The Eagles traded for Ernie Sims to be the new WLB. He's 6'1, 225 and excels on the move and in coverage. In the draft they added Keenan Clayton, a very similar type of player. He was taken in the 4th round. That shows that they really valued the guy and he wasn't just a late round project. The backup MLB they took in the draft, Jamar Chaney, isn't a 260-pound run stuffer. He's 6'1, 245 and real athletic. He also is good in coverage.
The team promoted Moise Fokou to be the starting SAM linebacker. He's 6'2 and now weighs about 238 pounds. He doesn't have the bulk/power of Chris Gocong, but he's good on the move and is more natural in coverage.
What does all of this mean?
I think Sean McDermott sees the new look of the NFL. A few years back we intentionally made the defense bigger. Parcells was in Dallas and they had a power running game. Gibbs was in WAS and they were trying to build a power running game. The Giants had Brandon Jacobs running wild. Things have changed. Tony Romo is the key to the Cowboys offense. Mike Shanahan will run a lot in DC, but it isn't the traditional power rushing attack. Brandon Jacobs might be on the decline in NY.
We went 11-5 last year. Think about the losses.
We lost to Brees, Romo, and Rivers. The Oakland game was an anomaly, but we can even learn from that. The big play was the pass to the TE. He beat Trotter over the middle. Asante had the worst tackle attempt in NFL history. No one was able to chase him down. We needed more speed in the middle of the defense.
Who was in the Super Bowl? Brees and Manning. Elite passing QBs. You might counter that the NFL has been a passing league for a while. That's true, but things are changing. Passing attacks are getting better. 10 QBs completed 65 percent of their passes this year. Think about that. In 2002 that number was 4.
Think about Manning and Brees. Peyton beat the Ravens and their aggressive front seven in the playoffs. Then he beat the Jets. They had the best D in the league and a true shutdown type CB in Darrelle Revis. Drew ate up the Vikings and their outstanding D-line.
Those QBs get the ball out quickly. It is hard to rush them. They are deadly accurate. You can have great coverage and still not stop them. Remember the sideline throw from Brees to Devery Henderson against us? Great throw. Phenomenal catch. Sheldon Brown was all over Henderson, but it didn't make a difference.
Dallas drove us crazy with WR screens. You aren't going to stop that play with a DE or CB. You need pursuit to shut that down.
I think Sean McDermott sees all of this and is trying to change the defense up a bit. He loaded up on DEs. He wants guys who can get to the QB without blitzing. He sacrificed size at the LB level to improve our speed and coverage ability. I don't see any change at the DB level. I'm sure we wanted a top shelf CB, but weren't able to solve that situation...yet. We had to have pass rushers and LBs. We got them when they were available.
Stewart Bradley made mention in an interview that we'd be doing some new things on defense. He didn't get specific. Don't look for drastic changes, but it will be interesting to see how Sean has changed things in his 2nd year with the new personnel we've added.
I know people are worried about the D. I think we'll have a better D-line. I know the LB play will be better. 3/4 of the secondary should be better. RCB is a major hole at this point, but let's see what happens. I think we've got a chance to be pretty good.
MORE MINI-CAMP STUFF
King Dunlap was running as the backup RT yesterday. Interesting. I've always thought of him as a LT. He reportedly is now 325 pounds. He looked solid in drills, but the question for him is always live action. He's never been physical enough in the past. Maybe the new size will help.
Rookie FA Austin Howard was the backup LT. Again, interesting. He has real good potential. Juan Castillo has to coach him up.
Andy Reid made it sound in his PC like there was no competition at OC. He said Nick Cole is the Center. They are trying to see what McGlynn can do, but I found it odd that Reid didn't see a competition for that job.
Alex Hall is playing DE for now. I don't like that. He looked more like a LB to me. We'll see where he is in Training Camp.
We did find out that Victor Abiamiri had microfracture knee surgery. He'll be out for a while now. There's no guarantee he plays in 2010. This poor guy can't stay healthy. It used to be Buck. Then McDougle. Now VA. Who's next?