“Let’s really nail the quarterback” seemed to be the phrase the Philadelphia Eagles’ front office broke their 2012 draft huddle with.
Every Eagles fan knows the potential the Birds picked in their first three picks with Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry. More importantly, the budding ability in these young players points directly to the Eagles’ philosophy for Super Bowl XLVII.
Andy Reid is a big advocator for the passing game; we’ve all experienced the high and lows of that. However, his love for the air assault renders a respect as well. He knows the success of the Packers, Giants, Colts (in former years), Patriots, Saints—most powerhouse teams—relies pretty heavily on the quarterback and receivers. With Eli Manning, Tony Romo and newly acquired Robert Griffin III in our conference, the Eagles are going to be seeing a plethora of passing styles. Luckily, there’s a way to stop that: hit the quarterback, and hit him quick.
Thus, the Eagles aim to drill the quarterback, to cause quick throws, to create an uneasy pocket atmosphere, and the draft shows they’ll stop at nothing to do it. Coverage plays a key role in stopping the quarterback—maybe that was a little too obvious of a statement—but no matter how clutch Rogers-Cromartie or Asomugha are, an all-star quarterback can pick apart most any secondary with a soft pocket. Reid isn’t going to give Manning or Brees that soft pocket; he can’t if he wants to continue to coach the Eagles.
Now the Birds aren’t completely disregarding the run. Cox is an earthquake in the middle of a defensive line where he’ll help DeMeco Ryans in shutting down running backs who previously had gaps wider than the strait of Gibraltar.
However, these new faces are brought into share the sacking wealth with Jason Babin, Trent Cole and Cullen Jenkins. Cox will get the opportunity to make an immediate impact. Kendricks will fight for his time, but he’ll be one of the faster linebackers in the league and come off the outside edge along with Curry. Though, Curry is in the worst luck of the newbies having to fight for a backup job against Brandon Graham, Philip Hunt and Darryl Tapp; neither of those three defensive ends did much last season, so if Curry comes out strong, he will have no problem finding a place in the four-man rotation, which will most likely cause Tapp or Hunt to find some new work on a different team.
Obviously, leading the league in sacks didn’t get us to the playoffs. But I think Andy is starting to understand it’s not the amount of the sacks but the timing. Babin’s sack that snuffs the candle of Eli Manning’s 2-minute drill will come much easier now that Cox or Curry have taken some of his snap counts in the earlier quarters. I’m totally fine with fewer sacks if we get the more timely ones.