Here’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles defensive linemen performed Sunday against the Ravens, after having re-watched the game. Click here to find all of the game reviews.
Let’s start with the numbers. The table below details snap counts and pass-rushing opportunities from Pro Football Focus. Sacks are self-explanatory. Hurries are official team stats kept by Eagles coaches. And finally, you’ll see pressure percentage, which simply shows how often each player notched either a sack or a hurry. The reason for the percentage is that a one-sack game for a defensive lineman who rushed the passer 30 times is different than a one-sack game for someone who had just 10 opportunities.
Note that these numbers are just for Sunday’s game.
The first thing that jumps out is Graham’s production in limited action. The coaches credited him with four hurries, and he was only on the field for four passing downs, meaning he pressured the quarterback on every opportunity. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to see a bump in playing time, starting this Sunday.
Cole led the way with six hurries and the defensive line’s only sack, stripping Joe Flacco from behind in the first.
Landri and Jenkins both got to Flacco quite a bit. Left guard Ramon Harewood was making just his second career start, and the Eagles got the better of him all day. Don’t be thrown off by the fact that Fletcher Cox had zero hurries. There’s a reason he played more snaps than any other defensive tackle (write-up below). And keep in mind, Cox was going up against Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda.
One other thing that stands out: Tapp and Hunt combined for one hurry. Just another reason why I think you’re going to see more of Graham. The Eagles generally reward players who are producing.
Here’s the player-by-player breakdown:
Jason Babin – He had five hurries, but wasn’t as good against the run. Babin pressured Flacco on the play where Cole forced the fumble in the first. Nice hurry in the second, forcing Flacco out of the pocket on a 3-yard completion to Ray Rice. Against the run, Babin was unblocked on Vonta Leach’s 5-yard touchdown, but he made a bee-line to Flacco. Had he read run, Babin probably would have dropped Leach for a loss. The Ravens left him unblocked on the Rice 43-yard run, but Babin couldn’t quite get to him in the backfield. Later, he made an excellent play against the run, dropping Rice after a 2-yard gain. The Eagles showed the look where Babin and Cole line up in the middle like blitzing linebackers. Babin was called for a personal foul after hitting Flacco late on 3rd-and-18 in the fourth.
Trent Cole – His sack/forced fumble was huge as it set up the Eagles’ first score. Cole got good pressure on Flacco in the second, forcing an incompletion. He and Landri hit Flacco on a third down in the third. Cole hit Flacco on the touchdown to Jacoby Jones that was called back. And he got good pressure on the first play of the final drive. Cole lined up at left defensive end on one play. Rice chipped him, Cole got up, and Rice threw him to the ground. That’s one powerful running back. By the way, the zone blitz made its return on a couple plays. Cole dropped back into coverage on a third down in the third.
Cullen Jenkins – Jenkins had four hurries. He got excellent push up the middle on DeMeco Ryans’ sack in the fourth. And Jenkins got good pressure on third down in the fourth, forcing Flacco out of the pocket. He pressured Flacco again on the final drive and actually made contact with the quarterback’s helmet, but the refs didn’t call it. Against the run, Yanda got the better of Jenkins on a couple occasions, including the Leach touchdown run. Jenkins had a chance to make a play on Rice near the line of scrimmage, but couldn’t bring him down on the 16-yard run in the second. The Eagles showed a look with him at right defensive end, Landri and Cox at tackle, and Cole at left defensive end.
Fletcher Cox – I thought he was disruptive throughout. It’s only been two games, but Cox has shown flashes that suggest he can be a dominant defensive tackle. Cox brought Rice down after a 2-yard gain in the second. He went right around Yanda (Pro Bowler) and pressured Flacco into an incompletion in the second. Not sure why the team didn’t credit him with a hurry on that one. Cox’s athleticism was on full display on one play in the second. Yanda tried to use a cut block on him, but Cox stayed on his feet, hustled to the ballcarrier and stopped Rice after a 2-yard gain. Impressive play. He got his hand on a screen to force an incompletion in the third. And Cox fought through a double-team in the fourth, drawing a holding penalty. It’s not as good as a sack, but Cox was responsible for the offense losing 10 yards. He’s going to continue to be the most-used defensive tackle on this team.
Derek Landri – Really good game. Like I mentioned above, Harewood, the Ravens’ left guard, likely saw Landri in his nightmares Sunday night. He got good push up the middle on the Flacco fumble in the first. He got in the backfield on Rice’s 4-yard carry in the first. Landri went right around Harewood and shoved Flacco as he released the ball on a 6-yard completion in the second. Later, he got good pressure, forcing Flacco out of the pocket. Landri pushed a double-team back into Flacco’s face on a third-down incompletion in the third. He shoved Harewood into the backfield, causing a 4-yard loss for Rice. He went right around Harewood and hit Flacco on a fourth-quarter throw that went incomplete. He tackled Rice after a 2-yard gain in the fourth. And he went right around Harewood to pressure Flacco on the final drive. The one negative was the 43-yard Rice run. A big hole opened up between Landri and Cole. But overall, outstanding game.
Cedric Thornton – He’s not doing much in terms of rushing the passer, but Thornton made a few nice plays. He disrupted a Rice run that gained only 2 yards in the second. And he got into the backfield on another Rice 2-yard run, but couldn’t make a play. Thornton recognized a screen and tackled Rice on an incompletion in the third.
Darryl Tapp – Tapp didn’t do much in this one. He hustled to bring Rice down after a 9-yard run in the third.
Phillip Hunt – He was quiet too. No sacks, one hurry, although he didn’t have a lot of opportunities. Hunt dropped back into coverage once from left defensive end.
Brandon Graham – As I mentioned above, he made the most of his opportunities. Graham got around the right tackle and hit Flacco as he threw in the second. He went right around the fullback on a play-action pass and hit Flacco as he threw incomplete. Graham got pressure near Flacco’s feet on a screen attempt in the third. And against the run, he stopped Bernard Pierce for no gain in the fourth. Have to respect the approach he’s taken, despite limited snaps.
Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.