Barwin Named Defensive Player Of the Month

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans

Connor Barwin was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November.

Barwin racked up 6.5 sacks last month, including 3.5 against the Panthers on November 10. He also had three passes defensed and a forced fumble in that stretch. The five-year vet is second in the NFL with 12.5 sacks, which is a career high.

He is actually rushing the passer slightly less on average than last season (24 times per game compared to 27 per game in 2013), per Pro Football Focus, but is having a much bigger year statistically.

The biggest difference? Read more »

Three Eagles Numbers That Matter

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

From the defensive performance to the most likely playoff scenarios, here are three Eagles numbers that matter.

8 – That’s where the Eagles’ defense ranks in terms of DVOA, per Football Outsiders. It’s time we start looking at stats that actually mean something when analyzing Billy Davis’ unit.

If you look at traditional stats like yards per game, the Eagles rank 24th (366.3). That number is incredibly misleading, when you consider the defense has faced the sixth-most snaps of any team in the NFL. The Eagles also have a +90 point differential, second in the NFC behind only the Packers. They’ve held a lot of big leads on opponents in the fourth quarters of games and have given up some yards at the end. But that does not speak to the overall performance of the defense. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: The College Edge on Defense

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

When he was the linebackers coach with the Cleveland Browns back in 2012, Billy Davis and his colleagues had to come up with a game plan for then-rookie Robert Griffin III.

At the time, Washington was using the pistol and the read-option, college concepts that were making their way to the NFL.

“We had to spend a lot of time watching Washington and figuring out how we were going to adapt Coach [Dick] Jauron’s defense to stop that,” Davis said a few months after he was hired. “Well, the guys that are in our defensive staff room right now, they’ve solved that problem a hundred times.”

Davis has seven coaches on his staff; six of them came to the NFL from college. And that was no accident. Read more »

Graham Finding Success, Blocking Out Noise

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Brandon Graham has tried to block out the noise.

During his five-year career, he’s pretty much heard it all. That he’s a bust. That the Eagles would be better off with someone else. That they should have never taken him with the 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft.

“People were… saying little stuff,” Graham said. “They used to be like, ‘Jason Pierre-Paul is better than you.’ Now they saying he ain’t. Now they’re like, ‘Oh man, we should have got Earl Thomas.’ Hopefully I can change all that.”

Thomas and Graham will be on the same field Sunday when the Eagles host the Seahawks. The names will forever be linked around these parts. When the Birds traded up in 2010, analyst Mike Mayock predicted on TV that they were going to grab the safety out of Texas. He was wrong. Since then, Thomas has developed into a guy most agree is the best safety in the NFL. Read more »

‘We’ve Gotta Really Turn It Up’

NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots

The Eagles have been averaging 30 points on offense over their last five games. The offensive line and (consequently) the running game is beginning to click, their quarterback is playing pretty well and the head coach knows how to scheme it up. There’s reason enough for this unit to be feeling good about itself as it hits the home stretch.

Sunday’s opponent is a different beast, though, and everybody inside the NovaCare seems to be bracing for some tough sledding ahead.

“I don’t think we go into it thinking [our defense] has to win the game but there is a difference between our offense going against anybody else’s defense and our offense going against Seattle,” Malcolm Jenkins acknowledged. “You do realize this is probably going to be a defensive struggle. We don’t expect our offense to go in and put up 35 points on this defense.” Read more »

Corner Tandem Steps Up Against Dallas

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Photo courtesy of USA Today

ARLINGTON, Texas — Tony Romo didn’t look right, and that needs to be part of the conversation.

Since fracturing two transverse processes in his back last month, the Cowboys quarterback typically doesn’t begin practicing until Thursday in a normal week. This, of course, was no normal week, and it looked like the lack of recovery time affected his play.

“There are no excuses,” said Romo. “They made things a little bit tougher. I missed a couple throws that I normally won’t miss. I will be better at that the rest of the year, I know that for sure.”

That’s probably true assuming the wear and tear doesn’t get the better of him over the final quarter of the season.

While the Dallas passing game wasn’t at its optimum, credit needs to be given to starting cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. This was not an easy matchup and many thought it would go the way of Green Bay, only this time with Dez Bryant tearing it up on the outside rather than Jordy Nelson. Bryant did pull down a 38-yard reception over Fletcher late in the first quarter and finished with four catches for 73 yards. But that was just one of two Dallas pass plays that went for over 20 yards, and the second came in garbage time on the Cowboys’ final drive.

In a roller coaster season for the corner tandem, this performance was right around the top of the lift hill. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Cowboys, the Day After

Tim Heltman/USA Today

Tim Heltman/USA Today

ARLINGTON, Texas — Bennie Logan insists he wasn’t trying to create a stir.

The Eagles’ nose tackle was asked during the week about the Cowboys’ offensive line, and he made it quite clear that he wasn’t impressed. His comments seemed somewhat out of character, but Logan’s fellow defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton backed him up. They felt like they were a good group that has been flying the under the radar, and they were not going to be intimidated by the one of the league’s best rushing attacks.

“People had their own opinions about teams and things like that,” Logan said after the Eagles’ 33-10 win. “I’m a nobody. I’m a nobody. We’ve got a lot of nobodies up front. People don’t give us the credit and things like that. We just play football. We have fun when we do it. It wasn’t any big talk or anything, no big pressure or anything like that. We just wanted to go out there and have fun and just play our style of defense.”

The Eagles’ defensive line showed up in a big way, limiting DeMarco Murray to 73 yards and 3.7 YPC. Both numbers were season lows. This was just the second time in 12 games Murray failed to gain at least 100 yards. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Thursday Factor

NFL: NFC Wildcard Playoff-New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles traveled to Seattle for a Thursday night game back in December of 2011. Trevor Laws predicted that his team was poised to “blow out” the Seahawks but it went the other way on him, as Seattle cruised to an easy 31-14 win at CenturyLink Field.

Recognizing the difficulty of playing all the way across the country on a short week,  the NFL established new guidelines for scheduling Thursday night games following that season. With the exception of an occasional divisional matchup, teams are no longer asked to travel more than one time zone to play a Thursday road game.

Dallas is just a time zone away but the Eagles still have to hop a nearly four-hour flight for their Thanksgiving showdown with the Cowboys this week. The fact that Dallas played in New York on Sunday night should help balance the travel factor out some, but it’s a challenge nonetheless.

The Eagles hope that they are designed to deal well with the quick turnaround, particularly as it applies to physical recovery and game-plan installation. Read more »

All-22: Forming the Wall And Stopping the Stretch

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Billy Davis was asked Tuesday about the difficulty in making potential scheme changes, given that teams are approaching Week 13.

“It’s tough to change who you are at this point in the season,” he said. “You have to stick with what you have success with and try to correct and get better at the things you’re struggling with.”

Davis’ comment applies to teams around the NFL. In the offseason, coaches assess personnel and decide what they want their squads to look like from a schematic standpoint. They then practice, tweak and practice some more. Wrinkles can be added, and ideas can be scrapped. But as we approach Thanksgiving, for the most part, identities have been established.

And for the Dallas Cowboys, that identity is clear: A balanced offense that is finding success running the football on a weekly basis.

The Eagles, meanwhile, are a team that focuses on stopping the run. Read more »

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