Should Eagles Move Chris Gocong to Defensive End?

Written By Bob Cunningham On Thursday, March 11, 2010

Moving Gocong is the only thing that makes sense.

The Eagles are in a tough spot with Gocong because he could play two positions at which they desperately need some help. He's been a SAM linebacker since he first arrived in Philadelphia, but he's a natural defensive end -- as evidenced by his 23.5 sacks in a single season at Cal Poly.

While he does provide depth at SAM, that's really all he's good for at this point. He lost his starting spot to a rookie last year and was relegated to special teams duty for the last month or so. His time as this team's starting strong-side 'backer appear to be over.

He is, however, still with the team on a restricted free agent tender so they're going to have to find somewhere to put him. He's shown that he's not the answer at outside linebacker, so why not let him put his hand on the ground and rush the passer as a defensive end?

Moving defensive ends to outside linebacker is a trend that makes no sense to me. Why would you move a guy from his natural position -- a position he obviously plays well enough to draw your interest -- and try to teach him something he's never done before?

It doesn't make any sense, and it's ruining a lot of players.

Take, for instance, Jason Babin. I was at training camp the day he was signed and introduced to the media, and he said that he felt like he was ruined by the Texans and every other team he played for because they all tried to play him at outside linebacker rather than defensive end.

The Eagles gave him the opportunity to put his hand in the ground, and he had a pretty good year for a guy coming off the bench.

So if they can see the mistakes made by other teams with a guy like Babin, why can't they see the mistake they made with Gocong?

Guys do not just stumble across 23.5 sacks. A number like that means the guy knows how to work an offensive lineman and get to the opposing quarterback -- something the Eagles' defense had a very difficult time doing in 2009.

The problem with Gocong is that he plays in his head. He's always thinking about the play and having to dissect and diagnose what is going on before he can make a move. Guys need to have instinct to play in this league and Gocong just doesn't have the instincts of an outside linebacker.

He does, however, have the instincts of a defensive end. At least playing on the line will allow him to do what comes naturally and not have to wait around and get caught flat-footed while he's thinking about what will come next.

Gocong probably won't be the savior at defensive end, but if he can supply a pass-rush half as effective as he did at Cal Poly, the Birds could be sitting on a gold mine.

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