Once a week, we’ll take a spin around the NFC East to check in on what’s going on with the Eagles’ division rivals.
The much-hyped 2011 Eagles free-agent class has lost another member, as the team released defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins on Monday.
Jenkins carried a $5.5 million salary for this upcoming season and was reportedly due a $1 million roster bonus in mid-March, forcing the Eagles to make a call on the veteran.
The 32-year-old had four sacks and 26 tackles in 2012, a drop-off in production from his first year in Philadelphia (5.5 sacks, 40 tackles).
“I had a chance to speak with Cullen today and let him know of our decision,” said Howie Roseman. “It’s one of the most difficult parts of the job. He has been a very productive player in this league for a long time but we felt it in our team’s best interests that we go in a different direction. By releasing him at this point, it gives he and his agent more time to sign on with another team. We wish Cullen and his family all the best as he continues his NFL career.”
He signed a five-year, $25 million deal in 2011 after seven quality seasons in Green Bay. While Jenkins was a solid contributor in two seasons with the Eagles, he did not quite live up to the billing — much like many of the other big names that joined the fold prior to the ’11 campaign.
Ronnie Brown, Vince Young and Jason Babin are off the team. Nnamdi Asomugha could be next. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, acquired from Arizona via trade, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent. The much less heralded Evan Mathis could be the only member of that group still in green when the 2013 season kicks off in September.
Jenkins won a Super Bowl with the Packers the season prior to joining the Eagles, and the hope was that he would develop into a leader and help build a championship environment in Philadelphia. The magic never rubbed off, and the Eagles went a combined 12-20 over the past two seasons.
“I was brought in here, especially coming from a championship team, to try and help instill [a certain mindset]. Not maybe, I’m not doing a good enough job of it,” Jenkins said back in November.
He had this to say on Twitter Monday:
Thank you to all my supporters. Lets see where the next chapter takes us.
— Cullen Jenkins (@CullenJenkins) February 25, 2013
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.
We learned yesterday that Chip Kelly has pegged Cleveland Browns linebackers coach Billy Davis to be his defensive coordinator.
Hopefully, we’ll hear from Davis soon, but until then, it doesn’t hurt to discuss what type of scheme he might be bringing to Philadelphia.
There’s one article making the rounds in which Davis (then with the Arizona Cardinals) explained his scheme to Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly.
“Everybody puts us in that 3-4 category, but what we are is an ‘under front, a 4-3 ‘under’ defense,” Davis said. “The ‘under’ is almost a 3-4. As 3-4 [defenses] go, it’s not really what we do here.”
The guess here is that we’re going to be hearing the term “4-3 under” quite a bit in the coming weeks and months. It might even be the new Wide-9, who knows? But what exactly does Davis mean? Let’s take a deeper look into the hybrid front that is used by teams like the Seahawks and the Ravens.
Here is an All-22 shot from a Seahawks-Rams game last season. We’ll focus on the five defensive players at the line of scrimmage.
Let’s start with the nose tackle.
As Davis explained it, the nose tackle lines up between the center and the guard (the 1-technique) on the strong side. Pete Carroll offered the following description of what he wants out of the nose tackle.
“At Nose Tackle you have to find a player who likes to mix it up,” he said, per FieldGulls.com. “We want a big guy in there who likes to get down and dirty. He is going to get doubled a lot on the run and pass and is going to get down blocked a lot. He has to be a tough player. This guy can be a short and stubby type of player.”
The Eagles very well could add a nose tackle in the draft or free agency. The options on the roster would be Mike Patterson or Antonio Dixon.
Part of the nose tackle’s responsibility is to occupy the center. If he does that, the other defensive tackle (lined up at the 3-technique between the guard and tackle) should get a one-on-one opportunity, in this case against the right guard.
“The 3-technique player should be your premier interior pass rusher,” Carroll said. “He is going to get a lot of one on one blocks as it is hard to double team him because of where he lines up.”
If you’re referring to this front as a 3-4, the player described by Carroll is considered a defensive end. If you’re talking about a 4-3, he’s a defensive tackle. Either way, this sounds like it could be a good fit for Fletcher Cox.
From the Davis article referenced above:
But in the 4-3 ‘under’ front, like the Cardinals use as their base defense which looks similar to the 3-4 to the naked eye, the biggest difference is in the outside linebackers. The strong-side linebacker is still outside the tight end. But the other outside guy – the Cardinals call this player their “Predator” – is almost always rushing the passer, although the Cards will occasionally drop him into covers to mix things up.
Here’s another look at the All-22 shot, highlighting the two players he’s talking about.
One linebacker (to your right) is lined up across the tight end. This would be your typical outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. You need a player who’s capable of rushing the passer or dropping back into coverage. Chike Okeafor filled this role for the Cardinals in 2008. According to Pro Football Focus, he rushed the QB about 70 percent of the time and dropped back about 30 percent on passing downs.
Perhaps someone like Brandon Graham or Vinny Curry could fill that role for the Eagles, although projecting their coverage skills is a complete guess at this point.
And then there’s the pass-rush specialist on the other side. This is the player Davis referred to as the “Predator.” For the Cardinals, that spot was occupied by Bertrand Berry and Travis LaBoy. Per PFF, Berry rushed the passer 94 percent of the time and dropped back just 6 percent. For LaBoy, the exact same percentages applied.
As for the Eagles, Graham or Trent Cole (even though he had a down year in 2012) would seem to fit the bill. Or perhaps a player who’s not currently on the roster. Remember, ideally, the guard is blocking the defensive tackle. And this is the side without the tight end, meaning there’s not a lot of help for the tackle to block the pass-rusher.
Carroll refers to this player as the LEO:
“The best pass rusher on the team is usually the defensive end to the open side of the field. That puts him on the quarterback’s blind side and makes him a C gap player in this defense. We often align him wider than this in order to give him a better angle of attack and allow him to play in space.”
“(He) has to be one of your best football players. Size does not matter as much. We want an athletic player who can move around.”
While Chris Clemons has his hand on the ground in the image above, this player could just as easily be in a two-point stance, which would create the appearance of a 3-4.
Meanwhile, the other defensive end (to the strong side) won’t get as many advantageous pass-rushing opportunities and needs to be able to play the run well. Cullen Jenkins? Cedric Thornton?
And finally, the other two linebackers have defined roles. The middle linebacker may have to get away from the guard on the strong side (in this case, the LG). Davis referred to him as a “thumper.” DeMeco Ryans, coming off a very strong season, would likely be the primary option.
The scheme would likely benefit second-year player Mychal Kendricks. Karlos Dansby played weak-side LB for Davis in Arizona.
The way the defense is set up, he has a nice protective shield to keep potential blockers at bay. “What we’ve done with Karlos is put him behind a three-technique, so basically – we call these anchor points – he’s got a wall in front of him,” Davis said. “So he can run and use his athleticism. The center can’t get him because the nose is on him. The guard can’t get him because the end is on him. And the tackle can’t get him because the predator is on him. So this is your athlete that can run, go cover ground and make plays.”
If you’re wondering about blitzing, Davis’ defense liked to send one extra defender. They rushed five 29.9 percent of the time in 2010, sixth-most in the league, according to Football Outsiders. They rushed three just 4 percent of the time (24th).
In 2009, Arizona rushed five 33.8 percent of the time (third) and three 5.6 percent (16th).
So those are some concepts and roles to keep in mind. Davis will meet with Kelly to determine what kind of defense they want to employ and which pieces fit. We should get some pretty good clues of what they’re thinking in the coming months as the roster is shaped.
The D-Line failed to sack Robert Griffin III, although the Eagles certainly pressured him at times. Alfred Morris had 91 yards rushing, but he needed 22 carries (4.1 YPC).
Once again, the defense got no help from the other two phases. Washington’s five scoring drives started at its own 28, its own 41, its own 47, midfield and the Eagles’ 25. This is nothing new. Opponents have dominated the Birds in terms of field position all year long.
Focusing back on the pass-rush, here’s a look at opportunities (from Pro Football Focus), sacks, hurries (as tracked by the coaching staff) and pressure percentage (frequency with which each player notched a sack or hurry).
Trent Cole 21 0 2 9.5%
Brandon Graham 18 0 1 5.6%
Cullen Jenkins 15 0 0 0%
Derek Landri 13 0 0 0%
Fletcher Cox 11 0 1 9.1%
Cedric Thornton 11 0 0 0%
Phillip Hunt 6 0 0 0%
Vinny Curry 4 0 0 0%
A lot of zeroes on that board.
Trent Cole led the Eagles with two hurries. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox added one apiece. Everyone else was shut out.
The Eagles made the decision to sit Darryl Tapp and give his snaps to Vinny Curry. But they’re also playing the starters (Cole and Graham) more, which resulted in Curry only getting four opportunities to rush the passer.
Below is the player-by-player review.
Brandon Graham – He didn’t produce eye-popping numbers, but I thought Graham played well once again, with a hurry and five tackles. He got pinched inside on Santana Moss’ 12-yard end around in the first, but hustled to eventually bring him down. Graham showed good discipline on a play-fake in the first, chasing Griffin to the sideline on a 4th-and-2 incompletion. Really nice job breaking up a shovel pass in the second. And Graham shoved the right tackle back before stopping Morris on a 1-yard gain in the second. He forced Griffin out of the pocket on a third-down incompletion in the second. And Graham came from the back side to tackle Morris after a 2-yard run in the fourth. Active game, and the effort has been outstanding all season.
Trent Cole – He had a tough matchup with Trent Williams and was up and down, finishing with two hurries and five tackles. Good read on the end around, but couldn’t make the tackle as Joshua Morgan picked up 7 in the first. He tackled Morris after a 1-yard run in the second. Good pressure on a third-down play in the second where Williams got away with a hold. Cole couldn’t get off of Williams’ block on Morris’ 9-yard run in the third. He tackled Morris after a 5-yard run in the third. Cole batted a pass at the line of scrimmage and shoved Griffin to the ground in the third. He tackled Morris after a 1-yard run in the third, but was blocked by Chris Cooley on Morris’ 14-yard run in the fourth.
Fletcher Cox – The reason he didn’t see more snaps is because Cox suffered a concussion. He had a hurry and three tackles before being sidelined. Cox combined with Graham to stop Morris after a 1-yard run in the second. He chased and hit Griffin on the next play – a third-down incompletion. And Cox got into the backfield on Morris’ 5-yard run on 2nd-and-27 in the third. Already a very good player. Has a chance to be a Pro Bowler based on what we saw during his rookie campaign.
Cullen Jenkins – Very quiet game. No sacks, no hurries, two tackles. Todd Bowles went out of his way to praise Jenkins last week, but didn’t see much out of the veteran in this one.
Derek Landri – With Cox sidelined, he saw increased snaps. Landri had a quiet game as well with no sacks, no hurries and two tackles. A huge hole opened up between him and Cole on Morris’ 14-yard run in the fourth.
Cedric Thornton – Two tackles for Thornton. He did a good job stuffing Morris for no gain in the second. And Thornton brought Morris down after a 2-yard run in the fourth on the Redskins’ final drive. He was called for an illegal block in the back on Colt Anderson’s interception.
Phillip Hunt – He spelled Graham at left defensive end, but did not have a good showing. Hunt got caught way upfield and left Morris with all sorts of room on his 10-yard touchdown run in the third. He had a chance to tackle Griffin behind the line of scrimmage on an option play in the first, but couldn’t get a hold of him. Hunt had a chance to sack Griffin in the second, but let him escape.
Vinny Curry – As I mentioned above, Curry did not play a lot – 11 snaps total. He only had four chances to rush the passer and was a non-factor there. Against the run, Curry had ups and downs. He did a really nice job of slipping past Williams, getting penetration and forcing Morris inside, where Thornton made a tackle for no gain in the second. But Curry was blocked to the ground by Williams on Morris’ 4-yard run in the second. Overall, he’s had some nice moments against the run, but Curry has zero sacks and zero hurries. He’s had 32 chances to rush the passer, per PFF.
Through the first 13 games, the Eagles’ defensive line had accounted for 20 sacks, or about 1.5 per contest.
Against the Bengals, Tommy Brasher’s group sacked Andy Dalton six times and kept him uncomfortable all game long (13-for-27 for 127 yards). So what was different about the performance of the defensive line this time around? Here’s a look at all six sacks, using the All-22 shots.
Play 1: Brandon Graham can thank Dalton for his first sack. You’ll see what I mean below. In the first image, you can see Graham’s lined up wide against right tackle Andre Smith.
You’ll also see Hawkins is wide-open, beating Brandon Boykin. Dalton pumped, but decided not to let the ball go. Here’s another angle.
Play 2: On third down in the second quarter, Graham got sack No. 2. Take a look at the pre-snap look.
After the ball is snapped, Ryans starts rushing to towards the B-Gap between the right guard and right tackle.
The Bengals once again had a chance for a big play to Hawkins. He ran a stop-and-go and got Nate Allen to bite.
Play 3: Trent Cole played one of his best games of the season. On his sack in the second quarter, he got some help from the Bengals left guard.
Cole and Cullen Jenkins run a stunt on the right side.
Play 4: On Jenkins’ sack, he looped all the way outside Cole from his left defensive tackle spot.
Play 5: Remember earlier, we showed Ryans threatening to blitz? Same thing here. On this play, he lines up in the A-Gap between the center and right guard.
Brandon Graham had a career game. Trent Cole looked like the old Trent Cole. Fletcher Cox continued an impressive rookie campaign. And guys like Cullen Jenkins and Cedric Thornton contributed as well.
In all, the defensive line combined for six sacks and eight hurries. Andy Dalton was under constant pressure and completed just 13 of 27 passes for 127 yards.
In a future post, we’ll break out the All-22 and look at why the Eagles defensive line was successful. But first, the player-by-player breakdown.
Sacks are tracked by the NFL. Hurries are tracked by Eagles coaches. And pass-rushing chances by Pro Football Focus. Pressure percentage measures the frequency with which each player notched a sack or hurry.
Trent Cole 33 1 2 9.1%
Cullen Jenkins 28 1 0 3.6%
Fletcher Cox 27 1.5 2 14.8%
Brandon Graham 27 2.5 3 22.2%
Derek Landri 13 0 N/A N/A
Darryl Tapp 9 0 0 0%
Cedric Thornton 8 0 1 12.5%
Vinny Curry 4 0 0 0%
Phillip Hunt 3 0 0 0%
As you can see with the numbers, Graham added a team-high three hurries to his 2.5 sacks. He notched either a sack or hurry once every 4.5 chances. Cox had 1.5 sacks and two hurries for the second-highest pressure percentage among linemen – impressive, considering he’s rushing from the tackle spot.
There appears to have been an error with Derek Landri’s stats. That’s why you see an N/A next to his name.
Vinny Curry only had four chances to rush the passer. Those came from the right defensive end spot.
Below is the player-by-player review, after having re-watched the game.
Brandon Graham – I feel confident in saying he turned in the most productive game of any of the team’s defensive linemen this season. Graham had 2.5 sacks, three hurries and 10 tackles – the best single-game mark for an Eagles DE this season. Graham and Colt Anderson stopped BenJarvus Green-Ellis for no gain in the red zone in the first. He went around right around right tackle Andre Smith for his first sack. Graham and Jenkins forced Dalton to escape the pocket and throw incomplete on third down in the first. He and DeMeco Ryans brought Green-Ellis down after a 4-yard gain in the second. Great bull-rush vs. Smith, causing Dalton to throw high on a second-quarter incompletion. Graham used his speed and hands to get around Smith in the second, sacking and stripping Dalton. He drew a holding penalty on a run play in the second. And another one that negated a 9-yard Dalton run in the second. Great hustle to bring Dalton down after a 2-yard gain on a scramble to the other side of the field. Graham just overpowered Smith on the sack he split with Cox in the third. He bull-rushed Dennis Roland and drew a holding penalty in the third. Another excellent bull-rush against Smith in the third, forcing Dalton to scramble. In the fourth, he forced Dalton to scramble again and throw the ball away. Graham and Cox brought Green-Ellis down after a 1-yard run in the fourth. A career game for the former first-round pick.
Trent Cole – He had seven solo tackles, a season-high. To put that into perspective, Cole had seven solo tackles in the previous five games combined. In the second, he looped inside and sacked Dalton. It helped that the left guard slipped on the play. Excellent job of shedding the tight end and tackling Green-Ellis after a 2-yard run in the third. Cole pressured Dalton and forced him to scramble in the third. He fought through a trap block and tackled Green-Ellis after a 3-yard run in the third. Nice job setting the edge and then making the tackle on Green-Ellis after a 1-yard run in the third. Cole tackled Green-Ellis after a 4-yard gain in the third. And he hit Dalton as he threw the ball away in the fourth. If you’re wondering about Cole’s future, given the way his contract’s set up, he’s definitely coming back in 2013. He turned 30 in October. While Cole’s best days may be behind him, he provided reason to believe he can still be a productive player with his performance on Thursday.
Fletcher Cox – The future is bright for the first-round pick. Actually, the current is pretty bright already. Cox had 1.5 sacks, two hurries and six tackles. On the season, he leads all Eagles defensive linemen with 62 tackles and 44 solo tackles. The next closest is Cole, who has 52 and 30. Good interior pressure, forcing Dalton to take off in the second. Cox abused the left guard and sacked Dalton in the third. He got the better of him on the next play too, splitting a sack with Graham. Cox and Graham combined to bring Green-Ellis down after a 1-yard run in the fourth. Another good game.
Cullen Jenkins – One sack, no hurries and three tackles. Jenkins and Graham forced Dalton to leave the pocket and throw incomplete in the first. Good pressure, forcing Dalton to take off in the second. He lined up at LDT and looped all the way around Cole at RDE to sack Dalton and force a fumble in the second. Nice play against the run, drawing a holding penalty in the third. He and Mychal Kendricks dropped Green-Ellis for a loss in the fourth.
Vinny Curry – He played 15 snaps. Most were running plays though. Curry had one tackle, stopping Green-Ellis for no gain in the fourth. He did a nice job getting into the backfield on a Green-Ellis run that lost 2 yards in the fourth.
Darryl Tapp – No sacks, no hurries, no tackles. Tapp played 13 snaps.
Phillip Hunt – No sacks, no hurries, one tackle – on Green-Ellis after a 3-yard run in the fourth. Hunt played 14 snaps.
Derek Landri – One tackle, no sacks. Landri took on a double-team and forced Green-Ellis to cut back on a 1-yard run in the first.
Cedric Thornton – Active game for Thornton with six tackles and a hurry. He split a double-team and tackled Green-Ellis for a 2-yard loss in the second. Thornton chased Dalton to the sideline and got a hit on him in the third. The moment most will remember though was him fumbling the short kickoff away. Thornton took full responsibility for the turnover after the game.
From Mychal Kendricks to Fletcher Cox to Colt Anderson, here’s an All-22 look at what the Eagles’ defense looked like Sunday against the Bucs.
Play 1: Here’s what Jamar Chaney told Tim yesterday about the changes on the defensive line.
“It’s better for the linebackers. If you ask any linebacker what scheme or how they would want to do it, they would want the linemen to hold up the blocks and they go make the plays.”
And here, we see why Chaney said that. First, let’s take a look at the pre-snap alignment.
The Wide-9 lines the defensive end up outside the tight end. Here, you can see that’s not the case with Brandon Graham. Take a look at a photo of Jason Babin from a game earlier this season against the Giants to see the difference.
On this play, you can see Chaney has no offensive linemen to deal with as he makes his way towards Doug Martin. Same for DeMeco Ryans.
It should be noted that the Eagles were not getting gashed against the run this year. They were 13th in the league, allowing 4.1 yards per carry, going into this game. Martin ran for 128 yards in this game, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, although I thought the run defense held up pretty well.
The effect goes beyond the numbers though. The Eagles had been horrible in coverage the previous six games. Blown assignments, safeties with run responsibilities biting on play-action, etc. We’ll see if the change up front improves the pass defense in the final few games.
Play 2: Nice job here by the Eagles’ two second-round picks. Mychal Kendricks was moved to the WILL spot, and Vinny Curry got reps at right defensive end.
And two, there’s been a lot of discussion about what the Eagles’ secondary is going to look like in 2013. One question that needs to be answered: Can Brandon Boykin play outside? The rookie’s been mostly used inside this season. But against Tampa, the Eagles kept Asomugha (and Curtis Marsh when Asomugha was injured) on Vincent Jackson when Jackson moved to the slot.
Boykin fared well on this play (and in this game). A lot of teams are moving their No. 1 receivers inside at times to gain an advantage. We saw it with Calvin Johnson earlier this season. In the offseason, the Eagles have to decide whether Boykin is an every-down player who can play outside, or just a nickel corner.
Overall, the Eagles were much better in coverage, limiting Josh Freeman to 41.2 completions. In the previous six games, opposing quarterbacks were completing 76.3 percent of their passes against the Birds.
Play 4: Fletcher Cox can thank Marsh, Kendricks and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for his second-quarter sack. Cox and Cole ran a stunt up front.
But the Eagles’ coverage on the back end was outstanding.
Play 5: Many of you have asked about Colt Anderson. In coverage, the Eagles parked him deep on many passing plays and didn’t ask him to do too much. Against the run, when he avoided blockers, he showed could make plays at or behind the line of scrimmage. But if an offensive player gets a hand on him, he has to prove he can still be effective.
For example, in the fourth, Anderson made a nice read on a Martin run.
* Kendricks really played well. He was active throughout, totaling seven tackles (according to team stats) and playing well in coverage too.
* Rodgers-Cromartie played one of his best games in a long time.
* Credit to Asomugha for fighting through the injury, but he gave up too many plays in coverage.
Sunday’s game against the Bucs was the Eagles’ first in two years without defensive line coach Jim Washburn and the wide-nine.
Tommy Brasher was hired on Monday and had three days of practice to switch up the Birds’ scheme up front. The Eagles struggled to get to Josh Freeman for much of the day, although the defense as a whole played better. Below is the player-by-player breakdown of sacks, hurries (tracked by the team’s coaches), opportunities (Pro Football Focus) and pressure percentage (frequency with with which each player notched a sack or hurry).
In the next couple of days, we’ll try to take a look at how the linemen were aligned up front with the All-22.
Trent Cole 31 0 0 0%
Cullen Jenkins 31 1 1 6.5%
Fletcher Cox 30 1 1 6.7%
Brandon Graham 29 0 0 0%
Derek Landri 10 0 0 0%
Cedric Thornton 10 0 1 10.0%
Vinny Curry 6 0 0 0%
Darryl Tapp 5 0 0 0%
Phillip Hunt 5 0 0 0%
As you can see, a lot of zeroes on the board. The Eagles’ five defensive ends were shut out completely. Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt combined for zero sacks and zero hurries.
The defensive tackles had some success. Both Fletcher Cox and Cullen Jenkins notched sacks. No defensive lineman had more than one hurry.
Having said that, the defense shut out the Bucs in the first half and got what turned out to be a big stop at the end of the game. Coming in, the Eagles had allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 76.3 percent of their passes in the previous six games. But Freeman (who is generally not a high-percentage passer) completed just 41.2 percent of his attempts.
Below is the player-by-player breakdown after having re-watched the game.
Trent Cole – He finished with just one tackle, no sacks and no hurries. But I think the coaches were a little harsh in their grading. Cole wasn’t as bad as the numbers indicate. He and Derek Landri brought Doug Martin down after a 1-yard run in the first. Cole later pressured Freeman, hitting his arm and causing the ball to pop in the air for a near-interception. Cox got credit for the sack in the second, but Cole got good pressure inside on the stunt. He pressured Freeman and helped force an incompletion in the red zone in the fourth. Martin’s fourth-quarter touchdown run went right between Cole and Cox. Great hustle by Cole to bring down Martin after a 2-yard run on the final drive.
Brandon Graham – Relatively quiet game for Graham, although he had a few good moments. Two tackles, no sacks and no hurries. He hustled to bring Martin down after a 4-yard gain on a screen. And Graham drew a holding penalty on a screen in the second. Good pressure on Freeman in the second, leading to a Jenkins sack.
Cullen Jenkins – Two tackles, a sack and a hurry. Jenkins hit Freeman on a deep ball in the first quarter that was intended for Vincent Jackson. He picked up a sack on Freeman late in the first half and dropped Martin after a 3-yard run in the fourth.
Fletcher Cox – Ups and downs, but Cox was active. Great read and great job finishing the play, dropping Martin for a 6-yard loss on a screen in the second. Cox ran a stunt with Cole, looped outside and sacked Freeman. Martin ran right through the hole between Cox and Cole for his touchdown in the fourth. He stuffed Martin for no gain on 3rd-and-8 on the final drive, forcing the Bucs to punt.
Vinny Curry – Only had six opportunities to rush the passer and had no sacks or hurries. Ups and downs against the run. Great hustle from the backside, dropping Martin for a 1-yard loss on 3rd-and-1 in the second. But he got caught inside on a toss to Martin that picked up 11 yard in the second half.
Darryl Tapp – No tackles, no sacks, no hurries. I know I sound like a broken record, but not sure why Tapp’s taking snaps away from Curry at this point in the season.
Phillip Hunt – No tackles, no sacks, no hurries. Hunt got pressure off the edge and forced Freeman to step up and take a hit by Cedric Thornton.
Derek Landri – One tackle, no sacks and no hurries. Landri made some nice plays against the run. He and Cole brought Martin down after a 1-yard run in the first. Landri clogged the initial hole on Martin’s 3-yard run in the first. And did so again in the third when Martin bounced it outside for a 9-yard gain.
Cedric Thornton – Two tackles, no sacks and a hurry. Thornton got a hit on Freeman in the third as he was nearly picked off by Mychal Kendricks. He violently brought Martin down after a 5-yard run in the red zone in the fourth.
After the game, Andy Reid announced that the team was parting ways with Jim Washburn, although he admitted that the game’s results had little to do with his decision.
Meanwhile, Brandon Graham got the start for Jason Babin, and Vinny Curry was active for the second time this season, as the Eagles went with a 10-man rotation.
Here’s the weekly look at production. Hurries (and tackles) come directly from the Eagles’ coaching staff. Pass-rushing opportunities are tracked by Pro Football Focus. And the last column is from me – a measure of how often each defensive lineman notched either a sack or a hurry.
Trent Cole 22 0.5 1 9.1%
Brandon Graham 20 1.5 4 30.0%
Mike Patterson 18 0 1 5.6%
Cullen Jenkins 17 0 0 0%
Cedric Thornton 12 0 0 0%
Fletcher Cox 10 0 0 0%
Derek Landri 10 0 0 0%
Vinny Curry 9 0 0 0%
Darryl Tapp 6 0 0 0%
Phillip Hunt 4 0 0 0%
Too many zeroes in that chart. Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Phillip Hunt, Cullen Jenkins, Derek Landri, Darryl Tapp and Cedric Thornton combined for no sacks and no quarterback hurries. That’s hard to believe.
To be fair, some of them didn’t have a lot of opportunities, but that’s a brutal lack of production. I don’t see why Tapp should get any snaps ahead of Curry the rest of the way. Also, it should be noted that Cox was playing with a bruised tailbone.
Cole had half-a-sack, a hurry and three tackles, but for the most part, Tyron Smith handled him once again.
The bright spot, of course, was Graham, who had 1.5 sacks, four hurries and eight tackles, which is the most by any Eagles defensive end all season.
Graham got around Doug Free and sacked Tony Romo in the first. He went around Free and hit Romo on an incompletion in the second. Graham hustled to bring down Kevin Ogletree upfield after a couple other defenders missed tackles. And he hustled to bring DeMarco Murray down on the other side of the field for no gain (All-22 of that play here). Active game for Graham, who should see increased opportunities the rest of the way.
Cullen Jenkins painted a different picture of Jim Washburn than the one that has been circulating this week. Rather than an out-of-control, divisive figure, Jenkins sees his former defensive line coach as a misunderstood motivator with the best of intentions.
“Wash was a good coach. He just wanted the best for us,” said Jenkins. “People may not agree with his ways or saw what his goals were for us — I’m talking about people from the outside looking in — but Wash was a good coach. He had us motivated and playing hard.”
Washburn was fired following the loss to Dallas Sunday. His replacement, Tommy Brasher, got to work with the team for the first time on Wednesday. It is a tough situation for both Brasher and the players, who have seen more than their share of changes in recent weeks.
“I’m not sure what went on upstairs or what the communication between the different coaches was. You know, that stuff happens,” said Jenkins. “It happened with Juan [Castillo] earlier this year, [Jason] Babin and then Washburn. Whatever the reasons are it’s just something that happens, especially when you’re not winning things like this happen a lot.”
Stories began to surface upon his termination that Washburn was disrespectful to Castillo and was not working in sync with the rest of the coaching staff. Jenkins said he didn’t really see that.
“Wash with his personality, he’s just a fiery person. If you really know him you know he’s a good-hearted person, he speaks highly of all the coaches when he talked to us, so we never sensed anything like there was anything personal or anything like that,” he said.
But clearly something prompted Andy Reid to make a move with just four games remaining.
A couple of the defensive linemen Wednesday talked about the difficulty of switching up styles and scheme this late into the year. It is just the latest curveball in a season full of them.
“Tommy had an opportunity to meet with all of them, sit down and talk with them over the last couple days,” said Reid. “It’s a good group, and so they are on board and they are going to work hard; that’s their nature. I’m not worried about that.”
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.