WILL DC Jim Schwartz be fired this week? Did we really cut LB Zach Brown over trash talk? Why can’t we get sacks? Why can’t we cover? Are the Eagles only marginally better than the rest of a crappy division?
I was going to release an article about what 12 Personnel is, and why it’s so effective. (It’s already written and waiting for me to publish it). However, given recent events that have some of our fan base in quasi-panic mode, I decided to delay that article, and go point by point to give NON-SPIN answers to these questions.
1) Will Schwartz be fired this week?
No. In fact, unless someone in the Front Office contracts mental retardation, Schwartz won’t be fired this season. Does he need to go? Hell yeah. Fuck yeah. We shouldn’t need to score 30 points to win a game. Giving up 25 points per game is not the mark for defensive competence.
That being said, teams with legit playoff hopes, don’t invite upheaval in the middle of the season. Fact is, this is just one loss, following two wins. An Eagles win this coming Sunday, puts us firmly in command of the NFC East, and the Jim Schwartz problem gets the volume turned down on it.
2) Did they really cut Zach Brown over some trash talk?
On the surface it certainly looks like it. When I take a deeper look, it suggests that the trash talk may have just been a patsy for a move the team already wanted to make. Not just that, but it can also be used to give the appearance of a disciplinarian’s backhand.
It’s more likely because Brown was merely okay in underneath zone coverage, and didn’t make any splash plays. On the other hand, LB Nate Gerry who (ahem!) started the last two games, has flat-out, out-played Brown, over that span.
That’s significant, because even last year, the Eagles used Gerry at the MLB spot when Jordan Hicks went down. Brown was here on a one year deal, and was never in the long-term plans. The Eagles just moved sooner, rather than later. This now clears the way for LB T.J. Edwards (whom coaches love) to get playing time.
The other part of this is, it sends the message that any shit talking, must be backed up. You don’t get to paint a target on the team, and then be invisible all afternoon. Also, we don’t know just how much Redskins cultural baggage may have followed Brown up here. There could very well (quite likely), be issues regarding his fit into the locker room.
3) Why can’t we get sacks?
QB’s are generally releasing the ball in fewer than three seconds vs the Eagles. The coverage is so loose that it allows for this. If we can get QB’s to hold the ball longer, then not only will sacks go up, but completion percentages will come down.
4) Why can’t any of our CB’s cover?
This notion that ALL of our CB’s are trash is nonsense. The problem with our Corners isn’t a talent problem, it’s a system problem. Regardless of the CB, they are almost never allowed to play press coverage. Almost all of our man-to-man coverage involves giving up huge cushions that the WR settles into, to make quick, drive sustaining catches.
Making matters worse is the Single-high Safety coverage that this team has favored since the late Jim Johnson, used to keep S Quintin Mikell in since 2007. Yes! We’ve been rocking the same look for 12 years now. Sean McDermott? Single-high. Jim Washburn? Single-high. Juan Castillo? Single-high. Todd Bowles? Single-high. Bill Davis? Single-high.
There were times when we’d deviated here and there, but that was few and far in between. Complain all you like about FS Rod McLeod and SS Malcolm Jenkins, but answer this question, honestly. Prior to them, who was the best Safety duo for this team?
So yeah. The issue is systemic.
5) Are we a bad team that’s only slightly better than the rest of our division?
Hard to say that we’re the best, since we haven’t beaten Dallas yet. YET.
As far as being a bad division. The Eagles are a couple of plays away from being 5 -1. We saw the giants make a game of it vs. the Patriots, without RB Saquon Barkley and a rookie making his 4th career start. The Redskins… Okay the ‘skins are legitimately awful. The Cowboys were 3 – 0, then ran out of zero win teams to crush, lost two games, took a deep breath, and then found a way to lose to a zero win team. So it’s hard to know how bad they might be.
That all being said, even if the NFC East is a bad division, that in no way means we have to be a bad team. Look at the aforementioned Patriots. Their division has been ass tar-tar, for two decades and yet we never hold it against New England. So who cares how bad our rivals are, if WE are truly good enough to win every week? Don’t sweat that shit.
So there you have it. Win or lose this week, understand: The sky is not falling. The Eagles need work, but as always the season is “work-in-progress” sort of thing every year. In five months, the Phillies will be reporting to Clearwater, and you’ll be pining for these days. So sit back and enjoy this ride while we have it.
And don’t panic.