With the firing of defense coordinator Sean McDermott, the Eagles are now in the hunt for someone to fill the position. There has been plenty of speculation of who will fill the void with names including: Dick Jauron, Rob Ryan, Jim Mora Jr., Billy Davis, and more.
The Eagles defense had it’s fair share of problems this year, and whoever ends up getting the job will have plenty of work to do. With the changes that need to made, it leads to questioning whether or not the Eagles will look to change their scheme defensively.
The short answer would clearly be no. This has been a 4-3 style defense for a long time, and although there has been talk about at least showing 3-4 sets here and there, it really hasn’t progressed into anything.
However, if the Eagles were to bring in a candidate who has had experience in running a 3-4 defense, would the Eagles possibly think about making the switch? Four out of the five teams who finished the 2010 regular season in overall defense currently run a 3-4 defense.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that making a switch would solve all the Eagles’ problems, but if you look around the league at teams known for defense (Ravens, Steelers, Jets), they’re all teams running the 3-4 scheme.
So why don’t the Eagles do it? Well, you have to look at the personnel that the team has. The first key of the 3-4 is having a big old nose tackle you can stick in the middle of the line. We saw a lot of success out of Antonio Dixon in the middle this season and he would probably be the likely candidate to jump in the middle, with Mike Patterson backing him up.
Defenses that run the 3-4 typically surround their nose tackle with larger defensive ends. The Eagles don’t exactly have a boatload of prospects for this. Typically, the Eagles have looked to smaller, high-motor ends to run out of their 4-3 scheme. This would put Trent Cole and Brandon Graham in an odd position.
One thing that the Eagles seem to do is draft smaller, speedier linebackers who could potentially line up on the outside of a 3-4 defense. I don’t think the Eagles have a 3-4 blitzing linebacker like Clay Matthews, but those players don’t come along everyday.
Am I just dreaming here, because I’m a fan of the 3-4 defense? Quite possibly, yes. However, it’s clear that the Eagles defense needs to make some serious changes.