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Division Links: BtB outraged that Eli Manning was named ‘Quarterback of the last decade’ in NFC East

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Eli Manning’s Retirement Press Conference Photo by J. Conrad Williams, Jr./Newsday via Getty Images

Blogging the Boys

ESPN named Eli Manning as the NFC East All-Decade Team quarterback of the last decade

What?!

Pick the peak of Eli Manning’s last decade. It is in no way higher than the peaks experienced by Tony Romo, Dak Prescott, or Carson Wentz. All three of them would be better choices as the division quarterback of the last decade.

In thinking about it I also added Kirk Cousins’ time in Washington to the mix and convinced myself that I’d even personally take that peak over any that Eli experienced in the same stretch of time. Seriously, in what universe is Eli Manning the best choice here?

There will obviously be a crowd of people that champion the Super Bowl that Manning won in this stretch of time (Carson Wentz technically “won” one, too) but if we’re going to diminish our learning potential and look strictly at wins should it not be said that Eli finished with a below .500 record six times counting the four games he played last year? His team only won double-digit games once. ONCE!

Bleeding Green Nation

NFL insider thinks the Eagles would “at least explore” trade for Joe Thuney

The MMQB’s Albert Breer recently suggested Thuney could be on Philly’s radar.

And I don’t think if they get through a couple weeks of camp, and Matt Pryor, Nate Herbig and Jack Driscoll aren’t where they should be, that Roseman will hesitate to pick up the phone.

Would they take a big swing on someone like New England’s franchise-tagged All-Pro guard, Joe Thuney? Based on what I know … I think they’d at least explore it. But, again, that’s probably more of a down-the-road contingency thing for now.

That “based on what I know” line is intriguing.

To be clear, though, a trade for Thuney just doesn’t seem likely. He’s currently set to carry a $14.78 million cap number in 2020. The Eagles technically have enough cap space (~24.7 million) to afford that price tag but not when you account for how they’re planning on rolling that money over to 2021 since they’re currently projected to be $50.6 million over the cap.

Blogging the Boys

Cap space may be going down next year, and that is worrisome for the Cowboys

[A] lower cap affects all teams, but would be more difficult for those with a lot of high-dollar, long-term contracts already on the books. And that certainly is the situation for the Cowboys. According to Over the Cap, they already have $182 million committed for 2021, and that does not include anything for Prescott. Given that the current cap is $198.2 million, that leaves precious little space to work with should the number go down instead of the annual increase we have seen in recent years, and it would not take much of a reduction to throw Dallas (and several other teams) into negative territory. The Cowboys are already in the bottom third of cap space for next year. With a reduction in space, they would be forced into more contract restructurings. That is a viable strategy in an environment of constantly rising cap space, but things are much riskier if it heads the other direction.

The Cowboys might try to get some players to renegotiate their deals to reduce the payouts, but it is hard to imagine many players being eager to go that route. Stretching things out, often referred to as “kicking the can down the road” in the past, is far more likely. It just is going to be a much more difficult thing.

One way the NFL could alleviate some concerns would be to allow cap relief for teams. Use a lower cap to set the floor, but allow teams that are willing to exceed it, perhaps by “borrowing” against future years. The problem with that is how it basically circumvents the entire reason for the cap, which is to limit how much money owners have to give up to the players. It also allows the rich teams, such as Dallas, to outspend those in poorer financial condition. If some teams were ready to pay out more money to preserve their rosters, it would be a tacit admission that the NFL is actually able to put more money in the pockets of the players. Many owners would be loathe to do that, because it sets a dangerous (for them) precedent down the road. You can be sure it would be brought up in the next CBA.

Big Blue View

Summer School 2020, the Bear Front: What it is, why it’s used, and how to beat it

NFL defense doesn’t just neatly fit into two boxes. Over the years we have seen defenses shift and change to adapt and adopt concepts as they try to frustrate the offenses they face.

We’re going to start with the 46 defense, or “Bear” front, which isn’t a new defensive scheme but forms the basis for how many modern defenses deal with spread offenses.

The 46, or “Bear Front” was created by Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan for safety Doug Plank. Plank might have played safety, but in Ryan’s defense he was, essentially, an extra linebacker. Ryan would walk Plank up to the line of scrimmage, giving him a consistent eight-man box and one-on-one match-ups for his five pass rushers. When combined with an aggressive Cover 1 shell to disrupt quick passing routes, the Bear Front formed the foundation for one of the NFL’s greatest defenses.

When it comes to the Bear Front, there are two distinguishing characteristics which identify it. The first is defensive linemen lined up directly across (Heads Up) from the center and each guard. The second is a strong safety and a linebacker lined up on the line of scrimmage on the strong side of the offensive formation.

In short, if you see down linemen aligned over the guards and center (red box) with two defenders on the line of scrimmage, on the strong side of the formation (blue box), you are looking at a Bear Front.

The Bear Front is frequently combined with a Cover 1 defense in the secondary. The aggressive man coverage in a Cover 1 is designed to allow defenders to disrupt routes early in the play, to prevent quarterbacks from evading pressure with quick passes.

By concentrating defensive linemen on the interior, it accounts for each of the offense’s interior blockers, preventing the double-teams most inside running plays depend on to be successful. And not only does the Bear demand that the interior linemen win one-on-one blocks

The primary weakness of the Bear Front against the passing game is its aggression. It relies on an aggressive Cover 1 defense to both free up the manpower to keep eight defenders in the box and create a natural five-man rush.

Of the options...for beating a Cover 1, I’m partial to the “Mirrored Slant” and “Slant/Flat” concepts when also faced with an aggressive defensive front. Not only do they create responsibility conflicts against man coverage, but they are quick-hitting plays that can still help to negate the pass rush.

There is, however, one other way to frustrate the Bear Front through the air, and that’s play-action.