Through the first two games, defense has been the difference for the Eagles, writes Clark Judge of CBSSports.com:
The Eagles are fourth overall, fourth against the pass, first in interceptions, first in net yard differential, second in third-down efficiency, second in takeaways and seventh in points allowed.
But it’s not just numbers that underscore their resurgence. It’s watching the Eagles at work. They held Baltimore to one first down on five successive possessions and checked the Ravens to 21 yards on their last series, one that included seven snaps.
The weekend before they ended Cleveland’s last-gasp drive with a fourth interception of Brandon Weeden, and maybe you’re beginning to get the picture. Basically, where they couldn’t close out opponents in 2011 they’re closing them out now.
Mike Tanier of SportsOnEarth.com takes a look at Juan Castillo and the Eagles’ defensive adjustments:
Most NFL coaches are control freaks, and “freelancing” is a dirty word for most defensive coordinators. Allen and Coleman were not free to do whatever the heck they wanted in coverage, but they did have the latitude to make a few adjustments on their own. That kind of freedom can turn into chaos when defenders are not comfortable with their roles or each other’s styles, which is exactly what happened last year. This year, with fewer new faces, a full offseason of minicamps, and everyone (including Castillo, a converted offensive line coach in his second season as defensive coordinator) more comfortable with his role in the system, there are fewer mistakes, and the Eagles are winning the kind of close games they lost in 2011.
ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano is not overly concerned about the Eagles’ turnovers:
The turnovers are a problem, yes, but there’s no way the Eagles will continue turning it over at this pace. It has to get better and will. Once they stop turning it over so much, the Eagles will be dangerous.
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com has the Eagles ninth in his power rankings:
While Philadelphia is 2-0, we can’t in good conscience put a team with nine turnovers and two one-point wins any higher than ninth. Still, that was a resilient performance from Michael Vick with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter. Let’s not forget how well the secondary is playing, too; kudos to Juan Castillo for putting those parts ( Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and mediocre safeties) in better positions to succeed.
Adam Schein of NFL.com is not buying the Eagles just yet:
This is the epitome of a false perception. The Philadelphia Eagles are incredibly lucky to be 2-0. They are the luckiest team in the NFL right now. The Cleveland Browns are the worst team in pro football; Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden was Philly’s Week 1 MVP with his inept play. In Week 2, the Eagles were bailed out by the replacement referees, who took a touchdown away from the Baltimore Ravens.
Quarterback Michael Vick has thrown six interceptions in two games. Is he healthy? Is he feeling the pressure after owner Jeff Lurie said coach Andy Reid needs to make the playoffs to keep his job?
The Eagles have been much improved on defense, but this undefeated team is going nowhere and will not make the postseason if Vick doesn’t start making better decisions.
Jason Whitlock of FoxSports.com thinks the Eagles have been fortunate so far:
The turnover-plagued Eagles are the luckiest team in football at the moment. Maybe some Baltimore or Philly receiver will trap a wounded duck on his helmet and propel Reid or Harbaugh to a Super Bowl victory.
Brian Billick of FoxSports.com has the Eagles fourth in his power rankings:
Nine turnovers in just eight quarters doesn’t seem to be a winning formula, but the Eagles are 2-0 and lead the league in total yards. Obviously, Vick will need to eliminate the interceptions and be much more efficient in the red zone.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com has the Eagles fourth in his power rankings:
It took awhile, but Mike Vick found a way to get it rolling against the Ravens. That was a good defense he carved up.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com gives credit to the Eagles’ defense:
Offensive line coach-turned defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is no longer under fire. Now, he’s the mastermind behind the creative scheme that flummoxed the Ravens’ offensive line with the threat of blitzing — something that became more valuable than actually blitzing. It looked like Baltimore guard Marshal Yanda, unsure of what was coming, had his head on a perpetual swivel.
And finally, be sure to check T-Mac’s Wake-Up Call from earlier this morning. He’s got a few more good links in there.
Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.