Photo by: Jeff Fusco
Marcus Smith picked up a half-sack in the Eagles’ 40-17 loss to the Cardinals in Week 15. For most first-round draft picks playing in their second season in the league, that would be an encouraging, albeit run-of-the-mill, tick in the box score.
For Smith, it was the first time he recorded even half a sack in his career.
After two seasons, Smith has shown few signs that he is close to stepping into any sort of consistent defensive role on this team.
“Marcus has got to continue to get better,” Billy Davis said Tuesday. “There hasn’t been a whole lot of production yet. We’re still working, Marcus is working hard at it, and hopefully we can get some production from him.
“You have to play the guys that are playing the best for you. If there’s too big of a gap, the other guys can’t play. Right now, it’s tough to take [Connor Barwin] or [Brandon Graham] off and put Marcus on.”
But that’s not how Smith sees it.
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Billy Davis. (Jeff Fusco)
It was a laughing matter. Literally.
Tim and I explained in last week’s Press Coverage how the Eagles would need to generate a good pass rush and force turnovers against Tom Brady to pull off the unlikely upset over the Patriots. How unlikely? We treated it more as a joke than as something that could actually happen.
But Billy Davis’ unit, after allowing 90 points in the previous two weeks, helped do just that as their four sacks and two interceptions played a pivotal role in Philadelphia’s 35-28 win.
“It’s a tough place to go in,” Davis said. “First of all, I thought the players did a great job. They showed a lot of character, being in the hole we were in the last two weeks and them fighting through it and having that challenge of going in there to beat Brady and Coach [Bill] Belichick in Foxborough is a big deal.
“A big part of it was the three- and four-man rush winning there and the cover guys just holding. We knew we were going to get our share of their passing game. That’s what they do and that’s what their strength is. In the last couple weeks, we were not having much success in that area and the guys stepped up and made a lot of plays.” Read more »
Photo by Jeff Fusco
Chip Kelly mentioned Brandon Graham as one of the veterans he seeks out when he wants to take the temperature of the locker room, listing him alongside the likes of Connor Barwin, Malcolm Jenkins, DeMeco Ryans, Jason Kelce and Jason Peters.
“Chip does a great job as far as trying to keep us together and keeping in contact with the guys that…[have] a voice, and that will lead this team that people respect,” said Graham. “I think Chip is doing a great job, we just have to hone in all together and just make sure we stay close.”
That’s been one of the challenges in recent days after a pair of startling losses to the Bucs and Lions that has tested the foundation of this team and the relationships inside the locker room. Part of the internal strain was tied to uncertainty regarding the future of the head coach. To help stem the tide, Kelly reportedly addressed the college reports, and told the players Tuesday morning that “as long as they have me here, I’m here.”
Graham, for his part, tried to offer similar assurances to Kelly, who has come under some serious scrutiny of late. Read more »
Chip Kelly. (Jeff Fusco)
Nolan Carroll stood despondent at his locker after the Eagles’ 45-17 loss to the Buccaneers yesterday. Defensive backs coach Cory Undlin approached his cornerback, put his left hand on Carroll’s shirtless back and asked, “You alright?”
“Yeah,” Carroll responded, as if he was trying to convince himself and not only Undlin.
The scene around the rest of the Eagles locker room was quite similar. Lane Johnson sat in a small black chair in front of his locker looking at the ground, saying the Eagles’ offense “imploded.” Connor Barwin stood with his hands on his hips and added that the defense “sh-t the bed.” Read more »
Photo by: Jeff Fusco.
Brandon Graham felt he was getting too predictable with his pass rush, so he went with the old “butt and shed” to twice get the better of Tyron Smith Sunday.
“I watched the last game I played and I was like, ‘Man, I keep going down the middle of him, and that’s what he wants.’ I knew that he was going to play the bull [rush], so I just ‘butt and shed’. As soon as I butt him and he sit down, shed right off of him and just kind of throw my arms down, and it was working,”said Graham, his grin growing as he recalled the moment. “The first time I was kind of shocked.
“When you see the quarterback, it’s the best feeling you’ve ever felt, man.”
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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 »
Greg Olsen. (USA Today Sports)
Through six games this season, the Eagles have kept opposing tight ends in check.
Only one tight end, New Orleans’ Benjamin Watson, has scored a touchdown, and no tight end has picked up more than 56 yards in a game.
On average, opposing teams’ tight ends are catching six catches for 39 yards and no touchdowns, a favorable stat line for Billy Davis’s defense considering the Eagles have already faced Jacob Tamme, Jason Witten, and Jordan Reed, among others.
Enter Carolina’s Greg Olsen, who is fourth in the NFL in receiving yards with 374 through five games and has turned into Cam Newton’s favorite target with wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin sidelined for the season.
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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 »
Courtesy of USA Today
Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ 27-7 win over the Giants from the Linc, which puts them in first place in the NFC East:
* Billy Davis‘ defense stole the show, coming up with three takeaways, four sacks and big play after big play to shut down what had been an effective Giants attack coming in. They dominated despite playing opposite an Eagles offense that turned the ball over four times.
*Sam Bradford was responsible for three of those turnovers. He ended 24-of-38 for 280 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions (61.3 rating). Threw a bad interception midway through the second, sailing a pass well high of Zach Ertz and into the chest of Jayron Hosley, and added two more in the second half — including one in the end zone that again was intended for Ertz. Bradford now has nine interception on the young season, second only to Peyton Manning (12).
*Fortunately for the Eagles, the ‘D’ was up for the challenge.
Nolan Carroll returned an Eli Manning offering 17 yards to put the Eagles out in front early in the second quarter. Carroll was originally on Rueben Randle but switched off him to pick up Manning’s intended target, Dwayne Harris. Carroll read the play and jumped a quick pass to the left sideline. Read more »
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.
The Eagles scored three times, gave up two touchdowns, recorded two giveaways and forced one turnover in their 23-20 loss to Washington. Here’s how all that — plus a couple of other big plays — happened. Read more »