A Close Look At The Eagles Defensive Depth ChartBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, General News, News Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
The Eagles have the potential of having an outstanding defense. I didn’t say they were going to have an outstanding defense, but the potential is there to have one. Juan Castillo has to be able to step back from the focus of looking at the specific techniques of each player and focusing on the overall scheme as a tactician. His focus must be strategy, while the assistant work on drilling the players on technique.
This defense is talented and deep up front. The Eagles defensive line has Jason Babin and Trent Cole listed as the starting defensive ends. They’ve missed most of the practices, but it might be a good thing because they’ll be fresher for the regular season and we get a better look at their backups who need the work. Brandon Graham is backing up Babin on the right side and Darryl Tapp is behind Cole on the right side.
Graham needs to show everybody in the preseason games, that his outstanding play at the beginning of training camp wasn’t a temporary thing. The outstanding play of his backup Phillip Hunt is another reason why Graham must play well. Rookie Vinny Curry is the third team right defensive end behind Cole and Tapp.
At the defensive tackle position, Cullen Jenkins and Derek Landri will be the starters. Landri is starting in place of Mike Patterson, who is still recovering from offseason brain surgery. Jenkins got off to a quick start a year with his pass rush, but slows down as the year went on. They need him so sustain his pass rush through out the season.
Rookie Fletcher Cox is second-team at left defensive tackle and Antonio Dixon is beside him on the right. The surprising Cedric Thornton is third team on the left side, while Frank Trotter is third team on the right side. Fourth-team defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu has shown some pass rush ability. I see potential in Thornton as a pass rusher on third downs, but he has to make the football team first.
I think the Birds would be comfortable going to battle with this group even if Patterson is unable to return. They need to apply more consistent pass rush pressure from the middle of the line. If defensive line coach Jim Washburn and Jenkins can help Cox reach his potential as a pass rusher quickly, the Birds defensive line should be dominant. Keep an eye on Cox is pass situations because it will be a key to how good this defense will be.
There must be more production at the linebacker position in terms of forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, sacks and interceptions. Castillo has to get this defense thinking turnovers.
Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans will try to show us why the Birds traded for him. He hasn’t been outstanding during the camp, so I hope he has been saving it for the games. I want to see him run through the back door on some of these run plays to make some plays in the backfield. Ryans is backed by an improved Casey Matthews, who has gotten bigger and seems to more comfortable in the offense. Ryan Rau backs up Matthews in the middle.
Rookie Mychal Kendricks is starting at strongside linebacker. This kid is an explosive hitter, who will make his presence felt immediately. He’ll also get caught out of position at times due to his inexperience. He’s backed up by Akeem Jordan and Monte Simmons.
At the weakside linebacker position, Brian Rolle is the starter with Jamar Chaney backing him up. Rolle who is undersized from a height standpoint is very, quick and instinctive. He must play well with Chaney breathing down his back.
Right now Chaney is starting with Ryans as the team’s nickel linebackers, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Chaney wins takes the starting regular defense job from Rolle, but loses the nickel position to him. I see Rolle at the same level as Chaney as a pass defender, but he might get swallowed up by the offensive linemen on regular defense.
At the moment Keenan Clayton is the third string weakside linebacker in back of Chaney. He’s also a candidate for the starting nickel linebacker position because he’s got tremendous speed.
In the secondary, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has had the best training camp of any defensive player, will start at left cornerback. Rodgers-Cromartie can be as good as he wants to be. There are few players in the NFL with his talent, but he’s got to dedicate himself and play with discipline.
Curtis Marsh is his backup with Brandon Boykin and Cliff Harris as the third and fourth string left cornerbacks respectively. I would move Boykin to safety if I were in charge. He has shown me that he loves to tackle and hit people. Moving him to safety would make the Birds secondary much stronger.
At the right cornerback position, Nmandi Asomugha is the starter with Joselio Hanson on the second-team, Brandon Hughes behind him and Trevard Lindley backing him up as a fourth string right cornerback. The recently acquired Kevin Thomas is listed in back of Lindley.
Asomugha still has to show me why so many people considered him to be one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history. We’ll see if he can replace all the big plays Asante Samuel made for this football team.
Nate Allen is one of the starters at safety. I expect a big year from him because he’s finally able to utilize his speed and quickness. Kurt Coleman is the other starting safety and he has had a very good camp. It took awhile but I’m starting to see some production from Oshiomogho Atogwe, who is backing up Allen. but he’s going to need to be outstanding in the preseason in order to get on the field. Tom Nelson, Phillip Thomas and Wade Bonner are the remaining backup safeties.
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