Here’s a position-by-position look at how the Eagles’ defense performed against the Bears, after having re-watched the first three quarters.
If you missed the breakdown of the offense, click here.
* Among the starters, Cedric Thornton had a couple of really nice moments. He diagnosed a run play, burst through the backfield and stopped Matt Forte for no gain in the first. Later, as a pass-rusher, Thornton pushed the pocket, got his hands up and deflected a Jay Cutler pass to force an incompletion.
* Fletcher Cox got some push up front on a couple pass plays. He had his hand in Cutler’s face on a 13-yard completion, but didn’t register a sack or a hit.
* Damion Square got the start at nose tackle. Either he or Joe Kruger got their hand on the field goal early on for the block. Square later made a nice play against the run, stopping Ka’Deem Carey after a 2-yard run.
* A lot of positives from the backups. We wrote about Beau Allen yesterday, but I liked what I saw from him. Great hustle in the first. Allen fell down while rushing the passer, got up and made a tackle on a screen 10 yards downfield. He later walked the center right back into the QB’s face and nearly forced a fumble. He had a run stop after a 2-yard gain.
* Vinny Curry was active, beating the right guard and sacking Jordan Palmer in the second. Later, he bull rushed the right tackle and closed with Allen, nearly forcing a turnover. He should be on the field for all third downs and other pass-rushing situations when the regular season starts.
* Joe Kruger had some good moments too. He used his long frame to bat a pass at the line of scrimmage in the third. Kruger combined with Travis Long on a tackle for loss in the third. And he lined up at LDE, tackling the ball-carrier after a 4-yard gain in the third. Kruger is battling for the final defensive line spot.
* Kelly was very complimentary of Brandon Bair. Bair dropped Carey after a 2-yard run in the second and pressured the QB on another down.
* Rookie Taylor Hart’s motor showed up. He hustled to drop Carey for no gain in the second and later identified a screen, making the tackle downfield.
* Connor Barwin combined with Malcolm Jenkins for a tackle for loss on the first play. He later set the edge and dropped Forte for a 4-yard loss. Barwin got nine pass-rushing chances according to Pro Football Focus, but didn’t get much pressure on the QB. Trent Cole got 12 pass-rushing opportunities and put some pressure on Cutler on the Bears’ first pass play.
* Brandon Graham made his presence felt, beating the left tackle and getting to the QB right after Curry on Curry’s second-quarter sack. Later, he beat the left guard badly and crushed Palmer, who threw an interception. In coverage, Graham looked bad missing a tackle on what ended up being a 17-yard pickup.
* I tried to keep a close eye on Marcus Smith II. What I saw was he’s capable of doing a lot of things well, but he looks like he has a ways to go as a pass-rusher. Smith set the edge and helped stop the run after a 2-yard pickup. He tipped a pass and nearly had an interception in the second. Smith set the edge on another play, made the tackle and tried to strip the ball. In coverage, he showed good athleticism, dropping the wide receiver for a 1-yard loss and showing the ability to tackle in space. On another play, Smith got around the edge against the right tackle and forced Jimmy Clausen to step up and scramble. But otherwise, Smith’s pass-rush looked like a work in progress. The Bears had an RB pick him on a blitz once and were able to block him one-on-one with a tight end on other occasions.
* Travis Long came unblocked and crushed the QB in the third, but was called for roughing the passer. He and Kruger combined for a TFL in the third. Long got his hand on a ball at the line of scrimmage for a tipped pass in the third. He had a chance for a sack later in the quarter when Clausen stepped up, but couldn’t finish. Definitely some positives from his performance.
* Very active first series for Mychal Kendricks. He disrupted the first run play, then made a nice tackle in space against Brandon Marshall on second down. On third down, Kendricks got excellent depth on his drop and helped force an incompletion to the tight end. And later he tackled Marshall in space after a 3-yard completion. Strong showing for Kendricks.
* DeMeco Ryans plugged a gap up front and forced Forte into Barwin’s arms for a 4-yard loss. In Cover 3, seams are going to be open. Ryans let the TE get behind him for a 23-yard gain down the seam on 3rd-and-10 in the second. He later allowed a TD in coverage, but it’s tough to kill him for that play. Perfectly placed back shoulder throw by Cutler.
* Najee Goode was in on a tackle after a screen in the first and later stopped a run play after a 2-yard gain. Jason Phillips got caught on the same play as Ryans on another Bears’ touchdown pass.
* It looked like Bradley Fletcher got beaten on a 40-yard completion in the first, but there were offsetting penalties. He later gave up a 13-yard completion in front of him.
* Cary Williams had a nice pass breakup on an in-breaking route in the first. But he gave up a 16-yard completion later. Williams wanted an offensive pass interference call on the play.
* Rough game for the Eagles’ backups. Roc Carmichael failed to finish a tackle in the second, and allowed the tight end to pick up extra yards after the catch. He was later beaten on a 24-yard completion down the sideline. Jaylen Watkins got burned on a 73-yard TD. He took a poor angle later and gave up some YAC on a 12-yard completion. Watkins came on a blitz and hit Clausen in the third. He also had better coverage later on a deep ball.
* We don’t have the benefit of All-22, but it looked like Curtis Marsh was at fault on the 22-yard TD in the third. I believe the Eagles were in Cover 3. Instead of maintaining his deep third, Marsh cheated up and allowed the receiver to get open in his zone.
* Malcolm Jenkins was involved in a lot of plays early. He made a nice tackle behind the line of scrimmage with Barwin. On the 40-yard completion that was called back, it looked like he was cheating up and was not in position to help Fletcher. Jenkins allowed a 10-yard completion to Marshall in front of him (Marshall made a great catch). And he delivered a big hit on a defenseless Eric Weems on a first-quarter incompletion.
* Nate Allen and Kendricks had the TE bracketed on an early third-down incompletion. Allen made a nice open field tackle on Marshall after a 3-yard completion. I’m not sure of his exact responsibilities on the TD pass that buzzed past Ryans’ head, but Allen couldn’t get there in time to break it up. He made a nice play on the ball that hung up in the air for an interception in the second.
* Didn’t see much out of Earl Wolff. He missed a tackle on a 17-yard dumpoff to the TE in the second.
* Rookie Ed Reynolds showed up on a couple plays. He made a third-down tackle to force a punt in the third and later broke up a pass in the end zone. Reynolds didn’t get his head turned around, but he raised his arm up just in time.