Does Jim Schwartz plan to blitz more this season? On third downs last season, the Eagles blitzed 27 percent of the time which ranked 20th in the NFL.
NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell pondered the question on this week's Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast with Fran Duffy now that the Eagles have cornerback Ronald Darby.
"It's clearly in his playbook," Cosell said, referring to Schwartz's days in Tennessee. "I thought you know what, 'Is he going to blitz a little more this year because Darby is a very good man corner?' That's his comfort level. Again, you don't always have to play man when you blitz but essentially the outside corners outside the numbers are playing man and obviously in the (Buffalo) game they worked on specific blitzes."
Darby's addition provides a sense of security behind the Eagles' front line as he showed to the fans at the Linc in his debut with an interception and a pass breakup followed by another breakup in the Dolphins game this past Thursday. Pair Darby's talent with the defensive unit's growing familiarity in Schwartz's scheme and the number of opportunities for forced opposing quarterback hurries and sacks could take a huge leap. According to Cosell, linebacker Mychal Kendricks might be one of the guys who makes the difference. Kendricks has looked spectacular in the preseason, coming away with three interceptions and a sack.
"Kendricks is a very good athlete. We saw him when he was used at Cal. He was used as a blitzer quite a bit. He's a really good athlete. He's not a great off-the-ball linebacker. He's much better on the ball going forward and they clearly used him as a blitzer and I think that that's something where again we don't know how this is going to play out," Cosell said.
"You know he didn't play in the nickel last year. It was (Nigel) Bradham and (Jordan) Hicks but if the blitz percentage by Jim Schwartz will increase meaningfully, not just incrementally, Mychal Kendricks could become a more important piece of this overall defensive puzzle. Jordan Hicks was not a big blitzer a year ago. So maybe they feel that with another year under his belt, as now a veteran who's a solid player, Hicks will be better at it. So I'm real anxious to see if this is something that continues."