Apr 27, 2011; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles first round draft pick defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State) addresses the media as head coach Andy Reid listens during a press conference at the Philadelphia Eagles NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Greg Cosell posted an interesting new article on the NFL films website about how you derive what a teams' fundamental view of the game is by looking at how they draft. It's definitely worth a full read, but here I figured I would specifically highlight the section in which he talks about the Eagles.
His argument is that the Eagles see the league "through the prism of passing." You win by passing yourself and stopping the other teams' pass.
You defend the pass in two ways: pressure and coverage (with pressure being the primary element). The Eagles traded up to take Fletcher Cox with the 12th overall pick and they selected Vinny Curry in the second round. Both Cox and Curry are pass rushers, first and foremost. Their ability to play the run was not a relevant consideration in the process. The Eagles’ world view is clear (and has been for some time): You can never have enough pass rushers in a passing league. The brain trust adamantly believes you don’t fail to compete in this modern-day NFL because of your inability to defend the run. That’s not even on their philosophical radar.
I would this is undeniably true, but it has long been a cliche in the NFL that the opposite was true. You win by running the ball and stopping the run. It certainly seems as though that's no longer true. Even teams who preach running the ball on offense are all set up, or trying to be, to stop the pass.
As we always hear, it's a copycat league, and if we look at who has had the most success recently, we see that the Eagles general philosophy has been vindicated. The Giants are quite clearly a team set up to pass and stop the pass. They were a poor rushing team last year and have always sunk most of their defensive resources into pass rushers. They probably wanted to run more than they were able to, but fundamentally that Giants offense is set up to move through the air. The Eagles, as good as they actually were rushing the ball, are certainly pass first as well.