THE Eagles 2023 Defense is going to be hard for me to pin down for a while. We have Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai, who is said to favor a 3-4 base. Like the man he’s replacing (Jonathan Gannon), Desai is also favor a “multiple alignment” approach. However, it’s our base which will drive the type of personnel that the team either adds, or allows to slip away...
Right now all the talk is about whether or not SS Chauncey “CJGJ” Gardner-Johnson will re-sign; and whether CBDarius Slay will be traded. These guys are important, but those aren’t the big issues for this Defense. Those guys benefit from our identity. They don’t create our identity.
Let’s start with something you already know: Pass rush and winning up front, are what the Front Office wish to be the calling cards of our Defense. So they usually spend the big money, and the early draft picks, on the front seven. Which poses a bit of a problem for this season.
If we’re switching to a 3-4 base, under contract, we have Haason Reddick at LOLB to build off of, and Jordan Davisto plug in at NT. However, every other player at the DT position: Fletcher Cox, Ndamukong Suh, and Linval Joseph, are all free agents as of this week, or already gone (Javon Hargrave). So we have no interior depth.
At 3-4 DE, we have possibly Milton Williams, but DE Josh Sweat and DE Brandon Graham aren’t 3-4 DE’s or OLB’s either. In fact, the last time Graham played in a 3-4, (back in 2015), he was moved to OLB, and was a liability vs the pass. Those legs are 8 years older now. So, two of our better 4-3 players don’t fit the new 3-4 scheme.
If we do switch, it would make far more sense to play Nakobe Dean at ILB. That would give OLB/DE Patrick Johnson a chance to shake his ill-fitting tweener label. Johnson has been used as a situational, pass rush, 4-3 DE; but he’s too small for every down use there. A move to 3-4 OLB could transform his career.
With OLB Kyzir White being a free agent, we really don’t have a presence at RILB, let alone depth. So there’d have to be a fair amount of roster rebuilding between now and September, with everyone learning how to communicate new terms, as they fill new roles. Which basically sounds like missing the playoffs, due to the division’s weakest defense.
Of course, if we stick with a base 4-3, we just need a DT to pair with Davis, and to re-sign White. After that, we’re building depth, and guys who are used to their 4-3 roles, are just learning new terms. Better still, the new DC can lean on veteran leadership. If everything is all new to everyone, we’re essentially playing 11 rookies.
BUT! Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. We’ll revisit this when Free Agency quiets down.
EAGLES Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon, has fucked off to become Arizona’s head coach. This is a HUGE break for our team! Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen also left, to become the Colts next scapegoat, but I don’t give shit about that right now. I want to celebrate Gannon’s departure RIGHT NOW! This is addition by subtraction.
The very first article that I ever wrote on this site, was ‘WANT A SUPER BOWL? THEN FIRE BILL DAVIS.’ In it, I mentioned how continuing to settle for Davis as our Defensive Coordinator, wasn’t going to get us where we wanted to go. I wrote that on February 2, 2014.
During 2015, the Eagles fired then head coach, Chip Kelly, and Davis followed. In 2016 Doug Pederson, became our new Head Coach. Pederson was joined by DC Jim Schwartz, who inherited the talent that Davis had been squandering on Defense. The result was that we won our first Super Bowl on February 8, 2018.
Similarly, Gannon has been squandering the talent on the defensive side of our roster. Yes, yes, I know! We got 70 sacks in 2022. But what else did we do? Let me give you a quick rundown:
We got turnovers in bunches at the beginning of the 2022 season. When those dried up, no adjustment was made. Just more and more soft coverages, allowing easy completions which kept our Defense on the field. Look at how we finished the season:
Ryan Tannehill: 14/22 – 63.6% – 141 – 1 – 0
Daniel Jones: 18/27 – 66.6% – 169 – 1 – 0
Justin Fields: 14/21 – 66.6% – 152 – 2 – 0
Dak Prescott: 27/35 – 77.1% – 347 – 3 – 1
Andy Dalton: 18/22 – 81.8% – 205 – 0 – 1
Davis Webb: 23/40 – 57.5% – 168 – 1 – 0
That 3rd and 30 vs Dallas? Our four man rush allowed Dak Prescott to move gently left, and heave a 50 yard strike, to a guy who had recently been on his couch! Who dialed up that rush? Who called for that loose coverage?
Hey, how about the development of the rookies, DT Jordan Davis and LB Nakobe Dean?
Davis was injured in Week 7, and sat out three games. Prior to his injury, he had five starts. Once he returned, he would never again see 20 snaps in a game under Gannon. Free agent additions DT Ndamukong Suh and DT Linval Joseph, helped give DT Fletcher Cox relief during Davis’s injury, but they should have never out-snapped Davis after his return. Both did in every game.
Dean played all of 34 snaps all season long. He played a total of 43 if you count the playoffs. There is no way to convince me (or most of you), that Dean should have played behind LB Kyzir Whitefor most of this season. Don’t even get me STARTED about CB Zeck McPhearsonbarely seeing the field.
Does anyone want to discuss his adjustments in the Super Bowl? What adjustments? Great question. The Chiefs played pitch and catch all game long. I’ve seen clouds under more pressure than QB Patrick Mahomes saw that night. And yet how often did we see a five man rush? How about Man-Press? A Fire Zone Blitz?
When asked what defensive system he ran, Gannon answered with “Multiple”. I hated that answer right from the get-go! Multiple should mean that we see all kinds of exotic looks, but this guy didn’t come with the resume for Multiple. (Few in history have.)
Instead of “Multiple” what we got was mostly 4 – 3, off-Corners, 2 Deep Zone. Translation: Missionary, under the covers, in the dark, while wearing pajamas. Just get me someone who wants to play with his toys, and dreams up inventive things to do with them. Handcuff her behind her knees, and hit it from the back with your foot on her cheek. Let’s see some imagination!
My fear was that Gannon was going to stick around, and continue to squander talent. However, his fucking off, opens the door to a quick return to the Super Bowl. Maybe even as soon as next season, despite free agent departures like DT Javon Hargrave and CB James Bradberry! We could stumble into a dynasty here, folks.
Hold on. Let me dial it back a sec. I haven’t been a fan of any of our DC’s since Jim Johnson. Most of you have ridden that ride with me (hey, remember Juan Castillo?), so I don’t have to go into detail. We could still screw this up, but as of now, we’re stronger for having lost him. Today, we had some addition by subtraction.
Categories include an EXCLUSIVE weekly Offensive Line Report (Rushing TD’s (6 points)+ 3rd downs converted by handoffs(1 point) + sacks allowed (-2 points)= score); as well as Drive Killer (Int – FR – 4th down Tackles – FF – TD).
New Category Ace is for Kick return TD’s, Returners run-down, kicks blocked, etc.
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for these Four Things articles. It’s to point out what we need to address BEFORE the game. Then AFTER the game, there’s a no-bullshit assessment of whether or not the Eagles did any of what they needed to do, to ensure the win.
So how much of what I mentioned in Four Things: Titans did the Eagles actually get around to doing? Well let’s see:
1) Pick the Fight: Titans rookie WR Treylon Burkes (1 – 1 – 25 – 25.0 – 1) was laid out like a cheap suit, by FS Marcus Epps (2 – 0 – 0 – 0), on a CLEAN hit. (See the picture.) Once we set the price for one Touchdown, at one Concussion, the Titans decided to avoid the end zone altogether. Or at least they played like it.
I said we have to win at the line of scrimmage? We got 6 sacks and shut down RB Derrick Henry (11 – 30 – 2.7 – 0 – 0).
I said we needed tackles that put men on the ground? Well, we didn’t hold players up to strip them. In fact, Titans ball-carriers were dropping like they were hit by sniper fire.
Hits that draw flags? See Treylon Burkes.
Send players to the blue tent? Burkes was literally knocked out of the game. CB Kristian Fulton (1 tackle) hurt his groin when A.J. Brown ran him over for a touchdown. QB Ryan Tannehill (14/22 – 63.6% – 141 – 1 – 0) acquired a second injured ankle, after being sacked 6 times. (Both Titans had to be removed from the game.)
We beat the high, holy hell out of this team. (DONE)
2) Keep Him Clean: The idea was that our Defensive Line would keep blockers off of MLB T.J. Edwards (6 – 0 – 0 – 0), so that he could make stops on Derrick Henry. The D-Line decided to go us one better, and took to stopping Henry, themselves. No complaints there!
As for Edwards? Pretty easy day. They may not even have to launder his jersey.(DONE)
3) Rush for 100 Yards: The Eagles ran for 67 yards as a team. Taking away Jalen Hurts 12 yard contribution, the RB’s ran 19 times for 55 yards (2.8ypc). Normally that would have me pretty angry. Especially considering that it represents a 300 yard swing in rushing yards, from last game to this.
Instead, I’m amused by the sheer ridiculousness of how dominant we were, having gotten soooo far away from the statement we made last week vs Green Bay. It’s unbelievable! I cannot imagine what it must be like being a defensive coordinator, and seeing Philadelphia next on your schedule. This was a HOOT! (NOT DONE)
4) Tight Man Coverage: The Titans WR’s were targeted 8 times and caught 3 balls for 35 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 concussion. Our CB’s spent the day following their receivers like unpaid bills. I knew this was going to be a poor match-up for Tennessee, but yikes. We were out there like:
So we totally slammed 3 of the Four Things this week. Next week, we take a 2 hour drive right up I-95, to visit the Rutherford New Jersey giants, and hand them the fifth loss that they should have gotten today. Friggin’ Commanders! Can’t do shit right.
On The Whole:
We spent the whole week gearing up for the second coming of The Bodybag Game, and what did we get instead? A bunch of bitches whining to the refs for penalties. They should have been embarrassed. Where were the tough guys, that I’ve seen in other games?!
Sure, they brought their physical style of play. We even saw a few of our guys head for the blue tent, and then exit the game: (LG Landon Dickerson, WR Quez Watkins(6 – 5 – 37 – 7.4 – 0), and LB Kyzir White(5 – 0 – 0 – 0) ). That said, it was clear that the Titans don’t take punches as well as they throw them. And this is what passes for playoff caliber in the AFC?
In last week’s FTR, I mentioned that rookie LB Nakobe Dean (5 – 0 – 0 – 0) perhaps should see some of Kyzir White’s early snaps. After White left today’s game, Dean did nothing but make my point. That kid looked good out there!
All season long, I’ve been misspelling the first name of LB Haason Reddick(2 – 1. 0 – 0 – 0) as “Hasaan”. I don’t know where I picked up the incorrect spelling, but you can google “Hasaan Reddick” and see any number of places where I could have picked it up. However, upon seeing this Tweet from him today:
it only stands to reason that the man knows how to spell his own name! (Meaning I was wrong.)
I’m not going to go back and correct every instance of the misspelling, but I will be better going forward, and will head to the Eagles website (I rarely go there), to check ALL of my name spellings against the roster.
This is embarrassing, but in this world, we must be accountable.