Monday, September 12, 2011

The Eagles Defensive LIne Gets Violent In The Wide Nine


Eagles new defensive line coach Jim Washburn got a lot of fanfare when he signed with the Birds last offseason and brought us the “Wide Nine” defensive alignment, but he’s been upstaged of late by offensive line coach, Howard Mudd because of all the shuffling on the O line.

Yesterday, his defensive linemen especially the defensive ends brought the heat from the “Wide Nine” alignment and got him back on the front pages because that pass rush had a huge impact on yesterday’s opening day win against the Rams.

They got contributions from nearly every defensive end on the active roster. Washburn couldn’t have drawn it up any better. The boys were getting off on the snap of ball and they were coming with intensity. The width and the angle of their attacks seemed to give them an advantage over the offensive tackles.

They play a more “Violent” style of football out of the “Wide Nine”. They don’t just sack the quarterback, they pummel him. They’re more aggressive in attacking the offensive tackles who are blocking them. On running plays when they get in the backfield, it’s a collision between the defensive end and the running back.

The biggest play of the game was made by two defensive linemen Darryl Tapp and Juqua Parker. The Eagles defense was dragging through the first quarter and it was getting dominated upfront. Rams running back Steven Jackson had gone untouched on a 49-yard touchdown run.

The game was tied 7-7, then the Eagles defensive line took over.

Tapp exploded out of his stance, got into the backfield and grabbed Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. Tapp’s presence in the backfield seemed to disorient Bradford and he laid the football on the turf. Parker grabbed it up and headed for the end zone with an escort by outside linebacker Moise Fokou.

He straight-armed Fokou initially thinking he was one of the Rams trying to make a tackle.

“When you scoop the ball, you don’t want to get caught,” Parker said. Defensive players never pass up the chance to verbally get in a dig at their defensive teammates, who get run down when trying to return a turnover. Parker was intent on making sure he never had to deal with any of those jokes.

“That was the turning point right there,” defensive end Trent Cole said after the game. “After that it was full steam ahead.”

“Coach Juan and Coach Washburn brought something in that allows us to play ball,” Tapp said. “That’s what we did.”

Jason Babin, who seems most comfortable in the “Wide Nine” was flying off the corner and manhandling offensive tackles, who outweigh him by forty to fifty pounds. Babin does a great job of grabbing the tackles before they can get their hands on him, then throwing them out of the way on his way to the quarterback.

He came down with Bradford twice and nearly knocked him out on one of those sacks.

The “Wide Nine” seems to fit Cole just as well as Babin. It looks like they’re attacking at a higher speed when they’re rushing from the “Wide Nine” alignment. Cole came down with Bradford once and he too got a good hit on the Rams quarterback.

Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins also got in on the act.

“We’re not hoping to get to the quarterback. We’re expecting it,” veteran Jenkins said.

Tapp who left the game with a pectoral injury, got him a sack in addition to the forced fumble while attacking from the “Wide Nine”. Just like the other Eagles defensive ends Tapp appears to be a different player in the “Wide Nine”.

Still the Eagles must find a way to defend the run with their defensive ends spread out so wide. Their linebackers aren’t good enough to get off blocks and stop teams from ripping through them .

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