When Chip Kelly took over as the Eagles’ head coach he did one thing that Mike Shanahan did when he took the reigns in Washington. He junked the 4-3 defensive scheme in favor of the 3-4. It is one of those moves that is designed to pay off in the long run but may create some short-term pain as players learn new roles.
One of those players adjusting to a new position will be Trent Cole, who is going from right defensive end to right outside linebacker. He has made a couple of Pro Bowls at DE since coming into the league in 2005. Against the Redskins he has racked up six sacks.
There is talk in Philadelphia that Cole’s role initially will not involve much coverage and that he will do a lot of what he’s been doing, rushing the quarterback. In any case, there is a good chance that where we will see the number 58 on his jersey, the Redskins will see a big, red target.
When thinking about Cole facing Robert Griffin III and the Redskins option offense attack, I think of DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys. He converted from college defensive end to NFL outside linebacker when he came into the league in 2005. That experience didn’t do Ware much good when the Redskins played the Cowboys last year. Ware was largely a spectator in those two games, especially in the two teams’ second meeting. They left him unblocked and as RG3 (hobbled in the season finale) put the ball in the belly of Alfred Morris and rode it through the mesh point he froze, not sure at all if Griffin was going to give it to Morris, keep it and run or keep it and pass.
It’s easy to see Cole, with far less experience at linebacker than Ware, facing the same dilemma as the Dallas LB, not knowing where to go or who to hit. We will see if he and the Eagles can adjust and what counter adjustments Kyle Shanahan might make in return.