The Eagles' pass rushers are spending a few days learning from one of the best pass rushers in NFL history.
Former Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, and Carolina Panthers linebacker Kevin Greene, who spent 15 seasons in the NFL, is with the Eagles this week. Greene stopped coaching the Green Bay Packers at the end of last season. His tenure in Pittsburgh and Carolina overlapped with defensive coordinator Bill Davis' stints in both places. Greene is No. 3 all-time with 160 career sacks.
"He’s out here helping us coach," Davis said. "He shouldn’t be here this weekend. He should be getting a gold jacket fitted, because the guys got 160 career sacks. I know I’m [bias] to him, but I really do believe it’s time for him to be in the Hall. But his knowledge of the simplicity of pass rush, and what he’s bringing here for three days to help us and to pick his brain of how he did it, the players are grabbing him and how he did. It was very basic, fundamental way of rushing the passer that he’s bringing to our guys."
The Eagles ranked No. 20 in the NFL with 37 sacks last season. Their only major addition to the front seven was first-round pick Marcus Smith, who is not expected to start. Davis wants the sacks to come from returning players, who can benefit from Greene's knowledge of the 3-4.
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"I want the defensive unit to disrupt the timing, rhythm of that quarterback, and hit him as often as we can," Davis said. "Who it comes from, I think we have a lot of guys that have the skill set to get it down. They all understand the defense this year. I think they’ll play a little faster and reckless in their pass rush, because they understand a lot more specifically, it’s comfortable to them now. I don’t think a year ago to them, it was comfortable. Now they know they know. They know what their responsibility is. I anticipate that the group as a whole will be better"
**One rookie who has stood out to Davis is fifth-round pick Taylor Hart. Davis called Hart "consistent as the day is long." Hart is expected to provide depth to the defensive line.
"Every technique we ask him to do, he does it," Davis said. "He is about as coachable as anyone we had, and consistent in all aspects. He's got a nice little pass rush. He's shown some stuff in the 1-on-1. I can't wait for these preseason games and really see these young guys and what they are capable of doing with the bright lines on."
**Smith is the rookie who gets the most attention. Davis said Smith improves daily, but there is still development.
"He's getting a better understanding," Davis said. "The young man needs reps, reps, reps, reps. He's getting them, and he's going in the right direction."
**Davis said there is nothing to read into whether Nate Allen or Earl Wolff play with the starting unit on a given day. The Eagles are trying to get enough looks on both of them.
"In these first couple of weeks, we're simply throwing them in against different people," Davis said. "I'm putting different safeties rotations along with corner rotations, so the backup safety can talk with the starting corner, or whoever. We need to get the communication to be comfortable. When you leave the ones with the ones, communication gets smooth between those guys, then some backup comes up, and the communication is different. So trying to get everyone in the comfort zone. And that's what challenging about the music at practice, and the speed of practice. The more they can work together and with different guys, when we do pick the starting lineup...we've already practiced them communicating together."
**The officials met with the Eagles last week, and Davis expects the flags to come in the preseason. The team is still getting used to the new emphasis on what's allowed in pass coverage.
"They told us 20 times, the flags are going to rain down in the preseason until the game gets adjusted," Davis said. "And we’ll adjust to it, and hopefully we get there faster than our opponents get there.”