Ever since the Eagles defense was picked apart by Phillip Rivers and the Chargers offense, many fans have been wondering why Billy Davis is not making more in game adjustments. With guys like Earl Wolff still learning on the job, it is key for Davis to be able to see how players are reacting to different looks and make adjustments on the fly.
Sometimes a team will come out and give you completely different looks from what they have shown on tape the rest of the season. No matter how much studying happened during the week, you must be able to adjust on gameday.
The defense knew all week that they would have their hands full with the Broncos’ plethora of receiving weapons. There is no question that Wes Welker was going to be a nightmare to contain, and we saw a great example of this early on.
On the Broncos’ first play from scrimmage, Earl Wolff is being tested right away. Cary Williams is responsible for whichever man goes outside, and Boykin is sitting in an underneath zone. Who does that leave? Yes, Earl Wolff is tasked with going 1-on-1 with the game’s best slot receiver.
Welker makes a very subtle but smart cut coming into his route, and we see Earl Wolff take a horrendous angle to the receiver.
After overrunning the route, Wolff is forced to hesitate for just a moment, and Welker knows he has him as he is able to sneak behind the coverage and into the wide open middle.
Wolff’s error forces the Eagles into a severe mismatch: Connor Barwin vs. Wes Welker. Peyton proceeds to make a perfect throw and Welker is off the races for a big gain to start the Broncos’ first touchdown drive.
On the very next drive, the Broncos run the same play again on a critical 3rd down and long for the Eagles defense. Getting Peyton Manning off of the field here would be huge. Welker motions from outside to behind the slot receiver, and Cary Williams still takes whichever man goes outside.
In a way, you could say that Earl Wolff failed his first test, and the defense adjusted accordingly. Instead of Nate Allen dropping back as the single high safety, Earl Wolff fills this role. You can see the respect that Davis has for Welker, as they are triple teaming him on this play. The defense is not going to make the same mistake twice.
Little did the Eagle defense know, Welker was only a decoy. The Eagles made the correct adjustments to the play that they had seen before, but the Broncos were a step ahead. As Welker occupies three Eagle defenders, TE Julius Thomas is able to slip out of the line and run a simple crossing route, wide open with nothing but daylight ahead.
The Broncos are able to convert on the 3rd and long and continue their march down the field.
As the defensive scheme is coming along, we must remember that there simply isn’t enough talent for this to be a great defense. The best they can do is for everybody to do their job, and strategically take away certain aspects of an offense. This secondary just is not going to shut anyone down.
There is no question that Billy Davis is making defensive adjustments, but anytime he makes a move to improve one area, another will be downgraded. When your playing against a quarterback like Peyton Manning, he is guaranteed to find and exploit these weaknesses.