We have talked about this a long time, the idea of changing out of the traditional -- in Philadelphia, at least -- 4-3 scheme and moving to a 3-4. It's a possibility that exists whether we agree or not, based on what the new head coach and defensive coordinator feel comfortable running.
It's also safe to suggest that there are going to be some sweeping changes in the defensive personnel for '13, whether the Eagles keep the 4-3 or change the scheme entirely.
"There were definitely chemistry problems. You saw it out there," said general manager Howie Roseman. "We saw more independent contractors than guys playing as a team."
So, reading between the lines, the Eagles aren't necessarily opposed to blowing it up, in a football sense, and starting over on defense.
How much of the current personnel, then, would translate to a 3-4 scheme?
Up front, it's easy to see
"He could play end in a 3-4 and he could play it very well," said defensive line coach Tommy Brasher, who worked with Cox in the last month of the season and spoke about the defensive line shortly after he was hired. "He's a talented player. He's got the skills to do either."
Clearly, though, to do it ideally, the Eagles would need to find a standout nose tackle to anchor the line of scrimmage against the run and occupy two blockers on every snap of the football. The Eagles don't have perfect fits flanking nose tackle, so they would probably have to look for pieces there, too.
What about linebacker? This is a tricky proposition, but the Eagles have some options on paper.
Maybe it doesn't matter, because it's likely the Eagles will invest heavily on the defensive side of the ball regardless of the scheme they're playing. They need help on defense, plain and simple. The lack of takeaways in 2012 was alarming and clearly a reflection of a lack of pressure placed on the opposing offense. The Eagles couldn't generate a consistent pass rush, didn't get home on the blitz and hardly challenged in the secondary. It's fair to say that the team's chemistry will be addressed, and that means the Eagles won't be shy to replace personnel.
It's all up to the new coach, of course, but for the sake of conversation there are some pieces in place to get the defense up and started in a 3-4. There are options here, in other words. This may be the time when the Eagles decide to scrap what they've run for years and use a 3-4, as, by the unofficial count here, 11 teams in the NFL currently use.
The majority of the league still believes in the 4-3, and that's fine, too. The bottom line is that to get back in the Super Bowl-contending game, the Eagles have a lot of work to do on defense, regardless of their preference for 4-3 vs. 3-4.