his tackling stinks.. He use to kill people at CAL. I don’t know what happened to him

    • ACViking

      Graham must not be doing much right if he can’t jump Cole. Or even split time.

      Cole hasn’t had a whole sack since the final game of 2011.

      His last .5 sack came 12 games ago.

      One thing Joe Banner got right . . . DEs lose their pass-rushing value after hitting 30 years of age.

  • anon

    Anyone think we’ll talk to Jay Ratliff?

    • Adam

      We just traded a guy the same age so we could get younger at that position.. plus this guys injury prone .. no thanks.

    • ACViking

      known as a clubhouse cancer

  • JofreyRice

    Kendricks, to this point, reminds me of Ernie Sims. Amazing athletic ability, sometimes too reckless for his own good, and lacks a feel for the game.

    These past two games, he’s seemed to play more under control. He’s not flying to the ball as much, and missing tackles as often, but he’s also not hitting as hard when he does get a guy in his sights.

    If he can get a feel for the game at 3/4 speed, and then go back to playing as fast as he’s capable, we might have something.

    • Richard Colton

      shark in the water

      • bentheimmigrant

        *shudder*

      • 1972

        LMAO!!! how is shark in the water doing? isn’t he in indy?

        • BlindChow

          He’s in Dallas. He even had a tackle against the Eagles two weeks ago!

      • JofreyRice

        more like a missile floating around the bowl. Remember in training camp when he was cheapshotting all the Eagles O players? I recall Sims actually knocking Trent Cole to the ground, so he could miss a tackle on Arian Foster in a regular season game against the Texans.

        He’s a guy where some people confused athletic ability with “talent”. People go, oh, “he’s so talented, if he can ever just put it together”. Talented at what? Sudoku? Cause it ain’t playing football. Same thing with DRC.

  • Jerry Pomroy

    As most have already stated & I will concur…The defensive needs (in this order) to become much improved are 1) pass rushing OLB, 2) FS & 3) CB.

    The DL is just fine right now, but we need that edge rusher that can get home or pressure w/ consistency. That OLB is key to this defensive scheme & would allow Barwin to key on the TE w/ help from SS & also allow us to use Kendricks up the middle more successfully on blitzes. Wolff & Chung can battle out the SS spot, but we need a FS that can break on the ball with better instincts & get there in time to be a disruption & help out our corners. I’m actually pretty good with Fletcher being back as the 2nd CB. He’s allowed some catches but has played pretty well & will benefit significantly from better play out of an upgraded FS. Cary I’m not so high on. I’m sure he’d benefit from an upgraded FS, but I’m actually questioning his ability on corner fades & jump balls in the EZ. He doesn’t challenge the pass. That’s not what you’d expect from a physical CB w/ good size.

    Also, a lot of people talk about flat out getting rid of guys. The point of stopgap players is to use them as starters until you can upgrade. But why get rid of them (except Nate) when you could use some of them to build some quality depth at key spots if the price is right.

    • GEAGLE

      We need a first round OLB because that’s the most important position in This scheme…

      We need a safety who would be the best player in our secondary,make playmaker..
      ….
      I would rather add a Dlinemen and give Cary and Bradley another year to get comfortable and show what they can do when they get really good safety help and play behind a good pass rush

      • ACViking

        Hai proprio ragione.

        Il bambino presso la UCLA?

        • GEAGLE

          Ci serve troppo BARR…e Incrediblle. Von Miller 2.0…fidatti amico, lo Devi vedere…guard a un partita di UCLA

      • ACViking

        Sto cercando di tenere il passo con voi