Game Review: Eagles ‘D’ Vs. Bucs Offense

If you missed the first game review on the Eagles’ offense, click here.

Now onto the defense.

DEFENSIVE LINE




* The Eagles' No. 1 goal defensively was to stop Doug Martin and the Bucs' running game. They were successful in that respect, limiting Martin to 67 yards on 16 carries. The pass-rush got better as the game went on, and the defense only allowed three points in the second half.

* Fletcher Cox played his best game of the season. Chip Kelly said yesterday that the coaches had Cox down for five pressures, and he was disruptive against the run also. Cox drove the left guard back on a run play in the second and drew a holding penalty. On the very next play, he pressured Mike Glennon and hit the QB's arm, forcing an incompletion as the ball popped up into the air. Those are the kinds of plays that will eventually lead to turnovers. Big-time rush in the second by Cox, as he threw left tackle Donald Penn to the ground as Glennon escaped the pocket. Cox blew up a Martin run for no gain in the third. He brought Martin down after a 1-yard run in the fourth. He pressured Glennon in the red zone in the fourth. And he wasn't fooled by play-action, pressuring Glennon into throwing the ball away in the fourth. Tremendous game overall for Cox.

* Cedric Thornton played well also. He was a key factor in the run game, getting into the backfield on a 1-yard Martin run in the first and stopping him after a 2-yard gain in the second.

* Isaac Sopoaga has been invisible for most of the season, but he had some good moments Sunday. Sopoaga helped bring Mike James down after a 3-yard run in the first, and he drew a holding penalty, negating an 11-yard Martin run in the fourth.

* Rookie Bennie Logan has also had a quiet season, but he notched a sack for the second consecutive week. Logan was active earlier, drawing a holding penalty on a run play in the third. Late in the game, he abused Jamon Meredith and pressured Glennon into an incompletion on fourth down. The coaches are seeing improvement from Logan.

* Vinny Curry played more in the base defense and totaled a season-high 25 snaps. He still has work to do against the run. The Bucs ran right at him for an 11-yard pickup in the second. He was OK as a pass-rusher. Curry had a chance for a sack in the second, but couldn't finish as Glennon scrambled for 16 yards and a first down. Curry pressured Glennon and batted a ball down at the line of scrimmage on the Bucs' final drive.

* Clifton Geathers was quiet. He got into the backfield once to help disrupt a run that lost 2 yards in the first.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

* Connor Barwin has been one of the Eagles' most consistent defenders. He and Curry ran a stunt in the fourth, and Barwin broke free for the sack. He got good pressure off the edge on a Glennon incompletion on the Bucs' final drive. Barwin continues to be excellent against the run. He set the edge and stopped Martin after a 1-yard run in the first.

* Pretty quiet game for Trent Cole. He was put in a tough spot and let the tight end get behind him for a 36-yard gain in the third. Cole had a few good moments. He helped bring James down after a 3-yard run in the first. He got a hand in Glennon's face on a rush in the third, helping to force an incompletion. And he hit Glennon on a third-down throw in the red zone in the fourth.

* Brandon Graham was pretty quiet too. He nearly had a sack on third-and-long in the first and ended up drawing a holding penalty. But that was it.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

* DeMeco Ryans was a huge factor against the run, piling up 12 tackles. He came up with a big stop early on 3rd-and-2, forcing Tampa to settle for a field goal. And he made an excellent tackle after a 1-yard Martin run in the third. In coverage, he had his share of issues. Ryans was matched up with Jeff Demps in the first and didn't have much of a chance, giving up a 10-yard completion. He gave up a 12-yarder to the tight end in the third and got juked by Vincent Jackson on a 12-yard completion in the third. Bottom line: He was excellent in the run and suspect in coverage.

* Mychal Kendricks played well. He helped tackle James after a 3-yard run in the first and drew a holding penalty on a run play in the third. Kendricks tackled the TE after a 4-yard completion in the second. On the long second-half drive, he had very good coverage on Timothy Wright, but Glennon made a perfect, tight-window throw for a 16-yard completion on third down.

CORNERBACKS

* I'm not sure exactly what happened on the 24-yard touchdown to Jackson. Bradley Fletcher was on him initially, but it looked like he was expecting help from Nate Allen, which wasn't there. DeMeco Ryans also got pulled up on the play-fake. Will ask around today.

* Overall, Fletcher had a pair of pass break-ups and an interception. He was targeted twice on the first drive. On third down, Fletcher made a great break on the ball to force an incompletion. His interception in the third was huge, even if it seemed like more of a gift than a great play. Fletcher was targeted deep down the right sideline in the second half, but had great coverage on Jackson. He gave up a 24-yarder to Jackson on 3rd-and-9 in the third. Overall, more good than bad. Fletcher will give up some completions, but has held up better than expected.

* Good game for Cary Williams. Other than the 1-yard touchdown to Jackson on the fade, I didn't see him give up an incompletion the rest of the game. Funny moment in the second when Williams saw a flag and started laying into the official before realizing the offense was being penalized.

* Brandon Boykin continues to show up every week. He gave up a 10-yard completion on a slant to Jackson in the first, but I'm pretty sure that was it. He dropped an interception late in the game, but overall is playing at a very high level.

* Williams was dealing with cramps, so Roc Carmichael came into the game in the fourth. He was called for a 16-yard pass interference penalty.

SAFETIES

* I mentioned above that Allen might have been at least partially to blame on the 24-yard touchdown. But other than that, he played well. Good hit on a receiver, jarring the ball loose in the third. Excellent coverage on a deep ball in the third, forcing an incompletion. Allen and Ryans stopped Martin for no gain in the red zone in the fourth.

* Earl Wolff played probably his best game to date. He came on a blitz in the first and forced an intentional grounding. Wolff got pressure again on a third-down blitz in the second, forcing Glennon to throw it away. In run support, he tackled James after a 4-yard run in the fourth and helped bring  Martin down after a 1-yard run. In coverage, it looked like he was at fault for a 16-yard completion to Jackson in the third. But Wolff is showing he can man up and cover one-on-one. He broke up a pass in the end zone for the second consecutive week, this one on third down in the fourth. Wolff had really good coverage on Wright on 3rd-and-9 in the third, but Glennon threw a perfect pass for a completion. Overall, the rookie is improving.

* Patrick Chung started and played well before his shoulder started acting up. He dropped Martin for a 2-yard loss in the first and broke up a pass intended for Jackson in the end zone in the second. On the 24-yard TD to Jackson, Chung was blitzing freely, but the play-fake froze him and gave Glennon the time he needed.

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  • theycallmerob

    Good to see the Big Cox succeeding in this defense. The Bucs don’t have a terrible OL, but he played well against the pass and run. I think, like Cole and Graham, it was simply an adjustment period. He should only improve more as the season progresses.
    And while 1-gapping does favor his innate talent, this is the first year in a completely new D with a number of players who are nothing more than stopgaps. Can you imagine how much better Cox would be if there was a great rush OLB outside of him?

    Aside from Kendricks’ underwhelming play so far, I think the development of Cox and Thornton is a boon to the future of the Kelly 34 defense.
    In my perceived order of need, the D could use: S, rush OLB, CB, NT* (might be Logan), ILB* (might be Knott). And who knows, maybe Kruger develops into good line depth and Wolff grows into a starting role. All things considered, I’m not terribly disappointed by the performance so far this year- destroyed by Rivers and Manning, but admirable showing against KC, NYG, and TB. And very impressed with the late round defensive draft picks so far.

    • G_WallyHunter

      agreed on all points, especially the bottom part, love the optimism, we need more of that around here. Optimism always gets mistaken for being ridiculously unrealistic around here…
      Teams lookin great, after smoking the cowboys in a week they will have same number of wins as last year, more than I hoped for this season, yipppeeee
      Fly Eags Fly

      • theycallmerob

        At the end of the day, and with all that said, we’re 3-3 and in first place in a weak division. And that includes 2-0 in the NFCE, and 0-3 against AFC teams. If you had to pick 3 games to win and lose, we got the right ones. Kelly has met or exceeded every expectation I’ve had so far.

        • cliff henny

          guy is as advertised. i cant see how anyone isnt all-in with kelly. i can give him semi-pass on defense, wasnt a ton to work with and he at least had the stones to make full 3-4 2 gap switch. have to assume that’s the defense he dislikes the most, so i’ll live with some growing pains

        • G_WallyHunter

          Couldn’t have said this better myself.
          Way better than most of us expected (and I mean WAY, given the general pessimism and doubt of most commenters). D is coming along faster than expected, and Chip Kelly has exceeded all of our expectations with his mastery. He has done such a great job Iget giddy thinking about the next 2-4 years… guy’s a straight genius. The playcalling and game-planning and adjustments… so exciting..
          Can’t wait to see Kiffin try to figure him out (again) next week… WITHOUT DEMARCUS… that was so comforting to see yesterday morning

    • nicksaenz1

      I want an update on where Kruger is. Would love if he could fill the rush OLB spot. If we can get something for Graham we should. Get Curry to drop the 15-20 he put on and see if he can be the rush OLB with Cole and Kruger behind him. Just wondering if he can pull it off. With the way he can fluctuate his weight he maybe be versatile enough to pull it off. Thornton playing as he has pretty much keeps Curry limited, so might as well see if he fits elsewhere to get the most out of his talents.

  • Cyrus Robinson

    Earl Wolff seems to be bringing out the best in Nate Allen. I like that. Don’t crucify me for this, but by season’s end, I think they’ll be a pretty decent tandem.

    • Vik

      Crucified!

    • Vik

      Anything that helps Nate Allen is good with me

    • quaterback pessimist

      Agreed, and I think what gets amazingly overlooked is the coaching angle. Allen is being “coached up” (as they are saying now) after being thrown to the wolves for his pro career. I don’t think it is a coincidence that he now is on an upward trend and his fundamentals with tackling and agressiveness are obviously improving. I think it is all due to the right coaches. Same with Wolff. He continues to improve, rather than be left to make the same mistakes as he learns the pro game. Also, Allen never had a quality veteran safety to learn from outside his first year with Quintin Mikell.

  • Adam

    All things considered, I’m pretty impressed with how the corners have played so far this year. They’ve obviously gotten beaten here and there, but I think you have to consider two things when you condemn them: The inconsistent safety play, and the complete lack of pass rush. They’re creating turnovers at the very least, which is more than can be said about Pylon 1 and 2 we had last year.

    I keep dreaming of what having a legitimate pass rusher would do for this defense. More one on one opportunities for Cox, and more chances for guys like Fletch, Williams and Boykin to make plays on the ball.

    Oh, and sacks. Those would be nice too.

    • theycallmerob

      Could not agree more, on both counts

    • anon

      it’d be nice if we could make curry a lb and just blitz him all the time.

    • Token

      Cary blows.

      Fletch could probably be the number two going forward, depending how the year goes. Boykin may be starting across from him next year. But they will need another corner regardless.

      • Andy124

        I’m not sure who that is. Do you mean Sconces? He’s at least mediocre. It’s not like he’s getting lit up every week. That’s all I’m asking of him.

        EDIT: Still need an upgrade moving forward. But for the here and now, I’ll take it.

        • anon

          yeah 2 picks and 5 pass defenses. he’s not getting beat substantially more than anyone else.

        • Adam

          Exactly. Some people here think not All-Pro = they blow. He’s by no means a game changer, but he’s not a complete liability.

          • LeClaw

            It is funny how we have come down from Cloud 9 in regards to our DBs…we were once all bout impact game changers…now, well he isn’t fucking up too bad and/or quitting so I love him

  • cliff henny

    hopefully this defense bottomed out against Denver. we knew the defense was going to struggle, then add the 3-4 switch. should be a good measuring stick against Romo. get a couple turnovers and keep them under 30, that’s should be good enough.

    • Basscase

      Romo rang up 48 points on Denver’s defense, and they’re better than this D. Even given it being a division matchup, I think you’re seriously underestimating Romo and the Cowboys.

      • cliff henny

        hoping to keep a team under 30, not like i said 14-17. pretty sure i’m giving romo hisjust due.

  • 1972

    3 points in the second half? ill take it. But why don’t our corners play press coverage on 3rd and long situations? This 3 man rush with a 8 man zone is so frustrating to watch BIlly D

    • anon

      seen our safeties? Hopefully once we get better at that position we can play more man. i agree w/ you that it’s frustrating.

      • 1972

        they’ve actually played better the last few weeks, shocking I know. But nate allen played a very good game against tampa. I gotta give it up.

    • Ron Swanson

      Because press coverage is much more vulnerable to big plays? 8 men dropping into a zone on 3rd and long is the right call.

      • 1972

        wasn’t the right call in the san diego game or the chiefs game. Now if the secondary could actually come up and make a tackle after the catch it would be the right call, but most of our plays that end in knock downs or pics is when we’re in press man. I honestly don’t think rushing 3 is ever the right call.

      • 1972

        I don’t think you win giving receivers free releases. fletcher and Williams playing 8 and 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.

        Why do you think cooper was so open last week. zone and free releases

  • ztom6

    Sounds like you are saying nearly everyone down has having “played well” but they let a bad offense put together a pretty good offensive game. They were helped out a lot by Bucs holding penalties otherwise Martin’s numbers would have been much better. They played well in the fourth quarter when they started to get consistent pressure on Glennon. But up to that point it was a lot of the usual ugliness we’ve come to expect.

    • Adam

      “They were helped out a lot by Bucs holding penalties otherwise Martin’s numbers would have been much better. ”

      I don’t agree with this. How can we assume Martin would have had the same gains if there wasn’t holding on the play.

      There were definitely breakdowns in coverage and play calling. Glennon also made some throws into tight coverage.

      • G_WallyHunter

        Ya the holding penalties are directly correlated there lol, had they not held then tackles on Doug Martin would have been made. It may not be perfectly offset but definitely affected

        • ztom6

          Even still the holding penalties stoned their drives moreso than playmaking by the Eagles did.

          • anon

            they were holding b.c they were getting beat by our D.

  • Broadcasting Wisdom

    I’m expecting another Denver-type performance from our defense against Romo, but hopefully our offense performs better to limit the number of possessions and our D can force a few field goals. No way can Kendricks cover Witten, and he always kills us; Dez Bryan is a shoe in for 150 yards receiving. If Nick Foles starts, 35-31 victory for the good guys (5TDs, 4 punts, 1 INT – he’s due). If Vick starts, 31-26 defeat (2TDs, 4FGs in the red zone, 4 punts, 1 INT). What Sheil, you thought if you posted about the defense that the comments wouldn’t bring up how much better Foles is in the red zone?

    • anon

      i think it’ll be more like SD, either qb will put up mad points. question of whether our d. can get a stop. They lost their rb and best pass rusher for the game. i think we win on a late pick by romo. i don’t think we turn the ball over — their dbs aren’t good.

      • Broadcasting Wisdom

        Cowboys have forced 12 turnovers in 6 games, including 6 picks. I know you think Nick Foles is great, and I do too, but he’s bound to throw an interception at least once every 10 quarters just off of bad luck (tipped balls, WR miscommunication, or even, gasp, losing track of an undercutting Sean Lee).

      • The Answer

        Carr is solid and Claiborne is coming along. Scandrick has been around for awhile. Now I don’t think much of their Safeties but at Corner they aren’t worse than the Eagles.

  • anon

    pft has us at 14 on the power ranking. beat dallas and i think we can get close to top 10

  • Andy124

    In the moment, watching TB get off their own 1 yard line to drive down the field and eventually get a score, I’ve never felt worse about this D. Then looking in hindsight to see those were the only 3 points they gave up in the second half is pretty trippy.

    I’ll echo that one thing that has been consistently noticable all season has been the respectable play of the corners. That seemed to be the best case scenario based on the guys we signed and I think that’s what we’re getting, so that’s pretty cool.

    • Andy

      I think plugging in a couple of average corners has been a vast improvement vs the guys we had there the last couple of years.

  • Token

    I saw PFF said Thornton is leading the 3-4 ends in the NFL with the highest run stop %. Probably the surprise of the year has been Thornton IMO. Really a big leg up going forward if him and Cox can flourish in a 3-4.

    • anon

      coaches agree