Eagles 2012 Defense Preview

The D-line looks good, and anything would be an improvement over last year' linebacking corps, but there are still some questions marks in the secondary.

This week started with the tragic news that , where he had been assisting the Eagles conditioning staff.

On a human level, one has to feel great sympathy for Reid and his family. The outpouring of support from fans, the media and the Eagles and NFL families has been heartwarming.

Football and Garret Reid’s death are in two disparate categories. Andy Reid seems to be a very compartmentalized person; it is my opinion that, as fans, we should approach this situation in the same compartmentalized way. We all have the requisite sympathy for the Reid’s loss. Anything beyond that is an inappropriate infringement.

Accordingly, with the season fast approaching, a preview of the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles is in order. This week, the defense is under the microscope.

The Eagles tied the Minnesota Vikings for the league lead in sacks last year with 50, and the lion’s share of those came from the defensive line. Part of that outstanding production came from the new system brought in by defensive line coach Jim Washburn.

The new system produced sacks, but also put a great deal of pressure on a subpar linebacker corps. Unable to withstand that pressure, the Eagles struggled to stop the run.

. Brian Rolle showed an ability to make plays last season and will most likely be the starting weakside linebacker.

The Eagles require strength at the point of attack from their defensive tackles because their defensive ends are almost exclusively pass rushers, with the notable exception of Trent Cole. He is one of the best run/pass defenders in football. Fletcher Cox will be expected to improve the tackle position.

Whether Ryans and Kendricks are the answer to the linebacking problems of 2011 is unknown. Kendricks, of course, has never played in an NFL game, but seems to have all the tools needed to be successful. Ryans is a respected veteran who has been a very good NFL player, but will be in his first season with the Eagles. Surely, he is an improvement over last year’s opening starter, Casey Matthews.

The Eagles defensive secondary was average at best last season. With Asante Samuel gone, they hope having Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha in place at their natural positions will settle the backfield down.

With an offseason of working together with the safeties, the secondary should be able to reduce the confusion that haunted them last year and left opposing receivers wide open at times. The third corner will probably be Joselio Hanson, a proven veteran who has been very solid over the years.

Asomugha’s play was bitterly disappointing last season. He was hailed as the second best cover cornerback in the NFL (behind Darrelle Revis of the Jets), and his acquisition had been viewed as the Eagles' most shrewd move last offseason. 

Watching him play, fans thought that reputation was a mirage. Asomugha has to play like the player they thought they were acquiring when they signed him to a rich contract a year ago. Both he and Rodgers-Cromarite must improve if the Eagles hope to have a successful defense.

The safeties are the unit that draws the most skepticism from fans and rightly so. They were not good enough last year and the position was not addressed in the offseason. Kurt Coleman is the starter at one of the safety spots. A hard-working, hard-nosed player, he was a seventh-round draft pick for a reason. Coleman makes the most of his abilities—he just may not have enough of them.

The Eagles would be well-served to partner a really strong safety with Coleman, which would make him more than just adequate. They do not have one in Nate Allen. Young and talented, Allen did not play well last year. He improved as the season went along, but at times was downright bad. The Eagles did not have enough around him to compensate for his problems and cannot afford more growing pains from Allen this season.

Overall, the defensive line is a strength, as it was last year. The linebackers are unknown because of the new players, but fans can expect them to be better than the linebackers from last year. The cornerbacks are the same players who did not live up to their reputations last year. The safeties are unproven and look to be the weakest unit on the defense.

The Eagles added a ton of new faces last season, mostly on the defensive side of the ball. Some, like Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins lived up to their reputations and more. Others, like Asomugha and DRC, did not. The hope is that they will benefit from a full offseason and play up to the reputations they had before they arrived in Philadelphia.

The same can be said for Juan Castillo, the offensive line coach turned defensive coordinator. He was placed in a difficult spot last year. He was first time defensive coach with a lot of new unfamiliar players and no offseason. The defense struggled mightily in the beginning of the season and Castillo received a lot of the blame. The defense improved significantly as the season progressed, yet Castillo did not get any of the credit.

By the end of the season, the Eagles ascended to having the eighth-ranked defense in the NFL. They must force more turnovers this year, especially if their own offense does not improve dramatically in protecting against turnovers.

The season as a whole will go a long way in determining Andy Reid’s future. Even more so, the performance of the defense this season will determine Juan Castillo’s future.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mike Diviney August 18, 2012 at 08:54 PM
If Mcnabb ever won a Superbowl, he could say whatever he wanted. He never did, never will and never COULD... so he should shut up.
Bo August 18, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Yeah great you spent a few dinners with Donovan, and he might be passive aggressive, but you have expertise or training in the field of psychology, right, or are you talking out of your. How are you connecting the two, with your expertise in football and psychology, I and I strongly suspect others who are Eagles fans are long ago tired of hearing Donovan blamed for everything, because they hate the person, which has nothing to do with his successes on the field. You couldn't even construct one point here that had anything to do with what skills he lacks and how those short comings equated to the Eagles losing NFC Championship games. Tell me something like he doesn't throw a good short to medium range pass, we've all seen the duck balls or flat out missed targets. It is foolish not to think that this sport, which is the ultimate team sport, didn't have many members of the Eagles organization, whose collective mistakes and short comings combined, are the real reasons why we haven't won a title under the Reid regime, and not one individual who you both don't like cause if his personality. Sure argue, that's what your doing and all the McNabb haters have for years, I am just defending, cause you all really have no argument and I know that Reid and his coaching staff, along with the front office and college scouting and lastly James Thrash, Chad Lewis and Todd Pinkston all came up short, along with Donovan. Move forward Mike, but Gary B bring something factual next time.
Gary B August 18, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Bo August 18, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Mike Diviney August 19, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Bo, not sure where you got the idea you are the director here? After reading your link, the only relevance I see is that Donovan Mcnabb always sought out scapegoats, openly trying to blame the defense or his coaches. He is, was and will always be a loser because he was inaccurate, lacked leadership, didn't take responsibility, and allowed his personality disorders to prevent him from being winner on the field. Move on? I agree. 2012 is the focus here and I'm not getting sidetracked by ancient history beyond this second.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »