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November 26 Camden Courier-Post:
“Sean McDermott said Thursday that the identity of his defense won’t change if Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel can’t play Sunday night against the Bears.
That’s typical coach-speak from a defensive coordinator whose expectations remain the same when a prominent starter goes down.
But the truth is McDermott’s secondary isn’t the same without Samuel, a ballhawk known to fire up his teammates with trash-talking, animated celebrations and electrifying interception returns.
If Samuel can’t play Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field, and he’s replaced by veteran cornerback Joselio Hanson, then three-fourths of the Eagles’ secondary would be made up of players who weren’t drafted.
But that doesn’t mean the pass defense loses its impact.
Right cornerback Dimitri Patterson, a product of Division I-AA Tuskegee, bounced around with two different teams before the Eagles signed him in 2009.
He has three interceptions and hasn’t lapsed since replacing the injured Ellis Hobbs, who’s out for the year.
Hanson, signed by the 49ers out of Texas Tech in 2004, played 13 games his rookie year and then found himself unemployed for all of 2005 before coming to the Eagles in 2006 as a long shot to make the team out of training camp.
November 26 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Les Bowen:
“EAGLES DEFENSIVE coordinator Sean McDermott and his players have talked a lot lately about the emerging personality of the unit, the aggressive takeaways and the swagger that the whole country got to sample in prime time Sunday night against the New York Giants.
But so far this week, corner Asante Samuel hasn’t practiced, after suffering a left MCL strain late in the Giants game. There have been hints that teammates and coaches don’t expect Samuel to be available Sunday at Chicago, though Samuel said yesterday his knee is feeling better and he still hopes to play. Samuel has seven of the Eagles’ league-high 19 interceptions, and he personifies “swagger.”
What happens if Samuel isn’t on the field Sunday? Does the defense’s personality change?
“No, because you still hear him on the sideline,” rookie defensive end Brandon Graham joked. “I don’t think so . . . When [corner Ellis] Hobbs went down, everybody didn’t think [Dimitri] Patterson was gonna come in and do a good job, but he came in and did exactly what nobody thought he could do. I think we’ll be good. I think coach knows what he’s doing.”
Apparently, the plan is to play veteran Joselio Hanson in Samuel’s spot in the base defense. In nickel, Hanson would move inside, where he normally plays, and fourth-round rookie Trevard Lindley would play outside. As Lindley noted this week, he has played almost exclusively on special teams, getting on the field in the defense for only a handful of snaps in two games (including an end-of-the-game pick at San Francisco.)
A starting-cornerback tandem of Patterson and Hanson is not going to strike fear into the heart of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. The good news might be that this is not a particularly high-powered Bears offense; Chicago is 7-3 because it has allowed a league-low 146 points, not because it has scored 191, which was the NFL’s 25th-ranked figure heading into yesterday. (The Eagles ranked second, with 284 points.)
November 26 Camden Courier-Post:
“Despite some spottiness on offense last Sunday night, the Eagles still managed to27 points on a Giants defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL going into the game.
Still, Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg doesn’t think another up-and-down effort will produce the same result Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
The Bears are tied with Green Bay as the NFL’s No. 1-ranked scoring defense, allowing just 14.6 points per game. They are coming off last Thursday’s 13-0 shutout of the Dolphins in South Florida.
“This is a great challenge, a great defense — may be one of the best, may be THE best in the league,” Mornhinweg said. “Statistically, they’re up there in virtually category as the top two or three or four.”
Mornhinweg said the Bears’ Cover-2 scheme reminds him of the Tampa Bay defenses that made the Bucs an annual Super Bowl contender in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
One difference is that this Bears team mixes up coverages a little more to confuse the quarterback.
“That’s a big part of their scheme, and they’re very disciplined within it,” Mornhinweg said. “They’ve got such great players that if they’re disciplined — which they are in their two-deep scheme — what they do is they try to force you to throw it underneath.””
November 26 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“When Sean McDermott was a young assistant, he used to go on long runs in FDR Park across from the NovaCare Complex along with veteran Eagles coaches Brad Childress and Steve Spagnuolo.
McDermott, a fitness nut, went for the exercise, but he also tagged along to work on the thing he is nuttiest about: coaching.
“I would just jog and listen to those two talk and just kind of be a fly on the wall,” McDermott said earlier this week. “I just learned. Just cutting my teeth growing up around that was interesting and good for my career.”
Now the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, McDermott brought up that story after he learned that Childress had been fired as Minnesota Vikings head coach. Leslie Frazier, another Andy Reid acolyte, was promoted to interim head coach, giving Reid four former assistants who went on to lead NFL teams. (John Harbaugh is head coach of the Ravens; Spagnuolo is in St. Louis.)
McDermott would like nothing more than to be No. 5 someday. Just a few weeks ago, however, an ESPN reporter suggested that McDermott might not even survive his first stint as a coordinator, and the rumor began making the rounds.
The idea that McDermott’s job was in jeopardy didn’t last on the circuit for too long. For one, the defense has righted itself after a disastrous fourth quarter against Tennessee last month. And two, the boss said he never entertained the thought.
“Sean’s one of my guys,” Reid said Wednesday. “He’s been here since I’ve been here. I got a lot of respect for Sean. There’s nothing there.”
Last season, the defense under McDermott had its moments, but by the end of the season, injuries coupled with the rookie coordinator’s inexperience had worn down the unit.
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