Eagles' red-zone D: Scheme or personnel?

Dimitri Patterson drew a lot of criticism this season. (David Maialetti / Staff File Photo)

Throughout the 2010 season, the Eagles' horrible red-zone defense was a topic of discussion on a weekly basis.

I plan on taking a closer look at why it was so bad in the coming weeks, but Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders recently put up a post looking at the Birds' struggles.

Tanier examined six different red-zone drives where opponents scored touchdowns, and while he found that some of the Eagles' problems had to do with scheme, more had to do with personnel.

Dimitri Patterson is awful. He hustles, and he is not bad in run support, but the guy was overmatched last year. McDermott spent a lot of energy not just hiding Patterson in red zone coverage, but protecting Lindley when Samuel was hurt while making sure the 5-foot-9 Hanson didn't cover any 6-foot-4 receivers. The Eagles need an upgrade at cornerback, preferably someone with more upside and better health than Ellis Hobbs.

The linebackers didn't show up well in the drives I watched. Sims is a fast, aggressive player, but he is also mistake-prone, and too much was expected of him in coverage. Fokou is a stopgap defender. Chaney appears to have a lot of potential, and he may be the best option for covering backs and tight ends in the red zone. Bradley is a run defender and pass rusher who will get in trouble if asked to cover Arian Foster-types. The Eagles need an upgrade at linebacker, but you can say that every year.

Tanier also wrote that the Eagles' defensive line wasn't bad in the red zone, and he believes the unit's problems are correctable in 2011.

Last week, I wrote about the Eagles' personnel, and like Tanier (and everyone else), I believe cornerback and linebacker are two areas that need to be addressed this offseason.


On Friday, I wrote about the Colts' decision to part ways with veteran safety Bob Sanders.

The Rams, meanwhile, have released Oshiomogho Atogwe. Their situation is a little different though. St. Louis didn't want to pay Atogwe an $8M roster bonus that would have been due next week. They could still bring him back though.

"My agent and myself have established a really good negotiating relationship with them, so were we to do something again (with the Rams), I don't believe it'd be a difficult task," Atogwe told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Because there's no bad blood there. We should be able to get something done."

Atogwe is 29, while Eagles' free-agent-to-be Quintin Mikell is 30. Last year, when Atogwe was a free agent, and the Eagles lost Marlin Jackson in OTAs, they did not pursue the Rams' safety.


On Thursday, I wrote about how Rangers infielder Ian Kinsler took a shot at Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson when asked about his teammate, Michael Young's, contract situation.

"This isn't DeSean Jackson or Michael Vick or Manny Ramirez," Kinsler said, according to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. "Michael Young is a professional. It would be completely out of his personality not to be here."

Kinsler offered a strange excuse when asked to clarify why he singled out Jackson and Vick - two players who have not held out or missed any practice time because of their contracts.

"I would never say Beanie Wells or T.O. or anyone with the Cowboys or Cardinals," Kinsler said, per Durrett. "I’ve always been a Cardinals fan because it’s home, but when you move to Dallas, honestly, you really have no choice."

As I mentioned previously, Kinsler and the Rangers will play a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park from May 20-22.

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