New Eagles coach Chip Kelly has heard a lot of questions about whether Philadelphia will have a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense. He says those questions miss the point.
Kelly says that what the Eagles will run is a defense that best uses their talent and best fits what they need at a given time in a given game. And he says that in the modern NFL, there’s no team that always has a three-man front or always has a four-man front anyway.
“No. 1, it hinges on the players that we have,” Kelly said, via CSNPhilly.com. “Then No. 2, it hinges on the situation of the game. There are no purists. No one runs a 3‑4 defense every single down. No one runs a 4-3 every single down. People have elements of both in there.”
Kelly said determining whether the Eagles use more three-man lines or more four-man lines will be based on evaluating his own personnel and evaluating what opposing offenses are doing.
“In nickel, you may be in a four‑down [lineman] operation, but who are you playing? A team that throws the ball a lot. So we’re going to be a more four-down this week. So 65 percent of our snaps will be four-down defense,” Kelly said. “Other teams are going to be a little bit more three‑down. But if you’re going to play three‑down, you better make sure you got a nose that can two‑gap and defensive end that can two‑gap and those things, because if you don’t have them, it doesn’t matter how you deploy yourself defensively, you’re not going to be able to hold up.”
In other words, just as there’s no easy way to label the offense Kelly plans to run in Philadelphia, there’s also no easy way to label the defense.