The Eagles offense is used to watching the defensive line's wide-nine technique create pressure on the quarterback. But this week they will find themselves face-to-face with the very scheme that has helped the line be so successful over the past two seasons.
The Lions are one of a growing number of teams utilizing the wide-nine technique, which was created by Florida state defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews and shaped into what it is today by Eagles defensive line guru Jim Washburn and Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. The two were assistant coaches with the Tennessee Titans, and have taken their concepts to their new teams.
But working in such close proximity to a defense running the same scheme has its advantages.
"We're familiar with this type of defense with the wide-nines and the three linebackers in the box," right tackle Todd Herremans said. "It's a little more uniform than we've seen the past few weeks, but they definitely present some challenges. We just have to do our work this week and be ready for Sunday."
The wide-nine is built around pressuring the quarterback, and both teams have had success doing just that. Since 2011, the Eagles and Lions have combined for a total 107 sacks. The Lions have nine sacks in four games this season, including seven in their first two games. Stopping that constant pressure is imperative for the offensive linemen.
"They do a good job of getting penetration up the field, a good job on the inside of pushing guards back," left guard Evan Mathis said. "Their ends are very talented and generate a good pass rush. It is a very similar defense to what we have here."
The last time the Eagles offense went against the wide-nine was under the sweltering July sun of Lehigh University. But that knowledge gleaned during Training Camp could very well pay dividends Sunday.
"It helps a lot," said running back LeSean McCoy. "It could be worked to our advantage and disadvantage at times. It's one of those things where we have to see how the game goes. I think going against the defense the whole (Training Camp), we're kind of used to it. And their speed rushers are a lot like ours."
One area the Eagles may be able to exploit is in the running game. The Lions are allowing an average just over 100 yards per game on the ground. When asked if he thinks he'll be able to run inside on the Lions' defensive line, McCoy was as elusive with reporters as he is on the field.
"We'll see this week," he said. "We'll see Sunday. I think the wide-nine, it works against certain offenses. So we'll find out."
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