Eagles Depth Chart Notes

The Eagles today released their depth chart for Monday night’s game against the Saints.

No major changes, but some things worth noting.

On the offensive line, Danny Watkins is listed as the starter at right guard. Watkins sat last week due to a “chronic” ankle issue that was bothering him. Rookie Dennis Kelly took his place and played pretty well. We’ll find out if Watkins is healthy and in line to start, but Kelly has not replaced him on the depth chart.

Meanwhile, as expected, King Dunlap remains the starter at left tackle ahead of Demetress Bell. Dunlap played well against the Falcons.

On the defensive side of the ball, Jason Babin is still listed as the starter at left defensive end. Babin played 33 snaps last week to Brandon Graham’s 31. Babin had one hurry, no tackles and no sacks vs. Atlanta. I wrote about the production of the defensive linemen earlier today. The starter doesn’t really matter here. More important is who ends up playing more when the game’s over.

Phillip Hunt and Vinny Curry are listed as the team’s third-string defensive ends. Curry, a second-round pick, has yet to be active this season. Hunt played only special teams last week.

At defensive tackle, Fletcher Cox is officially listed as the starter ahead of Derek Landri. Cox had 11 tackles last week and has been playing more than Landri all season. Cox got his first career start against the Falcons.

And finally, not that I think Andy Reid would announce a quarterback change by just switching names on the depth chart without telling anybody, but in case you’re wondering, Michael Vick is still the starter.

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Eagles DL Review: Where Are Cole And Babin?

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jason BabinThrough seven games, it’s official: Any conversation about why the Eagles are struggling has to include a mention of the defensive line’s lack of production.

It’s true that sacks aren’t everything, and that the front four can affect the game in other ways. We’ve shown that with the All-22 on several occasions. But Jim Washburn’s group just hasn’t been good enough, and the lack of production has been stunning when you consider pretty much the entire organizational philosophy was built around getting pressure from the defensive line.

It’s not as if the Eagles stood pat either. In the offseason, they actually bolstered the unit, spending a first-round pick on Fletcher Cox, who has been their best defensive tackle. They also got a healthy Brandon Graham back, and he has been one of their more productive pass-rushers.

But as a whole, there’s been a huge dropoff. Against the Falcons, I didn’t see a lot of max-protect. Tony Gonzalez stayed in to block just three times, per Pro Football Focus. Atlanta’s backs chipped on occasion, but my guess is they do that every week. Matt Ryan got rid of the ball quickly at times, but he also had all day when he needed it. Per PFF, Ryan was 5-for-7 on passes that traveled 10 yards or more from the line of scrimmage. Combine that with Atlanta’s success on screens, and it’s no wonder that Ryan picked the Eagles apart.

There were a couple minor tweaks in personnel. Graham played more, and Jason Babin played less. Cox, who has played starter’s snaps all season, was actually on the field alongside Cullen Jenkins to begin the game.

Here’s how the production looked. If you’re new to this weekly breakdown, “Hurries” are a stat tracked by Eagles coaches after they look at the tape. And “Pressure Percentage” is how often a player notches a sack or hurry, taken opportunities into account.

 
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Trent Cole33026.1%
Cullen Jenkins291417.2%
Fletcher Cox24000%
Cedric Thornton19105.3%
Brandon Graham180211.1%
Jason Babin18015.6%
Derek Landri14000%
Darryl Tapp8000%

I’ll get to the player-by-player breakdown below, but a couple things stand out here. Cole and Babin combined for three hurries and three tackles. That’s not even close to good enough. The four Eagles defensive ends (throw in Graham and Darryl Tapp) had five hurries and no sacks. To put that into perspective, Cole had a sack and eight hurries by himself against Atlanta last year.

Other than Jenkins, the Eagles got little pass-rush production from their defensive tackles – one sack and zero hurries from the other three guys (Derek Landri, Cox and Cedric Thornton).

Here’s the player-by-player breakdown:

Jason Babin – Saw his playing time cut drastically and did not produce when he was on the field. No sacks, one hurry and zero tackles. He had not dropped back into coverage once all season (per PFF), and when Babin did so in the first, he was called for defensive holding on third down. Huge play that allowed the Falcons to continue their drive and eventually score a touchdown. He rushed upfield and got taken to the ground as Ryan scrambled for 10 yards in the second. Babin couldn’t get off Tony Gonzalez’s block as Jacquizz Rodgers found a big lane between him and Jenkins for 10 yards in the second. He fell for the fake handoff as Julio Jones took the end around for 9 yards to his side. Babin bit on the fake toss to Jones, allowing Ryan to shovel the ball to Jason Snelling for an 8-yard gain on 3rd-and-3. He doesn’t give the Eagles much against the run, so if Babin fails to produce a pass-rusher, he’ll likely see his snaps continue to shrink.

Trent Cole – He abused left tackle Sam Baker in last year’s matchup but was mostly a non-factor this time around. Cole was credited with two hurries. The most notable was when he chased Ryan out of the pocket in the red zone in the third, helping to force an incompletion. Cole had three tackles. He dropped Rodgers after a 3-yard run in the first. And he helped bring Michael Turner down after a gain of 4 in the second. Simply not playing at the level Eagles fans have come to expect over the years.

Brandon Graham – He got more snaps, but did not set the world on fire as a pass-rusher with just two hurries. Graham, however, was good against the run. He had six tackles – more than Babin or Cole have achieved in a single game all season. Graham tackled Turner after a 3-yard gain and then after a 1-yard run. He brought Rodgers down after a 1-yard pickup and had another stop for no gain. On the second touchdown (the screen to Snelling), the Falcons left him unblocked. Graham was close to Ryan, and a hand up might have at least made Ryan’s throw more difficult. As a pass-rusher, Graham chased Ryan out of the pocket and forced an incompletion in the third. He had a good bull-rush on the next play, but Ryan scrambled for 7 yards. I’d expect him to continue to get more snaps in Babin’s place.

Darryl Tapp – Not a factor on defense. Not a lot of chances, but zero hurries vs. the Falcons and just one in his last two games.

Fletcher Cox – According to the coaches’ stats, he had 11 tackles, the most of any Eagles defensive lineman all year. Some of those showed up on TV, but I’m guessing his impact will be more evident when the All-22 is released. Defensive tackles don’t get too many opportunities for interceptions, but Cox couldn’t hold on to the one that was right in his hands on the first possession. He tackled Snelling after a 5-yard dumpoff in the first. And Cox showed his athleticism, hustling to get to Jones on a WR screen, but he couldn’t bring the WR down as he picked up 37. Cox dropped Turner for a 1-yard loss in the third. He’s the Eagles’ best DT against the run, but is still inconsistent as a pass-rusher (zero hurries). On the season, Cox has 34 tackles, the most of any Eagles defensive lineman.

Cullen Jenkins – He was easily the team’s best pass-rusher in this one. Jenkins got a “gimme” sack late as Ryan just went down to keep the clock running. But he also had four hurries earlier. Jenkins was all over Turner on the screen where Cox nearly had the interception. He got good pressure on the third down where Babin was called for holding. He dropped Rodgers for a 2-yard loss in the first and pressured Ryan on third-and-goal in the red zone. Jenkins brought Ryan down after a 1-yard scramble. Later in the game, he started lining up at left defensive end in place of Babin and Graham.

Derek Landri – Not sure if he’s injured, but Landri has been a non-factor as a pass-rusher. He had zero hurries for the second straight game. He has one hurry in the last three and three hurries in the last five. He did have five tackles. Landri dropped Turner for a loss of 2 after Thornton got in the backfield. He and Kurt Coleman dropped Turner after a 1-yard gain in the second. Landri was initially double-teamed, but got no pressure at all on Ryan on the 63-yard touchdown to Jones. He nearly sacked Ryan in the second, but couldn’t bring him down behind the line of scrimmage.

Cedric Thornton – He’s showing signs of improvement. Thornton had a career-high eight tackles (six solo) and ended the Eagles’ sack drought with a takedown of Ryan. He got great penetration, but missed a tackle in the first as Landri cleaned up. Good hustle throughout from Thornton. He brought Turner down from behind after a gain of 6 on a screen in the first. He chased Rodgers down after a gain of 5 on another screen. And he was the one who finally tackled Rodgers after a 43-yard gain in the third. Thornton also stopped Turner after a 1-yard gain in the third.

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D-Line Diagnosis: Where Are the Sacks?

When asked last week why the Eagles’ defense has been unable to come up with more sacks, Todd Bowles pointed to four specific things.

“Part of the time, the ball is coming out quick,” he said. “Part of the time they’re max protecting. Part of the time we have to beat one-on-ones. Part of the time, coaching-wise, we have to scheme it better and help those guys get free.”

Let’s take a look at those four things individually.

Matthew Stafford consistently got rid of the ball quickly last week. But here’s the thing: For much of the game, that played right into the Eagles’ hands. Because of Stafford’s lack of patience and his focus on getting the ball out of his hands, he missed several opportunities at big plays downfield (see the All-22 breakdown here). And he also threw a lot of incompletions on the shorter/intermediate routes.

According to Pro Football Focus, before last week, Stafford was completing 77.1 percent of his passes between 0 and 10 yards. Against the Eagles, he completed just 12 of 22, or 54.5 percent. In other words, it’s not as if the defense was just giving up the shorter plays and allowing the Lions to methodically march down the field. They took a good number of those away. On the season, opposing quarterbacks are completing just 52.7 percent of their passes against the Eagles. That’s the best mark in the league. The secondary gets credit for that, but pressure, or even the possibility of pressure, has factored in also.

Bowles also talked about max-protecting. I showed this in the All-22 breakdown, but in case you missed it, here are a couple images.

In both cases, eight blockers against four defensive linemen. Tough to get to the quarterback in these situations. The Eagles simply have to rely on their coverage. It’s not that the Lions max-protected all game, but they chose their spots, specifically on plays downfield. I’d expect other teams to do the same going forward.

Bowles also talked about scheming better and helping the pass-rushers get free. Some might think that means increased blitzing. But I’d be surprised if the Eagles started to send a lot of extra pressure at opposing quarterbacks. The point of bringing Jim Washburn and the wide-nine was to generate pressure from the front four and not have to blitz. The Eagles have enough talent on the defensive line where they should still be able to do that.

“If it works, it’s great. If it’s not, don’t do it,” Bowles said, when asked about his philosophy on blitzing.

In other words, you might see more of it some weeks than others. It all depends on the opponent and the game-plan.

Something Washburn said the other week caught my attention too.

“We used to watch [Bears linebackers Brian] Urlacher and [Lance] Briggs,” Washburn said, via Paul Domowitch of the Daily News. “They’d stand up there in the A-gap. The other team would be scared to death to chip the ends. Urlacher and Briggs rarely came, but their presence standing up there in the A-gap affected what the offense did.”

It might not always be blitzing, but perhaps the threat of blitzing would help create space for the defensive ends.

And finally, winning one-on-one. That’s a simple way of saying the defensive linemen need to play better and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

Keeping all that in mind, below is the table we use every week to measure pass-rushing production. It takes into account opportunities (courtesy of Pro Football Focus), sacks and hurries (as tracked by the coaches). It also shows pressure percentage, which is simply the frequency with which each player notches a sack or a hurry.

 
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Jason Babin1852.52314.1%
Trent Cole1851.52313.5%
Cullen Jenkins1720148.1%
Fletcher Cox1521N/AN/A
Derek Landri114097.9%
Cedric Thornton83022.4%
Darryl Tapp730.5711.0%
Brandon Graham440.51331.8%
Phillip Hunt28027.1%

What stands out here? Let’s start with the defensive ends. Cole and Babin have combined for just four sacks. Their hurries and opportunities are identical. Both guys have track records of being productive pass-rushers. If Bowles and Washburn can scheme a way to get them more one-on-one opportunities, the sacks and turnovers are likely to follow.

It also seems like Graham is long overdue to get more snaps. On a per-play basis, he’s been easily their most productive pass-rusher. Graham played 24.4 percent of the snaps against the Lions. That number’s got to increase.

Some have asked about second-round pick Vinny Curry getting a shot. I’d have no problem with that. If he’s going to play, it’d almost definitely be for Tapp at right defensive end. Or he could step in for Hunt as the ninth lineman on gamedays, but Hunt plays special teams too.

At defensive tackle, you’ll notice the table is not filled out completely for Cox. That’s because there was a mix-up with his hurry numbers that I’m working to get clarification on.

With 14 hurries, Jenkins has been fine, but the Eagles are getting nothing out of Thornton and Landri.

Landri has nine hurries, but has struggled recently with just three in the last four games. And Thornton has just two hurries all season. Getting more interior pressure is critical going forward.

Note: Soon after I Tweeted out the link to this piece, Derek from Iggles Blog asked about the possibility of going with a 4-DE nickel look. That’d be one way to get Graham on the field more, especially considering what little pass-rush production the Eagles are currently getting from their defensive tackles.

Other than potentially getting Curry into the mix, I don’t see any personnel changes being made here. But getting more production out of this group has to be high on the list of priorities going into the final 10 games.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

All-22: What We Saw From the Eagles’ Defense

Here’s what we saw from the Eagles’ defense after having reviewed the All-22 tape.

Play 1: I mentioned yesterday how Brandon Graham led the team with five hurries, even though he only had 11 chances to rush the passer. Here’s one of them. He gets double-teamed by two Steelers offensive linemen.


But he fights through them as Fletcher Cox twists behind him.


And Graham hits Ben Roethlisberger as he throws the ball away.


Nice job all around by him.

Play 2: After re-watching the game, it became clear that the Steelers designed plays to help Roethlisberger get rid of the ball quickly. According to Pro Football Focus, 23 of his 32 passes were thrown within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. And he was just 2-for-9 on passes that traveled more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. If you take into account Roethlisberger’s ability to escape pressure, along with the Steelers’ game-plan, I don’t think it’s time to panic about the Eagles’ pass-rush. The defensive line did not play great, but I think Jim Washburn’s group will be fine. Also remember, pressure doesn’t always lead to sacks. Check out this play near the end of the first half. It looks like Brown is past Boykin, and there’s no safety deep.


But because of pressure by Cullen Jenkins, Roethlisberger is forced to scramble.


Even if he’d seen Brown and got him the football, Willie Colon was called for holding on Jenkins. The defensive line clearly had an impact here that didn’t show up in the stat sheet.

Play 3: Another example of pressure impacting a play. Here, Roethlisberger is forced to step up and gets hit by Trent Cole.


He has nowhere to go with the ball and throws incomplete in Brown’s direction. It was a third down, and the Steelers were forced to punt.

Play 4: Many have questioned why the Eagles didn’t blitz more in the second half. One theory: Because on the few occasions when they sent extra pressure in the first half, they got burned. On this play, they blitz Ryans and Mychal Kendricks, creating a six-man rush.


The Steelers pick it up, and Roethlisberger gets rid of the ball quickly to Brown, who has Nnamdi Asomugha one-on-one. It’s only a 4-yard pass, but Asomugha doesn’t take a good angle to the ball, and Brown makes a nice move, turning it into an 18-yard gain.

Play 5: Not a good performance against the run. Here, Derek Landri and Jamar Chaney get blocked, leaving Kurt Coleman as the only defender in the way of Rashard Mendenhall and a big run.


Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders does enough to get in Coleman’s way, and Mendenhall picks up 17.

By the way, be sure to check out this Iggles Blog All-22 post with more details on the run defense in the second half.

Play 6: Asomugha’s taken a lot of heat this week. Roethlisberger clearly was not afraid to throw in his direction. But on some plays, you just have to give the other team credit. For example, look at Asomugha’s coverage here on a third down in the third.


You simply cannot have a receiver blanketed any better. Keep in mind, this image is from the moment when Roethlisberger releases the ball. The throw was perfect, to Brown’s outside shoulder, and so was the timing. The result was a 6-yard completion and a first down that extended the Steelers’ drive. Later in the game, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was on Mike Wallace on an almost identical play, but Wallace dropped the ball.

Play 7: This looked to me like some great improvisation by Roethlisberger in the third. Wallace runs a shallow crossing route, and Rodgers-Cromartie has him locked up.


But Roethlisberger gets pressured and steps up in the pocket. He presumably sees that there is all kinds of room behind Wallace and lofts one downfield, allowing the receiver to try and make a play, even though I don’t believe that’s where the route was originally intended to go.


Wallace gets a hand on the ball, but can’t come up with the catch. As you can see, the Eagles dodged a bullet. A reception here is almost certainly a 54-yard touchdown. Instead, the Steelers are forced to punt.

Play 8: The Eagles dodged another bullet in the fourth on a well-designed play by the Steelers. If I’m reading it correctly, this is disguised as a wide receiver screen to Brown.


It looks like Heath Miller is going to block Asomugha. That gets Casey Matthews to bite. But instead, Miller runs right past Asomugha and into his route.


Miller is open as Matthews tries to recover, but Roethlisberger’s throw is off-target, and the result is an incompletion. It helped here that pressure from Babin forced Roethlisberger to drift to his left as he made the throw. The Steelers had to settle for a field goal.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

DL Production: Time For Graham To Get More Snaps?

Going into last week’s game, the Eagles appeared to have a big advantage with their defensive line going up against the Steelers offensive line.

But when the teams actually played, Jim Washburn’s group didn’t have much of an impact, failing to get to Ben Roethlisberger and giving up big plays in the run game all day long.

So what happened? Here’s the weekly review of the Eagles defensive line. Let’s start with the numbers:

 
Total Snaps
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Jason Babin522913.4%
Trent Cole502727.4%
Fletcher Cox462800%
Cullen Jenkins422727.4%
Derek Landri311300%
Cedric Thornton291200%
Darryl Tapp2211327.3%
Brandon Graham1811545.5%
Phillip Hunt6200%

You’ll notice there’s no column for sacks because, well, the Eagles didn’t have any for the second straight week. But this performance was far different from the previous week’s one against the Giants. The defensive line absolutely had an impact in that game. In this one, the Eagles did not get enough consistent pressure on Roethlisberger, and when they got close, they were unable to bring him down. To be fair, that’s one of his greatest strengths as a quarterback.

As for the numbers, you’ll see a lot of zeroes across the board. But the guy that should jump out here is Brandon Graham. He played 18 snaps and had 11 opportunities to rush the passer. In that time, Graham led the team with five hurries. Keep in mind that hurries are a stat kept by the team’s coaches, not by me or a league statistician. While the rest of the defensive linemen struggled, Graham got to the quarterback more than 45 percent of the time. He’s jumped ahead of Phillip Hunt in terms of playing time, but Graham needs to get on the field more.

One other thing you’ll notice is the Eagles’ lack of interior pressure. Other than Cullen Jenkins, the defensive tackles really were a non-factor when it came to getting to Roethlisberger. Perhaps because of that, we saw some different looks up front with Trent Cole and Jason Babin lined up inside on a few occasions.

Below is the player-by-player breakdown with some more notes:

Jason Babin – Quiet game with no sacks and one hurry. Jimmy Kempski over at Blogging the Beast took a detailed look at how the Steelers blocked Babin. He was chipped or double-teamed just five times all game. In other words, this was not a case of Pittsburgh consistently using extra blockers against him. As for individual plays, Babin showed great hustle, bringing Rashard Mendenhall down after a 24-yard gain (even though the play was called back). The refs missed a blatant holding call as Heath Miller threw Babin to the ground on Roethlisberger’s 9-yard run during the Steelers’ first scoring drive. Babin lined up in a few different places, including right defensive end and left defensive tackle. He got some pressure off the edge, but Roethliberger stepped up and found Chris Rainey for a 6-yard completion. He forced Roethlisberger to step up and throw incomplete on third down in the third. And Babin got his hand on Roethlisberger, but couldn’t bring him down on the big 3rd-and-12 conversion that went for 20 yards in the fourth. Against the run, Babin got blocked by Miller on a 7-yard Mendenhall run in the third.

Trent Cole – Also a quiet game – no sacks and just two hurries. Jordan Raanan of Bleeding Green Nation charted Cole’s snaps and found that he faced a chip or double-team on nine of 30 pass-rushing attempts. In other words, he had plenty of one-on-one chances. Cole got a hand on Roethlisberger in the second, but couldn’t bring him down on what turned out to be a 9-yard scramble. He lined up in different spots, including inside at defensive tackle. Cole hit Roethlisberger after he stepped up on third down in the third.

Fletcher Cox – Probably his least productive game of the season, although I have to take a look at the All-22 to see how often Cox was double-teamed. Cox got some pressure on Roethlisberger on a third down in the third. On one play, he lined up off the line of scrimmage, standing up, and got a running start. But overall, he struggled to get to the quarterback. Against the run, Cox got blocked on Mendenhall’s 9-yard run. He got blocked (and maybe held) on Isaac Redman’s 13-yard run in the third. Overall, three tackles, including one on Redman after a 2-yard run in the fourth.

Cullen Jenkins – He was easily the Eagles’ best interior pass rusher. Jenkins got decent pressure on a twist around Babin in the first, forcing Roethlisberger to step up. He drew a holding penalty on third down in the first as Willie Colon tackled him to the ground. Jenkins nearly had a sack, but drew a holding penalty instead late in the first half. He lined up at defensive end on a couple occasions. Against the run, Jenkins stopped Mendenhall for no gain in the first.

Derek Landri – Not a good game. Zero hurries, and Landri got blocked on several of the Steelers’ big run plays. Mendenhall ran in Landri’s direction for gains of 5 and 17 in the third. He got blocked on Mendenhall’s 9-yard run in the third and again on Redman’s 13-yard run. The good moments: Landri got his hand on a screen in the third and tackled Rainey after a 6-yard completion. He starts, but as you can see from the snap counts above, Cox consistently plays more.

Cedric Thornton – He was OK. Thornton dropped Rainey for no gain in the first and drew a holding penalty on a run play in the fourth. Thornton also did a good job helping to stop a Redman 4-yard run on the final drive.

Darryl Tapp – The coaches credited him with three hurries, second-most on the team, although I didn’t see him have much of an impact, other than earning a personal foul for unnecessary roughness in the first.

Brandon Graham – Mentioned him above. Graham led the team with five hurries. He hit Roethlisberger as he released the ball on a first-quarter incompletion. He charged through a double-team and hit him again, forcing Roethlisberger to throw it away in the second. Fox didn’t show a good replay, but this was the play where Roethlisberger had something to say to Graham afterwards. Graham drove Miller back with relative ease and pressured Roethlisberger into dumping it off for a 2-yard loss, but Nnamdi Asomugha was called for holding on the play. Made the most of his opportunities once again.

Phillip Hunt – He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities, but Hunt has just two hurries on the season. Played only six snaps against Pittsburgh.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

DL Review: Did Eagles’ Pass-Rush Get To Kolb?

Philadelphia Eagles defensive line coach Jim WashburnIn Sunday’s matchup against the Cardinals, the Eagles’ defensive line accounted for three sacks, but Jim Washburn’s group managed just six hurries.

As a point of comparison, the defensive line had 24 hurries against Joe Flacco and 19 against Brandon Weeden.

The reasons? For starters, Kevin Kolb only dropped back to pass 29 times. And often, his goal was to get rid of the ball quickly. While Kolb hit on the one 37-yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald, most of his throws were on short-to-intermediate routes.

The table below details snap counts and pass-rushing opportunities from Pro Football Focus. Sacks are self-explanatory. Hurries are official team stats kept by Eagles coaches. And pressure percentage simply shows how often each player notched either a sack or a hurry.

Note that these numbers are just for Sunday’s game.

 
Total Snaps
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Derek Landri3917000%
Jason Babin35211.5323,8%
Trent Cole34200.5215.0%
Fletcher Cox3316016.3%
Cullen Jenkins3019015.3%
Cedric Thornton288000%
Darryl Tapp2890.5011.1%
Brandon Graham1760.5016.7%
Phillip Hunt123000%

Those are the numbers. Below is the player-by-player breakdown:

Jason Babin – He led the Eagles with 1.5 sacks and three hurries. Babin lined up like a blitzing linebacker and rushed unblocked, splitting a sack with Cole in the first. The Eagles showed the same look on the next third down, but only rushed four, instead of six (like the first time). Babin hit Kolb and nearly had a sack, but he flipped the ball to Fitzgerald. His pressure forced Kolb to scramble on third down in the third. And Babin showed good hustle, chasing and tackling Kolb 1 yard short of the first-down marker on the play. The offensive lineman pushed Babin into Kolb for a sack in the third. Against the run, he tackled Beanie Wells after a 2-yard run in the first. And Babin tackled LaRod Stephens-Howling for a 2-yard loss, somehow avoiding a horse-collar penalty.

Cullen Jenkins – Relatively quiet game for Jenkins. He pressured Kolb out of the pocket and forced him to throw the ball away in the second for his only hurry. A huge hole opened up between Jenkins and Cox on Ryan Williams’ 25-yard run on the 3rd-and-17 draw in the fourth.

Derek Landri – Played more snaps than any other defensive lineman, but was also relatively quiet. Landri dropped Williams for a 1-yard loss in the first. No sacks, no hurries.

Trent Cole – Solid game, but I thought Cole would dominate in this one. He lined up like a blitzing linebacker and steamrolled the center, splitting a sack with Babin in the first. Cole let Kolb spin out of his grasp on the 79-yard pass to Andre Roberts that was called back. I can’t imagine he was excited about dropping back into coverage on 3rd-and-8 in the first. Kolb completed a 12-yard pass to Roberts on the play. Cole and Cox dropped Stephens-Howling for a 1-yard loss in the fourth. And he stopped Wells after a 2-yard run in the first.

Fletcher Cox – He left the game in the second because of a migraine, but would return. Good penetration, forcing a Wells cutback on a 5-yard run in the second. He and Cole dropped Stephens-Howling for a 1-yard loss in the fourth. One hurry, no sacks. It’s worth noting that he started at left defensive tackle in place of Jenkins in the second half.

Cedric Thornton – I thought this was easily his best game of the season. Thornton and Tapp stopped Wells for no gain in the second. On a separate run play in the second half, Thornton shoved the center back into the ballcarrier and then hustled to assist on the tackle near the line of scrimmage. No sacks, no hurries, but Thornton got good push up the middle on the Tapp sack that was taken away because of the holding penalty. Thornton got a good push up the middle again on the sack that Graham and Tapp split.

Darryl Tapp – Also thought this was his best game of the season. Tapp really should have had 1.5 sacks were it not for the botched holding penalty that should have been declined. His pressure forced Kolb to scramble for 3 yards in the fourth. Against the run, he tackled Wells after a 4-yard run. He and Thornton stopped Wells for no gain in the second. Tapp and Mychal Kendricks dropped Williams for a 4-yard loss in the third. And he tackled Stephens-Howling after a 5-yard run. Good game out of Tapp.

Brandon Graham – His snaps have gone from four to nine to 17 in the first three weeks. Graham was credited with half-a-sack. He got pressure on Kolb in the first, but the quarterback stepped up and hit Fitzgerald on a shallow cross. Against the run, Graham dropped Stephens-Howling for a 2-yard loss in the fourth. On the final series, he dropped Stephens-Howling for a loss on consecutive plays.

Phillip Hunt – Quiet game for Hunt, who saw Graham bite into his playing time a bit. No hurries, no sacks in limited opportunities.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

DL Review: Graham Making Most Of Chances

Here’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles defensive linemen performed Sunday against the Ravens, after having re-watched the game. Click here to find all of the game reviews.

Let’s start with the numbers. The table below details snap counts and pass-rushing opportunities from Pro Football Focus. Sacks are self-explanatory. Hurries are official team stats kept by Eagles coaches. And finally, you’ll see pressure percentage, which simply shows how often each player notched either a sack or a hurry. The reason for the percentage is that a one-sack game for a defensive lineman who rushed the passer 30 times is different than a one-sack game for someone who had just 10 opportunities.

Note that these numbers are just for Sunday’s game.

 
Total Snaps
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Fletcher Cox5234000%
Jason Babin44340514.7%
Trent Cole47331621.2%
Derek Landri36250416.0%
Cullen Jenkins32260415.4%
Darryl Tapp2315000%
Cedric Thornton2214000%
Phillip Hunt1590111.1%
Brandon Graham9404100%

The first thing that jumps out is Graham’s production in limited action. The coaches credited him with four hurries, and he was only on the field for four passing downs, meaning he pressured the quarterback on every opportunity. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to see a bump in playing time, starting this Sunday.

Cole led the way with six hurries and the defensive line’s only sack, stripping Joe Flacco from behind in the first.

Landri and Jenkins both got to Flacco quite a bit. Left guard Ramon Harewood was making just his second career start, and the Eagles got the better of him all day. Don’t be thrown off by the fact that Fletcher Cox had zero hurries. There’s a reason he played more snaps than any other defensive tackle (write-up below). And keep in mind, Cox was going up against Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda.

One other thing that stands out: Tapp and Hunt combined for one hurry. Just another reason why I think you’re going to see more of Graham. The Eagles generally reward players who are producing.

Here’s the player-by-player breakdown:

Jason Babin – He had five hurries, but wasn’t as good against the run. Babin pressured Flacco on the play where Cole forced the fumble in the first. Nice hurry in the second, forcing Flacco out of the pocket on a 3-yard completion to Ray Rice. Against the run, Babin was unblocked on Vonta Leach’s 5-yard touchdown, but he made a bee-line to Flacco. Had he read run, Babin probably would have dropped Leach for a loss. The Ravens left him unblocked on the Rice 43-yard run, but Babin couldn’t quite get to him in the backfield. Later, he made an excellent play against the run, dropping Rice after a 2-yard gain. The Eagles showed the look where Babin and Cole line up in the middle like blitzing linebackers. Babin was called for a personal foul after hitting Flacco late on 3rd-and-18 in the fourth.

Trent Cole – His sack/forced fumble was huge as it set up the Eagles’ first score. Cole got good pressure on Flacco in the second, forcing an incompletion. He and Landri hit Flacco on a third down in the third. Cole hit Flacco on the touchdown to Jacoby Jones that was called back. And he got good pressure on the first play of the final drive. Cole lined up at left defensive end on one play. Rice chipped him, Cole got up, and Rice threw him to the ground. That’s one powerful running back. By the way, the zone blitz made its return on a couple plays. Cole dropped back into coverage on a third down in the third.

Cullen Jenkins – Jenkins had four hurries. He got excellent push up the middle on DeMeco Ryans’ sack in the fourth. And Jenkins got good pressure on third down in the fourth, forcing Flacco out of the pocket. He pressured Flacco again on the final drive and actually made contact with the quarterback’s helmet, but the refs didn’t call it. Against the run, Yanda got the better of Jenkins on a couple occasions, including the Leach touchdown run. Jenkins had a chance to make a play on Rice near the line of scrimmage, but couldn’t bring him down on the 16-yard run in the second. The Eagles showed a look with him at right defensive end, Landri and Cox at tackle, and Cole at left defensive end.

Fletcher Cox – I thought he was disruptive throughout. It’s only been two games, but Cox has shown flashes that suggest he can be a dominant defensive tackle. Cox brought Rice down after a 2-yard gain in the second. He went right around Yanda (Pro Bowler) and pressured Flacco into an incompletion in the second. Not sure why the team didn’t credit him with a hurry on that one. Cox’s athleticism was on full display on one play in the second. Yanda tried to use a cut block on him, but Cox stayed on his feet, hustled to the ballcarrier and stopped Rice after a 2-yard gain. Impressive play. He got his hand on a screen to force an incompletion in the third. And Cox fought through a double-team in the fourth, drawing a holding penalty. It’s not as good as a sack, but Cox was responsible for the offense losing 10 yards. He’s going to continue to be the most-used defensive tackle on this team.

Derek Landri – Really good game. Like I mentioned above, Harewood, the Ravens’ left guard, likely saw Landri in his nightmares Sunday night. He got good push up the middle on the Flacco fumble in the first. He got in the backfield on Rice’s 4-yard carry in the first. Landri went right around Harewood and shoved Flacco as he released the ball on a 6-yard completion in the second. Later, he got good pressure, forcing Flacco out of the pocket. Landri pushed a double-team back into Flacco’s face on a third-down incompletion in the third. He shoved Harewood into the backfield, causing a 4-yard loss for Rice. He went right around Harewood and hit Flacco on a fourth-quarter throw that went incomplete. He tackled Rice after a 2-yard gain in the fourth. And he went right around Harewood to pressure Flacco on the final drive. The one negative was the 43-yard Rice run. A big hole opened up between Landri and Cole. But overall, outstanding game.

Cedric Thornton – He’s not doing much in terms of rushing the passer, but Thornton made a few nice plays. He disrupted a Rice run that gained only 2 yards in the second. And he got into the backfield on another Rice 2-yard run, but couldn’t make a play. Thornton recognized a screen and tackled Rice on an incompletion in the third.

Darryl Tapp – Tapp didn’t do much in this one. He hustled to bring Rice down after a 9-yard run in the third.

Phillip Hunt – He was quiet too. No sacks, one hurry, although he didn’t have a lot of opportunities. Hunt dropped back into coverage once from left defensive end.

Brandon Graham – As I mentioned above, he made the most of his opportunities. Graham got around the right tackle and hit Flacco as he threw in the second. He went right around the fullback on a play-action pass and hit Flacco as he threw incomplete. Graham got pressure near Flacco’s feet on a screen attempt in the third. And against the run, he stopped Bernard Pierce for no gain in the fourth. Have to respect the approach he’s taken, despite limited snaps.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Eagles DL Review: Babin Leads the Charge

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jason BabinHere’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles defensive linemen performed Sunday against the Browns, after having re-watched the game. Click here to find all of the game reviews.

The Eagles kept nine defensive linemen active in Week 1. They all saw the field, although the first group played significantly more, and Brandon Graham only saw a handful of snaps.

The table below details snap counts and pass-rushing opportunities from Pro Football Focus. Sacks are self-explanatory. Hurries are official team stats kept by the Eagles coaches. And finally, you’ll see percentages based on opportunities. The reason for those is that a two-sack game for a defensive lineman who rushed the passer 30 times is different than a two-sack game for someone who had just 10 opportunities.

 
Total Snaps
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Sack %
Hurries
Hurry %
Jason Babin402813.6%621.4%
Trent Cole412800%414.3%
Cullen Jenkins422800%310.7%
Derek Landri332200%29.1%
Fletcher Cox301915.3%210.5%
Cedric Thornton211200%00%
Darryl Tapp211200%00%
Phillip Hunt15700%114.3%
Brandon Graham5400%125%

As you can see, Babin led the way with a sack and six hurries. He was constantly around the quarterback and looked to be at full strength, despite missing the entire preseason with a calf strain. Cole had success too going up against All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas. He had a sack taken away because of a Babin offsides penalty. Good debut for Cox, who had a sack and a couple hurries. Jenkins had three hurries, and Landri added a couple. Hunt and Graham had one each. Obviously, the small number of snaps skews the percentage.

Below is a player-by-player breakdown of how each lineman played.

Jason Babin – Excellent all-around game for Babin. Not used to seeing him make plays against the run, but Babin was strong in that aspect Sunday. He dropped Trent Richardson after a 1-yard gain in the first. In the third, the Browns ran right at him, but Babin tossed the right tackle aside and stopped Richardson after a 1-yard gain. As a pass rusher, he put a hit on Brandon Weeden on third down in the second after he released the ball. Babin probably could have been called for a flag on the play. Late in the first half, he avoided a chip and hit Weeden. Babin got good pressure off the edge, forcing Weeden to scramble on the final play of the first half. He sacked Weeden in the third. Later in the quarter, he beat the right tackle badly and hit Weeden as he threw incomplete. He and Landri crushed Weeden in the third, helping to force a bad throw.

Trent Cole – He went up against one of the best left tackles in the league but found a way to make plays. Cole beat Thomas and stripped Weeden in the first, but the play was called back because of the Babin penalty. He probably got blocked in the back on the 35-yard reverse in the second, or Cole could have had a tackle for loss. He got good pressure and a hand in Weeden’s face, helping to force an incompletion in the third. The Browns tried to block him with a tight end in the third, and Cole beat his man easily, hitting Weeden as he released the ball. I think he’s in store for a big year.

Cullen Jenkins – He played a lot of defensive end in the preseason, but Jenkins played primarily at left defensive tackle in this game. The only time he shifted outside was on 3rd-and-1 a couple times in the second quarter. Powerful play in the first half by Jenkins, stopping Richardson after a 1-yard gain on a run to the left. He looped outside and pressured Weeden on third down, helping to force an incompletion in the second. Jenkins got some pressure on Weeden, forcing him to roll to his right on third down in the third. He made a great play against the run, dropping Richardson for a 3-yard loss in the red zone in the third. And it looked like he tipped a ball at the line of scrimmage later on the same possession.

Derek Landri – He went right past the guard and hit Weeden on the 24-yard completion in the first. Something I noticed upon re-watching: On DeMeco Ryans’ tackle for loss in the second, Landri took on two offensive linemen and allowed the linebacker to attack freely. In fact, that was something I noticed throughout the game. Ryans often didn’t have to deal with linemen in his face, allowing him to make plays. That’s really encouraging, and different from last year. Landri and Babin might have saved a touchdown by nailing Weeden as he threw incomplete to the tight end, who was open in the end zone in the third.

Fletcher Cox – He played left defensive tackle with the second group, but it might only be a matter of time (as in, possibly Sunday against the Ravens) until he moves up to the first group. Cox got good push up the middle on a screen attempt that went incomplete in the second. He picked up his first career sack in the third. And it’s worth noting that with the game on the line in the fourth, he was on the field with Jenkins at defensive tackle. Cox got some pressure on the final play, looping around the left end. Against the run, he brought Richardson down after a 3-yard gain in the second. And he tackled Richardson after a 5-yard gain on the next play.

Cedric Thornton – He played right defensive tackle with the second group and had a relatively quiet game. On one play, Thornton got good penetration, forcing Richardson to cut back on a 5-yard run in the second. Richardson’s longest run went through the hole between Thornton and Tapp for 9 yards. And I believe it was Thornton who jumped offsides in the second, even though the refs called it on Cox.

Darryl Tapp – He played right defensive end with the second group and had a couple good moments. Tapp helped stop Richardson for no gain in the second. And he made a nice tackle on Richardson after a 2-yard gain in the fourth. On the downside, he picked up a 15-yard penalty for jumping on Weeden after the quarterback was already down in the third.

Phillip Hunt – He played left defensive end with the second group, but only got seven chances to rush the passer. On one play, the Browns tried to block him with a tight end and a running back, but that didn’t work as Hunt pressured Weeden, who had to throw the ball away in the second.

Brandon Graham – Only a handful of snaps for Graham. He came in at left defensive end in the second and tackled Richardson after a 5-yard run. Graham got good pressure, hitting Weeden from left defensive end late in the first half.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

DL Review: Tapp Makes His Case

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Darryl TappHere’s a review of how the Eagles defensive line performed against the Browns after having re-watched Friday night’s game. Click here for the linebacker review and here for the review of the offense.

Cullen Jenkins – Once again, he started at left defensive end. The reason for that is to make the Eagles better against the run on early downs, but Jenkins hasn’t given them much as a pass rusher from that spot in the preseason. On obvious passing downs, he moved inside to right defensive tackle.

Fletcher Cox – Played left defensive tackle with the first team, but had a quiet night. Can’t say I was focused in on him, but Cox was not credited with a tackle.

Derek Landri – He certainly made the most of his limited snaps. Landri got in the backfield and tripped Montario Hardesty up for a 4-yard loss. Good hustle to bring Hardesty down after a 2-yard gain later in first. Good penetration on another run play inside the 5, drawing a holding penalty. And of course, there was the sack and forced fumble in the red zone on the first possession. The guard let him go because Cleveland was running a screen, but Landri was still able to get to Brandon Weeden.

Trent Cole – He put the finishing touches on Hardesty for a 4-yard loss in the first and recovered the Weeden fumble after the Landri sack. You know exactly what you’re getting from Cole on every snap – whether it’s at training camp, the preseason or the playoffs.

Phillip Hunt – If we’re handing out an award for best defensive lineman in the preseason, I think Hunt probably gets it. Good pressure on Weeden from left defensive end, before the QB stepped up and completed a pass to Mohamed Massaquoi in the first. Hunt came unblocked from RDE and hit Weeden, forcing an incompletion in the red zone in the second. Impressive job by him and Brandon Graham, sandwiching Colt McCoy for a sack in the second. Oh, and did you notice who made the tackle at the 14 on kickoff coverage late in the first quarter? It was Hunt.

Darryl Tapp – Browns left tackle Joe Thomas has made five Pro Bowls and been named first-team All-Pro three times. Tapp beat him cleanly, sacking Weeden and stripping the football in the first. He also recovered a Hardesty fumble in the first. I still have a difficult time seeing the Eagles just cut him. The guess here is a trade, or they keep him and go heavy on the defensive line.

Brandon Graham – On the first two series’, Graham was not part of the defensive line rotation with the starters. But when he got in the game, he played well. He was unblocked, but still did a good job to not bite on play-action, pressuring Weeden in the first. Graham went right past tackle Mitchell Schwartz to sack Weeden on 3rd-and-1. He got pretty good pressure off the edge in the red zone, forcing Weeden to step up. He was unblocked on third down in the second and forced Weeden to roll to his right and throw incomplete. Graham got good pressure on a 2nd-and-6 completion in the second. And he and Hunt combined for the sack I mentioned above. So far, good signs all around for Graham this preseason.

Antonio Dixon – Still don’t see much from him as a pass rusher. It looked like Dixon clogged the initial hole on the play where Hardesty cut back and fumbled. Dixon was called for an offsides penalty on third down in the first. That happened quite a bit at Lehigh. He’s on the bubble.

Cedric Thornton – Thornton was in on the hit with Ryan Rau where Hardesty fumbled in the first. He was called for unnecessary roughness on one play, but drew a holding penalty on the next. There was a big hole between Thornton and Dixon on Hardesty’s 6-yard run in the second. He stopped Brandon Jackson for no gain in the second with the Browns backed up inside their own 5. He’s making the team.

Vinny Curry – The rookie came in at right defensive end in the second and was in on four tackles. He brought Jackson down after a 4-yard gain in the second. He and Rau stopped Adonis Thomas for no gain in the third. And Curry stopped Thomas for no gain on another play. He was caught way upfield on a 9-yard run right at him and also called for an offsides penalty. Barring an injury to one of the guys ahead of him, it looks like Curry will probably be one of the gameday inactives once the season starts.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

DL Review: Hunt Shines Once Again

Philadelphia Eagles DE Phillip HuntHere’s a player-by-player breakdown of how the Eagles defensive linemen performed Monday night after having re-watched the game. Check out the linebacker review here, and look for write-ups of the rest of the positional groups on Tuesday and Wednesday. By the way, yes, I’m aware that Tom Brady and other starters did not play.

Cullen Jenkins – To read more about the dust-up with Andy Reid, click here and here. Most of Jenkins’ snaps came at the left defensive end spot for Jason Babin, and he wasn’t particularly effective. Jenkins had one tackle, and I didn’t notice him getting much pressure on the quarterback. On third downs, he often shifted inside to right defensive tackle, and Phillip Hunt took over on the outside. Reid said he likes Jenkins’ size against the run at defensive end, but I’m not sure we’re going to see him out there a lot when Babin gets healthy.

Fletcher Cox – The rookie got the start at left defensive tackle, alongside Derek Landri. As you’d expect, he was up and down, but has flashed the athleticism we saw in college.

Against the run, Cox stopped Shane Vereen after a 3-yard gain on a play where the Patriots were whistled for holding. Cox (2 tackles, 2 solo) later wrapped up Vereen, but not until the running back picked up 5 yards. He had a chance to bring down Brandon Bolden near the line of scrimmage, but couldn’t make the play, and the running back picked up 7. Cox did a nice job bringing Stevan Ridley down after a 2-yard run in the third.

As a pass rusher, Cox beat a double team and pressured Ryan Mallett, but was whistled for a costly roughing the passer penalty that negated a Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie interception. It looked like Cox tried to hold up, but it’s the kind of call we see flagged all the time. He did a good job to hit Brian Hoyer, throwing off the timing of a screen in the second. The only time Cox lined up outside was when the Eagles showed the look where the tackles shift out and the defensive ends stand up between them to rush the passer.

Derek Landri – Pretty quiet game for Landri (2 tackles, 1 solo), who ran with the first team. He got into the backfield a couple times but couldn’t get to the ballcarrier. Landri dropped Bolden after a 1-yard gain late in the first half.

Trent Cole – He had some good moments (3 tackles, 1 solo), even though Cole did not notch a sack. He hit Mallett as the QB got rid of the ball for an 8-yard gain in the first. He beat left tackle Nate Solder, pressuring Mallett and forcing him to rush his throw on an incompletion in the first. Cole would have had a third-down sack if not for Nnamdi Asomugha’s holding penalty. He knocked Solder to the ground with a bull-rush and forced Mallett out of the pocket in the red zone in the second. And Cole showed his trademark hustle, bringing Ridley down after a 2-yard gain in the third.

Phillip Hunt – He’s been outstanding in the first two preseason games. Hunt (4 tackles, 2 solo) played with the first team on third down, taking over at left defensive end as Jenkins moved inside and Landri came off the field. He got a hand in Mallett’s face on an early incompletion. He stopped Danny Woodhead after a 2-yard gain on 3rd-and-15 and hit Mallett, forcing an incompletion in the second. Hunt twisted inside from the LDE spot and hit Mallett on third down, but not before the QB completed a pass to Deion Branch for 20 yards.

Great hustle play: Hunt lined up as a rush linebacker, got all the way to the Patriots’ 35 (the line of scrimmage was the 28), then ran back after a completed screen, tackling Vereen at the 8. He beat Marcus Cannon around the edge and stripped Hoyer in the second. Later, he forced Hoyer out of the pocket, but the QB still completed a third-down pass to Donte’ Stallworth late in the first half. In the third, Hunt even lined up at right defensive tackle on one play.

Hunt will be on the roster, and the way he’s playing, he’ll have to be active on gamedays.

Brandon Graham – He played left defensive end with the second unit and was OK. Graham caused disruption, getting into the backfield on a Vereen run that was stopped after 2 yards. As a pass-rusher, he was matched up one-on-one against Cannon, but couldn’t get any pressure on Mallett on the second-quarter touchdown throw. On a different play, Graham got good pressure off the edge in the red zone, helping to force a rushed Hoyer throw and incompletion. He also got some pressure off the edge, forcing Hoyer to step up into a Thornton sack late in the second. And Graham was called for offsides in the first half too.

Overall, an ok performance. He will be on the roster and penciled into the defensive rotation.

Cedric Thornton – He continues to play himself onto the roster. Thornton (4 tackles, 2 solo) played left defensive tackle with the second group and forced Vereen to cut back on a 3-yard run in the first. He burst through the backfield and dropped Bolden for a loss of 1 in the second. And Thornton stopped Ridley for no gain in the third. As a pass rusher, he broke through up the middle against an initial double team and sacked Hoyer.

Antonio Dixon – Just not seeing it with him. Dixon had a pair of tackles (0 solo), but he’s not a factor as a pass rusher. I might have to leave him off my 53-man roster projection this week.

Darryl Tapp – Playing right defensive end with the second group, the veteran picked up a pair of personal foul penalties in the first half. Early on, center Ryan Wendell and Thornton had their hands in each others’ facemasks after the whistle. Wendell was on top of Thornton, and Tapp came over to shove him, drawing a peanlty. Later, he was called for a pretty obvious roughing the passer penalty. He also recovered the Hoyer fumble in the second after Hunt stripped the quarterback. Tapp sits squarely on the roster bubble.

Vinny Curry – The second-round pick didn’t enter the game until the final drive of the third quarter, playing right defensive end. I’d expect him to get more playing time in the last two preseason games.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

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