Wake-Up Call: The Eagles’ Defensive Overhaul
Malcolm Jenkins couldn’t help but laugh. He was asked if there is anything the Eagles could take from their defensive scheme last year — particularly when they had success in the first half of the season — and apply it to this year, but the safety quickly quieted that notion.
“We threw last year out,” he said.
Outside of the obvious change from Billy Davis’ 3-4 to Jim Schwartz’s 4-3, there will be a number of subtle differences on the defensive side of the ball this season. While last year’s scheme wasn’t very complicated, this year’s system is even simpler. According to Jenkins, the level of complexity significantly varies by position, with defensive line seemingly being the simplest.
The defensive line will have a lot of freedom in how they attack, so linebackers and defensive backs have to be able to quickly diagnose what’s unfolding in front of them because their responsibilities may change depending on the front four’s varied path to the ball.
“We have the freedom to really allow our ends to cause havoc and pick and choose where they want to go whether it be inside or outside. We don’t necessarily handcuff ourselves to one way of picking things up,” Jenkins said. “There’s really no definition. It’s just letting them eat and be disruptive and you play off of them.”
According to Jenkins, the Eagles won’t use free and strong safeties; he and Rodney McLeod will instead play on the right or left side. They’re both versatile enough to play either closer to the line of scrimmage or as the deep safety, so Schwartz will have room to be creative on the back end.
Jenkins noted that while he hopes to drop down and cover receivers because he views it as a strength of his, it will be more of a game-to-game decision based on match-ups. He added that he probably won’t practice at nickel corner until late in training camp because the younger defensive backs need to be evaluated.
Still, there will be plenty on his plate at safety.
“This defense — probably more than most I’ve been involved in — really requires the safeties to be vocal and take command of their side of the field,” Jenkins said. “[McLeod]’s somebody who’s done that. He’s been a signal-caller [and] has no problems with it.”
Although the draft is just eight days away, Jenkins says he pays little attention to it. He avoids lobbying for fellow Buckeyes — Ezekiel Elliott, for example — because it “doesn’t go well with the teammates you already have,” but he added that he would keep up with next week’s selections more if the Eagles draft a safety.
One thing Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman have both said is that they’re looking to add pass-rushers. According to Jenkins, the Eagles’ pass rush will perhaps be the biggest determining factor in the defense’s success this season.
“The first thing we’re going to have to identify — and like I said, it won’t be until training camp, until preseason games — is can we generate pressure with four men? Any defense that can do that, it obviously opens up more and more that you can do with your defense as far as scheme,” Jenkins said. “If you can’t generate it, then obviously you’re going to have to blitz more to manufacture that pressure. That’s the biggest thing; it’ll start there. If we can generate a four-man pressure, then the whole book will be open.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I learned a long time ago not to worry about anything I can’t control.” Sam Bradford on the quarterback situation.
More on Jason Cole’s report that the Eagles and Fletcher Cox are close on a new contract.
Breaking down some Braxton Miller tape to see if he’d fit in Philly in yesterday’s Draft Daily.
Tim breaks down Monday’s Howie Roseman/Doug Pederson press conference.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
John Smallwood of the Daily News thinks the Eagles should go all-in for Carson Wentz.
I was in with those who believed the Eagles should surrender whatever it took to get Kelly the quarterback he believed he needed to successfully build a championship team in Philadelphia.
A franchise quarterback has more value than any other position.
The Los Angeles Rams just sent the 15th overall pick, two second-round picks (Nos. 43 and 45), a third-round pick (No. 76) and their first- and third-round picks in 2017 to Tennessee for the 2016 No. 1 overall pick, a fourth- (113) and sixth-round pick (177).
The Rams are expected to draft University of California quarterback Jared Goff.
Two first-round picks and Cox, which actually makes it three first-round picks, is steep to move up six spots to get Wentz but those are the kind of things you have to do to get a franchise quarterback.
Jimmy Kempski analyzes the new Eagles locker room seating chart.
• Hey look… The Eagles left an empty stall next to Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. Wonder what that could mean.
• There were also two empty stalls found in the linebacker section, one among the defensive backs, and one among the defensive linemen. I’m torn on whether there’s anything to read into that. It’s more than likely meaningless, but certainly the Eagles could use players at those spots.
• Connor Barwin formerly had the Sam Bradford spot, while Jason Kelce had the JaCorey Shepherd spot. Those are easily the two best locker room stalls in the room. Barwin isn’t thrilled. Shepherd must be feeling good about himself.
• The offensive linemen seem to be lined up according to projected starters at the top right. Allen Barbre would be at the “left guard” in this scenario over Stefen Wisniewski.
• My pick for most likely “camp body row” player to make the team: Malcolm Bunche.
We’ll talk to the players again before the second day of minicamp practice around 12:15.
Asher Dark contributed to this post.