All Twenty Take: Youth DeAndre Carter Jersey , Box Safety It started off in training camp on a 10-10-10 day. Those days, which feature 10 plays for offensive install against a soft defense, then 10 for the defense against a soft offense, then 10 special-teams reps, can give onlookers a little insight as to the new wrinkles/adjustments that coordinators are focusing on.During a portion of the practice, Doug’s offense got uber college-y. Not just the usual bits and pieces — it was straight option offense, bubble screens galore, pre-snap motion for days. If you’ve ever watched a Matt Canada offense (current HC at Maryland), think that.But Pederson was only running those looks because Schwartz had asked for them. The emphasis was on Schwartz’s secondary being able to communicate and adjust through the various pass-catchers re-aligning and releasing in curious ways.The big note from Schwartz’s defense during that install: how much he asked of Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, and then-SAF3 Tre Sullivan. All three safeties had to play reps as the deep middle safety, deep half safety, cover man over the slot, cover man over the tight end, cover man over the running back, curl-flat defender, et cetera. Lots o’ hats.The surprising carryover into the first two weeks of the season? The usage of Rodney McLeod in the box, even when no pre-snap motion or funky alignments have forced him there. Schwartz seems more willing this season to deploy McLeod in roles other than centerfielder — the sample size is still small, of course, but early returns are incredibly promising.The Eagles have generated two interceptions so far this season. The first was the Rasul Douglas pick on the sideline against Julio Jones, which was a rather terrible throw to a poorly run route. The second was this play, on which McLeod plastered Tampa TE O.J. Howard and popped the ball into the air.McLeod is not in his typical high alignment because he’s peppering the edge, threatening QB Ryan Fitzpatrick with a blitz to hopefully force him to shift protection or audible to a hot route. As he peels off, he has flat responsibility Youth Fletcher Cox Jersey , sinking outside of the numbers to sit underneath the deep comeback route that had been hurting Philadelphia’s Cover 3 early in the game.There’s a bit of discontinuity in the interior zones, however. Faced with the choice of two vertical stems coming his way, the middle hole defender (Malcolm Jenkins) takes the #2 receiver to the trips side, leaving the #3 defender, O.J. Howard, to work across the open middle of the field, as LB Nigel Bradham is forced to close down on the RB release.McLeod, watching all of this unfold from his flat responsibility (Fitzpatrick never looks his way) makes the play of an instinctive free safety. A corrective position that has to anticipate the if-then causality between route concepts and zone coverage, free safeties regularly have to fly to the most likely choice and begin attacking the throw before the quarterback even begins the process. That’s what McLeod does here.McLeod abandons his post in the flat, which leaves the comeback open, because he sees Fitzpatrick processing the middle of the field and feels the hole in the defense. Howard, rightfully, does not expect the flat defender to come at him so immediately and with such velocity — he is unprepared for the body-check, and McLeod creates a turnover.Now, it’s easy to conclude via results and not process, which is why it’s important to talk about this play: the O.J. Howard 75-yard touchdown:While the Eagles rotate in a different manner in order to get into their Cover 2 on this play, this is again a shell that looks like Cover 3 early but changes late to Cover 2. McLeod is again threatening the backside edge as a blitzer, and again peels off to sink underneath the comeback route that Tampa had been cashing in on.But McLeod doesn’t come off the flat to attack the crosser; O.J. catches this ball and scores a touchdown. That is objectively bad, but it doesn’t mean the process was bad at all. Again, Philly has forced Fitzpatrick into a second read and a middle-of-the-field throw, protecting their struggling corners.But this play is after the Darby interception, and clearly the team has adjusted on the sideline. This time, the middle hole defender (Jordan Hicks) is quick to get attached to Howard’s crosser and carry it into space. There is no longer confusion in the middle zones — they know how to handle this familiar concept from a few drives ago. As such, in terms of process Authentic Chris Long Jersey , this is a great situation. Fitzpatrick needs to thread this throw right over Nigel Bradham (who didn’t close as hard on the running back this time) and jam it into Howard’s chest to prevent Hicks, in a decent position, from attacking the catch point. And even then, Howard needs to shed Hicks and break another tackle or two to get all the way downfield.At this point in the play, this rep is a win for the Eagles’ defense. Now, both of these reps saw McLeod initially down in the box, as a potential blitzer and, if not a blitzer, a likely short-zone defender. The fact that McLeod offers that interchangeability is quite nice, in that it allows Jenkins and McLeod to be more fluid pre-snap handling those motions we discussed in the intro.However, for deception’s sake, teams will quickly come to key on McLeod’s alignment. When he’s down, the Eagles are far less likely to run true Cover 3 than when he’s up high. As such, working McLeod down into the box from a high alignment pre-snap is important for Schwartz’s defense.And he’s checked that box off as well. It goes back to the coulda woulda shoulda been third interceptions of the Eagles’ young season:This coverage shell should seem familiar. It’s essentially the same back-end coverage as the first clip — the Darby interception.(You will notice that a lot of the Eagles’ early ball production this season on defense has come from this shell. Makes you think!)This shell is basically Inverted Cover 2, and it’s a natural compliment to Cover 3 coverage. At the snap, they look rather similar — the corners are in off coverage, and there’s a single-high rover covering the middle of the field. At the snap of Cover 3, everyone begins slowly gaining depth; at the snap of an inverted Cover 2 rep, the free safety closes down, to become the middle hole defender of the Cover 2.Really, Inverted Cover 2 is closer to a Tampa-2 coverage than a true Cover 2. A true Cover 2 is a five-under, two-over coverage: five defenders handle the underneath areas, two defenders handle the deep areas. Philly’s inverted Cover 2 doesn’t ask the middle hole defender — that dropping free safety — to really get all the way into the underneath zones. He plays more of a robber role — a rat defender, some would call it. He’s allowed to roam in the barren land between underneath and deep zones Authentic Nick Foles Jersey , feeling the route concept and adjusting accordingly.And that’s what you see from McLeod here. Similarly to the first rep, he plays with his eyes in the backfield, feels the space QB Matt Ryan wants to attack, and undercuts the route. Everything is solid but the execution.And that’s really what we have, here: an interception, an incompletion, and a touchdown. I could throw in the DeSean Jackson touchdown — McLeod rotated into man coverage on Mike Evans at the snap, which allowed Philly to generate a free blitzer — that would be two touchdowns on four total plays. If you were to just look at the stats, McLeod down in the box seems rather a poor idea.But even on that DeSean touchdown, Philly was at a great position in terms of X’s and O’s on the chalkboard: they had DeSean double covered and a free rusher baring down on Fitzpatrick. One mental mistake — albeit an egregious one — was enough to tip the scales.If and when Schwartz moves McLeod into the box, he’s typically moving away from the base Cover 3 defense. In the past, when moving to different shells, Schwartz still made an effort to keep McLeod as a high safety. In 2018, he seems far more willing to use McLeod in unexpected ways, and it’s paying off early for the Eagles’ defense.McLeod’s instincts and sharp mind for the game translate down into underneath zones, and he has either directly or indirectly put the defense in plus situations with his versatility. The more frequently Philadelphia deploys McLeod as a middle hole or flat defender, the further they can confound opposing offenses, force longer processes in the pocket, and generate turnover-worthy plays. With the Philadelphia Eagles being eliminated from the 2019 NFL playoffs on Sunday evening, today was locker room clean-out day at the NovaCare Complex. It was a somber day as some players leave the Eagles’ locker room for the last time. There were a number of newsworthy tidbits from a number of players speaking on Monday, so here’s a roundup.CARSON WENTZNo. 11 spoke for the first time since news of his back fracture injury emerged after the Eagles’ Week 14 game. It was encouraging to hear that the injury isn’t expected to be a long-term issue.Former NFL team doctor David Chao weighed in on this:Getting Wentz healthy (and keeping him that way) is obviously critical to the future of this team’s success. It sounds like he knows he has some doubters to prove wrong.The feeling here is that some have gotten way too down on Wentz. I think people easily forget just how good he was in 2017. Let’s see Wentz have a full offseason to get healthy and work on his game. There’s reason for optimism when it comes to his 2019 outlook. Nick Foles got better over time. Why can’t Carson?Speaking of the Super Bowl MVP ... NICK FOLESBased on everything he’s said following the Eagles’ loss, it sure doesn’t sound like Foles will be back in Philly next season.Nick Foles said he’ll always love Philly. Well, Nick, Philly will always love you Womens Brandon Brooks Jersey , too.BRANDON BROOKSIt really sucks that Brooks suffered an injury so late in the 2018 season that it could impact his 2019 outlook. Hopefully Brooks’ recovery timeline will allow him to be ready for the start of next season. The Eagles need their Pro Bowl right guard in the lineup. BRANDON GRAHAMI’m going to be so sad if the Eagles don’t find a way to keep my fellow BLG. He’s always such a happy guy who brings so much fun and positivity to the locker room. Not to mention he’s hell of a player who made the biggest play in Eagles history by strip-sacking Tom Brady in last year’s Super Bowl. The good news is that it sounds like Graham, who is going to be a free agent, has a lot of interest in coming back to Philly. We’ll see if the feeling is mutual. JASON KELCEOver the weekend, conflicting reports emerged regarding Kelce potentially retiring before the 2019 season. Speaking after Sunday’s game, Kelce said he hasn’t made a decision quite yet. He sure didn’t slam the door shut on the possibility of calling it a career. For the Eagles’ sake, hopefully Kelce isn’t leaving the game.FLETCHER COXCox got banged up in the Eagles’ loss but he gutted it out as best as he could. CHRIS LONGLong, who turns 34 years old in March, is still under contract for the 2019 season. The veteran pass rusher gave some weight to retiring last year, however, so it possible he calls it a career. If that’s the case, the Eagles would save $5.3 million in cap space with only $300,000 in dead money. For what it’s worth, Long seems undecided about his future.DARREN SPROLESEarlier this month, ESPN reported Sproles told the Eagles he wants to play another season. Sproles turns 36 in June but he showed he still has some gas left in the tank. Sproles is set to be a free agent so the Eagles will have to sign him to a new contract. I’d guess we’ll see him back.ZACH ERTZErtz, Brooks, and Cox are the Eagles’ three 2019 Pro Bowl selections. Brooks definitely isn’t playing in the game and I’m guessing Cox isn’t either given that he’s in a walking boot right now. Ertz is the only player who might play.MALCOLM JENKINSAs previously noted, made it through the entire regular season and playoffs without missing a single defensive snap. He also played 157 special teams snaps. Warrior.NIGEL BRADHAMAdd Bradham to the long list of players who got hurt in New Orleans.SIDNEY JONESThe 2019 offseason is a big one for Jones. After only playing in 10 out of 37 possible games over two years, he needs to prove he can get healthy. Jones is only 22 years old so it’s way too early to give upon him. But it’s time for him to step up. It’ll be interesting to see how Jones fits into next year’s secondary with Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, and Cre’Von LeBlanc all playing well down the stretch. Jim Schwartz favorite Jalen Mills will still be around and it’s not impossible free agent Ronald Darby could be retained. GOLDEN TATEI don’t think we’ll be seeing Tate return to the Eagles in 2019. It feels like he’ll get more money on the market than what the Eagles will offer.DOUG PEDERSONOne of my favorite takeaways from Monday’s media session:The Eagles don’t have the cap space to be super active in free agency but the allure of Pederson could potentially give the Eagles an edge when it comes to shopping for bargain bin guys. Emotional intelligence! THANKING THE FANSThe Eagles put out this video of players sending a message to the fans.