I think their train of thought is that monsters would be designed around PC capabilities; either that, or a return to monsters-as-templates (as in all PC capabilities + non-PC capabilities = monster capabilities).
I think Essentials and 4E themes have something to do with this. As one might notice, at certain levels, characters gain additional features. Now I *think* that, in an effort to
1. Tone down power gaming
2. Allow heavier customization
3. Make it easier for newbie players
The system design would have themes, skills and feats as a separate system from the "core" module. Think of it this way:
-> classes would have features and abilities common to all at their level. DMs who like their games rules-lite can basically have players pick ability scores, classes, weapons/implements, and builds (pre-selected spells and other class features), done!
-> builds would be a pre-selected set of spells and class features that can be improved or expanded upon over time. If the player wants a more advanced sort of character, they could readily ignore builds and pick spells and selectable class features, much like you have Essentials subclasses able to choose their class features at certain levels.
-> themes would be a set of skills, feats and other possibly-optional stuff that would help convey the feel of a particular type of character within that class. Advanced players can ignore themes and pick their own set of skills and feats.
All in all, you have simplicity [pre-packaged stuff] and complexity [ability to choose stuff yourself], in a *possibly* balanced system.
Now to avoid the possible feat/skill/spell combinations -- like Scry-and-Die and the like -- that would cause casters to neuter entire campaigns by themselves without heavy-handed DMing.
The term "skill monkey" should rot in the depths of whatever hell it should be in, if you ask me. At worst, a particular theme that intentionally penalizes your combat abilities for the sake of additional training (but not necessarily more skill points or whatever), but to explicitly have the Rogue basically be the guy who stole all of the Fighter's skill points? No thanks.
OK, there are several options being tinkered here, and frankly I really don't know why they are making the monsters so hard to work. Here's how I'd go about it:
1. basic monster math, universal in application, easy to tweak on the fly (4E-style)
2. templates that allow you to
-> give monsters a particular set of traits, modifiers tendencies (e.g. +1 fortitude save, -1 reflex save)
-> apply instantly a set of abilities/powers/whatever you want to call them
(seriously, 4E never expanded upon it, but it's right there in the DMG. Someone REALLY ought to revisit that section and expand on it)
3. themes that allow you to
-> modify monster builds/templates so that even if they are different monsters, they have at least one common theme (e.g. Hobgoblins, Goblins, and Orcs all rampaging under the Red Banner)
Personally I would like the DM to have the ability to make his monster do whatever the heck he wants his monster to do, leaving PC templates, non-PC templates, and themes as ways for newbie DMs (and DMs who don't have the time to design monsters) to slap stuff on and instantly convey particular monsters at a given level.
For example, let's say that we'd want three dozen Orcs in an instant, of varying levels and threat levels. What do we do?
1. We could have the generic monster format at what, 4 + CON Score + 4 * level
2. We could supply the orcs with three templates each: Racial template (Orc), Class template (Fighter/Avenger/Rogue/Wizard/Shaman/whatever), and Role template (Brute could gain more HP per level, Leader could grant allies better accuracy or damage, etc.)
3. Then all of them have the same theme: Red Banner theme (all have related,yet different traits, powers, abilities, etc.)
If we wanted a sort of mixup, we could have templates for Orc, Hobgoblin, Goblin and maybe even Troll.
For those who want it rules-lite, they could easily ignore everything after step 1 and make up stuff on their own.