We went through the offense yesterday. Here’s a position-by-position look at where the Eagles’ defense stands going into the final five games.
The guys up front have been the key to the defensive improvement. Cedric Thornton leads all the team’s linemen with 58 tackles and has looked like a natural in the two-gap scheme since Week 1. He’s versatile, powerful and has been perhaps the Eagles’ most consistent defensive player all season long.
Fletcher Cox has really come on and has 13 tackles the past two weeks. He has three sacks and leads the team with 19 hurries; no other player has more than eight. Bennie Logan has been a huge upgrade over Isaac Sopoaga at nose tackle. He’s got 15 tackles in the last three games. That’s just three fewer than Sopoaga had in the first eight games.
Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers and Damion Square round out the rotation. Curry has been the team’s most productive pass-rusher and is tied for the team lead with four sacks. Read more »
As Connor Barwin finished up with the media last Sunday and got ready to head for the showers, he noticed his teammate Trent Cole had a crowd of reporters around him.
“Hey Trent, say the Bearcats played really good today,” Barwin yelled to a grinning Cole, his fellow Cincinnati alum. “Say that. Tell ‘em how the Bearcats showed up.”
Against the Redskins, Barwin and Cole both set season-highs in tackles. They combined for 21 total, along with three sacks, a batted pass and a forced fumble. All in all, a pretty good day at the office for the Eagles’ starting outside linebackers. Read more »
Ask Howie Roseman about some of his young guys, and he’ll offer you this stat: The Eagles have 36 players on the active roster under the age of 26.
“That’s a lot,” the Eagles general manager said.
The Eagles, according to our friend Jimmy Kempski’s tabulations, began the season as the 10th youngest team in the NFL with an average age of 25.74. To break it down further, 15 of the 53 players on the roster (28 percent) right now are 23 or younger. It’s no secret what the Eagles plan is: go young, build through the draft and supplement the roster with veterans that can provide some guidance.
Read more »
If you missed the game review of the offense, click here. Now, onto 10 observations of the Eagles’ defense after having re-watched the game.
1. The Eagles’ defense shut out the Redskins for three-plus quarters, but let’s start in the fourth where things got a little dicey. Trent Cole was trailing Darrel Young in coverage, and Patrick Chung was closing in from his deep safety spot down the left sideline. Robert Griffin III escaped pressure and lofted one to Young. Cole went flying at him, and Chung did the same from the opposite direction. They both whiffed and collided into one another as Young got free for the 62-yard score. Then on the 2-point conversion, the Redskins set up with a bunch formation to the right, and Chung completely lost track of Nick Williams.
2. Roc Carmichael had a rough fourth quarter. But his coverage wasn’t bad on the 41-yard TD to Aldrick Robinson. Griffin underthrew the ball, and Robinson made a great adjustment. I asked Carmichael last week when he’s taught to turn and find the football. He said he watches the receiver’s eyes and hands. Obviously he could have done a better job on that play. Carmichael also gave up completions of 19, 9, 28 and 7 in the fourth quarter. The most concerning of those was the 28-yarder. The Eagles had the Redskins with a 3rd-and-25, but they were able to extend their drive with a completion to Santana Moss. Carmichael might have been expecting more safety help, but the safeties are going to play particularly deep in that spot, focused on keeping everything in front of them. Read more »
In the last six weeks, the Eagles are allowing just 17.7 points per game.
Before the season started, a stretch like that seemed unlikely. After the team gave up 33 to the Chargers in Week 2 and 52 to the Broncos in Week 4, it seemed even more unlikely.
But Billy Davis, his assistants and the players have turned things around. Overall, the defensive is allowing 24.4 points per game (20th) and 5.6 yards per play (22nd). Football Outsiders still has the Eagles’ D ranked 28th overall.
So while no one would deny that there have been massive improvements from the beginning of the season, the question is: With six games left, where is this defense?
As always, we go to the tape for answers, breaking it down category-by-category. Read more »
Bennie Logan was checking his Twitter feed and kept getting messages that read something to the effect of: “Now is your time.” That’s when he knew something was going on.
Veteran nose guard Isaac Sopoaga had been shipped to New England at the trade deadline, thrusting the third-round pick out of LSU into a starting role.
“It caught me by surprise,” said Logan. “I looked up to Isaac. He was a great influence on me, a great leader. But the next day, once I came here [to the NovaCare facility], I was like, ‘It’s time for me to step up and go forward. Can’t look back. He’s not here anymore. It’s just all on me now.’ ” Read more »
On their first drive of the game, the Packers set up with a 1st-and-10 from the Eagles’ 31-yard-line.
They were in ’12′ personnel with two tight ends and Eddie Lacy in the backfield. The rookie running back had picked up 21 yards on his first four carries as Green Bay entered field goal range.
DeMeco Ryans lined up at his usual spot at middle linebacker about 4 yards behind nose tackle Damion Square. Seneca Wallace took the snap from under center, turned to his left and handed the ball off. As Lacy looked for a hole, Ryans flowed to his right.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari tried to get to him, but was unsuccessful. Ryans diagnosed the play, got downhill and planted his helmet into Lacy’s mid-section, knocking the 231-pound rookie backwards and onto the ground at Lambeau Field.
Lacy would manage just 54 yards on 19 carries (2.8 YPC) the rest of the day. And Ryans, with a game-high 13 tackles, was a big reason why. Read more »
Through nine games, the Eagles’ pass-rush remains a work-in-progress.
Last week against Oakland, Billy Davis’ unit took advantage of a QB in Terrelle Pryor who was anxious to escape the pocket all game long.
Overall, the Eagles rank 22nd in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate, which takes into account pass-rushing opportunities.
Granted, numbers don’t tell the whole story, but here’s a look at pass-rushing production from a statistical standpoint. Sacks and hurries are tracked by Eagles coaches.
Pass-rushing opportunities are courtesy of Pro Football Focus. And I calculated pressure percentage, which is sacks/hurries per opportunity. Read more »
Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro has a philosophy when it comes to getting his guys prepared: coach during the week, and let them play on Sundays.
For the Eagles, the practice week starts on Tuesday. But that session is primarily spent correcting mistakes from the previous game. Wednesday is when the team puts the pads on and looks ahead to the upcoming opponent.
On most weeks, for the defense, that means an emphasis on stopping the run. While much of the league is focused on figuring out ways to get to the quarterback, Billy Davis has employed a two-gap 3-4 scheme that focuses on controlling the ground game. So when defensive linemen arrive at NovaCare on Wednesdays, the game-planning usually starts with the same idea.
“It’s the beginning of the workload week for us,” said rookie Bennie Logan. “So that’s the main thing going into any game is stop the run, try to get teams as one-dimensional as possible. You figure we stop the run against most teams, that pretty much changes their whole offensive plan. And that’s our main thing Wednesday, we call it our no-run day. So we make sure we focus on our technique, getting our hands on the opponent and make sure they don’t get no big runs on us during practice. Because if they get it in practice, pretty sure they’ll get it in games.
“You get your hands on people, anybody, you can pretty much stop the running game. That’s our main thing when we go into games is make sure we get our hands on our opponent and just control the line of scrimmage so the linebackers can flow.” Read more »
If you missed the first game review on the Eagles’ offense, click here.
Now onto the defense. Read more »