One item picked up around the blogosphere recently is a quotation by soon-to-be-former Eagles safety Quintin Mikell as told to Geoff Mosher:
“I kind of get that vibe,” Mikell said, when asked if the Eagles were shifting from an aggressive, blitz-happy attack to a tempered Cover 2 scheme. “I know Coach Reid has wanted to run the Cover 2 for a long time. It seems like the past couple of years we’ve been slowly progressing toward that. It might be moving toward that. I think he [Castillo] is going to kind of tweak things here and there. It’s gong to be kind of the same 4-3 but I think it’s going to be a little less based on scheme and more based on guys just kicking somebody’s butt.”
The Cover 2 defensive scheme has a number of variations, but overall it is the opposite of the blitz heavy system that the Eagles have employed through the tenures of Jim Johnson and Sean McDermott. Cover 2 typically involves a lot of zone coverage and preventing big plays rather than pressuring the quarterback above all else. And there are a lot of reasons why such a system makes more sense for this Eagles team.
However, what really strikes me is not the formation change, but the notion that Andy Reid may have wanted to try a different scheme out for a long time. NFL coaches typically spend their entire careers emphasizing the same system with the same type of coaches. Especially guys like Reid, long term successes, don’t often change their ways. But that is exactly what Reid has done, both on the offensive line, bringing in Howard Mudd, and on defense, where he seems to be letting Juan Castillo change a system that has largely been the same for the last 12 years.
This offseason was really the first chance Reid had to shake things up on defense. Even when Jim Johnson passed away, it happened too close to the start of the season to let anyone other than McDermott carry on. But with that chapter closed, Reid can start fresh. And he appears to be taking full advantage of that opportunity. We’ll see how it turns out.
Photo from Getty.