Step One in Rebuilding the Eagles Defense: Trash the Wide-Nine Technique

Jason KarlAnalyst IIIOctober 6, 2011

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Cadillac Williams #33 of the St. Louis Rams runs and pushes off of Cullen Jenkins #97 of the Philadelphia Eagles at the Edward Jones Dome on September 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eagles defeated the Rams 31-15. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Jeff Curry/Getty Images

With the NFL's worst run defense, I have to believe the wide-nine technique Jim Washburn is employing is not effective.

It generates consistent pass rush, and in a passing league, that is crucial. But when running backs average over five yards a carry, change is necessary. 

The Eagles must play to their strengths and the linebackers are a gaping hole in the defense. Disciplined, consistent, sure tacklers are key for the wide-nine to be effective.

When Washburn ran the technique in Tennessee, he had elite talents such as Stephen Tulloch and years prior, Keith Bulluck, who knew how to play this specific scheme to perfection.

The Eagles below-average linebackers cannot get off of blocks and are being overpowered by offensive linemen. If they are not overpowered, then they are usually completely out of position to make any sort of contribution to the run defense.

Since the defensive ends line up outside the tackle, they are essentially eliminated from running plays. One of the game's best run defending end, Trent Cole, cannot fully be a part in stopping the run.

If the Eagles decide to take my advice, then the gaps can be smaller allowing for the defensive tackles and Trent Cole to make more plays against the run.

The main drawback of trashing the wide-nine technique would be fear of not generating a consistent enough pass rush.

But with names such as Jason Babin, Trent Cole and Cullen Jenkins on the defensive line, the pass rush can still be great without the ends lining up so wide.

Babin has looked like a new player from his last stint with the team, and his pass rush prowess will be too much for most right tackles to handle even if he does not line up outside of the tackle.

The Eagles are a contending team and the wide-nine has proved largely ineffective against the run which has cost the Eagles games.

A change from the wide-nine would alleviate the immense pressure on the linebackers and would assist the defense tremendously.