It wasn't that long ago that the Eagles defense led by the late great Jim Johnson was one of the most feared in the game. Now we are left with a defense that has more holes than Swiss cheese. Most fans wanted a head coach who would bring change to the defense. Chip Kelly is not that guy. He pretty much let his Defensive Coordinator run the defense while at Oregon. So finding a great defensive mind to run the D is a must if he will have any success.
Oregon has run a 3-4 defense and it is speculated that Chip would prefer to run it in the NFL. He has also been trying to convince LSU Defensive Coordinator John Chavis to join him in the NFL. And he runs a 3-4 defense. Here is a look at what the Eagles defense might look like with the 3-4 and how the current players would fit into the new scheme.
Pro's of a 3-4
-More Speed and Agility
-The offense has a more difficult time deciphering who will rush and who will drop into coverage.
-Less strength and size in middle
-current roster is deisgned for a 4-3
-"Pass Rush Specialist" are forced into pass coverage more
With only one man in the middle, the nose tackle normally has to plug the middle and be an immovable object. Most nose tackles rarely put pressure on the QB in passing situations.
Current Eagles: Antonio Dixon
Dixon is the only guy on the roster who remotely fits that description. He was left without a job for most of the season after being one of the final preseason cuts. An upgrade is a must here.
A 3-4 end is a lot different than a 4-3 end. They are comparably smaller and more of pentrating DT's in a 4-3. They need to hold blockers from getting to the next level but also need to be able to get to the QB.
Current Eagles: Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thorton
This is something the Eagles actually would have. While 2012 first round pick Fletcher Cox might be better suited to play as a 4-3 DT, he would be able to suceed in a 3-4. If they swtich, I would expect Cullen Jenkins to stick around.
In the 3-4, the OLB must be able to ge to the QB. They are similar to a 4-3 DE, but are typically smaller and quicker. A lot of DE play 4-3 DE in college and are to small to play the postion at the NFL level and are better suited for the 3-4. They are also forced into coverage more than a 4-3 End would.
Current eagles: Philip Hunt, Brandon Graham. Vinnie Curry
Brandon Graham may be the player who would benefit most from the swtich. Coming out of college he was projected by most as 3-4 OLB because he didn't have the size to suceed in the 4-3. The switch would also be beneficial to an undersized player like Philip Hunt. Vinnie Curry is a question mark. I think he is better in a 4-3 but I think he has the quickness to suceed in a 3-4.
Inside linebacker: in a 3-4, you will have 2 inside limebackers as oppose to just one in a 4-3. A 3-4 defense will also have less size up front, causing the ILB to have to shed more blocks.
Current Eagles: Casey Matthews, Mychal Kendricks, Jamar Chaney
Kendricks played in a 3-4 in college, so he would have little trouble making the transition. He is a fast atheltic LB who should only continue to get better. Matthews played for Chip at Oregon, so he fits the mold. But he isn't a special player and only provides depth. I don't think Chaney has a lot of experience in the 3-4, but he is versitile linebacker and should be able to make the change.
Where do they fit?
Mike Patterson: Patterson would be too small to play the NT and not ahtletic enough to play DE. He would probalby be a cap casualty.
Trent Cole: He has been perhaps the most consistent defensive force over the last 5 years. But I'm not sure if he has the quickness to play as a OLB or strength and size to play DE. He would probably be forced into playing OLB but it isn't ideal for him.
DeMeco Ryans: This might be the player who it hurts the most. He became expendable when the Texans swtiched to a 3-4. He was less than spectacular in his one season playing in the 3-4. In a recent interview he claims he can succeed in he 3-4 but I have my doubts. I would be suprised if he isn't given atleast one sesaon to redeem himself in the 3-4.
2013 Front Seven with Current Roster
NT: Antonio Dixon
DE: Cullen Jenkins and Flethcher Cox
OLB: Brandon Graham and Trent Cole
ILB: Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans
The biggest need of the defense if they decieded to swtich, would be a quility nose tackle. If he is there at number 4, Utah's Star Lotulelei would be a perfect fit.