THE Truth is right in front of you.
Wide Reciever. Safety. Cornerback. In that order, those have been the most frequently… let’s call it ‘requested’, positions from Eagles fans for the upcoming Draft.
While it would be nice to replace the speed we just lost at WR ,and while like many I came into the off-season wanting Secondary help; picking any of those positions early, ignores the things we need the most now. It ignores those truths hiding in plain sight.
RUNNING THE BALL:
LeSean McCoy was the NFL’s Leading Rusher so you wouldn’t think this would be an issue right? Well you’d be dead wrong to think that. But last year we went 10-6, right? What if I told you that in 5 of those 6 losses, McCoy rushed for under 80 yards. What if told you that in those games where McCoy went over 80, we went 6-1. (FYI: The only game that queers both stats is the Chiefs game where he ran for 158 and we still lost.)
So basically if a team can shut down our run game, we can’t win. That game against the Saints? McCoy ran for 77 yards. Under 80 yards. 24-26. Losers.
The Defense grabbed 37 sacks last year. Our leader in that category was Trent Cole with 8, followed up by Conner Barwin with 5. All bias aside, there is no player among our front 7 who commands a double-team anymore; and it would be kind to say that our pass rush was inconsistent last year. (FYI: In all 6 of our losses we lost the sack battle. Though this actually indicates TWO problems, one of them is definitely getting after the QB.)
Last year we allowed 46 sacks, 28 of which were of Nick Foles in 10 starts. Most uncomfortable was how those sacks began to creep upward towards the season’s end.
Foles was sacked 16 times in his last 5 starts. Taking the Detroit game out (since neither team could rush the QB in those conditions, and both teams went run heavy on offense), that’s 4 times a game, in games not played in blizzard conditions. If we allow sacks at that rate next season, Foles will be sacked 64 times in 2014. That’s too many hits on your QB.
Despite the overwhelming fan support for edge players, most of our biggest problems have to do with who controls the Line of Scrimmage. Bottled up run? See the line. Can’t get to the QB? See the line. Your QB getting roughed up? See the line.
But most fans simply can not, (or perhaps will not), see the line. How about you?
On either side of the ball your line is the engine that makes your scheme work. It’s a little easier to see this on Offense, but this goes all but unnoticed on Defense most of the time. This despite the fact that systems are generally named by their fronts like 3-4, 4-3, and 4-4. (4-6 is named for a Safety that played under Buddy Ryan in Chicago when Buddy was developing the scheme.)
I’d like to see the Eagles invest in a couple of players who can change the complexion of the game at the snap of the ball, instead of having to wait until the ball is in the air. I’d like to see them get a couple of guys who get a chance to influence the game on every snap. But the only players who get that chance play on the line.
I hope that in this Draft someone in our Front Office, can see that.