The Philadelphia Eagles brought in many defensive players this offseason, whether it was from free agency or the 2013 NFL Draft. Players like CB Cary Williams, CB Bradley Fletcher, OLB Connor Barwin, and NT/DE Isaac Sopoaga are just a few players through free agency who will immediately make an impact this season. However, question marks remain around this defense that still make a few fans nervous.
The defensive line has some solid pieces but may struggle this season because of the inexperience across the line. We pretty much know that DE Fletcher Cox should be a stud as a 3-4 defensive end, so there shouldn’t be any worries there. Sopoaga only played in 30% of the San Francisco 49ers defense last season. He played strictly on their base 3-4 package and came out when the 49ers went to nickel. So it seems like Sopoaga probably doesn’t have the pass rush skills that fans would like to see from him. Then you have DE Cedric Thornton who could play a big role this season. He has the size and skill for a 3-4 DE, but he hasn’t been able to put up solid numbers yet. Behind all of these guys are, Antonio Dixon, Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers, Bennie Logan, Joe Kruger, and David King. Most of the guys I just mentioned never played in a 3-4 defense and are inexperienced to the league. So as you can see, the defensive line may run into some problems as far as depth is concerned.
The linebackers look to be a really solid group. On the outside you have Barwin, Brandon Graham, and Trent Cole. They all will be rotating and should be able to apply pressure on a game-to-game basis. The inside linebackers should be good as well. DeMeco Ryans is the leader of that defense, and he’ll have a young stud next to him in Mychal Kendricks. Behind them will be Jamar Chaney and Casey Matthews, two guys that have experience. So the linebackers should be a great group this year.
The secondary is probably the weakest group on defense. At the cornerback position the Eagles have Williams, Fletcher, and second year man Brandon Boykin. They also added rookie Jordan Poyer in the draft as well. This position could easily become a liability or an asset. The corners on the roster can play, but they have been inconsistent in their careers. The safety position actually seems weaker than the cornerback position. Kenny Phillips has been injured for the past two seasons, and Patrick Chung has been off and on throughout his career. The Eagles also have last year’s starters Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, who were absolutely dreadful to watch. The one guy that may surprise people this season is rookie Earl Wolff. He is extremely athletic and can play all over the field. However, he is a fifth round rookie and may struggle adapting to the NFL.
So on paper the safety position seems to be the weakest on defense. There is just too much inconsistency and inexperience to not name them the biggest problem. The Eagles have not had a great safety since Brian Dawkins, so I know most fans are hoping Earl Wolff can come in and set the tone like B-Dawk used to do.