Twitter Mailbag: DeSean, Shifting Ends And Play-Calling

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From AGold_89: what is the advantage of shifting DT’s like Cox and Jenkins to the DE spot?

We saw Jenkins outside a ton during the preseason. The veteran tackle said after the third game against Cleveland that he won’t necessarily be a regular on the edge once the regular season hits, but the coaches wanted to get him a lot of reps so the shift is natural to him when the time comes.

“He did some of that in Green Bay and he was effective with it,” said Andy Reid. “Last year, we were just trying to get him in and going at tackle and we figured we would evolve into that by the second year. He’s very comfortable there and he plays well there.”

The advantage really comes in run situations. One of the good things about a Jim Washburn defensive line is that even the big men are athletic; that’s certainly the case when it comes to Jenkins and Cox. That gives the Eagles flexibility. In short yardage situations, it benefits the defense to have bigger bodies banging along the front line rather than using someone like Jason Babin, who is better equipped to play against the pass.

From @Slap_Bet: could you talk about play selection? how might it be different?

A good point was brought up at Marty Mornhinweg‘s press conference Thursday about how the Jason Peters injury might have a direct effect on the play-calling. Losing Peters is losing an absolute freak of an athlete, a 6-4, 340-pounder who can crush you and then sprint upfield to find his next victim. Does his absence limit what the offense can call?

King [Dunlap] is very good at almost everything that we do, generally, offensively,” said Mornhinweg. “But we did special things…with [Peters] than we would with a normal player.”

In other words, certain elements may be taken out.

Otherwise, I would expect LeSean McCoy to be a little more active in the passing game, and I anticipate that DeSean Jackson will be used underneath a little bit more to counter the safeties playing him so deep. Speaking of which…

From @DanGeringer: Will DeSean Jackson fulfill his early promise or has familiarity/film killed the cat?

This season will say it all about Jackson, as far as I’m concerned. Mornhinweg said that Jackson comes in with a little more weight to his frame, and we know that his mind is more clear. He’s 25, he’s paid, he’s in his prime. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t have a monster year.

Has familiarity/film killed the cat? No, just boxed it in. Versatility is necessary for star players in the NFL. If you consistently beat the opponent in a particular way (in this case, with fly patterns) they will adjust. In order to stay great, you have to then find another way to burn them. That is Jackson’s objective this season.

We know that he will never be a possession receiver — the most catches he’s ever had in a season is 62 — but he can be a more consistent presence for this team.

From @phillysniper:  Can the TE in this offense continue to be a red zone threat without the “prototype 6’4 WR” wideout?

As we wrote about in the wide receiver preview, Jeremy Maclin is 6-foot yet  has been the team’s best red-zone receiver the past two seasons, racking up 19 catches and 11 touchdowns inside the 20 over that time. It’s more about Michael Vick working better in constricted areas, and receivers being precise in their route-running.

Having some big tight-end targets down there doesn’t hurt either. Brent Celek had 10 catches for 68 yards and four touchdowns in the red zone last season. Clay Harbor had just one catch inside the 20, though it went for 16 yards and a score. The anticipation is that Harbor will take a step forward this season, which should help the Eagles cause.