Hunt Waived/Injured; Roster Down To 75

The Eagles waived/injured outside linebacker Phillip Hunt Tuesday to get their roster down to 75 prior to the 4 p.m. deadline.

If Hunt goes unclaimed by 4 p.m. Wednesday, he will revert back to the Eagles injured reserve list.

The 27-year-old suffered a partially-torn ACL against the Patriots in the preseason opener. He was the fourth Eagles player to suffer a torn ACL this preseason, joining Jeremy Maclin, Arrelious Benn and fellow linebacker Jason Phillips.

The roster must be trimmed to 53 players by August 31.

The team waived/injured cornerback Eddie Whitley on Sunday. They will find out this afternoon if he has been claimed or will revert back to IR.

 

Partially Torn ACL For Phillip Hunt

Reserve outside linebacker Phillip Hunt underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his left ACL, the team announced Thursday.

Hunt is the fourth Eagles player to suffer a torn ACL this preseason, joining Jeremy Maclin, Arrelious Benn and fellow linebacker Jason Phillips. The first three players sustained the injury on the NovaCare practice fields. It is believed that Hunt was hurt at Lincoln Financial Field Friday against the Patriots.

“We’re looking into everything,” Chip Kelly said after Benn went down. “Obviously, when you have the same injury and it happens in a two‑week span or whatever it is.  We’re going to look at it and try to figure out, obviously, is it preventable?  Is it something that we can make sure doesn’t happen?  But I don’t have any information.  I know we’re looking at it.  But a lot happens any time we have injuries.  Our doctors and trainers are trying to figure that part out how the overall scope of everything we do.  But it’s something that we certainly are looking at right now.”

Hunt, who played defensive end the last two seasons for the Eagles, was trying to capture a spot on the roster as an outside linebacker in Billy Davis‘ new 3-4 scheme. Trent Cole, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham appear to be the only locks to make the team at that position. Hunt’s injury further opens the door for Chris McCoy, who has had a strong camp. Everette Brown and Travis Long are also competing for roster spots.

Hunt has three sacks in 22 games for the Eagles.

Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Eagles Depth Chart Outlook: Outside Linebackers

Philadelphia Eagles DE Brandon Graham.This is the fourth in a series. Throughout the next week or two, we’ll take a position-by-position look at the Eagles’ roster. What you’ve missed so far:

The story at outside linebacker for the Eagles has more to do with changing roles than new faces.

With the Birds moving to a 3-4, Brandon Graham and Trent Cole are expected to transition from defensive end. The team also added Connor Barwin as a free agent.

A couple other new names who figure to line up at outside linebacker as well in the spring: Everette Brown and Chris McCoy. Brown was originally a second-round pick by the Panthers in 2009. McCoy spent the last two seasons in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders.

The Eagles also still have Phillip Hunt.

As we mentioned yesterday, on average, 3-4 teams kept 8.1 linebackers last season. Here’s a look at the players on the roster:

 
Height
Weight
Age
Years/Starts
Connor Barwin6-4260264/31
Everette Brown6-1263253/3
Trent Cole6-3270308/113
Brandon Graham6-2265253/12
Phillip Hunt6-1254272/0
Chris McCoy6-3261260/0

Pencil ‘em in: Barwin, Graham, Cole.

Barwin is the only player on the roster with experience playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 (in the NFL, that is). He had 11.5 sacks in 2011, but Barwin’s production dropped off (3.5 sacks) last year. Howie Roseman has said that had to do with how the Texans used him. We’re in the process of taking a closer look to determine how credible of an excuse that is.

Graham was the Eagles’ most effective pass-rusher last season. As we noted earlier this offseason, he made something happen (sack, hurry, hit, batted pass) on 20.5 percent of his pass-rushing attempts in 2012. Now he’ll look to be productive in a new scheme at a new position.

Billy Davis and company are in the process of evaluating the Eagles’ defensive personnel. In all likelihood, Graham will be used in a role that maximizes his abilities as a pass-rusher. But he’ll have to prove this offseason that he’s capable of dropping back when called upon.

Cole played through an injury in 2012, but has admitted that he had a “bad year.” He’s played eight seasons as a 4-3 defensive end and is now being asked to play rush linebacker for the first time at the age of 30. According to EaglesCap.com, the Eagles would actually take more of a salary cap hit if they cut Cole than if they kept him.

And the word from the team is that they want Cole to be a part of the future. The only question is fit. If Cole returns to being the guy who averaged more than 11 sacks per season from 2009 to 2011, they can probably find a way to limit the number of times he’s asked to drop back.

The other option would be to find a defensive line role that fits his skill set. Cole has always played bigger than his size, and aside from last year, has been excellent against the run. It’s also worth noting that even if the Eagles have a 3-4 base look, the outside linebackers could be true defensive ends in four-man front sub packages.

I don’t think Cole’s going anywhere. But the coaching staff will have to spend the next few months figuring out a way to best utilize his skill set.

Fighting for spots: Hunt, Brown, McCoy.

A couple things are apparent here. Number one, the Eagles do not have a lot of depth at outside linebacker, especially considering that two of the players expected to contribute have never played the position before.

And secondly, their outside linebackers don’t have much experience dropping back into coverage. Even Barwin, who played OLB in the Texans’ 3-4, dropped back only about 13.6 percent of the time on passing plays last year, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Eagles recently worked out Trevor Scott, and it would not surprise me if they added an outside linebacker at some point in the next few months.

As for the players here, Hunt did not play a lot last year and was not really productive, despite a strong preseason. He faces an uphill battle in making the team.

Brown, meanwhile, was out of the league last year and has only played in three games since the end of the 2010 season. Expecting anything out of him would be a mistake, even though he’s only 25.

McCoy was originally a seventh-round pick in 2010, spent two seasons in the CFL and is coming off of a knee injury. In other words, if he surprises, great. But it’s unreasonable to expect anything out of him.

Overall, quite a few question marks with this group. It’s difficult to project starters when the scheme is likely far from finalized. But there should be a way to get Barwin, Graham and Cole plenty of snaps, regardless of who starts (more here on a potential rotation).

The next step for the coaches will be to properly evaluate what the current players are capable of. That process continues at the NovaCare Complex during next week’s OTAs.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

How Eagles’ Current Pieces Fit In 3-4, 4-3 Under

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Trent ColeHowie Roseman believes the Eagles have some pieces in place to transition to a new defensive scheme – one that will not include Cullen Jenkins or Mike Patterson.

As for the details, there’s not a whole lot we know right now. We know Chip Kelly prefers a 3-4. We know defensive coordinator Billy Davis has a background in multiple schemes, including the 4-3 under. Having spoken to Davis and some of the other assistants, I got the impression that pre-snap disguise is going to be a big part of whatever the Eagles do.

As we look ahead to free agency (March 12) and the draft (April 25), now seems like a good time to take stock of the Eagles’ defensive linemen to see how they might fit going forward.

Fletcher Cox – In a 3-4, Cox shifts out to defensive end. If you remember from the previous post on the 4-3 under, one of the linemen is a 3-technique (between the guard and tackle). On the weak side, this player gets designed one-on-one opportunities and needs to be a good pass-rusher. Cox would seem to fit the mold perfectly.

“He can be an end, a 3-technique, a nose tackle, he can be a 5-technique, a 4-technique,” Roseman said at the Combine. “He’s got an incredible skill set. He does all those things really well. I think you’re looking for a jump from him year one to year two, a young guy, 21-years-old. We’re excited about Fletcher Cox and what he can bring to our football team.”

Trent Cole -He’s coming off a down year, and while Cole’s best days are probably behind him, he’s only 30-years-old and should still be able to contribute. The question is: Where?

Cole has played defensive end in a 4-3 his entire career. In Davis’ 4-3 under scheme in Arizona, the “Predator” was a pass-rush specialist on the weak side. With the Cardinals, the Predator rushed the quarterback 94 percent of the time, according to Pro Football Focus. The Seahawks also ran a 4-3 Under, and Chris Clemons rushed the QB 89.9 percent of the time last year.

“Trent is the same way [as Brandon Graham]. He can rush the passer,” Roseman said. “If you look at 3-4 outside linebackers, Trent has the skill set that a lot of those guys have. I think obviously if we transition to that at some point, then you’re talking about guys who haven’t done it and they have to practice it and do it. You’re talking about a projection, but that’s what happens in the draft too. The teams that have been 3-4 teams, they’re taking ends and they’re dropping them back. It’s all projections.”

Many have questioned whether Cole would be good enough in pass coverage to play outside linebacker in a true 3-4. He’s dropped back into coverage 14 times the past two seasons. Cole did so a little more back in 2010 under Sean McDermott, but even then, it was only 7.5 percent of the time (43 total snaps).

The truth is, most 3-4 teams have an outside linebacker whose job it is to primarily rush the passer. DeMarcus Ware rushed the QB 88 percent of the time; Clay Matthews 85 percent; San Francisco’s Ahmad Brooks 81 percent; Aldon Smith 85 percent; Kansas City’s Tamba Hali 83 percent; and Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan 81 percent.

Cole averaged 11 sacks per season from 2007 to 2011. The key to his future is not whether he can cover, but whether he can get back being an effective pass-rusher.

Brandon Graham – His projection is probably similar to Cole’s.

“When he came out, there was a lot of discussion about him being a 3-4 outside linebacker and him being able to play on his feet,” Roseman said of Graham. “I think he can do that. He can play. He can rush the passer, he can hold the edge, he can play in space, so I think that is a transition Brandon can do. Wherever we go, I think Brandon is going to be a piece of that.”

On a per-snap basis, Graham was the Eagles’ most productive pass-rusher last season. He could fit in the Predator role or as an outside linebacker in a true 3-4. Graham has dropped back 23 times in his entire career.

One more follow-up on the coverage note I mentioned above. I took a look at PFF’s snap counts for 3-4 outside linebackers last season. Of the 25 3-4 OLBs who played the most snaps, only eight dropped into coverage 30 percent of the time or more. In other words, cover skills shouldn’t be ignored, but the focus of outside linebacker in a 3-4 is still to rush the QB.

Vinny Curry - He also falls in the same category as Graham and Cole – with a couple caveats.

For starters, we don’t know what Curry brings to the table as a pass-rusher. He only had 33 pass-rushing opportunities all of last season and didn’t have a sack or hurry, according to team stats. But obviously, that’s too small a sample size to make any projections off of. Curry could be in the mix for the Predator role or an outside linebacker role in a 3-4.

Our buddy Tommy Lawlor over at IgglesBlitz.com brought up another possibility for Curry: SAM. Right now, there’s no clear-cut option at SAM on the Eagles’ roster. In Davis’ Arizona scheme, this player rushed the passer 70 percent of the time and dropped back 30 percent of the time. Curry would have to prove himself as a cover guy to get a look at this spot.

Perhaps more likely, the Eagles target this position in free agency and/or the draft. Oregon’s Dion Jordan would appear to be a perfect fit.

Antonio Dixon – Roseman was asked about the possibility of Dixon playing nose tackle.

“I don’t think there is any question about it,” he said. “That’s his skill set. He’s a big body, good use of his hands, he’s a run-stopper. He’s kind of what you look for if you’re looking for a 3-4 nose tackle.”

Dixon played well for the Eagles in 2010, but he’s played a total of 122 snaps the last two seasons per PFF. I’ll be surprised if he’s the team’s Plan A going into offseason workouts.

Whether the Eagles go to a straight 3-4 or a 4-3 under, they’ll likely target a nose tackle or two in the coming months.

Cedric Thornton – The 4-3 under calls for the 5-technique (between the tackle and tight end) defensive end on the strong side to do a lot of the dirty work and be stout against the run. Thornton could be an option to fill that role. He didn’t do much as a pass-rusher last year, but has the size (6-4, 309) and motor the Eagles could covet from this spot.

Thornton will not be handed the job, however. It’s likely that the Eagles add some bodies who can play DE in a 3-4.

Phillip Hunt – He was a non-factor last year and saw limited playing time. Hunt could get a look at outside linebacker in the spring, but he’ll be fighting for a roster spot.

—–

I didn’t mention some of the new faces that have already been added –  like Ronnie Cameron (6-2, 295), Everette Brown (6-1, 256), Chris McCoy (6-3, 261). Cameron could get reps at DE; Brown and McCoy look like rush linebackers. All will obviously be battling for roster spots.

Looking ahead to the coming months, the Eagles’ need spots are nose tackle and SAM linebacker. But they will also likely add 3-4 defensive ends, and as we’ve learned over the years, they’ll always have their eyes open for pass-rushers.

So while some pieces are in place, there is plenty of work to do in the months ahead.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Eagles DL Production: Checking In On Graham, Curry

Philadelphia Eagles DE Brandon Graham.Coming off an outstanding performance in Week 15 against the Bengals, the Eagles’ defensive line was not nearly as impressive Sunday afternoon against the Redskins

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).

 
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Trent Cole21029.5%
Brandon Graham18015.6%
Cullen Jenkins15000%
Derek Landri13000%
Fletcher Cox11019.1%
Cedric Thornton11000%
Phillip Hunt6000%
Vinny Curry4000%

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.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

The following Eagles are inactive for today’s 1 p.m. matchup against the Redskins: Michael Vick, Greg Salas, Chris Polk, Stanley Havili, Darryl Tapp, Danny Watkins and Matt Kopa.

The surprises on the list are Watkins and Tapp. Watkins did not appear on the injury report all week and looks to be a healthy scratch. The Eagles have two backup offensive linemen: Matt Tennant and Demetress Bell. Tennant would presumably enter the game in the event that Evan Mathis, Dallas Reynolds or Jake Scott were to suffer an injury. Bell is the swing tackle.

As for Tapp, the Eagles have tightened their defensive line rotation in recent weeks, allowing starting defensive ends Trent Cole and Brandon Graham to play more snaps. This gives younger players Vinny Curry and Phillip Hunt a chance to play more.

Despite being healthy, Vick is inactive. He has not dressed since suffering a concussion against the Cowboys on Nov. 11. Trent Edwards will serve as Nick Foles’ backup.

LeSean McCoy returns to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 18 when he sustained a concussion in the final two minutes of the first meeting with the Redskins. He’ll start but will likely be eased back in, Andy Reid said during the week. Bryce Brown figures to see a fair share of playing time.

Brent Celek missed last week’s game because of a concussion. He’s back in the lineup today. Tight end Evan Moore, who was signed during the week, is active. Emil Igwenagu replaces Havili at fullback. He could see some snaps at tight end too.

Don’t forget to join us for a live chat during today’s game. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Eagles DL Production: Cox, Cole And Graham In 2013?

The Eagles’ defensive line turned in its best performance of the season Thursday night against the Bengals.

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.

 
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Trent Cole33129.1%
Cullen Jenkins28103.6%
Fletcher Cox271.5214.8%
Brandon Graham272.5322.2%
Derek Landri130N/AN/A
Darryl Tapp9000%
Cedric Thornton80112.5%
Vinny Curry4000%
Phillip Hunt3000%

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.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Eagles DL Production: Success Without Washburn?

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.

 
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Trent Cole31000%
Cullen Jenkins31116.5%
Fletcher Cox30116.7%
Brandon Graham29000%
Derek Landri10000%
Cedric Thornton100110.0%
Vinny Curry6000%
Darryl Tapp5000%
Phillip Hunt5000%

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.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

DL Production: Graham Getting It Done?

Philadelphia Eagles DE Brandon Graham.The Eagles’ pass-rush had some good moments early against the Cowboys, but was non-existent in the second half when Tony Romo completed all 10 of his pass attempts.

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.

 
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Trent Cole220.519.1%
Brandon Graham201.5430.0%
Mike Patterson18015.6%
Cullen Jenkins17000%
Cedric Thornton12000%
Fletcher Cox10000%
Derek Landri10000%
Vinny Curry9000%
Darryl Tapp6000%
Phillip Hunt4000%

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.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

The following Eagles are inactive for tonight’s matchup against the Carolina Panthers: Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, Chris Polk, Jason Avant, Greg Salas, Nate Menkin and Phillip Hunt.

Nick Foles will make his second career start as Vick continues to recover from a concussion he suffered against the Cowboys two weeks ago.

McCoy is recovering from a concussion he suffered in the final two minutes of the Redskins game last week. Bryce Brown, a seventh-round pick, will get his first start of the season. He is averaging 4.4 yards per carry on the season. Dion Lewis and Stanley Havili should see some action too. Chris Polk is out with a toe injury.

Avant is out for the second straight game with a hamstring injury. That means more time for Riley Cooper and Damaris Johnson. The Eagles signed Salas and released Mardy Gilyard this week, but Salas is inactive.

On the defensive line, Vinny Curry is active for the first time all season. But the Eagles still have five defensive ends (Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Curry) active. So we’ll see how much of the field the second-round pick actually sees.

The offensive line will be Dennis Kelly (RT), Jake Scott (RG), Dallas Reynolds (center), Evan Mathis (left guard) and King Dunlap (left tackle). Danny Watkins is active, but he’s not starting for the second consecutive game. Scott was at home watching a couple weeks ago. He had three penalties in his first start, but otherwise played well.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

« Older Posts