When you see the Eagles line up on defense against the Ravens Sunday, youll often notice the odd placement of defensive ends Jason Babin and Trent Cole. They will be far outside the Ravens offensive tackles, as if they were lining up against another player who was next to the tackle.
This is called the wide nine. CSNwashington.coms Rich Tandler explained it quite well last season. As Rich said, the whole idea is to get a running start for the defensive ends on the way to the quarterback, putting pressure on the offensive tackles.
With the gaps such a defense creates, youd think teams would exploit the interior running spaces. But the Eagles werent especially vulnerable to the run last year. Philadelphia gave up 4.4 yards per rush, which was about the league average. And the wide nine didnt make the eyes of offensive coordinators go wide with thoughts of running the ball. Opponents ran 414 times against the Eagles, only the 21st highest total in the NFL.
The Eagles did tie for the leagues most sacks in 2011, with 50, two more than the Ravens. (But this is one of those great things about stats: The team that tied Philly for most sacks was the dreadful Vikings.)
With the Ravens no-huddle offense, the Eagles may find it harder to adjust their defense part of the raison detre of the no-huddle which could make some of those open spaces available. Clear out the defensive tackle, block the linebacker while the end has basically swung so wide hes out of the play and slip Ray Rice through the hole, either on a draw or a slip screen but thats just my simple football mind.