All-22: Lessons From the First Dallas Game

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles’ players and coaches have been candid about one thing all week: they don’t like turning on the tape from their Week 2 loss to the Cowboys.

“It was bad,” Sam Bradford said Wednesday. “I think we’ve come a long way from that game. So many negative plays in that game that just put us behind. We struggled to establish any sort of rhythm.”

The Eagles totaled 226 yards on offense (including just seven rushing yards), gave up a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and gave the ball back to Dallas after forcing two turnovers. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Pass Rush

Vinny Curry. (USA Today Sports)

Vinny Curry. (USA Today Sports)

Bill Davis just wanted people to relax. Through the first four games of the season, his defense recorded just one sack each week. Criticism of the Eagles’ pass rush picked up, and those questions reached him in his press conference after the Washington game.

“There is more pressure than there are sacks,” he said a few weeks ago. “So I don’t think it’s a pressure problem. The sack numbers aren’t where you like them. But we’ve got to get the pressure on the quarterback and get him down and affect the throws. That has to increase. But we actually aren’t horrible right there.”

In the two games after that, the Eagles sacked Drew Brees and Eli Manning a combined eight times. Against Carolina, the front seven brought Cam Newton down just once, but they disrupted several passes. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Containing Cam Newton

Cam Newton. (USA Today Sports)

Cam Newton. (USA Today Sports)

Looking at last year’s game, it seems safe to say the Eagles figured out Cam Newton. The Panthers Pro Bowler registered a quarterback rating of just 15.3 against Philadelphia, in part because he was sacked nine times and ran the ball twice for six yards.

But as Newton has led the Panthers to a surprising 5-0 start this season, the Eagles have little reason to reflect on last year — largely because the quarterback had an ankle injury.

“We faced a different Cam,” Chip Kelly reportedly told Carolina media yesterday. “We haven’t spent a lot of time looking at last year just because I don’t think Cam was at 100 percent last year when we played them.” Read more »

Chip Kelly: ‘Sam’s Our Quarterback’

Sam Bradford and Chip Kelly. (USA Today Sports)

Sam Bradford and Chip Kelly. (USA Today Sports)

Although his quarterback is second in the NFL in interceptions, Chip Kelly stood behind Sam Bradford today after last night’s win.

“Sam’s our quarterback,” Kelly said. “We’ve got full confidence in Sam.”

Bradford completed 24 of his 38 passes for 280 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Kelly explained one reason the Eagles liked Bradford when they traded for him was his ability to protect the football, but Bradford is on pace to shatter his career-high mark on interceptions in a season (15). Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Davis’ Dominant Defense

DeMeco Ryans. (Photo: USA Today Sports)

DeMeco Ryans. (Photo: USA Today Sports)

Here the Eagles stand, seven weeks into the season, atop the mountain that is the NFC East. Though they’re only 3-3 with a losing division record, they would still make the playoffs if the season ended today.

Not because of Sam Bradford. Or DeMarco Murray. Or even Chip Kelly. But, surprisingly, because of Billy Davis and his defense previously thought to contain some misfits.

Instead of playing down to preseason expectations, the Eagles have allowed only 18.3 points per game (sixth in the NFL) and forced 16 turnovers (second). That trend continued last night as the defense tallied three takeaways and limited the New York Giants — whose previous season-low was 20 — to just seven points.

One of those turnovers was a pick-six by Nolan Carroll, which helped ignite the Eagles’ 27-7 win.

“We have this outlook that we have to win on defense,” said Walter Thurmond, who’s tied for fourth in the NFL with three interceptions. “It’s no disrespect to the offense, but we just have this mindset. I think that’s what allows us to be great.” 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: Inside the Eagles’ Defensive Success

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

As the Eagles jogged off Lincoln Financial Field for halftime on Sunday, their fans showered them in boos.

The offense ran just 16 plays for 21 yards in the first half. DeMarco Murray rushed the ball five times for one yard, and Sam Bradford’s longest first-half completion traveled a single yard past the line of scrimmage.

Somehow, the Eagles only trailed the Cowboys 6-0.

Although Chip Kelly’s offense was expected to carry the defense this season, it has been the other way around. While the offense has struggled six out of the eight quarters so far this year, the defense—particularly against the Cowboys—has given the Eagles a chance to win both games.

“Our defense played outstanding today,” Kelly said on Sunday after losing to Dallas. “I don’t think the offense did anything, especially in the run game, where we could complement what our defense was doing. We let a really good defensive effort go for naught because we didn’t do what we needed to do offensively.” Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Reader Mailbag

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The first game of the season provided us with several answers about the Eagles, but it also brought up even more questions after their up-and-down performance. You can always email us or comment on our Facebook page, but follow us on Twitter so you know when we’re looking for submissions for the next reader mailbag.

One quick note before I dive in: I was most frequently asked about why the Eagles didn’t take more shots down the field against Atlanta, which is something I discuss in my All-22 later this morning. Read more »

All-22: Inside the Eagles’ Secondary Struggles

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

It didn’t take long for the concerns to start creeping in. On one play, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan delivered a quick pass to Julio Jones, who picked up 17 yards. On another, Ryan found Roddy White wide open for a 25-yard gain.

And that was only Atlanta’s first two passing plays.

The Falcons’ receivers torched the Eagles’ secondary for 23 catches, 298 yards and two touchdowns in Monday night’s matchup. After giving up the second-most passing yards in the NFL last year, Philadelphia focused on fixing their secondary in the offseason. They signed free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell to six-year, $63 million deal and traded up in the draft to select defensive back Eric Rowe with the No. 47 overall pick.

After signs of progress in the preseason, their moves appeared to work. Although few expected the Eagles to make the jump to an above-average secondary, many expected the unit to at least rank among the middle of the pack.

In their first test of the season, however, the defensive backs came up short. Read more »

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