With so much talk about what the Philadelphia Eagles plan on doing in 2013 with their offense, everyone seems to forget their defense has gone through a complete overhaul as well. With the Bill Davis defensive era beginning and the Wide-9 becoming ancient history, the Eagles look to move in the direction of a 3-4-style defense. The 3-4 has been very successful around the league and when all the pieces fit, the 3-4 can be overwhelming to opposing offenses.
Transitioning to this defense, however, is a whole different story. Although, Brandon Graham and Trent Cole are better suited for the speed of the 3-4, no one is quite sure how they will be used. Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis has offered as many clues to his defense as Chip Kelly to the offense — none. No one can seem to figure out exactly how Cole or Graham will fit into this equation.
Luckily for us, as fans, training camp is inching ever so close, and this should offer our first glimpses of who is going to be where. One would assume Fletcher Cox is going be in the middle, but again, who knows? Will Cole be in his usual four point stance on the line or lined up as a rushing backer? Learning the new stunts and schemes is what professionals do, but learning them in a month with a new defensive coordinator might be too much to ask.
All speculation aside, the 3-4 is what is here now and here to stay. Kelly and Davis firmly believe this is the best defense to make the Eagles defense as potentially high powered as their offense. Look for a speed rusher like Cole to benefit more from the 3-4 that he ever did from the Wide-9. The 3-4 does allow for more short range coverage schemes, and given that this seems to be the nature of the NFC East, this should give more flexibility and create more turnover opportunities.
Look for the Eagles to possibly start more slowly on defense as they learn exactly what their expectations are. As this season progresses, look for the professionals and stars to really show up and embrace the new attack of the 3-4. This is definitely a defense that when used correctly, and healthy, can really complement the explosiveness of Kelly’s offense.