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Division Links: a look at stories from NFC East SB Nation blogs

5 June 2020

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Bleeding Green Nation
Is Jalen Mills suited for Malcolm Jenkins’ old role?

The Eagles don’t have a Malcolm Jenkins on the roster, but they knew that and we knew that. What they also don’t have on the roster is a starting-caliber box safety. They have a few players who might become that, but all three are far from a sure bet, and the leader in the clubhouse is only there because he couldn’t hack it at outside corner, no matter how hard the Eagles tried to convince us he could. If Mills truly is the man for the job, the Eagles’ defense will be stunned to discover that he can be picked on just as easily, if not easier, in his new role than he was in his old one.

Blogging the Boys

Four impressive stats that will have Cowboys fans excited about the addition of Jim Tomsula

Tomsula is well respected around the league as a great position coach. The attention to detail he has in establishing leverage and using your hands effectively has translated into success of several of the players he’s coached. He focuses on working the right angles, annihilating the protection, and is an authority on pass rushing fundamentals that has enabled his groups to perform at a high level.

It’s really hard to fathom that the Cowboys had DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn on the defensive line and still managed to have seven fewer sacks than the Redskins last season. This isn’t to say that players like Matthew Ioannidis, Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, or DaRon Payne aren’t quality players. It’s just saying that when it comes to getting after the quarterback - clearly, the Redskins have done a better job.

Big Blue View

Summer School 2020: Strengths and weaknesses of a Cover 1 defense

The use of press man coverage is one of the biggest strengths that a defense can have because it affects the offense’s timing and rhythm. In the NFL, defenders have a 5-yard window where they can put their hands on eligible receivers, effectively slowing them down. Being close to the line of scrimmage at the snap also gives the defense an advantage because they can stay in the hip pocket of the receiver and act accordingly on routes, whereas off-man coverage provides a cushion that athletic receivers can abuse. Cover 1 press really helps make quick game passing windows smaller, and that’s one major reason why it’s called so much in third-and-manageable situations.

There are also times where Cover 1 implements a robber element to the defense. In this defense, the FS drops to the deep middle (middle of the field closed defense), while the strong safety drops down to eliminate any inside breaking routes from a receiver (either backside or No. 2). Pre-snap Cover 1 robber may look like a two-high defense (middle of the field open).

Blogging the Boys

Three NFC East questions the Cowboys want answered

Rivera walked into one of the most notoriously dysfunctional franchises in the NFL. Under owner Dan Snyder, the team has seen continuous turmoil and an endless stream of bad decisions.

What will really matter is how well Rivera can take the reins. Hiring him was a strong indication that just maybe Snyder has realized the error of his ways. The move is reminiscent of Jerry Jones hiring Bill Parcells, who exercised more organizational control than any coach since Jimmy Johnson during his time in Dallas. And he did leave the Cowboys in better shape than when he arrived.

That would still require a major shift in approach for Snyder. It remains to be seen just how well that goes. Rivera also has the challenge of a second-year starting quarterback in Dwayne Haskins, who now has Kyle Allen eager to press him, and Alex Smith still trying to recover from his severe leg injury. Rivera, with his defensive background, will have to rely on offensive coordinator Scott Turner to sort that situation out. And unlike Garrett, Turner is new to the position. He may have learned a great deal from his father, Norv Turner, but whether he can put it all together on the field is yet to be seen.

Still, the greatest contribution Rivera can make to his team is to bring some order and focus to the football circus Washington has become. If he can do that, they could be a markedly better team.

Big Blue View

How did Saquon Barkley NOT make PFF’s list of top 50 NFL players?

Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants is conspicuously absent from a list recently published by Pro Football Focus of the best 50 players entering the 2020 NFL season.

How is that possible?

Anyone with eyes understands that Barkley is one of the best players in the game. At least top 50, if not top 30.

The only explanation is that the PFF50 as they call it has to be based purely on grades and advanced statistics, and that this comes after a year in which Barkley’s play was impacted by a high ankle sprain.