The Eagles have one of the best three-four defensive lines in the National Football League. They don’t have big sack numbers, but they do a great job of playing the run and keeping offensive linemen off the linebackers. In the three-four scheme, the defensive line is supposed to sacrifice and the linebackers are supposed to shine. Every now, the defensive linemen will make a play, but for the most part it should be the linebackers.
At one of the defensive ends is Fletcher Cox, who is a Pro Bowl caliber player. It took him a while to master the two-gap technique, but he really came into his own last year. Many times Cox is so powerful that he dominates double team blocks and pushes both blockers back into the opponent’s backfield.
He’s one of the league’s best three-four defensive linemen and Cox is a force to be reckoned regardless of where he lines up. I would like to see the Eagles start moving him around more, so the opposing offensive line has no idea where he’s at.
Cedric Thornton plays the other defensive end position opposite Cox, he’s more of a technician rather than a brute force monster like the bigger Cox. Thornton finds ways to make plays by keeping leverage and using his technical skills to split double-teams.. Thornton does a great job of getting off on the snap of the ball, beating the offensive line to the punch and splitting double-teams to get into the backfield.
The Eagles guy in the middle is Bennie Logan, who is 6’2″ weighs about 302 pounds and isn’t as big as he plays. Logan uses leverage and technique to keep offensive linemen off the linebackers. When he senses a double-team, he will make a pile and free up the linebackers to make the play. Like Thornton, Logan uses perfect technique in taking on double teams where the two blockers total about 700 pounds to his 302.
Logan is able to use his body control and technique to withstand the push and keep the offensive linemen off the linebackers. There are nose tackles in the league, who are 360 pounds and above.
The Eagles must find a way to get Vinny Curry on the field. He registered nine quarterback sacks, despite playing only part time. I want to see them stand him up and let him rush the passer as an outside linebacker. They’ve got to creative and get him on the field.
Second-year Beau Allen backs up Logan at the nose tackle position and has the size and smarts to do a good job when he gets in there.
Backup defensive ends veterans Brandon Bair and Taylor Hart along with rookie seventh round draft pick Brian Mihalik are all question marks. It’s time for Hart to step up and show what he can do. Rookie Mihalik will be around for a while, so they give him a chance to develop. The rest of the crew will be fighting for their NFL lives.
First team: Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Cedric Thornton
Second team: Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, Brandon Bair
Third team: Taylor Hart, Wade Keliikipi, Brian Mihalik
B.J. McBryde, Travis Raciti