Through the first 13 games, the Eagles’ defensive line had accounted for 20 sacks, or about 1.5 per contest.
Against the Bengals, Tommy Brasher’s group sacked Andy Dalton six times and kept him uncomfortable all game long (13-for-27 for 127 yards). So what was different about the performance of the defensive line this time around? Here’s a look at all six sacks, using the All-22 shots.
Play 1: Brandon Graham can thank Dalton for his first sack. You’ll see what I mean below. In the first image, you can see Graham’s lined up wide against right tackle Andre Smith.
The Bengals set up a bunch look to the right side. The inside receiver, Andrew Hawkins, starts his route outside before cutting across the middle of the field.
As the play develops, Graham is locked up one-on-one with Smith. The Eagles only rush four. The Bengals protect with their five offensive linemen.
Graham uses his hands and speed to get around Smith. Keep in mind, Graham is listed at 6-2, 268. Smith is 6-4, 335.
You’ll also see Hawkins is wide-open, beating Brandon Boykin. Dalton pumped, but decided not to let the ball go. Here’s another angle.
If Dalton throws the football, it’s a touchdown. Instead, Graham dives at his ankles and brings him down for a sack.
Unofficially, it took about 3.5 seconds from the time the ball was snapped to when Graham made contact with the quarterback. Bad decision by Dalton. Nice move from Graham.
Play 2: On third down in the second quarter, Graham got sack No. 2. Take a look at the pre-snap look.
The key is DeMeco Ryans, who is hovering in the A-gap between the center and the left guard. The Bengals know they have to account for him possibly blitzing.
After the ball is snapped, Ryans starts rushing to towards the B-Gap between the right guard and right tackle.
That’s important because running back Brian Leonard may have been ready to chip or even double-team Graham. But now he has to account for Ryans, setting up a one-on-one for Graham.
The Bengals once again had a chance for a big play to Hawkins. He ran a stop-and-go and got Nate Allen to bite.
But Graham used a pure speed-rush to the outside, leaving Smith on the ground and getting to Dalton just as he was getting ready to target Hawkins deep.
Graham got to Dalton in about 2.7 seconds. Excellent rush, and nice design up front to get him free.
Play 3: Trent Cole played one of his best games of the season. On his sack in the second quarter, he got some help from the Bengals left guard.
Cole and Cullen Jenkins run a stunt on the right side.
Jenkins rushes outside towards the left tackle. Cole loops behind him, and as you can see, the left guard loses his footing.
The Bengals went with an empty backfield, but the Eagles had good coverage, particularly on the outside with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Curtis Marsh (bottom of your screen).
That allows Cole to do his Trent Cole leap and sack Dalton for a loss of 9.
This one only took about 2.5 seconds.
Play 4: On Jenkins’ sack, he looped all the way outside Cole from his left defensive tackle spot.
I doubt Todd Bowles could have pictured this one working any better. Jenkins was able to get a hand on Dalton in about 2.9 seconds, forcing the fumble and the turnover.
Coverage was also key here. The Bengals had five receivers in routes, but they were all blanketed.
A good example of the back end and the front four working together.
Play 5: Remember earlier, we showed Ryans threatening to blitz? Same thing here. On this play, he lines up in the A-Gap between the center and right guard.
When the ball is snapped, the center slides to his right, accounting for Ryans. But Ryans doesn’t end up blitzing.
As a result, Fletcher Cox gets a one-on-one with the left guard and flat-out abuses him. Cox gets to Dalton in about 1.8 seconds for the Eagles’ fastest sack of the day.
Play 6: Earlier, we showed Graham using his speed. Here, he uses his strength. Initially, it looks like Smith has Graham blocked, and Dalton has a clean pocket.
But Graham uses a bull-rush and just drives Smith back into Dalton, who is forced to step up to avoid getting run over.
Once Dalton does that, Graham and Cox find him, as the pair split the sack. Coverage was good, and it helped that the Bengals faced a 3rd-and-14. Graham and Cox got to Dalton in about 3.0 seconds.
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