Eagles Wake-Up Call: Pass-Rush Rankings

NFL: Preseason-Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia EaglesThe Eagles have improved in several areas defensively during the last six weeks, but the pass-rush is still in need of a serious boost.

Packers quarterbacks Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzein dropped back to pass 46 times, and the Eagles managed just one sack (Vinny Curry) and two hurries (Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan with one each) from their defensive linemen and outside linebackers.

On the season, the Eagles are 24th in total sacks with 20 and 24th in adjusted sack rate, which takes into account opportunities.

“I think the sack is overrated in the NFL right now,” said defensive coordinator Billy Davis. “I think we make too much of it on both ends. I think the pressure a quarterback feels – we always talk about can we get the offense off-rhythm and the quarterback uncomfortable in the pocket? And I think we’re doing that. Even though the sack numbers aren’t as high as we would like… there’s pressures, there’s batted balls, there’s errant throws sometimes, just a matter of keeping the quarterback uncomfortable.

“If the sack numbers are high, that’s great.  If they’re not, that’s OK, as long as he’s uncomfortable. It’s when he’s sitting back there with a real comfort, comfortable look in his eye that I get uncomfortable.”

Here’s the weekly look at pass-rushing efficiency. Sacks and hurries are courtesy of the Eagles’ coaching staff. Pass-rushing opportunities are from Pro Football Focus. And I calculate pressure percentage (rate at which the player notches a sack or hurry).

 
Sacks
Hurries
Chances
Pressure Percentage
Vinny Curry461218.3%
Fletcher Cox3173815.2%
Connor Barwin383013.7%
Brandon Graham131093.7%
Clifton Geathers03893.4%
Bennie Logan231543.2%
Trent Cole173112.6%
Cedric Thornton163112.3%
Damion Square00380.0%

Notes:

* Vinny Curry has drawn praise from the coaching staff for his improvement against the run. He had a season-high four tackles vs. Green Bay and has seven in the past two games. Curry had five tackles total in Weeks 3 through 8. He has the highest pressure percentage on the team and has notched a sack in three of the Eagles’ last four. Curry leads the team with four sacks on the season and also batted a pass at the line of scrimmage vs. Green Bay.

* Connor Barwin has gone without a sack and has just three hurries in his last four, but he’s batted down a team-high eight passes, according to coaches’ stats. Barwin’s also been outstanding against the run.

* Trent Cole had a season-high eight tackles last week and has improved against the run. But the pass-rush hasn’t been there. The Eagles’ outside linebackers (Cole, Barwin and Brandon Graham) failed to notch a sack or hurry against Green Bay. Graham has no sacks and two hurries in the last seven games.

* Fletcher Cox set a season-high with seven tackles vs. the Packers. Again, the run defense was outstanding. He leads the team with 17 hurries on the season.

* Bennie Logan led all defensive linemen with eight tackles on Sunday. In two starts at nose tackle, he has 12 tackles. In eight starts at nose tackle, Isaac Sopoaga had 18 tackles.

* Thornton continues to be the Eagles’ most consistent player up front. He had five more tackles against Green Bay and leads all Eagles defensive linemen with 52 tackles.

* Update: Great job in the comments posting this link on intentional grounding penalties. The Eagles have forced seven, which is tops in the league and four more than any other team. I still think the pass-rush needs to be better, but those penalties absolutely need to be taken into account.

WHAT YOU MISSED

An All-22 look at Nick Foles’ deep ball, Lane Johnson’s blocking on screens and James Casey’s puzzling decision.

Najee Goode fined, injury updates and more from T-Mac.

Rounding up what the national media are saying about Chip Kelly, Foles and the Eagles this week.

McManus checks in on Logan and the Azzinaro effect.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz looks at how the Eagles’ defense should be measured:

The Eagles only have 20 sacks and they aren’t generating nearly enough pressure. But this isn’t like last year when QBs had too much time and picked apart the secondary with ease. Opposing QBs have a rating of 83.6 vs the Eagles this year. The Eagles might allow the 2nd most passing yards, but they are 13th best in opposing QB rating. The Eagles are 13th in passing TDs allowed. They’re giving up yards, but keeping teams out of the end zone. We’ve seen 4 or 5 intentional grounding calls this year. I don’t have a way to track that total, but it seems higher than ever.

Rich Hofmann of the Daily News says Kelly needs to re-think the Eagles’ strategy for challenging calls:

The point is, the Eagles need to get better at this. I never thought they would be in the middle of a playoff race, but here they are — and this kind of thing can lose you a game if you aren’t careful. What was supposed to be a season of learning and growing and developing suddenly is more than that, and any errors from here on will have post-season ramifications.

COMING UP

We’ll hear from Kelly and the players down at the NovaCare Complex. And don’t forget about Birds 24/7 on 97.5 The Fanatic from 6 to 7.

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