Reports have it that the Eagles have zeroed in on Packers’ safeties coach Darren Perry as their leading candidate for the defensive coordinator job. Perry was an NFL safety as a player and went on to coach some of the outstanding defensive backs in today’s league including Raider cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and Steeler safety Troy Polamalu. More recently, he has coached Packer safety Nick Collins to the pro bowl. If he is hired, the Eagles would play a defense similar to Green Bay’s, which may not be a bad thing considering they are playing in the Super Bowl. Perry is famous for running fire zone blitzes, which overloads one side on the blitz while playing a 3-3 zone in behind it.
What are the positives and negatives that Perry brings to the table? He’s young, smart, and will run one of the league’s most effective defenses. The transition to a 3-4 will be rocky, but Green Bay went from the 21st ranked defense in 2008 running a 4-3 scheme to 2nd in 2009 under a 3-4. This was only possible due to the two first round picks used on B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews though. By transitioning to a 3-4 scheme, the Eagles create more needs for themselves. That’s a significant downside. We all saw what happened to the Redskins when they tried to jump to the 3-4 with no defensive linemen. The Packers already had Cullen Jenkins and Ryan Pickett in place and still felt the need to further improve the defensive front.
Could the addition of Perry increase our chances of landing Nnamdi Asomugha? Asomugha was selected to his first two pro-bowls during Perry’s two seasons in Oakland, so there is probably a pretty good relationship between the two. Allow Perry to work with Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel while bringing along youngsters such as Trevard Lindley, Nate Allen, and Kurt Coleman and the Eagles could have an elite secondary for a long time. Reportedly, DeSean Jackson is recruiting Asomugha to the Eagles while both were in Hawaii practicing for the pro bowl. Perry knows what he’s doing, and should bring stability to the secondary, possibly the most important group in football nowadays. However, his hiring could result in short-term struggles for the Eagles that could mean that 2011 will not be our year. If the defense cannot compete for a title in 2011, Perry should not be hired. The unit doesn’t have to be great just yet, but it cannot be worse that it was last year. My main concern is the run defense because the Eagles don’t have a lot of players who have a lot of experience in a 3-4, especially along the defensive line. The Eagles like their linemen to be short and squatty so they can gain leverage. In a 3-4 players have to be longer to occupy blockers and keep them off the linebackers. Antonio Dixon is the only player on the roster who is 6’3″ or taller and in excess of 300 pounds. Ideally, all three defensive linemen in a 3-4 are at least that size. Still, if the Eagles feel that Perry is one of the top young defensive minds in football, they should pounce on the opportunity and hope for the best.