All-22: Kendricks, Smith And the Run Defense

Mychal Kendricks. (USA Today Sports)

Mychal Kendricks. (USA Today Sports)

The Panthers ran the ball 33 times against the Eagles Sunday night, which wasn’t surprising as Carolina entered the game first in the NFL with 33 carries per game. What was surprising was their 204 rushing yards on 6.2 yards per carry.

“We knew going in [they’d run so much],” Chip Kelly said Monday. “I know Jonathan [Stewart] really well; I coached him in college. He ran for 1,700 [yards his junior year]. And I said it before, we knew, number one, he’s tough to bring down and number two, he’s a lot faster than I think people give him credit for. He’s a 250-pound back, but he can pick them up and put them down.”

Before Sunday, the Eagles appeared more than capable of stopping the Panthers’ rushing attack. They ranked first in the NFL in rushing touchdowns allowed (1) and second in opponent yards per carry (3.5).

Carolina, on the other hand, didn’t run the ball that well as they ranked around the league average with 4.1 yards per rush. What killed the Eagles, however, was a 43-yard end around and a 36-yard counter. Read more »

All-22: Eagles Failing To Capitalize On Turnovers

DeMarco Murray. (USA Today Sports)

DeMarco Murray. (USA Today Sports)

After the Atlanta game, amid all of the ups and down the Eagles have encountered in this rollercoaster ride of a season, there has been one constant: the defense has put them in a position to win games.

According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles rank first in the NFL in turnovers forced per drive, at 21.8 percent. That was evident against the Panthers, as they intercepted Cam Newton three times, even though he only threw four picks in the previous five games.

“Our defense did a good job of creating turnovers for us but we have to turn those in to seven [points] and not three,” Chip Kelly said. “We talk about response after turnovers and we end of up kicking two field goals.” Read more »

All-22: Why Sam Bradford Isn’t Playing Well

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

After struggling in his first three games while throwing more interceptions than touchdown passes, Sam Bradford finally showed why Chip Kelly traded for him. Against Washington, he tallied three touchdowns, 270 yards and a 122.6 passer rating.

Since then, however, his performance has declined each week, bottoming out with three interceptions against the Giants. After the game Monday night, Bradford was asked if he was happy with his performance.

“No, no. It’s not even a question,” he said. “It was just inconsistent, missing throws. There was some good, there was some bad. But I know for us to be where we want to be, I have to play much better.” Read more »

All-22: How the Eagles Limited Odell Beckham

Odell Beckham Jr. (USA Today Sports)

Odell Beckham Jr. (USA Today Sports)

The first drive of the game Monday night couldn’t have gone much better for the Giants. They traveled 80 yards in eight plays and finished it with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Odell Beckham Jr.

Manning completed all five of his passes to four different receivers for 59 yards.

The Eagles answered by going three-and-out, before the Giants again drove the ball into field goal range. Then, DeMeco Ryans intercepted Manning, and New York went scoreless the rest of the game.

“I love the way our guys respond, to be honest with you,” Bill Davis said. “I’ve been a lot of places where those miscommunications happen and people turn on each other and there’s a huge argument, and our guys are really together.

“It’s a tight unit because they knew a mistake was made and they were real mad that a touchdown happened. We got to the sideline, we solved it and it didn’t happen again, and it won’t happen again. But, it’s really a testament to the camaraderie we have and the chemistry we have on defense right now.” Read more »

All-22: Return Of the X-Plays

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Through the first four weeks of the season, the Eagles’ defense allowed less than three X-plays — completions of at least 20 yards — per game. Despite their four takeaways and rigid red zone defense, however, they gave up seven such passes against the Saints.

“We were real excited because we had finally made the top five of the positive in X-plays, and we were excited about [how] we were correcting that and going in the right direction,” Bill Davis said. “And then boom, here it comes.” Read more »

All-22: Improvements In the Run Game

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

The Eagles have a losing record, are winless against NFC East opponents and haven’t been able to play well in all four quarters of a game through five weeks.

However, beating the Saints Sunday put the Eagles on a path to potentially turn the season around.

“Everybody knew this was a very important game,” Jason Kelce said. “1-4 is drastically different from 2-3, especially with where the division is. I don’t want to say it was a must-win, but it kind of was.” Read more »

All-22: Washington’s Game-Winning Drive

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Bill Davis wasn’t angry, but as he talked to reporters Tuesday before practice, he did want to clarify that his defense didn’t give up Washington’s game-winning touchdown drive because they were tired.

“I honestly don’t see it that way,” he said. “In talking with the players, we are in great shape. There was nobody talking about being gassed. It’s not an excuse that we’re going to rely on, even though the question isn’t about an excuse. I really believe, guys, that we are in great shape.”

The Eagles were on the field for more than 41 minutes, or nearly 70 percent of the game. Even using Chip Kelly’s preferred method of analyzing number of plays and not time of possession, the Redskins dominated the ball (79 vs. 51).

But if you ask Davis, his three starters — Brandon Bair, Mychal Kendricks and Byron Maxwell — leaving the game with injuries was far more important. Read more »

All-22: Behind the Offensive Line’s Bad Start

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Jason Kelce was extremely frustrated after the Eagles’ loss to the Redskins Sunday, calling the offensive line “a disgrace.” When he met with reporters Tuesday after practice, he didn’t back off his comments at all.

“I still think that through the first four weeks, we have been a disgrace,” Kelce said. “We haven’t been able to run the ball. Especially with the backs that we have, we should have rushing yards. We don’t give the offensive coaches and head coach the confidence to call run plays, because we’re not consistent.”

Despite spending more than $50 million in the offseason on DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, the Eagles rank 30th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (70) and 31st in yards per carry (3.1). Although they appeared to take a big step forward in the box score Sunday by reaching nearly five yards a rush, that mark dips below 3.5 when eliminating Murray’s 30-yard run. Read more »

All-22: Inside Sam Bradford’s Struggles

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles’ philosophy is simple.

“Our whole way of looking at it is not be satisfied with just 10-6, 10-6,” Jeffrey Lurie said in March. “It’s to try and go for it. You got to take risks to do that. It’s worth it to take the risk.”

Perhaps the biggest risk Philadelphia has taken so far in Chip Kelly’s tenure is trading Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. Foles threw for 40 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions and 5,054 yards in 21 games under Kelly. Bradford, meanwhile, had only played in seven games in the previous two seasons at the time the deal was made. Read more »

All-22: Inside the Defensive Line’s Dominance

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles’ season through three weeks has been a fascinating series of twists and turns. Before the opener in Atlanta, many considered the rushing attack to be a potential juggernaut. After Week 3, however, they rank third-to-last in yards per carry.

The secondary, meanwhile, was considered a potential weakness in the offseason. But after the win against New York, the Eagles’ defense ranks in the top-10 in interceptions, opponent passer rating and yards per throw allowed. Read more »

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