I've never really been a fan of the Wide-9 alignment. But after watching that debacle against the Eagles, I am convinced that it NEEDS to go if we want to succeed on defense. There is a reason why we're seeing teams get rid of this flawed alignment and moving on. We saw the very team that just exposed us on Sunday get rid of it this past year. Eagles fans hated the Wide-9 and wanted to get rid of Washburn, and now he's here. We've seen the Giants get rid of it. I'm not sure who is even left that still uses this alignment besides the Lions.
If I'm a Head Coach or an Offensive Coordinator and I see that I'm playing the Lions next week, I'm licking my chops and I can't wait to get into the film room with my players. You know exactly what you're going to get every play. You're not going to get blitzed from the Wide-9, and if you do, it's probably not going to be very successful. If you have a decent offensive line and you can contain that defensive front, then you're going to have a great day on offense and you're going to be able to pick apart that defense.
Honestly, why the hell are we even using this scheme? This alignment was set up to use elite 4-3 DE's to get pressure on the QB. We have a rookie who's played only a few years of football in his life, and Willie Young who doesn't know how to hold contain. And how is it benefiting us right now? This alignment should reflect a lot of pressure from our defensive line, yet FootballOutsiders has us ranked as the 25th best pass rushing line in the NFL. The problem with the Wide-9 is that when lining up your DE's so far wide, you're putting too much pressure on your Linebackers and Safeties by forcing them to fill those gaps on the line.
We saw this kill us against the Eagles time and time again in the 4th quarter. Too many times you saw us lining our DE's up in the 9 technique, and our DT's almost past their Guards, and allowed their O-Linemen to create huge holes for Shady to run through.
Let's look at Shady's 40 yard TD run to start the 4th quarter. We're up by a touchdown at this point, Foles just had an incomplete pass so it's 2nd and 10. Lions have everyone on the D-line lined up pretty wide assuming they're going to throw it again.
Now the Eagles have us right where they want us. You've got Bentley in the slot, Quin lined up as a 3rd linebacker and Delmas as the one man deep. Idonije is lined up as the LDE on this play and is too far away from the play to make a play on Shady. Quin is filling his left side gap and is never able to take a good angle on Shady and misses the first tackle. Delmas is the next guy who can make a play, but you're leaving the most elusive RB in the NFL out there against your safety. Again, too much pressure on safeties in the Wide-9. Shady shakes him off pretty good, and Mathis has the last chance to bring him down, but Shady slips right through his arms.
Shady is in the blue, Quin in the red circle, and Delmas in yellow. You see blurry Idonije right behind Shady, if he was lined up directly across from the RT, he might have been able to make a play. You see how tough of an angle Quin has to take to make a play, and Delmas is left all alone to make a play on Shady who leads the league in missed tackles against.
THE VERY NEXT DRIVE
Eagles are down a touchdown again, it's 2nd and 4. This is not an obvious passing down. Yet here you see Willie Young lined up so far away from the play. Bentley is in as SCB again, and Quin lined up as a 3rd linebacker trying to fill the gap on the right side again. Delmas is all alone as the deep safety again.
You can see Willie Young and Quin (yellow) already playing catch up because they were lined up so far out of the play that they never had a chance. Bentley is getting blocked and Delmas (red) is forced to make the only possible play on Shady, and he takes a terrible angle and takes himself out of the play. If there wasn't any snow, Shady probably isn't getting that TD because he isn't very fast, but the snow helps him out a lot that game and doesn't allow anyone to catch up to him.
The Lions had the 2nd best rushing defense coming into this game, but who did we really go up against? We went up against 3 top 10 rushing offenses this year (GB, DAL, WAS) not including the Eagles (1st). One of those teams was the Redskins, who hadn't really established their running game yet when they faced us. Other than that, we went up against the Steelers (29th ranked rushing offense), Bucs (25th), Browns (26th), Cards (27th), Bengals (21st), Bears (13th) and Vikings (11th). And before we praise how well our defense does against the run these next two weeks, let me tell you that the Ravens have the worst ranked rushing offense, and the Giants are 28th.
The Wide-9 is brutal on safeties. They have too much run responsibility filling gaps, and are more susceptible to getting hurt by play-action fakes because they're too focused on stopping the run.
Last year with the Wide-9 alignment the Eagles were giving up tied for the 3rd most points in the Wide-9, this year they're 13th in scoring defense after switching to a 3-4 defense.
If you vote on scrapping the Wide-9, just know that you're voting on getting rid of Schwartz as well. This is his scheme ever since his Tennessee days. Him and Washburn are to blame for this, and maybe even Gunther.
There's also this from the Head Writer over at SBN Eagles blog BleedingGreenNation that was tweeted during Sunday's game.
RT if you don't miss the wide nine.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 8, 2013