- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Damien from Philadelphia took the time to write into the mailbag and point me to Bleeding Green Nation's recent analysis of potential changes to the way the Eagles run their defense. I read it. I enjoyed it. And so I share it here with you.
BGN's premise is that, based on some offseason quotes from new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and the connection that Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz recently pointed out between Castillo and the University of Iowa, the Eagles are likely to move away from the late Jim Johnson's zone blitz scheme and implement a Cover 2 defense, a Tampa 2 defense or some hybrid of the two.
A couple of the more interesting specifics from BGN's very thorough breakdown:
- They don't think Nnamdi Asomugha would be the best cornerback fit in this type of defense, since he's at his best in man-to-man coverage and has struggled when asked to cover a zone, as cornerbacks must in a Cover 2 or Tampa 2. Given the likely cost of each player, BGN ranks Johnathan Joseph of the Bengals ahead of Asomugha on the cornerback wish list. You guys know how I feel about this. I think Asomugha is the far better player. I think, if free agency had happened when it usually happens and the Eagles had signed him on the first day, people would still be crowing about what an incredible move it was. The lockout has given everybody more time than usual to overthink and worry. I'm sure Asomugha could handle zone responsibilities in a Cover 2 defense, and his press ability at the line of scrimmage is not to be overlooked, either.
- They like Albert Haynesworth for the defensive line, and they should. I believe he'd thrive in Philadelphia, back in the 4-3 and back with former Titans line coach Jim Washburn. But I don't think Eagles fans are being realistic about this. Mike Shanahan will not trade him to Philadelphia. I'd bet good money against it, and I don't even bet. He doesn't want to give Haynesworth the satisfaction, and he doesn't want to have to play against a hyper-motivated Haynesworth twice a year. Stop hoping for Haynesworth, Philly. He ain't coming.
- The linebackers become very interesting in this scheme. If the analysis is correct, it would seem that re-signing Stewart Bradley would be a priority, since there are concerns about Jamar Chaney's pass coverage abilities at the middle linebacker spot. But if they're forced to go with Chaney, his speed would certainly be an asset in deepening that middle zone that stands as the difference between the Cover 2 and Tampa 2. They'd just have to be sure he can cover a post route and that they have safeties with enough lateral range to get to the sidelines. If Jaiquawn Jarrett were to come quickly enough, this could work. But they don't know yet what they're going to get from Jarrett, so they may have to hunt for a safety and/or a middle linebacker if Bradley bolts. Regardless, everybody seems to like Manny Lawson for that weakside linebacker spot.
Look, you guys wanted to talk real football, so here it is. Sure, it's speculation, and we don't know for sure what kind of scheme Castillo is going to run until training camp starts and we can see it and talk to these guys about it. But if you're an Eagles fan, this is fun stuff to imagine and put together in your head.
Thanks, Damien. Excellent use of the mailbag.