Eagles Wake-Up Call: Pass-Rusher Rankings

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A week after facing a run-focused offense and a rookie quarterback, Billy Davis and company now get Tony Romo and the Cowboys Sunday afternoon at the Linc.

Romo is completing 70.2 percent of his passes and has tossed 14 touchdowns to go along with just three interceptions. At 33-years-old, he’s making the most of the weapons around him and having a career year.


"I think one of the biggest things that Romo does is he extends the play," Davis said. "If the initial play is not there, like a couple of quarterbacks in the league, the Roethlisbergers, they don't necessarily run to run, they run to extend the play and the receivers do a great job of, when it breaks down, coming back to the ball, finding the open area."

That means the defensive backs will have to hold their coverages longer. But just as importantly, the Eagles' pass-rushers need to finish when they have opportunities.

Below is a look at where the pass-rush stands. Sacks and hurries are tracked by the Eagles' coaching staff.

Asked to describe hurries, Kelly said: "Didn't have to get a hand on him [the QB], but if you can make him move and disrupt in terms of where the launch point is and take the quarterback off his set point I think is how we are describing it."

Pressure percentage is the frequency with which each player notches a sack or a hurry, taking opportunities (courtesy of Pro Football Focus) into account. The table focuses on defensive linemen and outside linebackers, the primary pass-rushers.

 
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Vinny Curry1410.6%
Fletcher Cox2115.8%
Connor Barwin354.6%
Brandon Graham124.3%
Bennie Logan213.4%
Isaac Sopoaga022.5%
Cedric Thornton132.0%
Clifton Geathers012.0%
Trent Cole031.6%
Damion Square000%

Fletcher Cox had his most productive game of the season against Tampa, finishing with five hurries. As a point of reference, only one other Eagle (Connor Barwin) has five hurries on the entire season.

"Fletcher had his best game of the year and we needed it and it showed," Davis said. "He put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, disrupted the throwing motion of the quarterback often. A lot of those holding calls [occurred] where they couldn't block Fletch, so we benefited from his game that he had. We get him to play like that every week, we'll keep moving forward."

Barwin leads the team with three sacks and is getting pressure 4.6 percent of the time. That's much better than Trent Cole, whose number is just 1.6 percent.

"Trent has got a lot of pressure on the quarterback," Davis said. "When you break down the film, he's getting chips and he’s getting attention and sometimes that opens [things] for other people. But right now, our pass rush ‑ the sacks will come in bunches. I think Trent will have a breakout game and you'll see the work that he's put in and I think that will happen with our defensive line in general. I think we are getting close. We've had a couple games in a row with intentional groundings and different interceptions."

Curry has only had 47 opportunities to rush the passer, but he's getting pressure 10.6 percent of the time. He played a season-high 25 snaps last week vs. the Bucs.

Cedric Thornton has been great against the run, but still has plenty of room for improvement as a pass-rusher.

"The run is what he does the best, stop the run," Davis said. "He's a big, solid, square body in there and his pass rush is growing and growing as we continue to move forward. And there's different kinds of pass rushers. There's the Vinny Currys that are edges and really get penetration, and the Cedrics that get a little more power and push."

As for the blitzers, DeMeco Ryans has rushed 69 times and come up with just one sack and no hurries (1.4 percent). Mychal Kendricks has no sacks and three hurries in 53 rushes (5.7 percent). Brandon Boykin has no sacks and no hurries on 30 rushes.

Last week, Mike Glennon was 9-for-16 for 131 yards (8.2 YPA) when blitzed, per PFF. He was 17-for-27 for 142 yards (5.3 YPA) when the Eagles sent three or four rushers.

Overall, the Eagles rank 15th in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders. Last week's goal was stopping Doug Martin and the run. This week, Davis will need to find some way to pressure Romo and the Cowboys into mistakes.

"When you study him over time, he's either really hot or really off," Davis said. "And sometimes it's through the course of one single game. He may be first-half hot, second half cold and vice versa. You have to play him all the way through four quarters. I think you’ve got to challenge the receivers and challenge him to find the opening and keep moving it on him. I think he'll make some plays and I think he'll make some mistakes."

WHAT YOU MISSED

An All-22 look at what the Eagles' offense looked like with Nick Foles.

All signs points towards Foles starting vs. Dallas, writes T-Mac.

Pat Shurmur says a QB conversation will take place once Michael Vick is healthy.

Game review of the Eagles' defense vs. Tampa.

Jeremiah Trotter talks to McManus about the Eagles' current linebackers.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Les Bowen of the Daily News offers his opinion of where things currently stand with Chip Kelly:

If we're holding a referendum on Kelly's offensive ideas - which are why the Eagles hired him - what I see is the second team in NFL history to manage at least 1,500 passing and 1,050 rushing yards through the first six games. (The Eagles, who researched the stat, say the first was the 1954 Rams.) I also see 2,699 net yards after six games, the highest total in franchise history. I see at least 400 yards of offense in each of the first six games, something that only has been done by two other teams, the 2007 Patriots and the 1983 Chargers. The Eagles have never had a stretch of six 400-yard games in a row, at any point in any season. Ever.

For those reasons, when I look at Kelly, I really don't see Steve Spurrier, or Dennis Erickson, or Butch Davis. Or Schiano, who has now lost 10 of his last 11 games.

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com on what he saw out of Todd Herremans last week:

Another good showing. Had good block on 2nd Qtr screen pass to the right side. Caved in the NT on inside run where Shady got 19 yds up the middle. Called for holding in the mid-3rd. Did have his hand on the back of a LB, but seemed like a ticky-tack call. To be fair, looked like Barbre did hold. Todd got beat by McCoy on the next play. That flushed Foles. Helped keep McCoy under control most of the game. Had some good blocks as the team ran to the right side a lot on the final drive.

COMING UP

We'll hear from Kelly this morning and the players this afternoon.

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  • G_WallyHunter

    Les Bowen part. Holy Crap. Great to wake up an Eagles fan this morning….

    • Richard Colton

      And did you see our QB won NFC Offensive Player of the Week?

      • G_WallyHunter

        I didn’t, but as I was watching the network yesterday, I saw that Saint Nick was nominated for FedEx air player of week and Shady was for ground player of the week.. hadn’t seen that before. Pretty damn impressive, let’s hope it becomes the norm haha

        Should be the case again this weekend. I got Foles, Djax, Lesean in I can’t effin wait for this

        • theycallmerob

          With Julio and Cobb down for me, DJax is the last man standing in my original receiving corps (Bowe was a bust, finally let him go). I hope he and McCoy can carry me all year.

          • G_WallyHunter

            Damn! I send my condolences. My buddy took MJD in 2 and Bowe in 4, he traded them for Andre Johnson a few weeks ago, seems to have gotten the better of that deal.. how’d you get rid of Bowe? any value for him?

            Did u get ur hands on Keenan Allen or Terrance (I know your disdain towards Terrance). I think I’m going to be plugging Keenan in for Julio rest of year. Traded Terrance away to a WR needy/high priority team for Foles, he knew I’d be going for him on the wire this morning, he grabbed him and kinda blackmailed me into giving him Terrance, no biggy, I share your sentiments about starting Cowboys, screw them. Although Terrance is looking like a great WR pick for them this year (hate to say it)..

          • theycallmerob

            Starting at #3 in a 10 man snake draft, my top 5 were: McCoy, Julio, Cobb, Ridley, Bowe (Djax at 6 and R. Bush at 7!). Busted 3 out of 5
            FA has been kind, though…got the KC def and Russell Wilson. Holding onto 1st by the skin of my teeth…..starting guys like Kembrell Thompkins and Jacquizz Rogers

          • G_WallyHunter

            Nice start to the draft besides Bowe, but everyone fell for the “Alex Smith/Andy Reid will give Bowe a career year” idea. I had #2 pick in same kind of draft, got McCoy, Julio, Bush, Wayne, Sproles, Desean, Finley in that order, not bad but not amazing, Finley could be doing more for me. Took BPA on those 7 picks though.

            You have some big sweatin to do these next few weeks, Kembrell can easily bail you out so that’s good. I’m stashing Percy, can’t wait to unleash my Weapon X. Grabbing a new D every week, works one week and doesn’t work the next..

  • cliff henny

    where i think Dallas game hinges. Eagles will score, Romo will light up secondary, but to what extent depends on pass rush. They get to Romo, force couple mistakes, should come away with win. he has all day to throw, be anyone’s game. murray’s out, tell curry, graham, barwin, cole and cox to tackle RB on their way to Romo. he should be battered and bruised by halftime

    • aub32

      Have you watched Romo this year? You are making him sound like light work. The guy can move. We had problems getting Glennon down. “Anyone’s game if we don’t get pressure”? Denver couldn’t get pressure on Romo and look what he did to them.

      • theycallmerob

        Fair point, and their OL has been vastly improved just by the arrival of Waters.

        I think the key will be Witten. And more than that, I think it will be how Davis schemes to cover him. I would personally have Wolff play man as much as possible; so far, he has matched up pretty well with Welker and Cruz, who are both faster and shiftier (?) I think he presents a more favorable match-up than Kendricks, thus freeing him to get after Romo and clean up that middle zone (which has been killing us).

        • aub32

          I’m more worried about Dez than anybody else. That guy has been a monster. Though Washington seemed to slow him down a little. We really need to see what they did there. I also fear this Williams kid. He’s getting better each week. I have plenty of confidence that Boykin can handle Beasley. Although biggest worry is 3rd down. Glennon was able to run and pick up a 3rd and 16. Romo is 3 times the athlete. (Shudders)

          • theycallmerob

            I’m working under the assumption that both of those WRs, especially Dez, will get their yards.

            IMO, this is most similar to the SD game. Rivers has been equally lights-out, had good WR talent, suspect run game, and a mediocre D. Gates made the difference in that game, abusing Kendricks for first downs all day. He posted an 8/124 day, and all 8 went for 1st downs. Obviously, that was before Wolff was seeing many snaps (and with far less experience). http://espn.go.com/nfl/playbyplay?gameId=330915021&period=0

            I truly believe that will make the difference as the year moves on. But particularly in the DAL-PHI matchup.

          • aub32

            Gates killed us but Floyd was getting his before getting knocked out of the game. And for my money Dez > Floyd.

          • cliff henny

            someday they’ll stop Witten…fearing it’ll be the game after he retires.

      • cliff henny

        not sure we are disagreeing here, i did say he’s going to light the secondary up. figured ‘anyone’s game’ is nicer way of saying ‘getting run out of the f’n gym’. give romo all day, he’ll carve them up. hate him, but guy can play.

      • Maggie

        If Romo is too hard to handle, doesn’t it make sense to concentrate on coverage? Even great QB’s need someone to catch the ball. Having darn near everyone drop back most of the time and letting Romo heave a bunch of incomplete passes makes the most sense. Yes, the DB’s are not All-Pro, but they all have their moments.

  • Beavis

    The Eagles have 10 sacks on the season. The Chiefs had 10 sacks on Sunday. That is all.

    • theycallmerob

      So we’re not as good as the (far and away) #1 defense in the NFL? That’s the earth-shattering news you just had to share?

    • Maggie

      And, of course, sacks are the only weapon a defense has.

  • Richard Colton

    Anyone besides Billy Davis surprised to see who leads the Eagles in pressure %?

    • Chris

      Maybe he started reading our comment section? I saw that Chip spoke pretty highly of him after last week, and the PT keeps going up…let’s hope it keeps trending that way.

      • theycallmerob

        Aside from a few plays I saw in the past game, Curry seems much better at gap responsibility now than he was in PS. Azz seems to be doing great work with the DL
        And of the two odd fits on the team (Curry and Graham), if I had to see one get traded in the offseason due to scheme it would be Graham. I think Curry has so much natural talent, as is obvious from his initial burst and motor (feel like Reid saying that). Plus, you know he’s living out that dream in midnight green…don’t have to worry about apathy with that kid.

  • Caught Red Hernandez

    Lets be realistic, Cowboys will move the ball easily on our D. Luckily Murray is out, that eliminates the run threat. All we need to do is force Romo into a couple mistakes and our O can handle the rest.

  • Token

    Trent Cole

    Hes invisible.

    At this point its almost doing the guy a disservice. It sucks his contract is so bad or they could do him a solid and trade him to a 4-3 team where he may be able to contribute off the bench.

    Stinks when a really good player comes to the end of his career. But time to put Graham out there full time, or see if Curry can play over there. Something. Pass rush has just been too bad to stand pat.

    • theycallmerob

      I think that makes the play of Cox and Thornton that much more impressive, considering how little rush is getting there from the OLBs and on the bitz. In this 2gap 34, the rush OLBs should be the featured player that QBs have nightmares about.

      Of all the defensive positions, I think an upgrade at that spot would have the most immediate and powerful impact on the defense as a whole. And yes, that includes the S position.

  • John J. King

    Any data on Romo vs. regular rush and blitz?

  • Mule

    So Mychal Kendricks has no sacks this season? Does what he did to RGIII count only as a body slam, not a sack?

  • GoBirds1

    The. Blitz sack and hurry data is flawed. I have commented on Boykin’s inordinate number of blitzes. Assuming the number is correct him blitzing 5 times per game is 5 times to many. That said he has at least two sack/hurries, one against the Skins and one against the Bucs. SDK you can’t just accept these numbers from the stat aggregators as fact. At minimum you have to consider their verity before slapping them all over your blog.