The Eagles stretched a bit when they drafted Marcus Smith first overall in the 2014 NFL draft.
And it showed, as Chip Kelly and his 3-4 defense more or less ignored Smith and his "first round talent." The former Louisville pass-rusher was repeatedly benched and asked to play out of position.
Now under Jim Schwartz, there's a chance Smith can live up to his potential. A chance.
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"I think its better suited for me," Smith said Tuesday of Schwartz' 4-3defensive scheme,"better suited for the defensive line."
The mantra of the Schwartz defense seems to be less is more. In stark contrast to the vast amount of responsibilities asked of many players in Kelly's (and Bill Davis')scheme, Schwartz seems fond of taking the complicated task of executing an NFL defense and simplifying it for his players.
“This is a scheme that greatly limits what he’s asked to do," the defensive coordinator said of Smith. "Very easy in theory — difficult in execution, but easy in theory — and should allow him to play fast, attack spots, give him a little bit less responsibility, but hopefully allow him to make a greater impact. He’s very athletic, he’s got great size. He’s done very well so far, but again, let’s reserve judgment on any of these guys until we get pads on.”
Working out with the team in OTAs, Smith has been on the field for 11-on-11 drills alongside the defensive lineman and appears to be much more comfortable there. Focusing on less means more productivity.
"I like it a lot," Smith, who had just 1.5 sacks and three tackles in 2015, said. "There's less responsibility. Youcan key in on smaller things that we do, I think it is very beneficial.
"Being a defensive lineman, it's what you want. You don't want to think too much, you want to be able to go for the ball, make plays …it's a great feeling with coach coming in here saying 'you can just go, we will tailor what you do to what your game is.'"
Smith says he grew up a lot sitting on the sidelines, simultaneouslytrying to learn Kelly's system and make the sort of impact a first-round pick should make. Now, he thinks it's time to put the past behind him and help the defense as much as he can.
"I use it as motivation," Smith said, "because I know I didn't play as much my first two years and I want itto be different. These coaches that came in they want to strive to make this defense as good as it can be."