Wake-Up Call: Barwin On the Attack?

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Billy Davis is hoping to build a mirrored defense, where one player can seamlessly take on the role of his counterpart in the name of disguise and scheme flexibility. The outside linebacker posts were hardly a reflection of one another in 2013, however.

Connor Barwin was the only player  on the roster with any professional experience as an outside linebacker in a 3-4.  He played opposite Trent Cole and to a lesser extent Brandon Graham, two veterans who were learning a brand new position and therefor had far less responsibilities in coverage. Cole and Graham played the “Predator” role, where rushing the passer is the main focus. Barwin was the “Jack” (as in “Jack of all trades”) and wore a number of hats as the name suggests.


Cole dropped 22 percent of the time, which is right near the average for 3-4 linebackers that played a significant number of the snaps last season. Graham was at 21 percent. Barwin, meanwhile, dropped into coverage 42 percent, according to Pro Football Focus -- one of the highest rates in the league.

Barwin ended with five sacks on the season. That's well shy of his career-high 11.5 sacks in 2011 when he was with Houston. He also had 152 more stabs at rushing the QB that season, as he was asked to drop just 13 percent of the time. While extra attempts don't guarantee increased  production (Barwin had more pass rush attempts in '12 than the year prior yet produced just three sacks, for instance), but your chances obviously go up.

Now that Cole and Graham have a year at outside linebacker under their belt, will Barwin be freed up to attack the passer more this season?

"Absolutely," said OLB coach Bill McGovern. "I think that's where you hope to see the whole thing start to come a little bit more together...I could put Connor over at Predator, I think I could put BG and Trent over at Jack and they would know what to do. We gave them names, but really it's a left outside linebacker and a right outside linebacker. That's what they really are and they can switch it up. Now, when they can start doing the same things all the time and you can bring either one, I think that's where the whole defense comes together."

There is still a ways to go. Cole and Graham might be more more comfortable but they still come with limitations in the coverage game. The hope is that Marcus Smith can be that versatile 'backer this system craves, though it's unknown how much he'll be able to contribute as a rookie.

“Marcus has shown to do it in college," said Davis, when asked who else on the roster can do the kind of things Barwin can do at the outside linebacker spot. "That’s one of the biggest things that attracted us to Marcus. The defense he ran at Louisville is very, very similar… Charlie Strong ran very similar to what we asked him to do here. So that was why it made such a nice fit for us."

Chances are the duties will remain uneven at outside linebacker for this upcoming campaign and Barwin will drop a little more than is ideal. But the addition of the rookie and the development of the vets should give him more opportunities to rush the passer this season.

"I think it’ll be a mix," said Davis. "I think he wears those roles because he can. And he plays well with doing that. But I can also take some of those roles off of him at times. The development of everybody kind of fits into that."

WHAT YOU MISSED

Josh checks in on the rest of the division in the NFC East Roundup.

"Unfortunately, this year Foles takes a step back." Some national links courtesy of Mr. Kapadia. 

The latest on Lane Johnson in our Fourth of July mailbag.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Tommy Lawlor offers some thoughts on Fletcher Cox.

Cox is a really gifted athlete who can still be a special player. One thing that will help him is continuity. He played in one system in 2011 (college), another in 2012 as a rookie and a completely new one in 2013. This is the first time in a while he’s had the same coaches and the same system. That should help Cox to hone his technique and become better from a technical standpoint. He has all the natural ability in the world.

If the coaches can get Cox to marry up his natural ability and his technical skills, he could become a dominant DL. That doesn’t mean it will happen right away, if at all. You have to be patient with players who are in the 2-gap 3-4. It just isn’t natural to read plays. Big guys want to fly off the ball and attack. It takes time for them to really build up 2-gap skills.

Geoff Mosher sees an increased role for Chris Polk this year.

Also, McCoy carried the ball an NFL-most 314 times last year because Chip Kelly likes to run and also because quarterback uncertainty for much of the season forced the coach to rely heavily on his most stable and consistent weapon. This year, with Nick Foles entrenched as the starter and with almost the entire offense back, I’d expect Kelly to open the playbook a little more and try to lessen the wear and tear on McCoy.

It wouldn’t shock me if Polk averaged between six to eight touches per game this coming season. For a guy with 11 NFL carries, that’s a hefty increase.

COMING UP

Eighteen days until training camp.

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  • Addicted2MAmula

    Even if Foles help take us to the playoffs again and even win one playoff game he still will be criticized for throwing me then 2 Ints. (35-8)

  • JosephR2225

    I think Year 2 in this defense is the most exciting storyline about 2014. Not Foles TD/INT ratio or Shady’s rushing record or replacing Desean. I think Malcolm Jenkins is a sneaky-good acquisition for this defense and I’m excited to see whether the secondary can play a little tighter this year and if they can get to the QB from the edges.

    • myeaglescantwin

      let’s hope so brother.

      Year two should definitely help them make strides. This isn’t some BS wide nine, or McDermot bump and chase. This is an attacking base defense with versatile players across the board.

      what’s weird about this year is, , , i actually trust the D-Coordinator to put these players in the best positions for success. I haven’t felt that way since JimJohnson was running the show.

      • Eagles1018

        Let’s hope you’re right. And I’m still hoping your name will be changed sooner rather than later…

        • myeaglescantwin

          fingers crossed, my man.

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

        +1 your 2nd paragraph

        • RIP illa

          So no more Boykin at OLB or Graham lined up in the slot??? LOL…ah, the good ol’ days!!!

    • Richard Colton

      That’s going to be fun to watch, but I’ll take your bet in a heartbeat. Its a QB league and we’re going to spend the lion’s share of our time here talking offense once the season starts.

    • michelleobetts

      my Aunty
      Allison recently got a nice 6 month old Jaguar by working from a macbook.this website C­a­s­h­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

  • FluxCapacitor

    He had me at “Eighteen days until training camp”

  • Andy124

    I’d expect Kelly to open the playbook a little more and try to lessen the wear and tear on McCoy.

    Putting on my psychic hat for a moment, I don’t think Chip thinks that way. I think his win the day mantra flies in the face of putting in the lesser player to preserve your star for the long haul. I also think Kelly believes the emphasis on sports science and proper recovery will have more impact on a player’s longevity than a few less carries here and there.

    I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I that’s my guess as to how the Chipster feels about it. And you can’t spell the Chipster without ‘hipster’. He was in to sports science before it was cool.

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

      I agree with that as well; however, if it’s late in the 3rd qtr and the Birds are up 3+ TDs, isn’t it fair to assume/gamble/infer that Polk or RB2 may see some extra touches? I mean, especially now this year knowing Foles is there to throw TDs no matter who is playing

      • Andy124

        I sure hope so. I don’t know anything about Kelly that would make me assume he’d be reluctant to play his backups when the game is secure. I think we saw that in the Bears game.

  • EaglefaninAZ

    It seems I’ve read that ‘Chris Polk should see more carries moving forward/ lessen the load on McCoy’ thing before. And now Sproles, although primarily a receiver, comes in to harsh his gig. He must be thrilled Bryce Brown is gone.

  • JofreyRice

    jeez, I hope he still drops as a primary role. He’s just much better at that. I kind of look at his time in Philly as a rebirth, because of the change in his role and responsibility. Hard for me to believe Houston would have let him get away if he were a viable pass rusher. He doesn’t beat OTs when he’s gotta face them. That’s a pretty big weakness for an edge rusher.

    Once they selected M.Smith, I knew they were going for “ability from versatility”, but I’m hoping Barwin still drops 70/30 with the ROLB, and that they only send him when there’s a good shot of manufacturing pressure through confusion.

    This is an optimistic time of the year, but very few of these offseason moves inspire a lot of confidence. It seems like they’re minimizing the talent they’ve got. Honestly, I’d be happier reading a story about how Barwin’s carving out a role as one of the drop linebackers in the nickel package. It’s become clear that Fletcher Cox will continue to two gap primarily, sort of a tough fit for a natural one gap passrusher. Boykin will stay inside, and inferior cover men will play outside, purely because of size. Curry still doesn’t seem to have a discernible role, despite showing he can rush the passer on a pass rush poor team. And circling back to the first point, DeMeco and Kendricks–both pretty poor against the pass–will continue to be the LBs on passing downs. And I think the best we can hope for from the safeties is low-level competence. Wet blanket, I know, but these are my honest opinions.

    I do have a lot of faith in Kelly’s offense’s ability to score points. Hopefully the defense is just an afterthought.

    • cliff henny

      48-31 is same as 20-3, my man.

      • Token

        everyone is assuming the offense will get much better then last year. I dont think thats a slam dunk at all. How much better do you expect to get?

        • Andy124

          Doing the math; 20

          • OldDocRoss

            Pessimist! If we’re not better by at least 23 I’ll eat whatever hat Connor Barwin deems trendy.

          • Andy124

            I was just downplaying it for Token’s sake. I actually expect us to be 124 better.

    • Andy124

      I don’t actually disagree with any of the specifics here.

      I guess I’m just reminded of Howie’s comment about having some good players that just don’t fit with the new schemes and that the whole bit about making the scheme fit the players has to be taken with a grain of salt. I think of that more in terms of play calling than actual scheme. I think the team has accepted that they’re just not going to make optimal use of some guys that were acquired BC (before Chip), particularly on defense. I find solace in believing the team views this as an accepted consequence of the switch, vice thinking everything is perfect.

      I also think philsophically, Davis may lean more towards pressure via confusion than pressure via skill. Of course, you really don’t want to put all of your eggs in either one of those baskets.

      • JofreyRice

        I hear that, but it’s a tough pill to swallow if we’re tossing out good players–in Cox’s case, someone who might have been “great” as a one gap guy–just to field a near bottom of the league defense. I keep coming back to the question what are we gaining? I don’t see last year’s D as much better than the previous two seasons. Run defense looked better until Payton chumped it in the playoffs; to me it seemed that it flattered to deceive a bit against runners like Matt Asiata, Rashard Mendenhall, etc. They did a nice job on some good runners like Murray & Lacy, but you could also say they were keyed in on them b/c the starting QB’s were out.

        I mean hey, it’d be hard for me to argue against a plan that works. This second season, with the system in place, is going to be a barometer for what kind of team this will be going forward.

        • Dominik

          I think no one should attack you for the points you make, they are reasonable. I disagree on a few of them, though. I like to have Boykin on the inside (pay him whatever the market will value him, though, I want to keep him here) and while you’re right, Cox as 2 gapper is wasting talent to some degree, you have to remember that 2 gapping is a run only scheme. If Davis and the D thinks it will be a passing situations, Cox will fly.

          Of course, it’s not that easy. Play action, you won’t always know what is coming (at least if the Offense has a decent playcaller). It has slight disadvantages for Cox. But overall, don’t think Cox will turn into Thornton. He will be able to use his pass rushing abilities (and he used them last year, leading the team in hurries). And don’t forget, there are 34 DEs who have great value to their teams – if Cox can be as important to us as Justin Smith is for the 9ers or, I don’t even want to say it, JJ Watt is for the Texans, he was well worth the pick and we’re not wasting anything.

          What worries me is the pass rush. I’m not sure if we can generate a good pass rush with the players we have. But, you have to be fair: there was no option available that would have delivered a steady good pass rush for us. Not in FA, not in the draft.

          • JofreyRice

            Agreed that Cox will get a chance to do some attacking, but I think it’s very tough, physically, to control blockers on two downs and then have the spring and explosion to bully past them on the third. I know he’s a special athlete–one of the reasons he was my favorite lineman in that draft–but it’s just an awful lot to ask of anyone.

            Watt & Smith both have played in 1 gap 3-4′s. The reason I use the past tense is that we don’t know exactly what Houston’s D will look like yet; Crennel has been a 2 gap coordinator, historically. Forcing JJ Watt to 2 gap-a guy that looks every part the next Reggie White–would be a fireable offense. Smith & Watt do some stacking and shedding–mostly because they are smart players that have great vision into the backfield–but that’s not their primary responsibility. Watt, particularly, does some things that are technically wrong, but the latitude he’s got in a 1 gap combined with his athletic ability make it successful.

          • Dominik

            Agreed that Cox will get a chance to do some attacking, but I think it’s very tough, physically, to control blockers on two downs and then have the spring and explosion to bully past them on the third. I know he’s a special athlete–one of the reasons he was my favorite lineman in that draft–but it’s just an awful lot to ask of anyone.

            But that’s more of a theoretical discussion. Cox won’t play more than ~ 70 % of the snaps, we had a rotation that last year, I think we’ll have one this year (after all, we added Hart and Kruger to the mix, Curry improved as the season went on). So stamina shouldn’t be an issue, whether Cox is 2 gapping or not. If he can go, he will, if he needs at break, he will get one.

          • JofreyRice

            I thought he looked pretty gassed by the end of the year. Hopefully if the plan is to rotate, they have a good plan for implementing it, and are comfortable enough with the other guys in the rotation to play them.

          • Dominik

            I checked it, he played 85 % of the snaps against the Saints. That’s waaay to much. You’re right, they better play the D-Linemen to their physical limits, but not above them. But I think that is true for whatever scheme you have.

            Geathers was a disappointment last season, Square too, imho. Geathers is gone, Square has competition, Hart and Kruger are new – I think we should be optimistic that we can rotate more.

          • JofreyRice

            Oh, alibi fire here, I would have preferred Dee Ford! I think he’s going to be a productive pro. Obviously, he’s more limited in the way you’d use him–theoretically. Probably can’t do a “mirrored” defense, but I think Ford can beat tackles around the edge.

          • Richard Colton

            Perfectly mirrored, assuming you line him up opposite Cole. 0 points for versatility but what a one-two punch that would have been rushing the passer.
            Alibi fire huh? You know that one’s getting a response from me.

          • JofreyRice

            sometimes stuff like that just slips out without thinking!

        • Andy124

          what are we gaining?

          Guessing, a less player-dependant defense. In building this mirrored defense that happens not to make optimal use of Cox or Boykin, the end product is one that relies more on scheme and less on talent. This would make injuries less impactful and allow them to allocate less resources (cap room, draft picks) or at least get more bang for the buck on the resources they do allocate to defense. On defense they’re trying to build the Borg.

          Then again, maybe Davis was just the best DC we could attract and he doesn’t feel confident teaching or calling a 43 Under.

          I also agree with Dominik about liking Boykin in the slot and just pay him market value.

          Building the Borg has a nice ring to it. Sounds like a documentary that would be worth watching.

          • JofreyRice

            requisite “resistance is futile” response to garner nerd cred. :D

          • Maggie

            Hugh.

          • Dominik

            Don’t think Davis was “just the best DC we could attract”. Many were disappointed when he was hired, they were disappointed because there were bigger names out there. I don’t think Chip wanted those guys and didn’t get them, because Chip could offer something that not many teams could – total control. Besides salary (and Lurie was never cheap with that, look at Chips salary and the investments in infrastructure), what could be more appealing than total control of your unit? That’s the closest thing a non-HC comes to being a HC. ;)

          • Andy124

            Yeah, wasn’t really trying to assert that was the case, and in hindsight it actually added nothing to that sentence.

          • Token

            You need talent to win in the end. Thats the problem.

            Davis, before and after he got here, talked a lot about the 4-3 Under system. For whatever reason that got squashed. Im guessing Chip put his foot down. Even tho the roster fit that system better in theory.

          • RIP illa

            Great analogy. I can agree with the Borg defense to an extent, as it has it’s merits…mainly the ones you already listed. The only disagreements I have with it is the “neutering” of special players, who could be dominant. And that I’m not a true believer of scheming confusion or confusing opposing QBs. It can work some of the time, but only for so long. Plus I’ve seen many DCs try and do this with Manning and Brady, and unless they have talent behind it…they get destroyed and our standing at the podium, the following day, with a stupid expression and unable to answer why their D got shredded.

            Yet, it’s all probably just in my mind or view. There has to be some sort of middle ground that our team can reach with their D, cuz really good QBs are not gonna be awestruck and stuck by our “mirrored” tactics. And we’ll face those type of QBs come playoff time…when it really matters.

          • Andy124

            There has to be some sort of middle ground that our team can reach with their D

            That’s the key right there. Like a slider bar with scheme on one side and players on the other, we’re really just talking about where best to position the slider.

        • Token

          Cox and Boykin could essentially end up throw aways. Two of the very few really talented guys Howie has drafted. As Ive said before, we really better hope this Chip thing continues to work out. Or the cupboard could be pretty messed up for the next staff.

          • Dominik

            Cox and Boykin could essentially end up throw aways. Two of the very few really talented guys Howie has drafted.

            When you hear the names Foles, Kendricks, Johnson, Logan or Ertz, is there a bell ringing somewhere?

          • RIP illa

            Not really. The key words in Token’s assessment was the words “really talented”. Token has said many times before, and I fully agree, that we have not drafted many standout, difference makers, or whatever you wanna call it, in Howie’s drafts.
            Cox and Boykin have shown to be way more talented than all the others on your list of players, with the exception of Foles. However, we’ll see how Foles, looks and handles everything this year. I kinda believe QBs should be in a different echelon, when being assessed.
            Cox is just a genetic freak, and from day one you could see the potential, translate to legit talent. His rookie season stats are/were nothing to sneeze at.
            Boykin, who is also a freak in his own right, took a little longer to adjust…but almost everyone (or maybe just me and a few others) knew the talent was there, and his short adjustment period culminated into a monster season.

            We’re still waiting for Kendricks (also a genetic freak) to put it together…after two full years. And I’m a big Kendricks’ fan, but anyone saying his game is anything other than potential, is just flat out lying.
            Despite being another genetic freak (maybe cuz of PEDs) Johnson is still just a project, until proven otherwise, and yes I know the mantra is that he got better as the year went on, but I’m not 100% committed to that narrative without breakdowns of what actually made that happen. I still saw a guy struggling towards the end of the year.
            A lot of people have this high expectation for Ertz, and I could see it happening to a degree. However, I really believe it would be due to the scheme rather than him being uber talented. And he’s still has to beat out, and IMO, is not overall better than Celek, at this point.
            And I truly don’t understand why Logan was brought in the mix with all the other names.

            Point is, that Cox and Boykin are head and shoulders above the other names, and not just in being physically gifted, but in pretty much everything else also and you see or have seen it consistently on the field. But it seems as if they are not being utilized fully. The other guys…we’re still waiting to see if they will turn out to be what we hope they are.

          • Dominik

            I kinda believe QBs should be in a different echelon, when being assessed.

            Maybe. But there’s a pretty good chance that Foles is our Franchise QB. The good chance that it could happen (and we’re not the Jags, we’re a playoff contender at least) alone makes Foles a phenomenal pick in the 3rd round.

            Re: Kendricks

            Yes, at the moment it is potential, but he flashed it at the end of the season. Let’s see if he can keep that level of play.

            Re: Johnson

            He was the best rookie Tackle last year. He had the biggest upside (athletically) of all the Tackles. Together with Long and Patterson he was the best offensive Rookie out of the first round (in a bad draft class – I give you that). Sure he’s no stud yet, but you can’t expect that.

            A lot of people have this high expectation for Ertz, and I could see it happening to a degree. However, I really believe it would be due to the scheme rather than him being uber talented.

            Drafting players who fit your scheme is a huge part of drafting. And sure, Ertz rookie season wasn’t spectacular, but if you look at the context, it was pretty good.

            http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sports/eagles/Zach-Ertz-I-want-to-be-one-of-the-best-tight-ends-ever-to-play.html

          • RIP illa

            I’m apologizing for being or seeming argumentative in advanced, with this response.
            No argument against Foles whatsoever as most likely being our franchise guy.
            All MK does is flash…so far. But agreed.
            Why can’t I expect a stud from a 4th overall pick??? Other than the fact that they deemed him a project, right after drafting him. And you already gave it to me, that it was a bad group of tackles :-)
            And yes drafting for scheme is huge, but this is a “talent” based discussion.

            So I think Token’s OP still stands. I’m just not sure why it seemed you were going against it. No worries tho, I really hope that all of our young high-ish pick guys put it together and start killing it…Especially MK!!!

          • Dominik

            Re: Johnson

            Oh, we better hope Lane is a stud. I agree, you better be one if you’re a #4 pick. BUT: not as a rookie. I expect to see flashes from a high pick even as a rookie, but you can’t expect too much. That’s just not fair.

            And I was going against it because I don’t think Howie drafted bad. You can’t judge a group after two or even one year, but the early results are positive. We got 4 starters (I count Boykin as starter because of his impact) + Curry + Brown (a 7th rounder turned into a future 4th rounder) in 2012 and 3 starters (I think Wolff will be a starter sometime during this season) + Ertz, whose role will increase, in 2013. Historically speaking, those are very good results.

            Of course we don’t know how the picks will pan out in the long run, like I said, you can’t judge a draft after two years, but it looks good right now, so there’s no reason to be pessimistic, imho.

          • RIP illa

            Agree with all of that.

          • Fly High

            Cox and Boykin throwaways? First of all, small corners are simply not extremely functional in the NFL anymore. Did you see pro-bowler Brandon Flowers get dropped, and people were not rushing to pick him up, because he is small. The Eagles have been brilliant in keeping Boykin in a place he can succeed.
            As for Cox, he can be a great 2-gapper, as well as a great 1 -gapper, it just took him a while to adjust, his stats won’t be as gaudy, but that does not mean he can not be great. There is nothing about his skill set that says he can not be a great 2-gap DE.

          • OldDocRoss

            Agreed on Cox.

            Fun Fletcher Cox Fact: he’s still younger than four guys drafted in the first two rounds of the draft this year.

            He’s got the physical talent to be a great two-gapper and time is most certainly on his side. won’t light up the stat sheet like he could’ve done attacking from the inside but that doesn’t mean he can’t be every bit as good.

            Disagree slightly on Boykin. I think he’s worth a shot on the outside but either way he’s already delivered waaaaaaaaay more than would normally be expected from a 4th round pick so I don’t see how anyone could describe him as a throw away.

          • Richard Colton

            I love Boyking too. Gives you so much in the slot. I’ll say it again though, I don’t see how he’s more than 50/50 to be an Eagle past this year.

          • OldDocRoss

            You thinking he’ll be a problem or that someone’ll make us a decent offer?

            I think it’s more likely than not he’s on his last contract here but I’d hope he stays for 2015. He is under contract through ’15 right, or am I being dense?

          • Richard Colton

            I think he’ll want, and get, starting CB money. I think he’ll want, and get the chance to start outside. Just not here.

            Don’t see Howie giving that contract to a guy who plays 50% of the time. I get the counter argument – pay him b/c he’s a playmaker and slot corner is essentially a starter now anyway. I want to believe; I just don’t see it. He’s about 3 inches from a multi-year deal with the Eagles.

          • NickS1

            People didn’t pick up Flowers because he got TORCHED last year in KCs press scheme. That’s why there was no rush, not because he was small. Boykin doesn’t have the issue of getting torched. He’s a freak athlete.

          • anon

            If i’m cox i’d prefer to get paid more in a 43 and get some sacks, especially if i like pass rushing than staying in a 34 and doing the “grunt work”. That said hopefully the team is successful and he wants to stay. I think him and boykin will come down to $ vs are we contenders.

            But gotta agree those are the two most talented people we’ve drafted in a while. That said using boykin as a slot corner i think really allows him more flex to use his brain and speed to make plays underneath. he might actually like that position better.

    • DLRJ

      I mostly agree that it’s easy to get too optimistic this time of year. I would, however, argue that “low level competence” from the safeties would be a significant step up, and could potentially allow the outside corners to play more to their strengths.

    • Token

      I was about to post something similar when I read this. I agree. Personally im having a hard time getting all that excited about their season. I just dont feel like its gonna go like some think its gonna go.

      Its the same defense as last year that wasnt near good enough. No pass rushers. Their answer is to make a guy that cant rush the passer do it more often. Jenkins is a very slight upgrade. Allen likely starts again. Cary starts again. The ILBs that arent good enough are still here with zero depth behind them.

      On offense you hope Foles is the true real deal. That can help hide deficiencies. They are hoping Sproles is helped by smoothies. Matthews will have to be a factor year 1. Maclin must stay healthy.

      The thought process is clearly coaching can fix all. I think they believe in coaching over talent to a extent. Im curious how it plays out. But I have a suspicion that many of the blind faith Chip fanatics may look at this thing a bit differently after this season.

      • JofreyRice

        Yep. And as you mentioned, it’s no slam dunk that they’ve improved the offense. Hopefully they can squeeze a year or two out of Sproles before he completely falls off the cliff and–I know we disagree on this–replacing Jackson’s production is not a foregone conclusion. As much as I like the reports on Jordan Matthews, Greg Cosell talks about how he had a hard time separating, and really didn’t play to that 4.4 time. Is Maclin going to be able to raise his YAC? Can he make it more than 3 or 4 plays in a row without rolling around and clutching some body part in apparent agony, and then returning 2 plays later?

        All that being said, the closest I get to idol worship with this team is appreciation for Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme & larger offensive philosophy. And we have a bonafide superstar top-3-in-NFL-RB in McCoy. I would have liked to have seen a little more investment in the D, but I’d bet Chip can replicate the offensive output from last year. And if he can’t…well, we’ve got bigger problems than just the D.

      • Charliefoxtrot

        I’m just thinkin of how the scheme turned Coop into an asset, and projecting JMatt to do the same as he’s clearly a more gifted talent, though I think Jofreys and your analysis could (shudder) be correct too.

    • Fly High

      I don’t buy that Cox is naturally a 1-gapper rather than a 2-gapper. Why? He just had more experience at 1-gap.

      DeMeco does have limited athleticism in coverage, but Kendricks does not, No reason why Kendricks can not be. I think he began improvement last year, and I expect him to be better this year.

      I think their plan to get DeMeco off the field more often may be to play more Dime, now that they have more DB depth.

      • JofreyRice

        Specifically, his combination of speed, agility and power make him an ideal defensive tackle in an attacking system. He’s a quick twitch athlete that explodes off the snap and already had a decent repertoire of passrush moves–including a spin–as a junior coming out of college. If you’re going for a 2 gap defensive lineman that can lock out tackles you want a lot of brute strength, awareness, and length. Those are traits Cox posesses, but I don’t think they are necessarily what makes him special. When he came out there were some that thought he could possibly play 4-3 defensive end, because of his freakish athletic ability. Generally, that’s not a guy you’d draft to eat blocks. I know Kelly & Company didn’t draft him, but it’s tough to see a guy that was showing as much promise as Cox was and relegate him to a role that minimizes his impact.

        Kendricks problems in coverage are completely different than Ryans’. He lacks awareness and seems really easily set up by receivers with any kind of route-running technique. Kendricks has all the athletic ability you’d want from a LB, you won’t get an argument from me, thre. If you could put Ryans & Kendricks’ strengths together, you’d have one good cover ILB. It’s fine that you “expect” him to be better, but there have been expectations surrounding Kendricks since he was drafted, and so far, the main things he’s talked about is keeping a mental count of how many tackles he’s got per game. His strengths have really been when they turn him loose to blitz from the inside. He’s got to work on the mental aspect of coverage, IMO.

        • Fly High

          Intelligent response Jofrey. Thanks
          Cox does get to do attack mode on passing downs. If Hart becomes his back-up, Hart is a classic 2-gap guy, he can keep Cox fresh on some run downs, and let him rumble on 3rd and long.

  • Fly High

    Wow, there is a lot of negativity here that seems not based on reality. Yes, we don’t know how the defense will go, but I see many more signs for optimism that pessimism. First of all, there are two ways to improve a team. One way is to get better players, the other way is to develop players and have them improve their skills individually and get more comfortable with a scheme. If you take the first route, often their is an adjustment period, at least on D, before a player can give their best. The Eagles could have gotten any new players, and still have an improved D by players getting more comfortable with the scheme and each other, and by having position coaches that are good at teaching fundamentals and players that are willing to learn.

    Signs of a brighter outlook on D. 1, The Eagles are in year 2 of a complex scheme, and don’t have to think so much cause they know what they are doing now
    2. The Eagles have chosen good position coaches and players who are willing to learn. I expect that most players on the D will be improved individually, some will surprise us by how much.
    This is in addition to the fact that Jenkins is at least a small upgrade to Chung, Carroll looks like he was a steal as a CB, and we drafted DL depth that can help right way.

  • JoeKnowsNada

    Doesn’t everyone say that, in the NFL, most teams are equal, talent-wise? And the only real difference is in attitude and excellence in execution? With that said, if it IS true, one year in a new system, executed better in Year 2, on BOTH sides of the ball, HAS to count for SOMETHING, even if it’s with the same players, give or take.

    Now, we did lose DJax, however, just about every other off season move made was intended to shore up special teams, or add depth where needed. We did that. So, if Special Teams improve over how poorly they played last year, and, IF we can get a few significant punt returns and kickoff returns (we had virtually none, last season), as in a few ST scores, we can offset loss of DJax and any DEE underperformance.

    Note, also, that while the Secondary is not “sexy,” or big-hitting, it does include a competent, experienced and intelligent “QB” in Malcolm Jenkins. Just putting guys in the correct positions would be a big win over last year’s play. Fletcher and Williams are competent, solid guys, as well. I also believe Nolan Carroll is better than we think, and will come out of pre-season holding a starter’s role.

    Yeah, we won’t be the 2000 Ravens or the 1991 Eagles, however, we “can” be good. I would take “Top 15″ right now.

  • IG:blkboyflyy

    For those craving it Chip breaks down all the games from 2013-14 :Eagles Mobile: All-22 Playbook Analysis With Chip Kelly | http://bit.ly/1oAKcQl http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/news/article-1/All-22-Playbook-Analysis-With-Chip-Kelly/b34addff-9e40-4b8d-8c19-294b8072f676