Marcus Smith, the Jack And the Predator

NCAA Football: Louisville at Southern Mississippi

During Thursday’s practice at the NovaCare Complex, Eagles rookie Marcus Smith had to wait his turn.

First he watched veteran Connor Barwin run with the first team. And then he kept his eye on free agent addition Bryan Braman, who ran with the twos.


This is the way Chip Kelly has done things since he arrived, and there are a couple reasons for his philosophy. One is relatively straightforward: Make rookies earn their standing. Let them know that nothing will be handed to them.

And the other is more practical. To maximize efficiency and practice fast, guys have to know what they're doing and where they're supposed to be on every rep. If one player is confused, the pace slows down, and as far as Kelly is concerned, that's unacceptable.

"I’m a patient learner," Smith said. "I try to take everything in that my coaches tell me and I try to integrate [it] every day in practice. If I mess up on something, I try to ask my coaches exactly what I messed up on so I can look at in on film and be able to correct myself."

As a rookie in the NFL, there is change around just about every corner for Smith. The pace of practice is new. He now wears a monitor that lets him know how much weight he's losing (Smith fluctuates between 255 and 261) during each session. And he's learning a new position: the Jack.

In Billy Davis' 3-4 defense, the two outside linebackers are the Jack and the Predator. Last year, Connor Barwin was the Jack, while Trent Cole and Brandon Graham filled the Predator role. Barwin was asked to fill one of the most versatile roles of any 3-4 OLB in the NFL.

"Connor makes the scheme go," Davis said in December. "I move him around multiple spots. He's inside on the outside on the right, outside on the left, he's inside, he's over the guard. We move him around ‑ the position is called the Jack, the Jack of all trades, is what it was originally named. We move him around and we have different techniques we use with him and he's great with picking them up. If I need an edge set on one side or a certain reroute or chip, Connor is the guy we go to."

Smith right now is focusing solely on the Jack role. His strength as a prospect was his versatility. He's long, athletic and was used in a variety of ways at Louisville: rushing the passer standing up, rushing the passer with his hand on the ground, dropping back into coverage, lining up across the slot, etc. One of the major reasons the Eagles signed Smith was because he's already shown he can be multi-dimensional.

What's unclear (and it's only June) is how all the pieces will fit in 2014. Barwin, for example, rushed the QB 58 percent of the time last year and dropped 42 percent of the time on passing downs, per Pro Football Focus. Only two 3-4 outside linebackers dropped more frequently than Barwin.

On the other side, Cole dropped 21.7 percent of the time and rushed 78.3 percent. In other words, the stronger pass-rusher fills the Predator role, while the more versatile player is the Jack.

"I’m not sure," Smith said when asked if he would learn the Predator role as well. "But my coach, he just wants me to learn Jack right now, and once I master that, maybe I can start learning Predator."

The Eagles have a few different options in Smith's rookie year. Most likely is that Barwin will start at the Jack and Cole will be the Predator - just like last season. Smith will start off as a rotational player. That might mean coming in and replacing Cole at Predator. Or perhaps more likely, it could mean Barwin sliding over to replace Cole at Predator in certain packages and Smith replacing him at the Jack.

"With Connor, one of the reasons we were so excited about getting him was his ability to play both those roles in a 3-4," GM Howie Roseman said in March. "His ability to play in space and set the edge and be a primary space player and also his ability to be a rusher, where he had 10 (plus) sacks in one year. So he certainly has the versatility. In Year 1 in a 3-4, transitioning from a 4-3 Wide-9, I think that Coach Davis will have an opportunity to get a lot more concepts in and to do more things with our outside backers."

Last year, in our pass-rusher rankings, Barwin and Cole finished with similar ratings. Cole finished strong with eight sacks and eight hurries in the team's final seven games. Barwin did a fantastic job of batting down passes even when he didn't hit the QB. Overall, though, the defense needed more of a pass-rush from the outside linebackers.

Long-term, the guess here is Davis would love for the two outside linebackers to be interchangeable. Cole turns 32 in October and carries an $11.6M cap number in 2015. If he has a strong 2014 season, maybe he comes back at a reduced price. But the more likely scenario is that Smith and Barwin are the team's two outside linebackers in 2015.

For now, Smith is content waiting his turn and picking the brains of Barwin and Cole.

"It’s very comforting just because I know those guys have produced in the NFL and I know they have had success in their careers," he said. "Learning from them, being able to come in [to] a great situation with a great coach and a great organization is just a big deal for me."

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  • Richard Colton

    Maybe I’ve been looking at this wrong. Through the draft process, we were hoping to find a guy in the first three rounds who could replace Cole’s pass rush, but not be a liability when dropping into coverage. Can we live instead with getting a guy who can replace Barwin’s versatility but not be a liability rushing the passer?

    I’m still wondering where the pass rush is coming from this year.

    • DirtyWaters

      It’s so early in the process. I’m sure we see him learning the Predator role also as summer progresses. With the term “versatility” being thrown around so much, one would think that the coaches want an OLB who can be both Jack and Pred, right?

    • jmkrav

      I think the eagles see Coles production last year, and reasonable a project 10+ sacks from him and 4-5 from BG being reasonable too. Smith learning Jack means Cole-Cox-Curry can be the DL in the dime, with both Smith and Barwin as OLB. Hard for the OL to know which one is dropping or which is rushing. Or they both can drop and Kendricks can blitz the A. I think people forget the 4 sacks that Kendrick’s had last year. If he can have less coverage responsibility and blitz a little more that could easily be 6-7 this year.

      It feels to me like we Eagles fans are star hungry. Rather than look for one guy to come in and put up 19 sacks like Mathis or Watt, let’s look for incremental 2-3 sack improvement from each of 3-4 guys. That way we aren’t overly dependent on one pass rusher.

      • Richard Colton

        Count me as one of the “star-hungry” guys. We don’t have a single pro-bowler on defense. If things break right – maybe Kendricks and Boykin have a shot next year. And who knows what we have in Smith/Watkins/Heart/Allen/Kruger? I’m not particularly excited about a team full of versitile average Joes who happen to fit the scheme.

        • jmkrav

          I agree with you about needing pro bowl caliber defenders.

          I just think specifically with the sack production and the “where’s the pass rush gonna come from?” question. I think we can be happy with a pass-rush-by-committee approach if the overall D improves.

          • Richard Colton

            I’ll agree JMkrav. People like to say that improving the pass rush solves a lot of issues in the back end, but the reverse is true as well. If Watkins/Jenkins makes our backfield better, its going to help the pass rush. I seem to remember this thing called a “coverage sack” – maybe we can get a few this year.

            Still – our biggest single issue on D imo was pass rush. Cole is winding down and Graham can’t be considered anything more than a long shot at this point.

          • Always Hopeful

            What came first, the chicken (pass rush) or the egg (coverage) ?

            The answer is: YES!

          • imnotsorryisaidthat

            saints had top defense and 1 pro bowler from d

        • DirtyWaters

          I’m ok without stars. I would much rather have hungry kids that work together as a team.

          We (at least I) forget that we were a wide 9 43 two years ago with a dumpser fire for a secondary. I thought it was going to take 3 years to field a respectable defense, and it still might. I’m patient. Let’s see what we have this season and go through another draft and FA period. Some stars may be born.

          • igglesfaninportland

            Is it too late for Cox, Logan, or Curry to become a star? Through the draft right.

          • GoBirds1

            Obviously Curry has been dubbed at twinner, but there was the stat article how he crushed as a pass rusher from the DT position, why does he not get in on passing downs and attack the QB from the predetor?

          • DirtyWaters

            Absolutely. Anyone on this team has the capability to become a star; except Casey Matthews.

        • John E. Zang

          Defense gets “stars” when it gets notoriety for being a tough one around the league. Nothing to do with what round your players were drafted in. Prime example is Seattle. Outside of Earl Thomas, those guys just fit that scheme together perfectly.

          • Richard Colton

            Earl Thomas is Seattle’s only star on D? Kam and Sherman don’t count? Wagner?

          • John E. Zang

            No I meant none of those guys were stars coming out of the draft besides Earl Thomas. They are the epitomy of team defense. Their skill sets and measurables were perfect for what they were trying to build on defense. Put some of them on another team in a different scheme and maybe we never hear about them.

        • Warhound

          Would you rather have nine “C” players and two “A” players on defense – or – seven “C” and four “B” players?

          • Richard Colton

            why are those my only choices?

          • Warhound

            Hey, we all want 11 aces but that’s not gonna’ happen. I presented those two options just for conversational purposes. I always thought that with a 4-3 a “play-maker” is needed at each depth. With this two-gap 3-4 I’m not so sure.

          • Richard Colton

            OK, in that case (and just because I enjoy the challenge of a false choice hypothetical) I’ll take the 9 “Cs” and 2 “As”
            Here’s why. It’s a lot easier to upgrade to a B than it is to find an A. Howie isn’t buying stars in FA, which leaves the draft.

          • Warhound

            Hmmm… I must admit I was thinking of it in shorter terms. You make a good point.

          • George Carlin

            I never had a 10; but one night I had 5 2′s!

          • Richard Colton

            well then you won.

          • George Carlin

            When sharing the company of 2′s, there are no winners.

        • shady25

          I would rather have a defense that is in the top 10 in points allowed, pressures or sacks instead of the Aldon Smith, Mathis guy where teams can double team him all day.

    • Glenn

      I am hoping that Curry and Graham see the field more this year, by being more complete players after having a year learning the system. There are excellent in pass rush situations when given the opportunity. As good as Thornton is at setting the edge, and stopping the run, he is not a good pass rusher. If Marcus Smith gets in the rotation, then Cole and Barwin will be fresher, and hopefully be more productive when on the field in pass rushing situations. Barwin was on the field too much.

      • Richard Colton

        Yeah he was. So was Meco.

      • Reasonableeaglefan

        Fresh or not, I think it’s foolish to expect significant production increases from Cole or Barwin. Last season seems like a good representation of Barwin’s skills, which make him an ideal Jack. Cole just seems like he’s been fighting Father Time off forever, and if you get out of him in ’14 what you got in ’13, I’d consider it a win.

        • Glenn

          I would agree with that. But I think Barwin may be more productive and efficient when he is on the field, if he is on the field less often. t do think Curry and Graham are going to surprise people this season, and have potential to improve the pass rush by being on the field more.. They both have something to prove, and are motivated in contract years.

          • anon

            i’d say that about everyone on the defense that mattered – meco, barwin, cole…

    • Johnny Domino

      Does Barwin replace Cole and Smith Barwin in 2015 after a year’s apprenticeship learning both roles?

      • Richard Colton

        You mean sliding Cole over to ROLB? I don’t think he can beat NFL LTs often enough to justify that move. I wouldn’t hate moving him inside next to Kendricks though.

        • EaglesFanInPhx

          I think he meant cole goes bye bye.

          • Richard Colton

            Ohh I see now. Hell, if we get really lucky and BG finally puts it all together in year 4 (comeback player of year, 10+ sacks, etc…) We might be looking at (left to right): Smith/Barwin/Kendricks/Graham. How does that sound?

          • Reasonableeaglefan

            I like the idea of Barwin at ILB better than having him as my Predator. He’s just not a plus pass rusher. That one monster year he had has to be viewed as the outlier and not the norm.

          • GoBirds1

            Not to point out the obvious, but clearly Barwin benefitted significantly with JJ Watt wreaking havoc in the backfield.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I’m kinda thinking that depending on how Graham performs in yr 2 in the system, that could be an option. When ever I looked at Attaochu, I was often reminded of Graham. Maybe it was just in stature. But that often had me thinking that if Attaochu can play on his feet and hand in the dirt, but be questionable in coverage, that’s pretty much Graham yr1 in the 3-4. It would be nice to have some size on the inside to offset Kendricks lack thereof. I will say though that I really like the idea of Smith & Barwin manning the outside & flipping as needed.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Here is another point, I think Smith & Barwin give you more in nickel situations than say Kendricks & Barwin. At no point any longer should we see Ryans in on sub packages. So you could, this year, utilize a rotation of Barwin, Smith & Kendricks as in your nickel LBs with Cole manning the LDE & Graham at RDE. In dime (which I think we’ll see much more of with the additions of Watkins & Carroll), you can also rotate those same 3 as your lone LB, depending on the offensive personnel.

        • Johnny Domino

          Could see that, too. Assuming Cole a 2015 cap cut in either scenario.

    • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

      at the very least, just the improvement of the DL’s ability to 2gap will make the LB lives easier. There will be a natural improvement just because these guys can all react now, not think. And maybe our DBs will actually be able to cover a little longer.
      Although I found his comments kinda strange, Jenkins mentioned in his last interview that part of the reason NO was running so much in the playoff game was that our rush was rattling Brees.
      We’re no longer that top5 JJ team of the early-mid 00′s, but if all gaps are plugged and we’re disguising a rush for a QB constantly down by 30 points, we’ll do ok. And that’s fine with me, for year 2 into a rebuild. Chip is stll drafting his talents. I’ll take a ’14 defense that finishes in most important stat categories in the 12-18 range

      • dnabrice

        Need to be high in turnovers/turnover differential (which puts some responsibility of off as well).

    • Brandon Baltic

      People say pass rush is a huge need on the team and then jump to replace Cole. That’s a huge contradiction. If you want to upgrade the pass rush, replacing Barwin is the place where you’d do it.

  • JettMartinez

    I’d have to imagine the Predator role is easier for a rookie to pick up. Once he proves he can handle the pace and learning of an NFL player they can sprinkle in the increased responsibility of the Jack role.

  • Pblaaze

    I think the hope is cole, graham n curry will be better pass rushers in year two. Last year if Barwin got hurt we would of been in trouble with no viable backup. Having smith start as the jack is smart. Eventually he’ll learn both positons and they’ll be used interchangeably which will be hard to defend. On any given play they could rush or drop with Cole u kno for the most part he’s rushing

    • FluxCapacitor

      I think it is the smart thing to do…make sure you fill the biggest gap first (Barwin’s replacement if he gets injured), then work on expanding to both sides. As you mention, that will be a tough to account for from an OC’s perspective if they are interchangeable parts.

  • Andy124

    I’m past guessing how these backers are going to be used. I’m in wait and see mode.

  • PhillySean

    What they’re doing makes perfect sense to me.

    This guy was drafted largely for his versatility and he’s starting out by shadowing the most versatile LB on the team. If your ideal squad has two outside LBs than can do it all, this is the way to move in that direction.

    Put another way, which current LB is best positioned to assist in coaching up raw talent that was brought in for his projected ability to rush the QB/defend the run/drop into coverage? Conner Barwin is the obvious answer.

  • Cliff Ainley

    IS it me or would it be more effective to have two Jacks instead of one. I mean, if I am QB, I am going to identify where Cole is and tell my line to shift protection to that side. I am actually hoping this kid is ready to go year 2, so they can do such a thing while Barwin still has tread on his tires.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      I think that’s the idea of having two interchangeable LBs. If protection is rolled to one side, you can have that LB look as if they’re coming but drop into coverage and have the other side rush with less protection to that side.

    • CTAZPA

      Agree. That’s why it’s news to all of us. Everyone assumed Smith would be opposite Barwin. I haven’t read anything that hints against Barwin/Smith as a long term plan.

    • shady25

      Yeah. I love this idea and I think this is what Billy Davis is looking for. Goes back to what he ssid last year when he talked about Jim Johnson. Is the illusion of bringing pressure from 1 side and it’s coming from somewhere else. I think we will see a lot of Malcolm Jenkins blitzing this year also instead of Boykin. This defense is going to be fun to watch when November rolls around.

  • Reasonableeaglefan

    Having Smith learn the Jack makes a lot of sense considering they had no backup for Barwin and he played over 90% of the snaps last year. My question is how interchangeable do they want these OLBs? If Barwin is your Predator(rushing 80-90% of the time) where is the rush coming from? The guy has about 24 sacks in essentially 4 full seasons. He’s not going to become a double digit sack guy every year at this stage of his career. Maybe Smith and Barwin each rush around 70% of the time(call it the Pack LB?) and that’s enough pressure off the edges. I find it hard to imagine they just spent a 1st round pick on a guy with the long term plan of having him drop into coverage so they could free Barwin up to go after the QB.

    • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

      I think you’re too hung up on this one-or-the-other scenario. If you have two guys who can do it all, the hesitation on the offenses’ part will grant the rusher a bit of an advantage, regardless of who it is (don’t forget Davis loves his ILB, a-gap rush as well).
      And don’t be so quick to write off Barwin; in at least 2 of his seasons now (didn’t see much of him in HOU), he’s been used more in coverage so of course his sack numbers are low. That does not correlate directly to his ability to rush. And of course, sack numbers don’t tell the whole story anyway.

      • Reasonableeaglefan

        I like the idea of having the ability to disguise, but I think we can make some determinations on who Barwin is. His sack totals in his 4 full seasons(all 16 games, his other season was done after 1 game)
        3.5
        11.5
        3
        5
        I get that he does more than this, but considering how much he was on the field, that’s a lot of attempts to get 5 sacks. If they are actually interchangeable, that’s one thing. If they are making these moves and planning to make a Barwin a true Predator, we be better dial up a lot of those double A gap cross blitzes to manufacture some pressure, because I don’t see us generating a lot of it from a standard 4 rush

        • Jerry Pomroy

          I don’t think Rob is saying to pigeon hole Barwin on the right side. There are situations where you could go with Smith at LOLB & Barwin at ROLB, just to add another wrinkle. 2nd & long with the TE in tight on their left side would be a good opportunity for this & you could still have him drop our set the edge with Smith looking to speed rush or run blitz from the left side.

          • Reasonableeaglefan

            I like the scenario you laid out. It falls in line with the overarching themes of versility and disguise we keep coming back to with regard to our D. I more concerned with these stories coming out lately that talk about having Barwin rush the passer more from the predator spot since Smith has been practicing on the left. I’m hoping that’s not the plan long term,

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I don’t think Barwin should be an every down Predator. Not when you’ve got a guy like Smith who is a more explosive option going against fleet footed LTs. That’s not to say that Barwin couldn’t do it. It’s just not ideal.

            I kind of think that there are two reasons why Smith is practicing on the left side. 1) That’s the spot he played the least at Louisville, so getting more reps at the harder position where he had less experience makes sense if you’re going to utilize him the same as he was in Louisville, by moving him around. 2) Need. There just isn’t anyone else that they feel comfortable to spell Barwin, while they’re content with the depth on the right side.

          • Reasonableeaglefan

            This post is spot on.

        • PhillySean

          Thought this D was supposed to be about maximum confusion for the OL, and the furthest possible thing from a standard 4 rush.

          • Reasonableeaglefan

            Yes disguise is supposed to be key to this D. I’m talking about the difference between sending pressure and not. Generally 4 or less rushers is playing coverage and sending 5 or more is considered blitzing, regardless of if it’s out of an odd or even front.

          • PhillySean

            Got you. Misunderstood what you meant by standard.

  • Warhound

    I’ve been wondering for awhile: is it better to depend on a ROLB or RE who has to go up against the other teams best pass protector – or – is it better to send a talented rusher at the weaker RT? If the latter, you won’t get as many strip-sacks but you should get more pressure. So is it better to get four sacks or two sacks and six throw-aways?

    • Richard Colton

      well yeah – look how often teams stunt up front to try and create that mismatch. but like with all things (you’re a military guy, so you’ll get the reference WH) the enemy gets a vote. So when you’re optimizing that mismatch, are they running the ball with their best OT down the throat of our newly created “weaker” side? even on 3rd down?

      At any rate – we’re a hybrid 3-4 system. It’s just our base look. Plenty of even man fronts and surprises. I’m really encouraged by what Davis did last year. Just no more Brandon Boykin, OLB. Please.

      • Warhound

        I totally agree. I guess I’ve been questioning the seeming obsession with getting at the QBs blindside even if that’s where the OL is strongest. But, yeah, they can counter by running the ball and they can easily chip or double-team the guy coming at the RT.

      • Brandon Boykin, LOL

        Fight me, bro.

        • Jerry Pomroy

          But you’re no longer Brandon Boykin, LOLB?

    • Jerry Pomroy

      I think it’s a good idea to mix up your rushers. For example, traditionally your LE is run defender and power rusher, while your RE is your speed guy. Usually the Tackle position is built to counter the same way, or DLs are built to counter this OL philosophy. Anyway, you can have success mixing it up. The Eagles used to deploy Cole early on in his career on the left side & Douglas on the right in 3rd down situations. It worked well because Cole could motor past the slower footed run blocking RT. He racked up a ton of sacks this way. But if he were to do that every down (ie; Dee Ford), the defense would’ve been eaten alive by the run game. At that time, Cole was still learning how to be a 3 down player, add strength and defend the run. I could see us using Smith or Cole in this role on 3rd downs in our sub packages but to outright speed rush without run discipline from the left side could be more counter productive.

  • ztom6

    Graham was playing the 2nd team LOLB at this time last year. It’s nbd.

  • Fly High

    I like what I am hearing from Graham and Curry, both want to help the team, and would like to play more, and don’t seem to be attached to starting.
    The outcome could be a deep and diverse front 7 where we can go with many different combos. The Eagles played faster last year, but not as fast as we will this year knowing the system on offense. That creates a situation where stamina wise, it is way better to have an active rotation on D, rather than Barwin and Ryans playing a huge number of snaps.
    At Oregon, the D played 21-25 players regularly. The best scenario is that we are evolving to the place the Eagles can do a lot of rotating without giving up skill, and with each combo on D having a unique set of strengths.

  • Jerry Pomroy

    So if our ’15 starters at OLB are Barwin & Smith, can we go with…

    “The Jack Attack”
    “Attack of the Jacks”
    “You Don’t Know Jack”
    “Jacks Are Better”
    “Double Jack”

    • IAteLunchToday

      The Jaccpots?

      • Tikkit

        Jack-a-QB-weah?

        • Jerry Pomroy

          Not quite picking up what you’re throwing down there. Could you translate?

          • Tikkit

            Play on Sacagawea. Albeit a bit of a stretch.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        Meh, too reminiscent of DJax.

        • IAteLunchToday

          The PepperJacks
          The Jack of Spades and the Jack of Hearts
          The LumberJacks (laying some wood) — this one I’m actually kind of proud of :)

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Yeah I don’t think the Jack of Spades is appropriate. I REALLY like the Lumberjacks!! Think they could get away with the Trotter axeman celebration? I effing loved that!

          • IAteLunchToday

            I was not aware of the pejorative connotation of ‘spade.’ It’s just randomly my favorite suit in cards so I included it…

            And they can they do anything they want, they’re the Lumberjacks :)

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Not that I’d take it with that context, but a lesser individual certainly could. That’s why I excluded Blackjack.

            What do the rest of the masses feel about “The Lumberjacks”?

      • shady25

        You’re killing me! !!

    • JosephR2225

      Double Shot of Jack

      • Jerry Pomroy

        That pretty much falls in with “Double Jack”. A double Jack is a shot of Jack Daniels & a shot of Yukon Jack. I also thought of Blackjack as in 21, meaning 2 are better than 1 (Blackjack = 21). But thought that someone might take that out of context.

        • Tikkit

          Thank goodness for Yukon Jack. Bartenders dream.

      • shady25

        That’s a good one

    • Maggie

      The Jack CAN SO be the Joker!

  • anon

    So Barwin rushed 58% of the time and had 0 sacks? Might as well just let him sit in space and bat passes.

    Barwin’s great, but that’s crazy.

    • George

      he had 5

  • Brandon Baltic

    Not sure why the authors of this site have such an obsession with replacing Cole, but ideally Smith would be an upgrade over Barwin and NOT Cole over the next few seasons. I love Barwin’s versatility but he gives you little on the pass rush so his value will always be limited. An OLB is asked to do many things in a 3-4 but ask any coach in the NFL that runs it and he will tell you pass rushing is the most important skill for that position.

    As for Cole, he’s still a tremendously effective pass rusher and run stuffer and got better as he learned to play OLB, despite his age. Taking him off the field on any down is not ideal. He didn’t have a huge number of sacks last year because he took a ton of double teams, but Billy Davis has stressed his importance for the defense time and time again.

    And I don’t know why people (including the authors) just assume Cole will probably be released after this season because of his salary. It’s much much much more likely he will be restructured to something similar to what Terrell Suggs got from Baltimore then just being flat out released. It’s almost that this site is pushing the idea of moving on from Cole to the point of agenda.

    • George

      1) He’s not NEARLY as good as t-sizzle.
      2) Chip, from DAY 1, has preached versatility. Barwin got 4 sacks rushing the passer abut 50% of the time. Cole got 8 rushing about 75% of the time. Had Barwin got as many oppertunities as cole, he would have had about 6 sacks. i also think that Billy wants to be confusing in his schemes, which plays into the versatility point. If QB’s don’t know whether the rush is coming from smith, barwin, or if they both drop and kendricks comes up the gut…it will be much more confusing for the QB and o-line, and having played O-Line myself, the simpler the defensive concepts, the easier it is to block. Confusing can make up for the lack of an elite pass rusher if the two OLB’s are competent rushers and the offense doesn’t know where the heck the rush is coming from, that will create sacks in and of itself.
      3) $10mil for a player who is on the wrong side of 30 and doesn’t fit chip’s MO? I don’t think so.
      4)They signed Barwin to a 6 year contract s one of chip’s first moves I don’t think he’s going anywhere.
      I agree with some of your points, but given what I see from the FO, and what I hear from the coaches, Smith and Barwin are our Olb’s of the future

    • Ian Farley

      its not an agenda, you don’t pay a 32+ year old guy 11 million when he isn’t a big time player.

      cole has been great for this team. has the Trotter type mentality this fan base loves and he has been appreciated. but all good things come to an end, and his time is up next season. i would be more surprised to see Cole back than Graham next year….