The Eagles should make Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott their next head coach. There might be other guys out there who can do the job on the defensive side of the ball, but over the last four years McDermott has been the best defensive coordinator in the NFL.
The Eagles have enough good players on their DEFENSE to have one of the best defenses in the league, especially if they feature a 4/3 front. Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, and Vinny Curry are good football players on the defensive line, but with the right coaching they could be better. Cox has Hall of Fame talent, if he is put in the right defense and turned loose.
At the linebacker positions, they need better coaching. Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks are both young and talented. The can both be very good. I would put Connor Barwin at the strong side linebacker position and have him battle the league’s tight ends. He’s got the speed, length and quickness to match up great with them. Tight ends have hurt the Eagles defense and Barwin could put a stop to it. I would still give him chances to rush the passer.
The Eagles have two of the best safeties in the NFL in Walter Thurmond and Malcolm Jenkins. I liked what I saw out of Eric Rowe and Nolan Carroll at the cornerback position. Young safety Ed Reynolds showed promise.
McDermott cut his teeth as a secondary coach. He’s very good at disguising coverages and blitzing quarterbacks. He can create pass rush pressure without pass rushers. Imagine what he can do with some pass rushers.
The defensive discipline versus the run and the pass both fell apart as the season went along. In the run defense, the defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs were all on different pages as a season preceded. A good coaching staff could correct that.
Look at the Carolina defense and you see one of the most disciplined defenses in the league, year in and year out. They all know how to tackle and they tackle. There were times this year, when not one Eagles defender could make a tackle.
Carolina plays the sweep a certain way each time it is run. Their stacked linebackers play power plays the same way each time. The Eagles defense fell apart because they played a certain play one way one time then another way at another time. Each defender has to know where his needs major improvement with their discipline.
I asked Thurmond about it and I also asked Jenkins about it, but they danced around the question and didn’t give me a clear answer for why the secondary’s commitment to getting physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage evaporated as the season proceeded. They started off strong, but by the end of the season, they looked just like the 2014 Eagles secondary. As far as I’m concerned that is a coaching problem.
I’m confident that a defensive coordinator like McDermott will be successful at keeping that secondary focused and on the same page. He will make sure that the corners and safeties will stay with their techniques, play in and play out, game in and game out throughout the season.
I think the Eagles will have a top five defense under McDermott without adding anybody.