Eagles DL Production: Checking In On Graham, Curry

Philadelphia Eagles DE Brandon Graham.Coming off an outstanding performance in Week 15 against the Bengals, the Eagles’ defensive line was not nearly as impressive Sunday afternoon against the Redskins

The D-Line failed to sack Robert Griffin III, although the Eagles certainly pressured him at times. Alfred Morris had 91 yards rushing, but he needed 22 carries (4.1 YPC).

Once again, the defense got no help from the other two phases. Washington’s five scoring drives started at its own 28, its own 41, its own 47, midfield and the Eagles’ 25. This is nothing new. Opponents have dominated the Birds in terms of field position all year long.

Focusing back on the pass-rush, here’s a look at opportunities (from Pro Football Focus), sacks, hurries (as tracked by the coaching staff) and pressure percentage (frequency with which each player notched a sack or hurry).

Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Pressure Percentage
Trent Cole21029.5%
Brandon Graham18015.6%
Cullen Jenkins15000%
Derek Landri13000%
Fletcher Cox11019.1%
Cedric Thornton11000%
Phillip Hunt6000%
Vinny Curry4000%

A lot of zeroes on that board.

Trent Cole led the Eagles with two hurries. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox added one apiece. Everyone else was shut out.

The Eagles made the decision to sit Darryl Tapp and give his snaps to Vinny Curry. But they’re also playing the starters (Cole and Graham) more, which resulted in Curry only getting four opportunities to rush the passer.

Below is the player-by-player review.

Brandon Graham – He didn’t produce eye-popping numbers, but I thought Graham played well once again, with a hurry and five tackles. He got pinched inside on Santana Moss’ 12-yard end around in the first, but hustled to eventually bring him down. Graham showed good discipline on a play-fake in the first, chasing Griffin to the sideline on a 4th-and-2 incompletion. Really nice job breaking up a shovel pass in the second. And Graham shoved the right tackle back before stopping Morris on a 1-yard gain in the second. He forced Griffin out of the pocket on a third-down incompletion in the second. And Graham came from the back side to tackle Morris after a 2-yard run in the fourth. Active game, and the effort has been outstanding all season.

Trent Cole – He had a tough matchup with Trent Williams and was up and down, finishing with two hurries and five tackles. Good read on the end around, but couldn’t make the tackle as Joshua Morgan picked up 7 in the first. He tackled Morris after a 1-yard run in the second. Good pressure on a third-down play in the second where Williams got away with a hold. Cole couldn’t get off of Williams’ block on Morris’ 9-yard run in the third. He tackled Morris after a 5-yard run in the third. Cole batted a pass at the line of scrimmage and shoved Griffin to the ground in the third. He tackled Morris after a 1-yard run in the third, but was blocked by Chris Cooley on Morris’ 14-yard run in the fourth.

Fletcher Cox – The reason he didn’t see more snaps is because Cox suffered a concussion. He had a hurry and three tackles before being sidelined. Cox combined with Graham to stop Morris after a 1-yard run in the second. He chased and hit Griffin on the next play – a third-down incompletion. And Cox got into the backfield on Morris’ 5-yard run on 2nd-and-27 in the third. Already a very good player. Has a chance to be a Pro Bowler based on what we saw during his rookie campaign.

Cullen Jenkins – Very quiet game. No sacks, no hurries, two tackles. Todd Bowles went out of his way to praise Jenkins last week, but didn’t see much out of the veteran in this one.

Derek Landri – With Cox sidelined, he saw increased snaps. Landri had a quiet game as well with no sacks, no hurries and two tackles. A huge hole opened up between him and Cole on Morris’ 14-yard run in the fourth.

Cedric Thornton – Two tackles for Thornton. He did a good job stuffing Morris for no gain in the second. And Thornton brought Morris down after a 2-yard run in the fourth on the Redskins’ final drive. He was called for an illegal block in the back on Colt Anderson’s interception.

Phillip Hunt – He spelled Graham at left defensive end, but did not have a good showing. Hunt got caught way upfield and left Morris with all sorts of room on his 10-yard touchdown run in the third. He had a chance to tackle Griffin behind the line of scrimmage on an option play in the first, but couldn’t get a hold of him. Hunt had a chance to sack Griffin in the second, but let him escape.

Vinny Curry – As I mentioned above, Curry did not play a lot – 11 snaps total. He only had four chances to rush the passer and was a non-factor there. Against the run, Curry had ups and downs. He did a really nice job of slipping past Williams, getting penetration and forcing Morris inside, where Thornton made a tackle for no gain in the second. But Curry was blocked to the ground by Williams on Morris’ 4-yard run in the second. Overall, he’s had some nice moments against the run, but Curry has zero sacks and zero hurries. He’s had 32 chances to rush the passer, per PFF.

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