It gets worse before it gets better.
The last few days I have spent in conferences for my school (I am a teacher) looking at ways that we can improve my school. I’m sitting there thinking about how much the Eagles had sucked the previous days, when my daydreaming is interrupted by the quote above. When you make a change, things get worse before they start to get better. We sat there the rest of the day thinking of ways that we can improve our school and what we should expect. I think this relates to our eags predicament rather well.
The eagles made a lot of changes over the last offseason. New D coordinator, new D line coordinator with a whole new scheme, rearranging the linebackers, new responsibilities for the linebackers, Nnamdi playing zone instead of man, rearranging the O-line, different build of o-line (if you don’t think this plays into things, go rewatch our guys getting mauled on the goalline), and new kickers. That is a considerable amount of change for a shortened preseason. Adjustments need to be made, and experience needs to be gained. I see flashes of greatness in the defense, and that gives me hope that they can get it together. For those of us who were expecting greatness immediately, we need to be more realistic.
All of these changes should be questioned, but it is still too early to pass judgment. Juan isn’t to blame for all of the missed tackles and failed coverages. He had put the man in the proper place and they came up short. Are the linebackers to blame? They have new responsibilities that they never had before. None of them have played behind a line like this. They have flashes of suck, but I have also seen linebackers make plays. Consistency comes with familiarity (The exception is Matthews. He wasn’t familiar with sucking in college, but hot damn, he consistent at it in the pros).
Nnamdi will get better in this zone with time. It’s not what he is use to playing, but he is a smart player who will work to understand it and excel in it. I’m sure he would be the first to say he hasn’t been playing up to expectations.
The huge gaps in the run defense will get smaller as the linebackers comfortable. You can tell that they are still in the thinking stage of their game. Things aren’t fluid for them. That processing time is the difference between a yard gap and a half a yard gap.
Now, I don’t want to be overly optimistic here. There are things that worry the shit outta me, and I have no idea how they are going to get better. The biggest one is defending opponent’s TE. We just simply can not do it, no matter with who we put on them. I have not done enough film study and rewatching games to know why, but I am curious how we could possibly not cover them.
Another big worry is team’s taking advantage of the gaps in the wide 9. It is obvious that the O line knows where the holes are going to be, and knows how to block at the right angles to create gaps. How do they stop this you may ask? It is my belief that becoming less predictable with the angles and directions the DL takes would help to make things more difficult for offensive coordinators.
These changes have come during the worst season possible. With no time to practice, and no time to learn, this defense just is not prepared for games. Do we have enough time for things to get better? Eh….I’d rather just wait and see at this point.