PHILADELPHIA - Old habits die hard in the NFL and labels might be even more difficult to dispense of.
That’s why it was a little disappointing to hear Nick Sirianni play coy when asked about Jordan Davis’ presence perhaps shifting the Eagles' defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4.
“There are a lot of other teams that are probably going to want that answer, too," the Eagles coach said last week at the team's rookie camp. "I will put this out now, I'll never answer that. You'll figure it out when we play the first game.”
If you’re really worried about it, fear not, you don't have to wait until September.
The answer is neither.
Like many teams, including the 2021 Eagles, Philadelphia will be using multiple odd and even fronts next season. The difference is the presence of Haason Reddick and Davis opening up Jonathan Gannon’s ability to toggle between three-, four- and fine-man fronts more liberally depending on the opponent and situation.
If you’re looking for a definition of the base defense, that’s an even easier answer: the nickel like nearly every other team in the modern pass-happy NFL.
Reddick is expected to play a hybrid role with the goal being the pass rush.
On occasion, you will see the Temple product line up as a SAM linebacker in a five-man front or what most consider to be a traditional defensive end in even fronts designed to get after the quarterback in obvious passing situations.
“A bunch of things,” Reddick said of his role before following SIrianni’s lead. “Keeping it quiet. I’ll just say that come game day, first game of the season and throughout the season, everybody will see what we’re planning and working on.”
Reddick did let the cat out of the bag in one respect when it came to the day-to-day workload of the front seven, indicating that the SAM/DEs are in a separate room from the rest of the defensive line while being tutored by Jeremiah Washburn.
“Right now I’m in a room with Coach Wash,” Reddick said. “He’s coaching the outside linebackers and defensive ends which I think is a unique situation in itself from my understanding. Last year everybody as far as D-tackles, interior defensive linemen, D-Ends, [SAM] outside linebackers were all in one room [with Tracy Rocker].
“Now we’re kind of split up which is a great thing. We can focus on more of what we are supposed to do to the position itself.”
Whether that includes the traditional D-Ends like Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, and Derek Barnett or just the hybrid types like Reddick, Patrick Johnson, and rookie Kyron Johnson is not known.
Washburn, the son of former Eagles’ defensive line coach Jim Washburn, has served in a dual-scouting/coaching role since 2020.
With the upheaval in the personnel department and the added responsibility on the coaching side, it’s likely that Washburn will be scaling back his role to the latter only.
“I love him,” Reddick said of Washburn. “He comes in every day, ready to work. He loves to teach and that’s a great thing. He answers any questions any of the guys might have and he is genuinely looking to make his guys the best they can be when it’s time to get on the field.”
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen