In the 2011 season the Philadelphia Eagles' defense shifted its leadership to a guy whose specialty was the offensive line. This coming fall, they won't be as vulnerable.
The lockout provided only an abbreviated camp session to get things in order. Their lack of preparation led out of the gate to erratic implementation of Jim Washburn's Wide 9 and improper deployment of elite cover corner Nnamdi Asomugha.
But it eventually came together. In winning five of their final seven games last year, Philly allowed the sixth fewest points per week (17.0) and led the league in sacks per contest (3.43). Outside of the defending champs, their opponents were mediocre or weak (New York Giants, at Seattle Seahawks, at Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins comprised their victories), but they jelled at that time, too.
They drafted scheme fits in DT Fletcher Cox, pass rusher Vinny Curry and SAM LB Mychal Kendricks, and inked another important key to bolstering the LB corps in veteran DeMeco Ryans, a 4-3 mainstay who'll rein in the problems the Eagles endured in the middle, including those with Casey Matthews on duty.
Jason Babin and Trent Cole rank among the best D-linemen in the game and lead a much deeper crop than last year's with Cox's debut. Their safeties are their weak point, but Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has shown flashes and has enough ranginess to hold his own.
Besides Eli Manning, their division contains a turnover-prone QB (Tony Romo) and a rookie slinger who'll probably run into plenty of sacks and commit his share of giveaways (Robert Griffin III).
The Eagles' name still might carry weight in many fantasy circles and cause someone to reach. But they might tumble in numerous leagues. If they do, pounce; they'll be just as productive as San Francisco 49ers and the like. This year, the pieces have a much better chance at coming together in Week 1 instead of Week 11.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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