The biggest question the Philadelphia Eagles face this season is undoubtedly on the defensive side of the football. The Eagles are transitioning to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Billy Davis, and both young and veteran players will have to make the transition from the familiarity of a 4-3 to Davis’ new hybrid defense that incorporates 3-4 with elements of the 4-3 called the 4-3 “Under”.
Trent Cole, usually a stalwart on the Eagles defense who can be bookmarked for 10-12 sacks a season, had a disappointing 2012-2013 campaign as he registered the lowest sack total of his career with a measly three. If this defense wants to get back to its glory days, Cole is going to have to get back to his old self and get to the quarterback frequently in the QB rich NFC East. He and some of the other young linebackers such as Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham will also be asked to drop into coverage which is something only Barwin, in his time under Wade Phillips and the Houston Texans, is familiar with. These responsibilities, especially for the veteran Cole and young pass rusher Graham, will be quite a transition to make, and it is something they must grasp quickly as Chip Kelly looks to install both his offense and defense in a quick and efficient manner.
How will the Eagles defense fare? A lot of that depends on if Cole can get back to being the consistent pass rusher that strikes fear into opposing quarterbacks and how he, Graham and the rest of the linebackers adjust to this new look 3-4 Kelly and Davis are running. If the Eagles can rush the passer aggressively and cover the back end on defense, with the offense’s fast past pace and array of weapons I believe the Eagles can be a dark horse playoff contender in the upcoming 2013 campaign.