Self-Scouting: Taking Stock Of the Defense

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay BuccaneersWe went through the offense yesterday. Here’s a position-by-position look at where the Eagles’ defense stands going into the final five games.

DEFENSIVE LINE

The guys up front have been the key to the defensive improvement. Cedric Thornton leads all the team’s linemen with 58 tackles and has looked like a natural in the two-gap scheme since Week 1. He’s versatile, powerful and has been perhaps the Eagles’ most consistent defensive player all season long.

Fletcher Cox has really come on and has 13 tackles the past two weeks. He has three sacks and leads the team with 19 hurries; no other player has more than eight. Bennie Logan has been a huge upgrade over Isaac Sopoaga at nose tackle. He’s got 15 tackles in the last three games. That’s just three fewer than Sopoaga had in the first eight games.

Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers and Damion Square round out the rotation. Curry has been the team’s most productive pass-rusher and is tied for the team lead with four sacks. Read more »

Injury Report: Peters, Kendricks Questionable

Eagles Tackle Jason Peters without helmet at practiceHere is the Eagles’ injury report for Sunday’s game against Washington:

Out: LB Jake Knott (hamstring), S Earl Wolff (knee)

Questionable: CB Bradley Fletcher (pectoral), LB Mychal Kendricks (knee), T Jason Peters (quadricep, pectoral), QB Michael Vick (hamstring)

Probable: TE Brent Celek (hip), S Patrick Chung (shoulder), WR Riley Cooper (knee), DE Cedric Thornton (knee).

Plenty of injury concerns for the Eagles. Read more »

Notes: Goode Fined 10K; Injury Update

The league fined linebacker Najee Goode $10,000 for his hit to the head of Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien Sunday.

Goode, filling in for the injured Mychal Kendricks, was whistled for roughing the passer in the fourth quarter after his hands came in contact with Tolzien’s helmet.

“I can’t afford it,” said Goode, who is making $480,ooo this season, joking: “I’m going to make DeMeco [Ryans] pay for it.”

Goode says he plans on appealing the fine, though the evidence may be stacked against him. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Three Kelly Leftovers

kelly_400_111113Below are three items that stood out from Chip Kelly’s day-after press conference.

1. I’ve received several questions on Twitter about injuries, but Kelly didn’t provide much information on that front.

“I do not have an update right now,” he said.

Pressed again later, Kelly said: “Mychal [Kendricks] said he felt good, didn’t think there was anything big-time wrong with him. But we’ll see. Jason [Peters] said he’s going to play. But every time Jason’s had anything, he’s told me he’s going to play. But the one thing about Jason is he has played. He hasn’t missed any time since I’ve been here.”

Kendricks and safety Earl Wolff both suffered knee injuries Sunday. Peters first suffered a head injury and then had a quad issue that knocked him out of the game. Read more »

Observations: Eagles 49, Raiders 20

foles_400_110313Here’s what we saw during today’s Eagles-Raiders game.

OFFENSE

* The question coming in was: How would Nick Foles rebound from his disastrous performance two weeks ago against the Cowboys? Even Foles’ biggest supporters could have never imagined he would come back with one of the best statistical performances in NFL history. Foles completed 22 of 28 passes for 406 yards and tied an NFL record with seven touchdowns. The Eagles routed the Raiders, 49-20, for their fourth win of the season. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Midterm Grades (Defense)

barwin_400_103013We went over the offense on Tuesday. Now here’s a look at how the defense grades out through the first half of the season.

Defensive line: B-

This group has shown more improvement than any other on the team from Week 1 to Week 8. And defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro deserves credit for that.

Cedric Thornton is playing lights-out on a weekly basis and leads all Eagles D-Linemen with 45 tackles. Fletcher Cox has really come on as of late and has three sacks to go along with a team-high 15 hurries (no other Eagle has more than seven). Isaac Sopoaga was a non-factor, but players like Clifton Geathers on the second team are starting to show flashes.

Opponents are averaging 3.7 YPC vs. the Eagles. Only five teams have posted a lower number. Read more »

The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Giants

kelce_400Editor’s Note: This new feature will post every Friday and replace the old Cheat Sheets. We’ll bring you nuggets from the locker room, scouting reports on the upcoming game, reader e-mail and more.

***

It was after midnight by the time Jason Kelce had fired up his iPad and loaded the coaches tape to see what had gone wrong.

Hours earlier, he had been on the field at MetLife Stadium during one of the more frustrating games of his young NFL career. The Giants came up with a gameplan to stop the Eagles’ most popular run play: the inside zone read. The biggest factor in their success? Stunts by the defensive tackles that kept Kelce off-balance all game long.

“I was kind of checking, hitting refresh every single minute to see when it would come up,” Kelce said. “Very frustrating game for me. I knew I played bad even during the game. I knew the stuff wasn’t going well for me and that we tried some things to fix it, but I felt like they had a good take on when to do it and when not to do it. So we didn’t really handle it well throughout the game, me in particular.” Read more »

All-22: State Of the Eagles’ Defense

Barwinb_All22_102413Back in the spring, new Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis was asked if he had spent time looking at Jim Johnson’s scheme and concepts.

“He had some great dynamic pressures, and I’ve studied a lot of them,” Davis said. “They were out-of-the-box thinking. But when you really break him down, it was more guys up in the A-gaps with the illusion of pressure than actual [sending] more than four rushers.

“There were times that he brought more. …But he did a great job of keeping offenses off-balance through both pressure, illusion of pressure and non-pressure. And you need all elements to attack an offense because there’s some times you pressure some of the stuff Coach [Chip Kelly] does, you’re going to get eaten alive.”

Davis’ comments serve as a good launching off point to examining what’s working well for the Eagles on defense. Last week, they were able to keep Tony Romo off-balance and free up rushers all game long, both with the blitz and the threat of the blitz. Read more »

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