The lockout did a lot of things but if it did one thing in particular, it drove fans mad. It made us desperate for football material. When Bleeding Green Nation editor Route36 wrote a good piece about the Eagles moving towards a Tampa 2 defense, it spread like a wild fire. Lauded Eagles blogger Tommy Lawlor went right along with it. Even ESPN’s Dan Graziano got in on the action. All of a sudden, media types are asking defensive players what direction the Eagles are headed in and Tampa 2 fever was running rampant.
Well it’s about 1 week after football returned and it has become apparent that the Eagles will not be running a Tampa 2. The Eagles personnel decisions simply do not fit a defense that is supposedly moving towards a Tampa 2 defense. Here are 5 reasons why the Eagles will not be running a Tampa 2 defense.
#1 – Only Jim Washburn has any experience in a Tampa 2 style defense
Somehow the coaches were lost in the speculation. Only one of the coaches has any experience in the Tampa 2 defense, which seems kind of important. Jim Washburn did coach in the Titan’s version of the Tampa 2 defense and he has admitted that he had little, if any schematic responsibility.
#2 – Johnny Lynn has been a press man corner coach his entire career
The Tampa 2 defense differs from a typical defense in it’s coverage schemes. Tampa 2 defenses play zone coverage a vast majority of the time. Corners play in short zones. Corners do not follow receivers deep or over the middle more often than not. They are required to actively and aggressively support the run. Corners are also supposed to play very physical with receivers, they’re supposed to jam them at the line, knock them off their routes and disrupt the timing between the QB and his receivers while also protecting the safeties who are playing over the top.
Johnny Lynn has never done that stuff. In Baltimore, Johnny Lynn was coaching Chris McCalister and Samari Rolle. And in San Francisco he worked with Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer. He has always worked with big, press man corners. Enter Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha and you can see the trend continues.
#3 – None of the Corners fit the Tampa 2 defense
After watching the Eagles bring in Curtis Marsh, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, it became abundantly clear the Eagles were not running a Tampa 2 scheme. Running that scheme would be a complete waste of the Eagles’ talent.
I mentioned what Tampa 2 corners are required to do under reason #2. They’re used in zone coverage a vast majority of the time (short zones at that), they’re required to be physical, jam receivers, knock them off of their routes, very actively play the run and play smart and physical enough to make it so that receivers can not get past them and on top of safeties.
None of the Eagles corners do those things. Not one.
The Eagles have some of the worst tackling corners in the game, they do not pride themselves on supporting the run. As a matter of fact, the Eagles now have three of the ten worst tackling corners in the NFL according to ProFootballFocus. Had Trevard Lindley qualified I’m sure that he would’ve been right down there too.
Using them in short zones is a complete waste of talent. It would limit Asante’s ability to play off the ball and peek into the backfield. It would take Nnamdi out of man coverage which is his strong suit. It would remove DRC from man coverage, which like Nnamdi is his strong suit. Both Curtis Marsh and Trevard Lindley are also misfits in the Tampa 2 defense.
With the Tampa 2 defense, safeties are vulnerable. Fast receivers that can get off the line victimize safeties all the time, DeSean Jackson is a Tampa 2 killer. In order to keep receivers from getting on top of the safeties, corners must be physical and play within the confines of the scheme. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel are two of the biggest gamblers in the league today, clearly they do not fit the scheme in this regard.
#4 – The linebacker play on the Eagles is not good enough to run a Tampa 2 scheme
Good linebacker play is extremely important in the Tampa 2 scheme. Players need to cover large areas in pass defense and break on passes in the short to intermediate areas. The middle linebacker in particular has to go down the barrel of the defense and defend the middle of the field. And they need to be able to defend the run just as well as they defend the pass. Teams that run the Tampa 2 very successfully have always had good linebackers. Way back in 2000 when the Ravens had Ray Lewis. The Bears have had Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. The Vikings have Chad Greenway and EJ Henderson. The Buccaneers had Derrick Brooks.
Right now the Eagles’ linebacker situation looks like this:
Moise Fokou – Casey Matthews – Jamar Chaney
Clearly the Eagles do not have the linebacker talent necessary to adequately implement a Tampa 2 defense.
#5 – In the shortened off season, Andy Reid would not implement a completely new defensive scheme.
Andy Reid isn’t dumb, he knew that he didn’t have time to implement a new scheme with the lockout so he hired Juan Castillo. Castillo is familiar with the scheme and terminology that the Eagles have been using for years. Do you really think that Juan Castillo means he is going to completely overhaul the defensive scheme when he says he wants to make things simple? I think not. Perhaps by ‘making things simple’ he just means that he is doing away with McDermott’s convoluted blitz schemes. No more defensive ends playing safety, yay!!
The Eagles defense is going to be as aggressive as ever this season with their ability to cover on the back end of their defense and the wide nine defensive line scheme that coach Washburn is implementing.