After hearing this week that Castillo says he has some changes in store for this week, I have been pondering the possibilities - short of changing players, ie. Dawkins. I used to put much blame on Matthews, but now we've seen, that although he is not ready yet, if ever, to start, the blame does not rest on any one player - although I still do wonder if Page is to blame.
So with the players on defense now, how can things be tweaked in one week to make this defense an average defense and make the team win games?
NO SAFETIES HELPING THE CORNERS!!!!
Lets break this down by starting with their personnel strengths - corners and lineman:
1. Let corners focus on manning up with wide receivers - take out the best 2-3 wide receivers on the other team. Zone seems to have made Asomugha closer to average than elite. Let Asomugha take out the other teams best receiver - could even be a tight end as we've seen. You may say Samuel does his best intercepting in zone, which is true, but so far he has not been doing much intercepting anyway. So I would say, too bad. Samuel likely thinks of himself as a top three, if not the top, corner in the league. If so, then he should be able to take out 95% of the league's #2 receivers in man. If he cant jam on the line than take him out of the consideration as one of the top ten corners in the league and decrease his pay. Now with Cromartie, this just gets better. If he considers himself a top ten corner, then he can easily take out all #3 wide receivers in the league - no doubt.
So using man, we are all set covering opposing wide receivers, no matter who they are, except for some mistakes and transition time for Samuel - if he cant handle it, make him the nickle - too bad - he should be benched for his tackling alone.
2. With opposing wide receivers neutralized, lets turn to the eagles other defensive strength - pass rushing with four lineman. Just keep doing what they are doing - anything different than wide-nines will mean getting rid of the foundation of this defense (whatever the hell it is). Perhaps a slight more attention could be paid in looking for the running back on their wild-eyed crazy dash to where the quarterback might be. This may slow their hitting the quarterback a little, but perhaps help with the run defense.
3. Linebackers - absolutely bottom 5 in the league, but this is almost by plan so it is no surprise. Let them focus on the run, the run the run and tightends. Identify the running back and tightends on each play - make sure the linebackers almost spy the running back (with an eye on the tight end). Now I know this is what they should be doing anyway. So no tweaks for the linebackers really. I have no ill will towards them as individual players, they are who they are.
4. Safeties - also bottom 5 in league likely. Bring them up, and focus on stopping the run, run run. Make them linebackers.
So here we have it ---even though they are poor in qualitiy at linebacker - five poor "linebackers" (two safeties plus the usual linebackers) can likely do the same job as three average linebackers. So what a team usually expects out of linebacker play should become "average" for the eagles.
And the eagles three "elite" corners should be able to do the job as three "average" corners plus two "average" safeties. So lets say corner play then becomes average.
So the Eagles can tweak their defense so their back seven play like an average back seven and their front four continue as pass rushers to be close to the top in the league.
With an offense that does not turnover so much, all the Eagles need to be "quite good" and win games, is such an "average" defense.