August 25, 2021   3 MIN READ

“At Some Point You Have To Have Some Confidence:” Q&A WIth Quintin Mikell, Jason Avant


Are the Eagles doubling down on a preseason mistake by not only keeping starters sidelined but also showcasing the most basic and simple of schemes.

Former Eagles safety Quintin Mikell and former Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant questioned the value in what appeared to be the Eagles just going through the motions in last Thursday’s 35-0 preseason loss to the New England Patriots.

Avant noted that dismissing the outcome as just backups playing against Patriots starters misses the overall point that backups are often forced into starting roles in the regular season.

“At some you need some depth,” Avant said. “Anybody ever heard of Nick Foles in this city? Who was the backup for doggone Jason Peters? Who was the backup when Darren Sproles went out? You need those guys. These guys have to perform.”

ITB photo: Linebacker Alex Singleton made 7 tackles on an Eagles run defense that was steamrolled by the Patriots.

Mikell, a former All Pro, said he understood why this coaching staff would prefer to conceal its best schematics until the regular season but worried about the impact of two embarrassing efforts in run defense on players who are asked to work without their best set of tools.

“If you go back and watch the tape, [Patriots right tackle] Trent Brown was destroying everyone that lined on him,” Mikell said. “That Patriots line is very good. You can tell they were in midseason form already. That being said, that [Eagles defensive] front – there was no imagination in the movements, the slants. It was bull rush, bull rush, bull rush, every play. There was no engaging with their hands, there was no fighting to get off blocks.

“It just looked like they were going through the motions. It seemed like every single play it was the same move. You wanna hold your card close to the chest but at some point you’ve got to practice game time situations. If I’m a defensive coordinator, yes, I want to keep my stuff hidden, keep my stuff secret, and I want to save my best stuff. But I also don’t want guys to go out there and lose confidence in me, to go out there and lose faith in my defense.”

Avant also questioned the players’ ability to learn in an environment in which the same scheme is being repeated.

“I felt bad for the backups because I felt like the coach would have to do something more to make it a fair fight,” he said. “When you’re outnumbered or there’s better talent, you have to be better at scheme. I think he doesn’t want to get into all that and I understand it, but at some point you have to have confidence and I don’t know that these guys have any confidence. I think being in one defense the entire game is not good practice for any football player. You need different looks.”

– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for

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