Howie Roseman Thinks Trent Cole Can Play in a 3-4 Defense

Howie Roseman Thinks Trent Cole Can Play in a 3-4 Defense

The Eagles will eventually move to a 3-4 or hybrid defensive
alignment under Chip Kelly, you can take that to bank. Whether it happens this
season or in the not-too-distant future remains to be seen though, because
there is some question as to whether the Eagles are ready to make the change
personnel-wise.

No doubt they already have some of the pieces to run the 3-4
effectively, but who is their big space eater at nose tackle? Who can rush the
passer off of the edge but also drop back into coverage? Howie Roseman addressed
these questions
with reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

When it comes to nose tackle, it’s hard to judge whether any
of the Eagles’ interior linemen has that ability to clog up the middle. We
certainly haven’t seen any of the potential candidates commanding constant
double teams or anything.

Then again, we haven’t seen a lot of Antonio Dixon, either.
Roseman thinks he could be a fit.

“I don’t think there’s any question
about it,” Roseman said. “That’s his skill set. He’s a big body, [makes] good
use of his hands, he’s a run stopper – he’s kind of what you’re going to look
for if you’re going to look for a 3-4 nose tackle.”

Dixon is 6’3”, 322 lbs. That’s about what the New England
Patriots list Vince Wilfork at (6-2, 325), and he can probably be considered the
current prototype for the position. Then again, I’m not sure Wilfork doesn’t
weight a lot more than the team is letting on there – he’s a load.

But okay, maybe Dixon is big enough and has the skill set.
After a strong 2010 during which he started 10 games for the Eagles, an injury
cut his following season short, and he fell by the wayside in Jim Washburn’s
wide-9 scheme. The team actually cut him out of training camp, but scooped him
back up once Wash got canned.

It’s a little difficult to envision him as a permanent
solution, but I could see experimenting with it.

What’s much, much harder to swallow was Roseman’s assertion
that Trent Cole could play outside linebacker in a 3-4.

“Trent’s the same way [as Brandon Graham]. Trent can
rush the passer. As you look at 3-4 rush linebackers, Trent has the skill set
that a lot of those guys have.”

Trent could probably create a decent pass rush from the
safety position, at least in his prime. Coming off of a three-sack season, you
have to be concerned about his ability to rush from anywhere in 2013.

We’re willing to give him some benefit of the doubt that he
can bounce back. The problem is rushing the quarterback isn’t that position’s
only job. In order to maintain an air of unpredictability in the 3-4, Cole
would occasionally be expected to drop into coverage – something he has done
poorly in the past.

When Sean McDermott was the Eagles’ defensive coordinator
from 2009-10, Cole dropped back an average of 2.65 times per game. Nobody knew
why, we could all just plainly see it wasn’t working. In ’10, Pro Football
Focus
scored Cole a -1.5 as he dropped into coverage a career-high 43 times.

Now Cole is 30 years old. Coverage is just not an area I see
him improving upon after spending eight seasons in the NFL at defensive end.

Of course, last offseason the Colts faced a similar issue
with what to do about Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis in their transition to
the 3-4. The duo showed both edges of the sword. According to PFF, Freeney only
dropped back two times per game and was fine. Mathis, on the other hand, was in
coverage almost seven times per game, and PFF graded him a -5.5.

The Colts also finished with the 26th ranked defense in the NFL, so there's that too.

>> Roseman: Eagles already have some 3-4 pieces [CSN]

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Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."