Game Review: Eagles Defense Vs. Lions

NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles

Here is a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ defense after having reviewed the All-22 tape.

DEFENSIVE LINE

* This group led the charge. Joique Bell needed 23 carries to gain 69 yards (3.0 YPC). And the Lions failed to gain more than 8 yards on any single run. Cedric Thornton was outstanding, leading all defensive linemen with six tackles (per team stats) and a forced fumble, which the Eagles turned into a takeaway. Thornton helped blow up a Bell run that gained 3 in the second and was disruptive throughout.

* Fletcher Cox wins the award for most contributions that won’t show up on the stat sheet. He was credited with three tackles, but was active the entire game. Cox and Bennie Logan helped blow up a Bell run for no gain in the second. And Cox burst past the opposing offensive lineman in the third, disrupting a Bell run that only picked up 1. It looked like he deflected a Matthew Stafford pass on third down in the third as well. Billy Davis appeared to be going with less of a two-gap scheme in the second half because of the conditions. That allowed Cox to fire off the ball and be disruptive on a number of occasions.

* Logan had five tackles and was really good too, especially in the first half. He stopped Theo Riddick for no gain in the second and brought Bell down for no gain later in the quarter. Excellent hustle by Logan to help bring Stafford down after a 1-yard scramble in the third. He also blocked David Akers’ PAT attempt in the fourth.

* Vinny Curry was credited with a pair of tackles. He brought Bell down after a 2-yard gain in the first, stopped him for no gain in the second and combined with Brandon Graham to stuff him at the line in the third. Earlier in the season, Curry would have barely seen the field in a game like this where pass-rush wasn’t much of a factor. But he played well on 30 percent of the snaps Sunday.

* Clifton Geathers played 14 snaps and had three tackles. Geathers helped blow up the run where Graham stripped Bell in the second.

* Damion Square played 12 snaps, but was not credited with a tackle.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

* These guys were very active as well. Trent Cole and Connor Barwin had six tackles apiece. Cole showed great effort bringing Bell down after a 1-yard run in the second. He fought through the block of the left tackle and got to Bell after a 2-yard run in the third. And he was probably the Eagles’ most productive pass-rusher. Cole got in Stafford’s face on third down on the first possession. He also batted a pass at the line of scrimmage after a Stafford fumble.

* Barwin dropped Bell for a 2-yard loss in the first. And he was tackling Bell as Graham jarred the ball loose in the second. Barwin and Logan stopped Riddick for no gain in the second. And he chased Bell down after a 1-yard run in the third. In coverage, Barwin got caught re-routing a receiver and lost track of Bell in the flat on a 14-yard completion in the third. Overall, really good game though.

* Graham spelled Cole a bit more than usual. He had a pair of tackles and a big forced fumble in the second. Detroit was at the Eagles’ 10 on the drive, so the takeaway was huge.

* Casey Matthews played eight snaps but did not have a tackle.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

* DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks flew around and combined for 18 tackles. Ryans brought Riddick down after a 1-yard run in the first. He came on a blitz and hit Stafford on third down in the second. He also broke up a fourth-down pass late in the game and nearly had an interception. There were a couple issues in coverage, most notably when he got beat by Bell on a 28-yard catch and run in the fourth, but Ryans hustled to finally make the tackle. Overall, 10 tackles to once again lead the team.

* Kendricks gave up a 23-yard completion to Brandon Pettigrew on 3rd-and-15 in the first, but played well against the run throughout. He tackled Bell after a 3-yard gain in the second. On a two-point conversion in the second, it looked like he bit on a play-fake. Kendricks got picked by a receiver in the fourth on what would have been a big catch and run by Bell, but the Lions had an ineligible man downfield. Fumble recoveries are sometimes right place/right time plays, but credit Kendricks for hustling to jump on the ball in the fourth. He had eight tackles, second on the team.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

* The conditions were obviously a factor, but this group held up well. Cary Williams saw the most action his way. He had good coverage on Kris Durham on the first play of the game. He broke up a third-down pass in the second and had excellent coverage on the tight end on a fade (two-point conversion try) in the third. Williams’ best moment came in the fourth when he stuck with Johnson on a double move. Stafford underthrew the receiver badly. Williams gave up a 33-yard completion to Johnson in the first and a couple others underneath, but overall played really well.

* By my unofficial count, Bradley Fletcher was only targeted once, missing a tackle on an 8-yard WR screen to Nate Burleson. He might have been at fault for a fourth-down conversion on the Lions’ lone TD drive. Couldn’t tell if he or Ryans was responsible for Bell in the flat on the play.

* Brandon Boykin played 21 snaps. He stopped Bell short of a first after a completion on the first series. He had excellent coverage on the tight end downfield, breaking up a pass in the second. The safeties were occupied with the outside receivers so he had no help on the play.

* Didn’t hear a lot from Nate Allen, but he dropped Bell for a 2-yard loss in the first and didn’t have any glaring coverage mishaps. Patrick Chung did have a couple issues. It looked like he lost track of Burleson in the first, but Stafford overthrew the receiver. Not sure if Chung was supposed to help on Johnson on the 33-yard completion, but he cheated up to assist on a crossing route instead. Against the run, he helped blow up a Bell run that went for no gain in the first.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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