The first thing you have to establish as a defense at any level of football is that you can effectively contain the opponent's running game...
The Eagles at some level of the organization apparently had taken this truism for granted. I'm guessing they thought they had the run defense portion of the game already covered, so they concentrated on bolstering pass rush and secondary pass coverage instead...
Interviewing Cory Redding a few nights ago on the subject--- Redding has played 9 years in the league as a 6-4, 292 DE out of Texas, mostly with the Lions and Seattle, now with the Ravens--- and he said his first priority is always to make sure the run is contained--- and only then does he think about hunting the QB (which resulted in 2.5 sacks for Redding last week against the 49ers)...
It sounds simplistic... but it works for Redding and the Ravens. Why did the Eagles get away from putting run-stopping and gap control at the top of the defensive pyramid?
Perhaps it was a false confidence in the abilities of our linebackers and safeties to step up and fill gaps in running situations? Did we overestimate the abilities of our LB personnel to contribute signature plays to help stop the run? Or was it a case of stacking our secondary so prominently that smart opponents decided to use the run more often?
The real answer may be all of the above...and much more.
It's a complicated and very fast-moving game at the line of scrimmage, and the margin of error may be as small as a tenth of a second or less. So I don't mean to minimize the degree of difficulty of containing a running game at the NFL level. But if somehow the Eagles had made run-stop a bigger or more successful priority in 2011, I don't think we'd be seeing personal attacks on the coaching staff like we see in the photo above.
Stopping the big run play takes a lot of pressure off the mid-level and back end of the defense, too. It makes opposing quarterbacks have to work harder and smarter, too, and puts mental pressure on the opponent's offensive game plan.
I'm all for the wide-9 defensive line attack on the passing game of the opponent--- but when it doesn't get home to put significant pressure on the QB, all kinds of gaps and lanes open up for the Eagles linebackers and DB's to have to clean up. And a lot of times, these mid-level and back defenders have had a hesitation factor in deciding whether to stick with their primary coverage assignments or move out of position for emergency control.
This fraction of a second "hesitation" in filling exposed gaps and lanes is why we have seen so many missed tackles, guys arriving late to a play or (even worse) overpursuing a play from a bad angle this season.
Our resident analyst JB the Sage had a great take on this mental confusion of defensive coverage in a comment this weekend:
"After forcing myself to wartch the game again... it was clear to see. Sure... some of our players aren't that good and we miss tons of tackles... but the worst part is... the relationships in the Zones are blurred. Simply put... they don't know who they have (to cover). Thats points straight to the DC."
It makes sense when you think about it like that. If a tenth of a second is the difference between a defensive stop of a run or a pass being defended, and gaps and lanes are not being contained by the defensive line, and if there is even the briefest hesitation about what your coverage or containment assignment is supposed to be, then linebackers and D-backs are going to find themselves briefly out of position and late getting to the play.
And that hesitation in coverage is only made worse by failure to stop the run. Opposing QB's can afford to take less chances and pick their spots to throw the ball. They can beat you with a more conservative game plan... which only means they will run the ball even more to exploit uncontained gaps.
This is not meant to be a shot at Juan Castillo. It's just an observation that the Eagles' less-than-consistent results in stopping the run have been a symptom of exposed gaps and lanes in the interior defense, and coverage confusion in the mid-level and back ends of the defense as a consequence. These things combined have caused hesitation in coverage and containment all around.
In other words, the Eagles defense in 2011 is less a physical problem than it is a strategic design of space containment which requires better timing.
Hmmmmmm Cowturds and Gnuts (and Deadskins) lose ........ The BEast is a bit wimpy this year ....... Hey we are 3-1 in the BEast ........ Say's it all really!!
And I had the 50 point Percy Harvin on my bench!!!!1!!11!!!!!!!!!!
Look out rest of the BriSuksEgg... The Nut Chokers are on the prowl!!!!!1!!1!!1!!!!!!!!!!!
The Nut Chokers! BEat the best team in da BriSuksEgg league to stay alive!!!!!1!!!1!!!111!!!!!
Yeah... the cowboys not only whip our arses this year.... but then they beat the cards and muck up our draft posotion!!!!!1!!!1!!!!!!
Could they muck us up any worse?
RoobCSN Reuben Frank
So if Eagles win out, Cowboys lose three of next four, and Giants go 2-2 or worse, Eagles win NFC East. #Don'tHoldYourBreath
oh. i just learned that socrates died. if any of you follow soccer, that's an icon disappears. he enchanted my younger years when i was a supporter of brazil. R.I.P.
If we could only win an effing game! - nobody else in the division wants it enough either... oh well... our kids just don't deserve a playoff berth anyway...
i'm in such a foul mood. sorry. @dutchrubb
it's so bitter, to see the cowboys lose, the giants maybe as well, and that serves no purpose. i'm in a gloomy mood.