Everyone wants to know, what will defensive coordinator Bill Davis' front seven look like?
It's looked a lot like a 3-4 on base downs during the two open practices the media was permitted to attend this month, but the Eagles may have just been practicing against certain offensive formations that determined the odd-man front.
Davis has generally been a 3-4 guy, but when he was the Cardinals defensive coordinator from 2010-11 he ran what was called a 4-3 "under" because the weak-side outside linebacker generally put his hand in the ground. They're all labels to some degree, but Davis shed a little more on his plans when he met with reporters for the first time since being named coordinator back in February.
So now that he's had his players for seven weeks, how would he describe his front?
“Multiple is the best way,” Davis said. “I know you guys are tired of that answer. I know you want to hear one or the other or something. What we’re doing here is we’re taking that wide-nine 4-3 and we’re moving in the direction of the 3-4, but where we stop is yet to be determined by the players we have.”
The Eagles still have a number of players, particularly former defensive ends Trent Cole and Brandon Graham, that have only played in a 4-3 in the NFL. They are now being asked to become outside linebackers with more coverage responsibilities than they ever had and more instances where they rush from a two-point stance.
Or at least that's the general thinking.
“I’ve seen seven weeks of them standing up and going in a three-point [stance] and they can do either one," Davis said. "At first, it looked unnatural to them because it was, because they haven’t done it. Now they have done it for a couple weeks.”
But can they make the adjustment once the pads come on and games are played? And if they can't, will the defense have more 4-3 looks on passing downs? That seems to be one of the things Davis and his staff are trying to figure out during the spring.
"Right now in this phase, it's a no-padded phase, so we get to test them in a different movement things and different positions," Davis said. "And then sometime during training camp the system is in place. Everybody out there has a system that runs four-down, three-down. ... So you use them at different times, and how much we use any of them will dictate who we're playing and the offenses we're trying to stop that week, and first and foremost, who are guys are and what they do best."