For Eagles’ Defense, ‘Clutch’ Is Routine

Eagles Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis Speaks to PressThere is a portion of Chip Kelly‘s practice called “Clutch Period.”

The music gets turned up as loud as it can go, x-amount of time is put up on the clock, and the first team offense is pitted against the first-team defense. Kelly’s group is trying to score before time expires. Billy Davis‘ unit is trying to get off the field.

It was a familiar feeling, then, when the defense was called on with 3:26 remaining and given the task of keeping RGIII and the Redskins out of the end zone.




"Honestly, Coach Kelly puts us in situations like that every day," said Vinny Curry. "We've been prepared for situations like that, and that's why you never see anyone on the defense panicking."

There might not have been any panic but there were definitely a few tense moments down the stretch of the Eagles' 24-16 win over Washington Sunday. The defense pitched a shutout through three quarters but yielded two scores plus a pair of two-point conversions in the fourth, and the Eagles' lead quickly shrunk to eight.

Following a beautiful 70-yard put from Donnie Jones, Washington took over at its own four-yard line with 3 1/2 on the clock. The Redskins set out on a 15-play drive that brought them to the Eagles' 18. That set up a third-and-1 with 40 seconds on the clock.

"We have a good group of grown men that know how to not panic and fight through and hang together," said Davis. "We know at the end when it gets all pressure-packed you've got to go back to your fundamentals and your technique and your training, and that's what separates you."

RGIII dropped back and faced pressure from Fletcher Cox almost immediately.

"I had it in my head that something had to happen. I knew a big play was coming," said Cox, "so I stayed calm and I got pressure on [RGIII] and he threw the ball and [Brandon] Boykin picked it off."

Griffin's pass went high up in the air and made it into the end zone, where Boykin was waiting.

"I didn't expect it to just be lobbed like it was," said Boykin. "But that's the type of things that happen when you get a  good pass rush."

With that, the Eagles had secured their first home win in 413 days.

During the 10-game home losing streak, opponents racked up 273 points here at the Linc. That's over 27 points per game. For a town that identifies with defense first and foremost, it's no wonder why the building wasn't filled with much juice over the past year-plus.

Sunday, though, was a different story.

"I thought our crowd was fantastic today," said Kelly. "They probably deserved it as much as anybody. They were into it the entire game. It was an awesome feeling. There was a lot of energy in that stadium and we needed every ounce of it."

Washington came in averaging 26 points per game, but left with 16.  Davis' group has held the opposition under 21 points for the seventh consecutive week, giving up a sterling 17 points per game over that time.

"I think it's about the growth that we've been talking about since the beginning," said Davis. "The first time we played Washington it was going to be the starting point, and you know when you're taking over an undertaking like this --with a major  scheme change, coaching changes and player changes -- it's going to take a while to grow. It's nice to see the way it's growing and it's got a lot of room to grow obviously, but it's nice to see we're moving in the right direction."

When asked how often the defense wins "Clutch Period" at practice, Curry tried to sell nine of ten times, then came clean a beat later that his bias might be skewing the numbers some. No matter, they were 1-for-1 Sunday.

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  • Adam

    Had this is another post but I deleted it.. Reposting this year as its on topic..

    Even with the 4th quarter, what the defense did today was impressive. Holding RG3 and co. to 16 points is nothing to balk at. What makes it even more impressive is that they did it down 3 starters. Our other starters showed up today in a big way (I’m looking at Boykin, Cole, Barwin, Cox and Logan).

    The backups played very well. You could look at the two scoring plays and attribute them to the backups if you tried hard enough (Roc coverage and Chung taking out Cole and missing tackle) but they had some good plays as well. Goode played well and Roc had some good plays to go with bad ones as well but he’s not a complete liability.

    Cox is just a beast. RG3 was never comfortable for most of the game and the interior DL had a big hand in making that happen. They got a lot of push up the middle and were the cause of a few of those sacks.

    Interesting play calling by Washington. They kept running the ball even down almost all of the game, and by quite a bit. RG3 had success near the end of the game throwing the ball. Did they just feel they couldn’t get good enough protection to pass early? Were they setting up the pass for 3 quarters? Something to prove? Possibilities are endless.

    Morris ran the ball well but I feel like after the Eagles got up early the starting shooting the gaps more to get some pass rush at the cost of the run. Can’t say for certain though I’d have to rewatch the game. They gave up rushing yards but kept RG3 on his toes.

    Big win for many reasons. The streak at home, and divisional win that moved us into sole possession of first. It’s been a while since we went into the bye with a little optimism. And we get some players back too.

    First year of the Chip era is fun to watch if nothing else.

    • JofreyRice

      I thought they did a nice job of flowing to the football–the way good defenses do. When you have a back like Morris–one that hits you back–you’re going to have some missed tackles. The guy ran for a ton of yards last year, and will run for a ton this year. Tough to shut him down, entirely. The difference here was that it was never just one guy going for Morris. They were on him and after him until he was down.

  • anon

    Hopefully i don’t have to hear any commentators say anything about how crappy the Eagles D is.

    • Adam

      I doubt they’ll get the credit they deserve because we’re still gonna be low on D rankings as far as yards go. They’ll figure something out so they don’t have to give props.

  • #7

    Shout out to the D. Won the game for us

    • Richard Colton

      I think we need to credit Vick too. This was his best bench performance of the year. Towel waiving and encouragement have never been better. If we’re being objective? 60% Vick 35% Defense 5% Donnie Jones

      • Jerry Pomroy

        I will say to you what my wife says to me with endearment, and I mean this with all due respect…You’re such an ass! LMAO

      • All Things Bad@ss

        I think that comment just made me pee a little bit. Thank you.

      • Pennguino

        Why do i have to read your posts when I am drinking something. Almost lost my laptop.

      • #7

        You might be needing Vick here pretty soon. Mark my words

        • Richard Colton

          the way they’re playing right now? you bet. let me ask you this – if the Eagles are 7-7 and Foles goes down with a one or two game injury, who do you want to come in and win a game?

          the answer is “not Mark Barkley”

        • theedevilsadvocate

          lol why do you hate foles so much? mark your words like you know and are hoping for foles to get injured. are you really that much of a diehard vick fan that his success trumps the actual teams?

          • #7

            I don’t hate Foles at all and please show me where you see the word “hate” in any of my posts.

            You’re a newby on here. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • theedevilsadvocate

            not a newbie been on phillymag since sheil left philly.com oh so long ago. my name was defroe81 i just dont comment all that much. not too long ago had a convo about beer under my other name. i still say you hate foles lol its due to your blind loyalty to vick is all. #7 with the white vick we have spoken on many other occasion and it always has seemed to be me defending foles while you rip him down and proclaim vick to be the best option.

          • #7

            I did think that Vick was the best option. It’s just that you people have a problem with that which is wrong. I think we win these games with Vick also. I don’t hate Foles, but I know you people hate Vick and that is a fact.

            Trust me, I’m not ripping Foles. You people get mad when Foles isn’t in every comment and you people think he should get all of the credit when he shouldn’t. We’re winning and that’s what is important to me.

          • theedevilsadvocate

            lol hey racist what do you mean “you people” lol j/k. i dont hate vick at all i root for whoever the qb is. i root for the team if vick was winning these games i’d still be rooting for the team. i think its hard for vick supporters to understand the other point of view though that we have seen what vick can do for the past three seasons and would like to see what foles has which is what is happening. i give vick lots of credit for how he as handled everything though and if for some reason foles goes down id take vick over barkley in a heartbeat any day. foles doesnt need all the credit and he would be the first to tell you its a team sport. for only starting 11 games or so in the nfl he deserves some credit. 16 td’s no int. 7 tds in one game the man deserves some type of credit i mean for the most part the media wont give him any credit.

          • #7

            Well the majority of the fans on here aren’t like you. I’ve been pulling for Foles, but I’m not overzealous with it and that’s what people on here want to see from me.

            I’m not convinced with Foles yet. I think he’s played well, but he’s been extremely lucky also although you people are scared to admit that. This reminds me of 2010 when everything was working for Vick. At some point, Nick is going to have to gave some adversity. Then we’ll see what we have

  • jon h

    It really is amazing what Billy Davis has done here in less than a year. Juan and company just destroyed this defense – turned it into three different levels of defense rather than one cohesive unit. The guy dismantled it while keeping the same personnel and really has them working together. I went to the SD game and today’s game, and what a difference! Oh, and the turning point of the game was that last punt. Enough can’t be said about that – in so many instances guys shank that (happened in the MNF game with Miami just last week). He boomed it. Lastly, I’m getting really tired of some of these phantom calls. That “holding” call at the end of the game? That flag flew in a good 15 seconds after RGIII was sacked. The missed facemask on Shady last week? They can’t get everything, but they have to be more vigilant on obvious calls and no calls. I’m happy for the win, don’t get me wrong, but really.

    • http://phillyyardyvibes.com/ pthomp

      Redskin did not have their second leading receiver either.Reed and another wide receiver.That suit them well for having Fred Davin inactive

    • Media Mike

      We need to be honest, the D sucked prior to Juan coming on board. McDermott in 2009 and 2010 managed to put one of the all time worst red zone Ds on the field.

      • jon h

        perhaps, but switching to the wide 9 was just awful – we had no one on the second level and we wound up getting 4 guys in the back who couldn’t tackle. For the last two years, no one on the team could tackle and now they can. That’s a tangible improvement that any fan can see.

    • GEAGLE

      RG3 should be DEAD!! Refs let their Oline get away with holding all game, it was really bad!

  • ojdiddoit

    Thank you rg for that stupid ass pass

  • Media Mike

    My only complaint with the D is that I would have liked to have seen one of the 2 pt. conversions topped. It would have been more comfortable to have been up 10, rather than 8, as the clock was winding down.

  • GEAGLE

    I can’t even explain how ROCKIN we were at the LINC yesterday….I been to almost every home playoff game and yesterday was an experience…..no way we were losing that game…defense continues to be nasty…Barwin was a maniac

  • Token

    Boykin only on the field for 26 snaps yesterday. Thats ridiculous! Roc out there for 83. Redskins didnt play much 3 WR set so it kept Boykin on the bench.

    I hate it and just dont understand it. A situation like that, have him go inside when they do go 3 WRs, and have Roc be the one playing 26 snaps outside in those situations.

    • RIP illa

      Boykin has proven to be a better slot cb than outside cb, thus far. Roc played pretty well yesterday, save for a few that he gave up. Makes no sense, that Your questioning a personnel decision that worked pretty damn well for us. It would be understandable, if say Roc played as poorly in coverage as Williams or Chung…but he held his own and stepped up mutiple times.

      Didn’t get to post yesterday, but read them all and based on your post from then and theis one now…you’re still an idiot!!! Ahh, that felt better. Was going through withdrawals, now all is right w/in the world!!!

      • Token

        Tell us again how great Vick is, O wise one.

        • RIP illa

          You mean like how I stated that Vick was the better QB at the beginning of the year…you know when he beat Foles out in their QB competition….but still said I don’t believe the QB of the future was on the roster at that time??? Yeah…try again simpleton!!!

      • Richard Colton

        Think about his strategy with the O-line. Peters goes down last game, did he slide Johnson to LT, Herremans to RT, and Barbre to G, potentially weakening all three positions? Nope. Not Chip Kelly. Would Boykin be better at CB 1 or 2 than Roc? probably. But he didn’t weaken the nickel, where Boykin plays his best D. I agree with you Illadelph.

        • RIP illa

          Token’s just foolish. I said the same thing last week. If you already have one position weakened, you don’t go weaken another to try and make up some of the difference from the 1st. Saw your post yesterday too. Couldn’t tell if you we’re being serious or sarcastic in all of them but still was nice to see you posting that much on game day.

          • Richard Colton

            ahhh. you know me. 90% sarcasm 20% football 10% math

  • theedevilsadvocate

    the D continues to improve people will point out they havent played any real opponents since the broncos i say ok well practice makes perfect all these great performances by the D will only help them to get better when they face an opponent all the haters think is a releveant team. same goes for foles and the he has not faced a real secondary. practice makes perfect they can keep sleeping on the birds and doubting them. that way when they “shock the world” we can all enjoy the expression of the haters faces.