SINCE the days of Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson, the Eagles have been a Single-high Safety team. That started in 1999. Stated plainly, the Eagles have been almost an exclusively Cover One, for the last 21 years. It’s time we went to a more Cover Two based system.
Some of you may be new to football. Some may not know, and have been ashamed/afraid to ask. So let me start by quickly, and very basically explaining what Cover One and Cover Two are. Trust me, no matter how new you are to football, these concepts will be super easy to follow.
Lots of teams like to walk the Strong Safety “into the box” (closer to the line of scrimmage) to help take away the run. That leaves the Free Safety back in coverage. In theory, he’s sort of a Center Fielder, keeping the action in front of him, acting as the last line of defense.
Sometimes he’ll cheat towards one side or the other, to help a CB “bracket” a particularly talented WR. While that CB has some help, the other CB is mano-a-mano with his assignment. Every mistake there is potentially a killer, so that CB has to play the assignment, and not gamble. Lest his desire to make a big play, cost his team six points.
In this alignment the Strong Safety comes out of the box, and plays about as deep as the Free Safety. Instead of a single “center fielder”, these two can now each take half of the back end. Even better, they can each help a CB cover a WR. This can allow the CB to gamble on interception opportunities, while still having someone back there in case he misses the ball.
While Cover Two takes a man out of the box 1) That man shouldn’t be there anyway, and 2) It means the LB’s have to be able to handle their business up front, instead of stealing a man from the Secondary to get their job done.
If Single-high was working, why change it? The thing is, it’s been working less and less for us. On the one hand, interceptions have been really hard for us to come by. Especially in recent years. Our Super Bowl win? We gave up 505 passing yards, which is both a Super Bowl, AND a playoff record. Guess how many of our stating Secondary players missed that game? Zero. That was done vs our starters.
Jim Johnson. Sean McDermott. Juan Castillo. Todd Bowles. Bill Davis. Jim Schwartz. Six coaches over 21 years. Imagine that each was a chef, and they have all tried to improve dessert by serving the same vanilla ice cream (Cover One), in a different bowl.
In the meantime, how many good, free agent CB’s did this team spend big money on, only to have pretty much every one of them flop? How many bad CB’s did we draft? Contrast that against how many Pro Bowlers we’ve produced at that position since CB Asante Samuel in 2010. That number by the way is zero.
I’ve been saying for years now: The CB’s aren’t bad, the scheme is. They can’t gamble, undercut some routes, and make plays, because they frequently have had no deep help behind them. The result is the Eagles, year in and year out, hemorrhaging passing yardage. The result is hurries and hits that should have been sacks.
Switch to a Cover Two base. Give the Defense a chance to be truly dominant again.