Something weird has been happening to me recently...
I haven't found myself waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking about the Eagles cornerback situation in a while.
Why is that?
I think it's because I can rest easy knowing the quarterbacks are going to be having their own sleepless nights thinking about facing the Eagles defensive line the following day.
I know it's only the second week of OTA's but I am already supremely confident in this unit going forward and really, I think they're going to carry this defense for the 2017 season. I think they're going to carry this defense so much so that our cornerback situation is not going to be so noticeable. Yes... ALL I'M ASKING FOR IS THAT THESE GUYS AREN'T NOTICEABLE. They don't have to be world beaters but just keep your man in front of you and don't get burned deep. Also, quick sidenote-- getting Malcolm Jenkins out of the slot is so important and I'm glad they have that situation much more under control heading into next season.
Okay so the defensive line.
I feel like they haven't been talked about enough. On paper, they are absolutely loaded with guys that can get to the quarterback and now, they even have depth to where they can bring in guys in rotation that have played in a 4-3 before and aren't tricking themselves into thinking Connor Barwin would be serviceable. If Brandon Graham or Chris Long/Derek Barnett get a little gassed they have a rotation of three guys that can come in and get the job done. Long's snaps should be limited but those limited snaps should allow him to stay fresher in these games and essentially do more than what Barwin did.
I loved Bennie Logan, but Tim (I really want to keep calling him Timmy) Jernigan probably fits this defense better since he's shown more of a knack at getting to the quarterback. With him getting to the QB it should take double teams away from Fletcher Cox and allow him to be even more effective than last year! Unless of course, he's still rusty from missing those three days of walk through's. On paper, the addition of Jernigan should make Cox even stronger (nice) and a strong Cox (nice) makes everyone along the line stronger.
God, we're like 4 paragraphs into this thing and we haven't even gotten into Derek Barnett! I would like to recount all my takes on draft night regarding Barnett, because something feels special about this kid. Whether it's his background, his work ethic, his college production or what we've heard out of the Novacare Complex, something about Barnett feels different and special. Much like Wentz, I can look over his flaws because I believe in the work ethic and him figuring it out if something is going wrong. I buy into his fourth quarter production and getting stronger as the game goes on. I buy into all of that and I'm buying all the way in on Derek Barnett. This is not the same reports that we heard from Novacare after the Marcus Smith pick. None of the beat writers are saying that this kid is a project. They are all saying this kid is ready to produce right away and I really hope that's the case. I hope that's the case because it allows Long to be a fresh rotational piece and we're not relying too heavily on Vinny Curry.
The one player I am "concerned" about a little bit is Brandon Graham. He's somehow 29 years old, and while he was really good last season, he did sort of wear down as the year went on. I love that he gives max effort on every play, but that eventually takes a toll on your body and I think this season we see a bit of regression from him. Of course, that regression can be staved off if Barnett shows he can play right away and Curry looks like he can bounceback. I think keeping Graham fresh is one of the more underrated needs for this Eagles team because BG has turned himself into one of the best closers in the game today and I want to see that for the next 3 years.
For everything that I can't wait to see with this Eagles team, I think the defensive line is up there with all of them. There's a special feel to them that I just can't put into words.
Now the next step is seeing them in pads.