Eagles Wake-Up Call: Pass-Rusher Rankings

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia EaglesAsked why the Eagles’ pass-rush has seen a boost in recent weeks, defensive coordinator Billy Davis pointed to continuity.

“I think the guys just keep getting better and better as the weeks go on,” he said. “The guys, they are fresh, they are rolling them in, so everybody gets the different one‑on‑ones. I think the stunts are being executed at a higher level right now because the guys have been with each other and doing it at full speed for awhile. We have been healthy, so the same guys are lining up next to the same guys and that helps continuity.”

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Eagles have pressured opposing QBs on 15 dropbacks per game since Week 6, the second-highest total in the NFL.

Pressuring Carson Palmer was critical in last week’s 24-21 victory over the Cardinals. The Eagles came up with five sacks, four QB hits and created disruption throughout that led to turnovers and other negative plays. Those things will factor in heavily once again this week against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

Below is our weekly look at how the team’s pass-rushers are performing.

 
Sacks
Hurries
Batted
Penalties
Chances
Pressure %
Vinny Curry492316211.1%
Brandon Graham34021267.1%
Connor Barwin48913436.4%
Fletcher Cox320204495.6%
Trent Cole510113634.7%
Bennie Logan25001953.6%
Clifton Geathers03001052.9%
Cedric Thornton17203552.8%
Damion Square0010531.9%

* Sacks, hurries and batted passes are tracked by coaches. I counted up the holding and intentional grounding calls. Pro Football Focus provided the pass-rushing opportunities. And I calculated the percentages.

Here are some notes:

* Trent Cole is on fire. He not only had two sacks against Arizona, but led the team with three additional hurries. In the last four games, Cole has 31 tackles, five sacks and five hurries. If you look at his pressure percentage over that span, it’s 8.7 percent. Cole forced the fumble on his first sack last week. On the second one, he rushed off the edge once again and got to Palmer. And in the fourth, he lined up as an interior lineman, schooled the right guard and crushed Palmer as he released the ball.

* Brandon Graham had two sacks as well. The impressive part is he only had six opportunities to rush the passer. Chip Kelly did not make it sound like Graham is due for a bigger role, though, primarily because they like how Cole is playing.

“I think Trent is having a ton of success too,” Kelly said. “You’ve got two guys playing successful at that point in time. And right now in our nickel package, Connor [Barwin] and Trent and Brandon are the outside guys, and you have Fletcher Cox, you’ve got Ced [Cedric Thornton], [Vinny] Curry, and those guys on the inside. So he’s playing in a position where we’re getting production, so it’s a matter of rotating those guys.”

* Curry continues to be the Eagles’ most efficient pass-rusher. DeMeco Ryans got credit for a first-half sack last week, but Curry’s pressure was key on the play. He drew a holding call and was credited with two hurries in the game.

* Per PFF, Barwin’s snaps were split right down the middle in terms of rushing the passer and coverage. He dropped back 24 times and went after Palmer 24 times against the Cardinals. Barwin’s versatility has been key in making the defense go all season.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The city fumble, the country fumble and more. Great look at how the Eagles are creating turnovers on defense from T-Mac.

Three Eagles leftovers, including Kelly on Marcus Mariota and Nick Foles MVP buzz.

The Foles bandwagon is filling up. Lots of national media links on the Eagles this week. Here is the roundup.

The Eagles are trying to buck the QB trend, writes McManus.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Gil Brandt of NFL.com invokes names like Marino and Brady when writing about Foles. He’s got the Eagles’ signal-caller second behind Russell Wilson on his MVP list:

We could have something like a Tom Brady story on our hands here, if on a lesser scale. Although Foles broke many of Drew Brees’ records at Westlake High School (Austin, Texas), he didn’t win many games at Arizona, and thus didn’t generate much buzz. Still, he was working in an offense that lacked structure. And yet, he managed to become the Wildcats’ all-time leading passer (topping 10,000 yards in three seasons).

Dan Graziano of ESPN.com has LeSean McCoy seventh on his MVP Watch:

McCoy would be a lot higher on this list if Chip Kelly had remembered in the fourth quarter Sunday that he was on the team. The Watch is loving Kelly. He’s super smart, has lots of great ideas about how to play offense, and his team is really fun to watch right now. But if the Watch had the league’s second-leading rusher on his team and a 10-point lead with 13 minutes to play, “Throw deep to Riley Cooper” and “Spread it out and give it to Bryce Brown” would be easy options to skip past on the play sheet. The Watch gets that Kelly has his own style and the Watch digs that. Science, smoothies, running stadium stairs and still somehow never losing weight … all cool. But Kelly also has McCoy, who can help you run the clock down while also offering the possibility of a very long touchdown. The latter obviously appeals to Kelly. The former needs to start.

COMING UP

We’ll talk to Kelly and the players down at the NovaCare Complex. Plus, Birds 24/7 Radio on 97.5 The Fanatic tonight from 6 to 7.

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