Eagles

More Pessimism…More Roster…More Review

We started looking at the Eagles roster earlier in the week, breaking down their roster and looking at positions, taking the pessimistic and optimistic views of the spots to find a rationale middle ground.  Now, let’s take a look at the defensive side of the ball.  It admittedly took me awhile to get around to this due to how rough it’s going to be.  However, its got to be done, so let’s delve on in.

Defensive Line:

The Optimist Says:

This is the strength of this team, as it is a unit with depth and young talent.  Fletcher Cox is quickly becoming the most dominant 3-4 defensive end in the league.  Meanwhile, Cedric Thornton is one of the best run stopping defensive ends in the game today and Bennie Logan is a quick and powerful nose tackle who proved he can handle the middle as well as anyone in the NFL.  The second unit does not suffer from any drop off in talent, as Beau Allen proved to be a quality back up nose tackle, as he is as big of a force in the middle as you can get while Vinny Curry provided the Eagles’ best pass rush, registering 9 sacks in very limited playing time. Brandon Bair added some veteran savvy, making this a very deep and formidable unit.  This is the part of the defense you build around

The Pessimist Says:

This is a good unit, however, there are still question marks.  Fletcher Cox has had one dominant year, and so he needs to prove that he can be a consistent force in the middle.  While Logan is a very strong nose tackle, he is still undersized for the position, so he will be prone to wearing down and injuries.  Thornton is a strong run-stopper, but he is limited in what he can do as a pass rusher.  Vinny Curry may be looking for greener pastures first chance he gets in order to become a regular player for a team that will utilize him as the pass rusher that he is.  Beau Allen is a back up player at this point in his career and Bair should not be counted on as a core piece.  Instead the piece we are supposed to believe to be part of the core is Taylor Hart, another one of Kelly’s Oregon Ducks who couldn’t make the team in his rookie year.  This unit is strong, but still has a lot to prove.

Conclusion:

This is a strength of this team.  Cox still has to prove consistency, and he is also going to cost a pretty penny to keep in green, but he is a phenomenal 3-4 defensive end.  He is someone you build a defense around, and I am excited to see him grow in this defensive unit.  Speaking of which, the entire d-line is something to watch as they develop into a dominant unit.  They already are among the best in the league, and I only see it getting better, assuming we keep the key cogs in Eagles’ uniforms.

Linebackers:

The Optimist Says:

Mychal Kendricks is one of the best playmaking linebackers in the NFL, someone with insane speed who can play in coverage, defend the run, and blitz better than anyone else on this team.  He is undersized, but he makes up for his lack of size with his quickness and instincts.  Demeco Ryans is still an above average linebacker, who is one of the smartest minds in the NFL.  He can read and diagnose plays faster than anyone else in the league, and he can still defend the run with the best of them.  Even after his injury, he is a smart enough player to still excel in this league.  Connor Barwin was as elite as it gets as a pass rusher this past year and he is still the best linebacker at setting the edge against the run.  On the other side, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham combined to form a powerful two-headed monster.

The Pessimist Says:

Mychal Kendricks is phenomenal, yet he is undersized which makes him susceptible to injury.  Demeco Ryans is coming off his second torn Achilles injury, and at age 30, he may not be so quick to come back from this one.  He is very below average in coverage, and that was pre-injury.  He may not be able to be counted on for this season.  Trent Cole is 33 years old and due to make a ton of money this year, so a restructuring of the contract is due.  However, he has seen a massive decline in productivity in his elder years.  Barwin was great this past year, but he has never put back to back seasons together in his career, so to count on him putting up another year of 14.5 sacks would be foolish.  Brandon Graham was very strong this past year, but he has basically come out and told the NFL that he will not be resigning with the Eagles.  This unit played above their head last year, but they are going to come back down to Earth in a hard way this upcoming season unless some major renovations are made.

The Conclusion:

This unit is not as strong as they looked last year, and they didn’t look that great last year.  Demeco is a real problem, as that injury may be a real problem moving forward and Ryans was the emotional leader of our defense.  Kendricks is due for another great year, but beyond that, there are only question marks.  Barwin needs to put back to back seasons together and Cole needs to find the fountain of youth.  Graham should be considered gone, while his replacement is Marcus Smith, who was better at falling on the ground than he was at getting anyone on the other team on the grass.

The Secondary:

The Optimist Says:

…Malcolm Jenkins was ok…

The Pessimist Says:

Wow.  There isn’t enough time in the day.  To say that Bradley Fletcher was terrible would be an insult to the word terrible.  He was atrocious.  He cannot come back to our team or I am genuinely afraid that South Philly will riot.  But not to worry, he was not alone back there.  Cary Williams did his best to stand with Fletcher in putrid defense, as I assume it was a case of no man left behind.  Malcolm Jenkins started out the year strong but he seemed to wear down as the season went on.  Meanwhile, Nate Allen needs to go into witness protection as I am sure he is getting some threats after how awful he was last year.  Even Brandon Boykin suffered through the season, as he failed to live up to the high expectations he made for himself the year before as an elite nickel corner.  I am going to leave it there, as I don’t want to get into questioning Chip Kelly again and if I go any further into Boykin’s struggles, feelings of discontent will surface yet again.

The Conclusion:

I like your style Mr. Pessimist, you win this round.

There it is, a rough look at the defense.  This is a unit that needs a lot of work.  Coming up soon, the big one, quarterback.

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