No matter how many times we see it happen, Sean McDermott refuses to fix it. Tight ends gouge the Eagles' defense play after play, game after game, and he seems to stick his head in the sand and ignore it, hoping that the problem will just go away.
But, of course, it doesn't.
And at least once or twice per season, a big game by a tight end winds up being the deciding factor in a loss—usually in an important NFC East matchup.
This season will likely be no different. Chris Cooley is coming to town in Week 4 against the Eagles, and he's due for a big game. He's got a Hall of Fame quarterback in Donovan McNabb throwing to him and doesn't need much of an excuse to put up big numbers against the Eagles.
So why do the Eagles always give up big games to tight ends? Well, quite simply, it's a flaw in how the Birds defend them coming off the line.
More specifically, they don't defend them coming off the line. The SAM linebacker, whoever that may be from year to year, is always told to play five yards or so off the tight end and just try to catch him in his break. But, as we can see, this doesn't work.
The 'backer has to get up in the tight end's face and hit him as soon as he comes off the line. This will throw the tight end off the route and make it much easier for the SAM to stick with him.
Tight ends are just too athletic, and asking a linebacker to keep up with them out of their break is unrealistic even for the most athletic of linebackers.
And did I mention the Birds handed Cooley—arguably one of the best tight ends in the league—a Hall of Fame quarterback to throw to him? I did? Well, yeah, that should make Akeem Jordan's job a lot easier, especially since McNabb understands the defense's weakness covering tight ends better than anyone the team will face.
Don't be surprised if Stewart Bradley is manned up on Cooley all game long, but if someone isn't chipping Cooley off the line expect him to have a huge day and likely be the deciding factor in whether or not McNabb truly enjoys his return to Philadelphia.
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