THE 12: #8 PICK A BIT * *
(I wrote this last night, and I could have re-written it today, after the Issac Sopoaga signing (so excited!), but I feel that would be faking the funk. Besides it's neat to see what difference a day makes.)
ONE of the worst things about being an Eagles fan over the last two years has been watching the lack of gap control. To call it abysmal would be to pay it a compliment. Our DT’s have been good at gaining penetration, but have done an absolutely poor job of stacking against the run. This is especially awful when you consider that the 4-3 base they played was originally designed to stop the run by forcing it outside.
Hearing that they may go to a 3-4 alignment with no 280lb DE’s , no 325lb NT, and no 250lb ILB’s only sounds like the problem will only get worse. Hearing that they may utilize a “4-3 Under” scheme sounds a little better, but only if they change the culture of what Eagle DT’s are expected to produce.
Remember Mike Pitts? He was the guy that rotated with Mike Golic at DT next to Jerome Brown. Speaking of Mike Golic, remember his brother Bob Golic? Near the end of his career Bob played in Oakland and was the guy who did all the dirty work with Howie Long, so guys like Greg Townsend and Scott Davis could shine. Mike Pitts and Bob Golic locked down one gap and stacked blockers to cause traffic to flow away from the pile ups they created. John Jurkovic did the same thing in Green Bay. You need those guys. They make it possible for other guys to rack up numbers while the run still gets shut down.
With a Defensive Line consisting of 4 guys all trying to gain penetration, you end up with nobody defending the run. Defending the run and the pass are two different sets of techniques. For the last two years we’ve been measuring DL success by sacks. While our DT’s have accounted for 22.5 of our 80 sacks over that span, (11 of 50 sacks vs. 1801 rushing yards in 2011, and 11.5 of 30 sacks vs. 2021 rushing yards in 2012) our run defense has gotten worse as the DT’s share of our sacks have gone up.
The real measure of how your Interior plays is how many rushing yards they give up between the DE’s and how rarely the QB can step up to avoid rushers off the edge. THAT is your standard. Tipped passes and sacks are bonuses. Here in Philadelphia we’ve come to prize the highlights over functional stability. This is wrong from every basic football, engineering, strategic or even mathematical standpoint.
Pick a b⁞tch. Somebody has to be the guy who crashes the “A” gap and gets one-on-one match-ups for everybody else. We need a big body who can cause a traffic jam in between the Center and the Guard and force plays away from that gap. He won’t rack up numbers, and fans who don’t know any better will say he doesn’t do much, but if he forces RB’s and QB’s into Fletcher Cox’s arms and allows DeMeco Ryans to flow to the action, he’ll be worth his weight in gold.
Antonio Dixon is the guy we have on roster now, but it’s likely that the Eagles will get a big body from this Draft pool. Regardless of whether it’s Dixon or not, this move would the key to taking away the run. The Bears have done it for years. The Vikings did it with the Williams boys. Baltimore won a Super Bowl behind it in 2000 with two aging DT’s.
We can do this.
(And we DID!) :)
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