If the Philadelphia Eagles are going to be a top contender in the NFC once again during the 2020 season, the defense will need to make some necessary adjustments.
For a stretch from late September through the end of October last season, watching the Philadelphia Eagles was sometimes like watching guys end up on the wrong end of an AND1 Mixtape crossover move.
In order to take the defense from serviceable to elite, the Eagles will need to make a few adjustments over the next few months during the offseason.
To give fans a better idea of some adjustments that need to be made, here are some that immediately come to mind.
Additional help at linebacker
With the departures of key contributors at the position, the Eagles are in need of linebackers who can provide some pop in run defense along with having coverage skills to take on tight ends and running backs in pass coverage.
Howie Roseman did take a key step to address this area with the signing of Jatavis Brown, although he has unfortunately been dealing with injuries of his own.
But of course, there is still more work to do.
While there is always the chance of Philadelphia bringing Nigel Bradham after the linebacker was released in February, fans shouldn’t get their hopes up.
In spite of this, Bradham was still the best linebacker on the team in 2019.
If the defense is going to flex more muscle in 2020, the Eagles are going to need to figure out some sort of way to bring on the necessary help at linebacker.
The Eagles’ defense is predicated to have a rotation of bodies on the front four that can apply pressure at quarterbacks in waves. Thanks to this, the defense tends to leave additional men in coverage in order to sit back and read the eyes of opposing quarterbacks.
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The problem is that when the defensive line struggles and opposing quarterbacks have enough time to survey the whole field to find holes in the zone repeatedly, Philadelphia struggles.
What often exacerbated the issue was the fact that Philadelphia would often stubbornly continue to deploy these types of coverages, with the same frustrating results in first downs.
The Eagles could stand to bring a bit more heat along with occasional press coverage on the outside to disrupt the timing of the other team’s offense.
Philadelphia doesn’t exactly have the personnel in place to resemble the aggressive defenses of the early 2000’s, but it would be nice if the other offense had to work harder to get first downs in games.
Jones needs to step up
This may sound crazy to ask, but is there anyone that isn’t frustrated with Sidney Jones? His talent has never been in question, but availability and mental toughness when he actually is on the field have been the key concerns throughout his time in Philly.
Jones did show some flashes late last season by snagging two interceptions and having a key pass breakup that effectively handed the NFC East to the Eagles against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16.
However, many Eagle fans simply cannot get over the number of times Jones has been completely smoked in pass coverage, and the signing of Nickell Robey-Coleman has put even more pressure on him to step up in 2020.
Many inside the organization believe that new defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel will be able to get the most out of Jones, and this may have given him enough to earn one more crack at living up to his potential.
Despite all this, time and excuses are running low for Jones with the Eagles.
As the draft approaches, the potential for Jones to be traded still looms over, and Roseman may just be biding his time.
It appears that Jones has his head on straight heading into 2020 and is being surrounded with resources needed to maximize potential if he is still on the roster a few months from now.
However, It is ultimately up to Jones to remind everyone why he was viewed as one of the top cornerbacks in the draft back in 2017, because if things fail to work out next season, there won’t be many tears if he gets the boot out of town.
Again, Jim Schwartz is not really known for being much of a defensive coordinator who loves to blitz, as he doesn’t want to give up the big play to opponents.
However, the most successful teams in the NFL are able to dial up pressure on opposing offenses, forcing them to give the ball away, and this is something the Eagles are in desperate need of help in.
Giving offenses extra possessions was something that did not happen nearly enough in 2019 for Philadelphia, which did not help matters for an Eagles’ offense that often took several possessions to get on track each game.
The fact that Philadelphia ranked 22nd in takeaways during the 2019 season shows the defensive unit simply wasn’t getting things done, and with all of the buzz surrounding the offense this spring, the defense needs just as much attention.
If the Eagles’ defense takes a step back next season or continues on a path of inconsistency, a major overhaul could be in order after 2020, but for now, here’s to hoping this doesn’t turn out to be the case.