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Billy Davis is expecting improvement on the defense to come from two separate areas.
One is that players from last year are more comfortable in the Eagles’ 3-4. And two is that he’s now able to add more layers to the scheme.
“Looking at last year, a lot of things we did, we were growing into this,” Davis said. “And it’s nothing more than a progression of growth from the end of last year to again a couple pieces we added and a couple schematic things we added to it and just threw it all at them. We will continue to grow that and hopefully continue to grow that way with both the understanding they have in our scheme and the scheme itself.”
Sunday’s Week 1 win against the Jaguars was a good start. It must be noted that Jacksonville could end up being one of the five worst offenses in the league. But after a couple lapses early, the Eagles’ defense dominated in the second half. Jacksonville was held scoreless on eight second-half possessions: five punts, a turnover on downs, a fumble and the end of the game.
The pass-rush, a question mark going into the season, looked like a strength against the Jaguars’ below-average offensive line. And players like Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks turned in outstanding individual performances. Below is a look at what we saw in Week 1. Read more »
Watching from the sideline, linebacker DeMeco Ryans knew the Eagles had a first down before the ball was even snapped.
Darren Sproles had just picked up 8 yards on a screen, but he was tackled short of the sticks, and the offense faced a 4th-and-1 from the Jacksonville 49. The Eagles were trailing 17-0 in the third quarter.
“Sitting on the sideline, I knew we had ‘em,” Ryans said. “Because as a defense, you’re kind of happy about a third-down stop and you’re not expecting a fourth-down play. Our offense gets on the ball and runs it quickly, catches everybody off-guard.”
Chip Kelly didn’t hesitate. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur told him the Eagles were short, and Kelly made a tempo call – a message that can be communicated with one or two words. The call lets the offensive players know it’s time to bust it back to the line of scrimmage and get the ball snapped. Read more »
As we count down to the start of the regular season, Tim and Sheil try to answer some of the big questions facing the Eagles. On Sunday, they discussed life without DeSean Jackson. On Monday, they predicted what’s next for Nick Foles. Tuesday was a look at the offensive line, which faces an early challenge as Lane Johnson serves his four-game suspension. And they checked in on the secondary yesterday. Today, they take a look at the pass rush. Read more »
Leading up to training camp on July 25, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We start with the defensive line.
The pressing question: Can Fletcher Cox make the leap?
Cox has been a productive player and shown off his unique blend of power and athleticism on several occasions. But he’s yet to put it all together. The third-year player has had three different defensive coordinators and three different defensive line coaches in his first two seasons. Now he gets some continuity under position coach Jerry Azzinaro. Cox demonstrated in 2013 that he could indeed play defensive end in a two-gap 3-4 after firing off the ball as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 as a rookie. Read more »
Not long after the Eagles moved up to select Fletcher Cox with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Jim Washburn declared: “When God made [Cox], he made him to play in this system right here.”
That system was a Wide-9 4-3, in which an interior defensive lineman’s objective was to “rush, crush and close,” in the words of former offensive line coach turned defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
We seem far removed from that era in a way, but in reality it was half of Cox’s NFL experience to date. After being trained for a full year to attack, attack, attack, Cox jumped to a role in a two-gap 3-4 scheme that required a shift in mind-set and technique.
“He was transitioning from a 4‑3 to a 3‑4 defense so I think his production towards the end of the year was most like everybody else on our defense. It was a little bit better towards the end of the year than it was the beginning of the year,” said Chip Kelly.
“But he’s big, physical and can run for a big guy. Very difficult to block in one‑on‑one situations, try to create some one‑on‑one situations for him but I think he’s really starting to get acclimated to what we are doing on the defensive line and obviously like everybody, I think year two will be better than year one for him.”
Defensive line is an under-the-radar need for the Eagles going into free agency and the draft.
Here’s what we know: The team really likes Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton as 3-4 defensive ends. It would be a surprise if they’re not two of the three starters going into 2014.
But there’s a lot we don’t know. For example, do the Eagles think Bennie Logan is the answer at nose tackle? There’s no doubt they like Logan, but maybe he’s more of a rotational guy who offers versatility and plays DT in sub packages.
There are more question marks with the backups. The Eagles want to rotate bodies up front, but they just didn’t have enough talent to do a ton of that last season. It’ll be a surprise if free agent Clifton Geathers returns. And Damion Square will have to battle for a roster spot next summer.
As we mentioned yesterday, it’s no guarantee that Vinny Curry returns.
Keeping all that in mind, look for the Eagles to add bodies and competition up front in the coming months. The “big people beat up little people” motto is especially true on the defensive line.
When taking a look at the free agent list, here are eight names that caught my eye: Read more »
When Howie Roseman was asked last week whether the team was still in position to be aggressive in free agency given the extensions he handed out to current players, the Eagles’ GM offered a short response.
“Yes,” he said.
But before the next question was asked, Roseman clarified.
“It will affect other things going forward, but yes.”
It doesn’t take a detective to figure out what those other things going forward are. In fact, they have names: Nick Foles, Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks and Brandon Boykin. You’ll notice the common thread among those four players is that they were members of the Eagles’ 2012 draft class. Read more »