Wake-Up Call: Eagles Defense Divided On Future

What Eagles defenders hope for in their next coach's scheme.

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

When a coaching change occurs, it initiates a series of falling dominoes. For the Eagles, the uncertainty especially exists because they’re currently a team without a head coach, and thus, without much direction.

Due to the fogginess of who the future coaching staff will be, players are unsure of how they fit, or even what there will be to fit into. But the interesting part of the Eagles’ situation — particularly on defense — is not only do they not know what the future holds, but they don’t agree on what they want it to hold.

“It’s the great unknown that everybody’s getting ready to walk into,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “That’s obviously the process the team is getting ready to go into. Nobody really has the answers.”

One of the most important answers the Eagles have to find this offseason is what kind of defense they want to run. Some critics of Billy Davis — and Chip Kelly — suggest the team’s personnel fits a 4-3 better than a 3-4.

In the 3-4, they have regressed. Although the defensive alignment is far from the only reason for the Eagles struggles, it gives some credence to critics’ claims. In 2013, Philadelphia ranked 14th in points per drive allowed, according to Football Outsiders. Last year, they ranked 15th, and this season, they fell to 23rd.

The question of what scheme the Eagles should utilize, however, is overblown and somewhat unnecessary, according to several players.

“People make a lot out of it, but it’s not that big of a deal,” DeMeco Ryans said. “It doesn’t matter to me. If you’re a football player, you can play football.”

Others took a similar stance to Ryans, including Bennie Logan, who said it didn’t matter to him what the Eagles run next year or if he’d prefer a one-gap or two-gap system. The nose tackle became frustrated when reporters tried to pry an answer out of him, concluding: “I just like to dominate the guy ahead of me.”

Jenkins, who excelled in his role this season and earned a Pro Bowl alternate selection, disagreed with his teammates’ de-emphasis of scheme.

“I think for everybody it should matter. Not everybody fits in every scheme,” Jenkins said. “I’ve played in a 4-3 and 3-4 defense. Personally, as a secondary guy, I like a 3-4. It takes away some of the run fits and allows you to focus a lot more on the pass. I’ve had some of my most productive seasons in the defense that we’re in. Whenever you get a new philosophy, it changes a little bit. You have to re-figure out where you’ll be at and what your role is.”

Vinny Curry, meanwhile, told reporters that he is “suitable for a 4-3.” For others, the question is less about scheme and more about what position they would play.

Similar to Jenkins, Walter Thurmond can play corner and safety. When asked which he prefers, Thurmond indicated free agency would be the significant factor as teams will talk with their wallets about which position they value him at more.

While Thurmond may depart, Eric Rowe likely won’t leave any time soon. The rookie cornerback, who can also play safety, said he isn’t very concerned about what scheme he plays in next season. What matters most to him is that the next coaching staff doesn’t switch him from corner to safety.

“Toward the end, I just felt like I was getting better and progressing,” Rowe said. “I can’t wait until next season.”


“Peace is possible, in other words, with Shurmur.” On why a Pat Shurmur hire might make sense.

A look at Adam Gase through the lens of his former players, who would trust him with their lives.

“I’d love to see the Eagles recapture the magic.” Sean McDermott sounds interested in a Philly return.

Tim asked a number of Eagles players what they would like to see in their new head coach.


Peter King’s coaching-slanted Fine Fifteen over at MMQB aligns Josh McDaniels as the ideal candidate to replace Chip Kelly.

McDaniels learned a lot from his 28-game Denver head-coaching debacle and is ready to take the next job. He’ll be a better communicator this time, and he’ll understand that just because he has been mentored by Bill Belichick for years, it doesn’t necessarily mean that players are going to respect him right away as they do Belichick.

I’m bullish on McDaniels having gone to school enough on what he did wrong, and I think he’ll have a good chance to win the second time around. And for those who say he won’t leave Belichick? For the right job, he will. The Eagles, though, might not want to go the former head-coach route.

Pat Shurmur’s week at the helm of the Eagles’ offense showed the flaws that Chip refused to acknowledge, writes Marcus Hayes.

While Kelly apparently recharged in Key West, Fla., in preparation for a round of job interviews last week, coordinator Pat Shurmur ran Eagles practices just as Kelly ran them the previous 16 weeks, with one exception:

Shurmur condensed the playbook.

The simplified offense produced 35 points and 435 yards, despite two turnovers. Players lined up correctly the first time. Substitutions were seamless.

It helped that Shurmur de-emphasized the frenetic, “Machine Gun” pace Kelly adores. It helped more that the players practiced fewer plays more times during the week.


We’ll continue to have you covered on the latest with the Eagles coaching search.