Eagles Wake-Up Call: ‘We’re Looking For Non-Impostors’

Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Below is an excerpt from my Eagles Almanac chapter on the changes on defense. If you haven’t done so already, click here to purchase this year’s edition of the Almanac.


In Year 3, we have a pretty good idea of what the defense is going to look like from a schematic standpoint. The Eagles run a two-gap 3-4 that focuses on stopping the run first and foremost.

Billy Davis and the players did a good job last year of generating pressure, and the plan in the secondary will be to play mostly with a single high safety and disrupt routes/timing within the 5-yard window.

“I think we want to be a press, single high team that gets after you with a pass rush,” said Malcolm Jenkins. “That’s what they’ve been coaching. That’s what Cory Undlin specializes in is teaching press and technique. We have the front to get after the quarterback so we don’t have to cover for a long time. And we’ve got safeties with range. So I think we have the personnel to get that done.”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Team gets rid of assistant coach and adds his replacement. Players rave about the new guy and subtly take jabs at the old guy. Everyone assumes the problems are solved. Then the regular season begins, and the narrative gets thrown out the window.

The great hope this year is Undlin. The 43 year old is on his fifth different staff since breaking into the league with the Patriots in 2004. It doesn’t take long to notice Undlin’s intensity. During a meeting with reporters in the spring, he refused to even say Denver or Broncos, instead referring to his former stop as “the other place.”

What players and coaches seem to like about Undlin is his technique work, specifically when it comes to pressing opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage.

“In Coach Davis’ defense, we play press,” Undlin said. “We don’t always play press. We play off, we play quarters, all that other stuff. But we’re looking for non-impostors, meaning guys that get up and line up in press, and then the ball gets snapped, and then they open the gate, and then they just let the guy run down the field. We don’t want that. So my job is to get them to believe in themselves and believe in the technique. If they get lined up on any guy, I don’t care what guy it is, the starter or their fourth wideout, that they’re gonna play with the technique we’re trying to demand out of them.”

Davis has already seen results.

“The things that [Cory] emphasizes on a meeting basis and an individual period basis have been showing up on the team tape,” Davis said. “…What happens is when you’re in individual, your brain is thinking about footwork. But when you go to team and you have a call that you have to execute and an offense that you have to read, your footwork kind of goes on its own. So you try to drill it and teach it to where they do it naturally, and he’s taken big steps with the guys. That’s happening in team naturally because they’re repping it so well in the individual [periods].”


Click here to purchase your copy of the Eagles Almanac.


Fletcher Cox? Jason Peters? Who is the Eagles’ most indispensable player in 2015?

Jimmy Johnson’s advice to Chip Kelly? Find one person you trust.


Marcus Hayes of the Daily News has a story on Eagles CB Brandon Boykin:

“I don’t think I’ve entered my prime,” said Boykin, entering his fourth season. “I know my worth. I know what I can do, what I will and won’t accept. If they don’t want me in Philadelphia, I’ll be somewhere else. Getting interceptions and scoring touchdowns.”

He’ll do hot yoga if it makes him better. He’ll do backflips with gymnasts. He’ll relearn how to run in the blazing Georgia sun every summer, because, he has learned, the NFL is a privilege, not an entitlement.

“I get to play in the NFL,” Boykin said, smiling.

Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation takes a look at the Eagles’ first four games on the schedule, including their Week 2 matchup agains the Cowboys:

This one’s going to be good. The last time the Eagles and Cowboys played at Lincoln Financial Field, it was Dallas who left with the victory. The big angle heading into this week will obviously be centered around 2014 NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray squaring off against his former team. Can you imagine if Murray scores a few touchdowns against the Cowboys in an Eagles win while Joseph Randle and/or Darren McFadden do nothing? And if Miles Austin records a touchdown pass, it won’t be long before people point out how the Cowboys are still paying him over $5 million this year.

Philadelphia has an early opportunity to stick it to Dallas and prove they’re the best team in the NFC East. This should be a great game that sets up an even better rematch later on in the season.


We’ll have something for you, as always.