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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Jeremy Hellickson set to pitch Saturday — unless he's traded

Jeremy Hellickson set to pitch Saturday — unless he's traded

ATLANTA — Even with the Miami Marlins having filled their need for starting pitching, there remains significant interest in Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson, according to major league sources.

The Phillies have received offers for the 29-year-old right-hander, but none that they have deemed worthy of pulling the trigger on.

Hellickson is scheduled to make his 22nd start for the club on Saturday night. Will he make that start? Time will tell. Talks between the Phillies and interested clubs are ongoing.

Hellickson is coming off two strong starts in which he allowed just six hits and one run in 14 innings against the Marlins. Another strong start Saturday could add more luster to Hellickson’s stretch-run value and bring the Phillies the package they are seeking. The trade deadline is Monday at 4 p.m.

Miami had interest in Hellickson before making a deal to acquire starters Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from San Diego in a seven-player trade Friday (see story).

Hellickson is viewed by industry insiders as being a fallback option for a number of teams. Demand for him could grow as trades are made and the starting pitching market thins as Monday’s deadline approaches.

Baltimore, Toronto, Texas, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Houston are among teams looking to add starting pitching.

Though there’s no guarantee that Hellickson will be moved, he is the most likely Phillie to go. Reliever David Hernandez is next on the list. A number of teams are looking for relief help. The feeling around baseball is that the Phils could move Hernandez before Monday’s deadline, but the return would only be marginal.

The Phillies have received some interest in closer Jeanmar Gomez, but not to the degree one might expect for someone with 27 saves. Because Gomez lacks power stuff, rival teams do not view him as a closer on a contending team.

FOX Sports reports that the Rangers have interest in right-hander Vince Velasquez, but the Phils would have to be blown away to move the 24-year-old right-hander. Velasquez started for the Phillies on Friday night.

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons repeatedly emphasized at summer league he wanted to work on “everything” leading up to training camp.

As a point-forward who plays multiple positions, he has more than just one role to address this offseason. But what does “everything” entail? With a wide range of responsibilities on the court, Simmons is honing in on specific areas.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

Shooting
Simmons has been criticized for his reluctance to shoot. During his one season of college ball at LSU, he averaged 19.2 points off 11.7 field goal attempts per game (56 percent made). Over six summer league games (including both Utah and Las Vegas), Simmons took 22 field-goal attempts and shot 32.2 percent. He had less than 10 attempts in four of the games, and attempted 15 in the Sixers’ finale. Simmons attempted one three in summer league action.

While in Utah and Las Vegas, the Sixers encouraged Simmons to be more aggressive. At 6-foot-10, Simmons is able to get to the rim. Once there, many times he passes it off rather than finishing himself. The Sixers don’t expect Simmons to become a 30-point-per-game scorer, but he will be a key part of their offense.

“You always want him to be as good of a shooter as he can be,” Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said this earlier month. “It’s not going to be his strength. His strength is going to be passing, facilitating, playmaking. That’s going to be an added bonus, whatever the percentage or the number is.”

Dribbling
Simmons averaged 5.5 assists per game during summer league (second on the team by 0.3 dimes to T.J McConnell). Conversely, he committed 3.83 turnovers.

The Sixers signed two point guards this summer, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, and McConnell is returning from last season. Head coach Brett Brown said after the draft he does not plan to utilize Simmons as the primary one-guard right away as the 20-year-old learns the league. But early on, Simmons will have the rock in his hands plenty of times given his natural ball-handling abilities, especially when grabbing the rebound and running the fast break.

"I think it's the hardest position to play in the NBA,” Brown previously said. “I think to just give him the ball in that capacity is borderline cruel. He needs to feel NBA basketball. And maybe he evolves there." (See story)

Weight room
After college, Simmons put on 20 pounds from his training and entered the draft at 242 pounds. He stood out among the competition in summer league play with his NBA-ready stature. Simmons said he would like to get up to 246 or 247 pounds this offseason.

“Not too heavy,” he said.

With the size of a forward and the skills of a guard, the Sixers will be able to utilize Simmons to create mismatches both in the backcourt and at the hoop.

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

After scoring five first-inning runs on their way to a 7-5 win against the Braves on Thursday, Pete Mackanin decided not to tinker with the Phillies' lineup too much.

In fact, the only change will be at catcher. The struggling Cameron Rupp will get the start on Friday and bat sixth after Carlos Ruiz was behind the plate on Thursday. Rupp, who was one of the few bright spots for the offense in the first half, is just 5 for 31 since the All-Star break. On the season, Rupp is still batting .271 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs.

Aaron Altherr came off the DL with a bang, tallying three hits, including a two-run homer on Thursday. Mackanin has said Altherr will get a long look in right field and Thursday night was a glimpse of why. 

With Altherr's regular presence in the lineup, Cody Asche has been put on notice. After going on a tear from early June to early July, Asche is batting .094 (5 for 53) in his last 17 games. With Altherr and Odubel Herrera entrenched in right and center, Asche will have to get hot to stave off prospect Nick Williams, who seems to be finding his groove at Lehigh Valley.

Here is tonight's lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Cody Asche, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P