All-22: Issues Plaguing the Eagles’ Defense

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Billy Davis has had to strike a balance quite a bit since taking over as the Eagles defensive coordinator last year.

He is honest in admitting when his unit doesn’t play well, but he’s also a positive person by nature and tries to look ahead. After all, it’s not like the defense is loaded with talent, and the team is 3-0 heading into Sunday’s game against the 49ers.

“We weren’t playing well at all in that game, and we gave up a lot of yards and all those things,” Davis said Tuesday. “And most teams I’ve been with would let those bad plays ‑ we had five X plays. Most of the time you get in such a tank that at the end of the game when you have to defend 6 yards to win it, you don’t have the mental toughness to do it because you’re still frustrated from the bad game you’re playing. And our group didn’t show any signs of that. They showed such mental toughness and strength that we had to defend 6 yards for four downs, and they stepped up and got that done.”

On seven of 12 possessions, Washington’s offense either scored a touchdown or set up for a field goal. Kirk Cousins went 30-for-48 for 427 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. While Malcolm Jenkins and Brandon Boykin made some nice plays down the stretch, this was the definition of a defense getting picked apart.

Cousins played at a high level for most of the game, getting rid of the ball quickly and making some impressive throws into tight window. But this is the NFL, and there are a lot of good quarterbacks. At some point, just giving the other guys credit is no longer valid.

Keeping that in mind, below is a look at some of the key issues that hurt the Eagles Sunday. And in case you missed it, yesterday we provided a player-by-player breakdown. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Marcus On the Inside

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Marcus Smith described the emotion tied to his professional debut as “probably the best feeling I ever felt.”

It took a couple games and came at a different position, surprisingly enough, but the rookie first-round pick got his first taste of NFL action during Sunday’s 37-34 win over Washington. He played 18 snaps per Pro Football Focus – most of them in passing situations — and did not appear in the stat line.

“I would say I was average. I didn’t make any plays,” said Smith, who rushed the passer six times and dropped into coverage nine times in the game.  “I did everything right, everything that I was supposed to do [assignment-wise], now it’s just about me getting some more snaps, going to make plays and making an impact for the defense.” Read more »

Marcus Smith Now Practicing At Inside LB

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Eagles first-round pick Marcus Smith II has yet to play a snap this season.

In Week 1, he was in uniform, but did not get on the field. In Week 2, he was one of the Eagles’ seven inactives.

It could be awhile before Smith contributes, but the Eagles have decided to try a different plan – for now. Smith spent the entire practice today working at inside linebacker, not outside linebacker. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Colts, the Day After

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INDIANAPOLIS — With the Eagles facing a 2nd-and-goal from the Colts’ 19 yard line, Darren Sproles set up in the backfield to the right of Nick Foles.

The quarterback handed him the ball, and Sproles initially headed to the left, where his blocking was. But there was no hole, and the cutback was open, so he brought it back to the right side. Foles was a couple yards behind him carrying out his fake.

At the 15, there was safety Mike Adams waiting. Sproles juked him and headed further to his right where there was open field. At the 7, linebacker D’Qwell Jackson closed in and made contact, but didn’t wrap up. Another Colts defender went low, and cornerback Darius Butler tried to help out as well. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Defense Turns The Tide

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts
INDIANAPOLIS – It was 3rd-and-9 from the Eagles’ 22 and Andrew Luck was heating up.

The standout QB had never lost consecutive games in his young career and he was fixing to keep that streak alive. A 12-play, 80-yard drive capped by his seven-yard touchdown pass to Ahmad Bradshaw put the Colts up 27-20, and he had the offense in position to stretch the lead to double digits with just over five minutes to play.

And then, a remarkable turn of events. Read more »

Three Eagles-Colts Pregame Thoughts

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

INDIANAPOLIS – Here are three thoughts on the Eagles as we count down to kickoff.

1. Chip Kelly insists he didn’t go into last season with any preconceived notions about life in the NFL. That applied to big-picture stuff, but it also applied to on-field game-planning and specifically how teams would defend his offensive attack.

What he discovered was that the strategy of choice was a lot of man coverage. The Eagles’ run game was lethal, and teams had to guard against it. That meant loading the box, playing with a single high safety and daring Nick Foles and the receivers to beat them. Read more »

Three Eagles Leftovers

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Chip Kelly called it a notebook. Cody Parkey said it was a binder.

Either way, the head coach is impressed with the way his new kicker charts his performance on a daily basis.

“Practice and games, makes and misses,” Parkey said. “I go in and watch what I do good, what I do bad and what I can improve on every day. If I’m having a bad day of kicking, I can go back and say, ‘I went 10 for 10 this day. What did I do here? What I did do on the bad day?’ Compare ‘em so when I come back the next day, I know what I need to do to better myself.”

As part of his daily routine, Parkey now watches all his kicks on film with special teams coach Dave Fipp. In addition to charting makes and misses, he takes notes on mechanical strengths and weaknesses. He’s been doing it since his college days at Auburn and believes the daily evaluation will serve him well at the NFL level. Read more »

All-22: Strong Start For Eagles Defense

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Billy Davis is expecting improvement on the defense to come from two separate areas.

One is that players from last year are more comfortable in the Eagles’ 3-4. And two is that he’s now able to add more layers to the scheme.

“Looking at last year, a lot of things we did, we were growing into this,” Davis said. “And it’s nothing more than a progression of growth from the end of last year to again a couple pieces we added and a couple schematic things we added to it and just threw it all at them. We will continue to grow that and hopefully continue to grow that way with both the understanding they have in our scheme and the scheme itself.”

Sunday’s Week 1 win against the Jaguars was a good start. It must be noted that Jacksonville could end up being one of the five worst offenses in the league. But after a couple lapses early, the Eagles’ defense dominated in the second half. Jacksonville was held scoreless on eight second-half possessions: five punts, a turnover on downs, a fumble and the end of the game.

The pass-rush, a question mark going into the season, looked like a strength against the Jaguars’ below-average offensive line. And players like Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks turned in outstanding individual performances. Below is a look at what we saw in Week 1. Read more »

Boykin Sees Limited Reps Against Jags

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Arguing the merits of moving Brandon Boykin outside is the equivalent of banging your head against the wall at this point. As Chip Kelly re-emphasized at his day-after press conference Monday, it’s not happening.

“It really is how we practice and he practices as our nickel corner.  It’s a very vital position for us.  Billy [Davis] said that that’s a starting position for us, I say that’s a starting position for us, that’s kind of where it is,” said Kelly. “Our third corner outside right now [behind Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams] is Nolan Carroll.”

While the importance of the nickel corner position makes Boykin a starter in their mind, the fact remains that one of the team’s top playmakers sees a limited amount of reps in his current role. That was particularly true in the opener against Jacksonville, as Boykin played 23 of a possible 73 snaps, or 32 percent of the time.
Read more »

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