Eagles DL Production: Cox, Cole And Graham In 2013?

The Eagles’ defensive line turned in its best performance of the season Thursday night against the Bengals.

Brandon Graham had a career game. Trent Cole looked like the old Trent Cole. Fletcher Cox continued an impressive rookie campaign. And guys like Cullen Jenkins and Cedric Thornton contributed as well.

In all, the defensive line combined for six sacks and eight hurries. Andy Dalton was under constant pressure and completed just 13 of 27 passes for 127 yards.

In a future post, we’ll break out the All-22 and look at why the Eagles defensive line was successful. But first, the player-by-player breakdown.

Sacks are tracked by the NFL. Hurries are tracked by Eagles coaches. And pass-rushing chances by Pro Football Focus. Pressure percentage measures the frequency with which each player notched a sack or hurry.

Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Pressure Percentage
Trent Cole33129.1%
Cullen Jenkins28103.6%
Fletcher Cox271.5214.8%
Brandon Graham272.5322.2%
Derek Landri130N/AN/A
Darryl Tapp9000%
Cedric Thornton80112.5%
Vinny Curry4000%
Phillip Hunt3000%

As you can see with the numbers, Graham added a team-high three hurries to his 2.5 sacks. He notched either a sack or hurry once every 4.5 chances. Cox had 1.5 sacks and two hurries for the second-highest pressure percentage among linemen – impressive, considering he’s rushing from the tackle spot.

There appears to have been an error with Derek Landri’s stats. That’s why you see an N/A next to his name.

Vinny Curry only had four chances to rush the passer. Those came from the right defensive end spot.

Below is the player-by-player review, after having re-watched the game.

Brandon Graham – I feel confident in saying he turned in the most productive game of any of the team’s defensive linemen this season. Graham had 2.5 sacks, three hurries and 10 tackles – the best single-game mark for an Eagles DE this season. Graham and Colt Anderson stopped BenJarvus Green-Ellis for no gain in the red zone in the first. He went around right around right tackle Andre Smith for his first sack. Graham and Jenkins forced Dalton to escape the pocket and throw incomplete on third down in the first. He and DeMeco Ryans brought Green-Ellis down after a 4-yard gain in the second. Great bull-rush vs. Smith, causing Dalton to throw high on a second-quarter incompletion. Graham used his speed and hands to get around Smith in the second, sacking and stripping Dalton. He drew a holding penalty on a run play in the second. And another one that negated a 9-yard Dalton run in the second. Great hustle to bring Dalton down after a 2-yard gain on a scramble to the other side of the field. Graham just overpowered Smith on the sack he split with Cox in the third. He bull-rushed Dennis Roland and drew a holding penalty in the third. Another excellent bull-rush against Smith in the third, forcing Dalton to scramble. In the fourth, he forced Dalton to scramble again and throw the ball away. Graham and Cox brought Green-Ellis down after a 1-yard run in the fourth. A career game for the former first-round pick.

Trent Cole – He had seven solo tackles, a season-high. To put that into perspective, Cole had seven solo tackles in the previous five games combined. In the second, he looped inside and sacked Dalton. It helped that the left guard slipped on the play. Excellent job of shedding the tight end and tackling Green-Ellis after a 2-yard run in the third. Cole pressured Dalton and forced him to scramble in the third. He fought through a trap block and tackled Green-Ellis after a 3-yard run in the third. Nice job setting the edge and then making the tackle on Green-Ellis after a 1-yard run in the third. Cole tackled Green-Ellis after a 4-yard gain in the third. And he hit Dalton as he threw the ball away in the fourth. If you’re wondering about Cole’s future, given the way his contract’s set up, he’s definitely coming back in 2013. He turned 30 in October. While Cole’s best days may be behind him, he provided reason to believe he can still be a productive player with his performance on Thursday.

Fletcher Cox – The future is bright for the first-round pick. Actually, the current is pretty bright already. Cox had 1.5 sacks, two hurries and six tackles. On the season, he leads all Eagles defensive linemen with 62 tackles and 44 solo tackles. The next closest is Cole, who has 52 and 30. Good interior pressure, forcing Dalton to take off in the second. Cox abused the left guard and sacked Dalton in the third. He got the better of him on the next play too, splitting a sack with Graham. Cox and Graham combined to bring Green-Ellis down after a 1-yard run in the fourth. Another good game.

Cullen Jenkins – One sack, no hurries and three tackles. Jenkins and Graham forced Dalton to leave the pocket and throw incomplete in the first. Good pressure, forcing Dalton to take off in the second. He lined up at LDT and looped all the way around Cole at RDE to sack Dalton and force a fumble in the second. Nice play against the run, drawing a holding penalty in the third. He and Mychal Kendricks dropped Green-Ellis for a loss in the fourth.

Vinny Curry – He played 15 snaps. Most were running plays though. Curry had one tackle, stopping Green-Ellis for no gain in the fourth. He did a nice job getting into the backfield on a Green-Ellis run that lost 2 yards in the fourth.

Darryl Tapp – No sacks, no hurries, no tackles. Tapp played 13 snaps.

Phillip Hunt – No sacks, no hurries, one tackle – on Green-Ellis after a 3-yard run in the fourth. Hunt played 14 snaps.

Derek Landri – One tackle, no sacks. Landri took on a double-team and forced Green-Ellis to cut back on a 1-yard run in the first.

Cedric Thornton – Active game for Thornton with six tackles and a hurry. He split a double-team and tackled Green-Ellis for a 2-yard loss in the second. Thornton chased Dalton to the sideline and got a hit on him in the third. The moment most will remember though was him fumbling the short kickoff away. Thornton took full responsibility for the turnover after the game.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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