One of my favorite jobs over the past 6 years has been to turn the keys to the car over to one or more of our fellow Bored posters.
That time is soon coming— Remember to submit your previews of the Eagles' 2013 season to email@example.com …. and I'll put your articles in the spotlight… but be careful what you wish for!
Today we have the pleasure of reviewing a submission by NJ.com press-pass holding youthful genius Jordan Raanan—- he's coming up, folks!— and we get a revised look at the Eagles' pass rusher personnel:
Pass Rushers: Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, Phillip Hunt, Everett Brown, Chris McCoy……
Last year we called them defensive ends. Now they're outside linebackers.
Perhaps the biggest change among many on the Eagles' defense is that of the players formerly known as defensive ends. It's one of the few positions where the Eagles are actually smaller than last year thanks to the different skill set needed to thrive at outside linebacker.
Here's Jordan Raanan's take:
"For Trent Cole, Brandon Graham and Phillip Hunt there is a whole new set of demands and responsibilities that come with playing a very different position. Not only do they now have to occasionally cover tight ends and running backs, but they also have to rush from a standing position. For Cole, the most accomplished player of the three, he's done very little of both since entering the NFL in 2005. The Eagles are still trying to find how he fits into the defense.
"Our outside linebackers will be asked to do both things," new coach Chip Kelly said during minicamp. "But we have to figure out who that is, and that's part of the whole process. With the outside linebackers, they have to be able to rush the passer, set the edge and drop into coverage, but we need to evaluate them rushing the passer, setting the edge and dropping into coverage, so that's what this whole process is about."
The process may take some time. It may also reveal that some of the leftovers on the roster just don't fit.
There have been plenty of great players who worked in one system but didn't fit another. Former Eagle Hugh Douglas was one. Douglas was traded to the Eagles because Bill Parcells brought a 3-4 defense to the Jets. We know how that worked out. Douglas had 51.5 sacks in 66 games for the Eagles.
That's why general manager Howie Roseman signed Connor Barwin this offseason. The Eagles know that Barwin can play in a 3-4 system. Ditto Chris McCoy.
As currently constituted, the rest of the Eagles outside linebackers are a crap shoot, even though Graham spent part of his college career as a 3-4 outside 'backer.
Jordan Raanan's Verdict (Better, Worse or Same?): Worse. Too many question marks. I have serious doubts about whether Cole, 30, can play outside linebacker. After a miserable 2012 season, there could even be doubts whether he can still be the same player as a defensive end, nevertheless a linebacker. I can also see Graham struggling. I can't see either of them covering … anybody! Barwin gives the Eagles some kind of experience and pass coverage ability, but he's coming off a year where he was mostly ineffective as a pass rusher. With Cole, Graham and even Jason Babin (yes, he did have a valuable skill), the Eagles at least had defensive ends that could get after the quarterback. Not sure they have outside linebackers this year that can do the same…"
Okay, a tad harsh on our pass rush prospects!~ But this is why you need "harsh" going into training camp! Get the motivation to PERK UP….