Reggie White. Jerome Brown. Clyde Simmons. Seth Joyner. Byron Evans. Eric Allen. Wes Hopkins. Andre Walters. Just saying those names is enough to get a Philadelphia Eagles fan excited. These men were all members of the defense of the 1990s, and they were the last true Eagles squad who intimated their opposition. They were a group who would enter a game and dominate. Jim Johnson did have his years with a top-level group, but nothing can compare to the impact of the 1990s team. After the forgettable performance of last year, the entire unit must regroup and start fresh in 2013.
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has hired Billy Davis to run the defense this season. Davis did admirable work with the Arizona Cardinals, but he did not have a spectacular record with the San Francisco 49ers. One thing he brings to this team is a mystery wrapped in the label of a hybrid defense. Reports from camp state that multiple players are learning new positions on the defensive line.
Csnphilly.com quoted Davis saying:
“Ends are playing tackles, tackles are playing nose. We’re trying to maximizing the learning curve,” Davis said. “The more we can cross-train our players — they’ll major in one area but cross-train on others. We’re a little bit more forward-thinking.”
This will be easier on some players than others, with Trent Cole and Brandon Graham having to learn a linebacker position. The defense will need to recover from the Jim Washburn and Jason Babin mess of last season. The team does not need another radical shift of ideals but rather a strong foundation of teaching and leadership. Washburn held onto the wide-nine defense without any consideration of the results.
If Davis can stick to his forward-thinking defense, the season has potential for a total defensive turnaround. He may be the man to lead the team back to the glory days of the Gang Green defense.