Before I introduce Dr. Funt (aka Andrew Short) as today’s Open Mike Week guest writer, I need to apologize to Palm Feathers for misspelling his real last name— it is “Bozek”, not “BROZek” as originally reported…I guess it was a case of wishful thinking on my part, to bring another “Broz” into the family. I’ll need to go back and make the corrections in Palm’s byline, it’s only fair to protect the integrity of his journalistic resume.
That brings us to Dr. Funt, who shuttles between here and the mothership at PE.com, and who brings a nice amount of inside football knowledge to his posts.
The Defense WILL Be Better…. by Dr. Funt (aka Andrew Short)
Andy Reid has always been known as an Offensive Coach, yet over his entire tenure in Philadelphia he has made sure to bring in players throughout the defense always looking to upgrade it to be elite. They brought in Jevon Kearse during my early memories of being an Eagles fan, as I have only been a fan for 10 years. That did not work out as well as many other attempts to upgrade positions, but regardless the Eagles take chances, spend money and it has not hurt them long-term.
The DeMeco Ryans trade again shows us AR cares about the defense ( he actually admited to goofing on the LB’s last season ),and no matter what, he brings a veteran leadership that will help out regardless of production and injury. Even if the worst happens and DeMeco sits out the season, I still feel they upgraded the position with another acquisition in Mychal Kendricks. I am ecstatic about this guy, I love speedy linebackers who can run like safeties—oh, think of the possibilities with his combination of size and speed. Jamar Chaney is always one of my favorite players and provides depth throughout all the LB positions and always plays with toughness and heart even if he misses on a play. He also notched 3 int’s and is well deserving of a solid amount of snaps, if healthy. Another young impressive player is Brian Rolle—after he stripped that pass from Matt Forte and ran it back he played with more confidence. Rolle also played MLB in college, along with Kendricks. These young athletic LB’s should be able to play at a high level and match up with anyone, anywhere. I also expect the Birds to keep Casey Matthews and expect him to provide his role in the nickel and special teams and as as depth. I do not expect to see panzi tackling and think they will do a much better job getting off blocks and attacking the gaps, and hopefully we will see a dramas-tic increase in run stuffs. All these young LB’s have one thing in common—they can cover ground.
The Secondary situation is my favorite. We have it made being Eagles fans as there is no shortage of quality players coming in an out of the secondary rotation. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is very gifted and has blazing speed to go with a skill set I feel could play in any defense. He played both zone and man in Arizona and can play both sides of the field. Nnamdi Asomugha also has very good speed and his press coverage is downright nasty. When he gets hands on someone they do not get open, and they are going to have a long painful day getting smacked in the chest. Together DRC and Aso should be like superheroes roaming the sidelines and running a no-fly zone in which WR’s meet their matches; pass-catching failure will be imminent. The Safety position should be much better with Nate Allen ready for his breakout season ( please ) and O. J Atogwe bringing a veteran presence… I’ve always liked Atogwe and think he can come in and start or help the defense in some way. Kurt Coleman has always been a player I liked since he was drafted and he continues to step up his game when he gets doubted— those 3 int’s he had against the Deadskins was a lifesaver for me when I was down on the way the 2011 season was going. Jaiquawn Jarrett needs to learn how to play the game and hopefully he shows up and sends a few Cowboys, Indians and Dancing Blue Girls who fake injuries into next week. Brandon Boykin is small but he looks strong and runs well, he played WR, KR and was an overall threat for his college team. I only got to see a little bit of him at OTA’s with no pads but I really like the way he looks in coverage, he was fluid and quick with his backpedal and covered the WR’s well. Curtis Marsh is strong and fast and has good size, hopefully we get to see more of him in the preseason so we have a better idea of the game skills he really possesses. Trevard Lindley was brought back and I liked the way be played in the Dallas game he started in, he was also matched up against Miles Austin for most of the game. This season our defensive backs will not be crashing into each other and letting WR’s run 70 yards downfield for a TD. Joselio Hanson is a very good nickel back and is excellent on short routes, his tackling ability for a small player always impresses me, as he is such a hard worker. I do expect Boykin to push him. They now know what Juan Castillo expects from all of them and should have better awareness as to what other players are doing around them and just stick to they’re job. Confusion in the secondary should be at a minimum.
The defensive line has always been strong for the Eagles since the days of Reggie White ( I had to watch highlights and old games on NFL Network to really know who he was ) and Hugh Douglas, who I had the opportunity to watch a bit, who went to 3 Pro Bowls with the Eagles. Now they have Trent Cole who in my opinion is a top 5 DE in the league and Jason Babin, who both combined for 29 sacks last season, more than the Titans and Bucs each had as a team collectively. The Eagles also tied with the Vikings for first in the NFL with 50 sacks. Together they form the duo that starts the group PPW has named “DEATH ROW” a QB’s worst nightmare (ask Tony Romo’s little baby hands, hehehe )… They brought in Cullen Jenkins who clearly was missed by the Packers last season and brings heat in both the pass and run games. I think having Antonio Dixon healthy will do wonders for the run D. We all saw he can push the pile as well as add a sack here and there, and he also has blocked a FG. Our #1 draft pick Fletcher Cox is very intriguing because he is so athletic for a DT, he could be effective as both a DT and DE in some run formations. Mike Patterson has been around for ages and has provided great play for the Eagles, and although I feel he has declined a bit, still provides great depth and will most likely be a starter for week 1. Derek Landri is an underrated player who does not push the pile but is very disruptive and gets off blocks very well. Graham Cracker is coming off his vacation time and should be ready to compete and play at his best, and as long as he is healthy should provide sacks and be a good change of pace for Cole or Babin. Philip Hunt is a player I like because of his explosiveness off the ball and speed around the edge, and should also provide depth and sacks. Vinny Curry was on my Mulch just like Kendricks and was one of my favorite players in the draft, he is big and strong and fires off the ball and shows his motor on every down.
With all these pieces coming together I think the Eagles have finally cleared the gaps in the puzzle that has haunted us fans the last few seasons, and the defense brings both a pass rush and coverage ability that we fans scream for and desire. I expect nothing but frustration for our opponents, I do also expect a few bumps along the way… no player is perfect and even great players look dumb sometimes, but the greatest ones pick themselves back up and make up for it when it really counts. I am excited for this season to start and will enjoy the roller coaster ride that seems to be every Eagles season regardless of the outcome because I do bleed green, as do you.
Dr. Funt has spoken… in my movie he is played by JAM of the spacey group Parliament Funkadelic…
NEXT UP: T-Boner takes a walk down Memory Lane on the 4th of July… followed by the great Jercules…