Here is a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ defense after having reviewed the All-22 tape.
* This group led the charge. Joique Bell needed 23 carries to gain 69 yards (3.0 YPC). And the Lions failed to gain more than 8 yards on any single run. Cedric Thornton was outstanding, leading all defensive linemen with six tackles (per team stats) and a forced fumble, which the Eagles turned into a takeaway. Thornton helped blow up a Bell run that gained 3 in the second and was disruptive throughout. Read more »
Chip Kelly might not admit it, but he has favorites.
Players whose names he will bring up unprompted. Guys he’ll go out of his way to mention as underrated or under-appreciated. And atop that list this year has been tight end Brent Celek.
On the surface, Celek’s numbers are unimpressive: 23 receptions for 319 yards. He’s on pace for his lowest per-game averages since 2008 in both categories. But there are plenty of reasons why Kelly has sung Celek’s praises all year long.
“I think Chip respects guys that give everything they’ve got on every single play when you’re out there,” Celek said. “I respect everything that he’s done. Everything that he does makes sense, and you as a football player, that’s what you want. You want answers to some of your questions, and he answers those. And everything he wants you to do, it all makes sense.”
The strong relationship between Celek and Kelly was no given during the offseason. The seventh-year tight end was an Andy Reid loyalist. Even as things fell apart last season, Celek stood at his locker after every game and defended his head coach.
Meanwhile, after Kelly was hired, he made moves to bolster Celek’s position, signing James Casey in free agency and drafting Zach Ertz in the second round. Those moves could have rubbed Celek the wrong way and put his standing with the team in question, but Kelly made sure that was a non-issue. Read more »
Asked why the Eagles’ pass-rush has seen a boost in recent weeks, defensive coordinator Billy Davis pointed to continuity.
“I think the guys just keep getting better and better as the weeks go on,” he said. “The guys, they are fresh, they are rolling them in, so everybody gets the different one‑on‑ones. I think the stunts are being executed at a higher level right now because the guys have been with each other and doing it at full speed for awhile. We have been healthy, so the same guys are lining up next to the same guys and that helps continuity.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Eagles have pressured opposing QBs on 15 dropbacks per game since Week 6, the second-highest total in the NFL.
Pressuring Carson Palmer was critical in last week’s 24-21 victory over the Cardinals. The Eagles came up with five sacks, four QB hits and created disruption throughout that led to turnovers and other negative plays. Those things will factor in heavily once again this week against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.
Below is our weekly look at how the team’s pass-rushers are performing. Read more »
In Chip Kelly’s final season at Oregon, the Ducks’ defense led the nation in takeaways with 41. They finished second in that category in 2010.
In his two-year stint as defensive coordinator in Arizona, Billy Davis’ units were sixth in takeaways both seasons, generating 59 in all. He had similar success in that department as DC in San Francisco.
The 2013 Eagles are currently ninth in the NFL with 22 takeaways, and gaining steam. Nine of those have come during this current four-game winning streak.
What is it about the concepts and teachings of this coaching staff that helps create a turnover-friendly environment? Let’s take a look: Read more »
Chip Kelly stood at the podium late Sunday afternoon and prepared to answer questions about his team’s performance against the Arizona Cardinals.
“It looked like the offense had a lot of trouble after that touchdown drive to start the second half-” a reporter started before Kelly interrupted.
“Can we go positive with the first question on a win?” he joked.
About 10 minutes later, the Eagles’ locker room opened up to reporters, and while it was clear that players were happy to have gotten a win, they knew there were plenty of mistakes that needed to be corrected.
After putting together an impressive 13-play, 82-yard drive to start the third quarter, the offense stalled in a big way. The Eagles totaled 22 yards (not counting penalties or kneel-downs) on six drives. They managed just five first downs during that stretch and did not move more than 16 yards on any single possession.
“We try to stay out of this situation,” said LeSean McCoy. “We just have to do a better job of closing out the game. We have gone through this a couple of times and we just have to do a better job.” Read more »
As Connor Barwin finished up with the media last Sunday and got ready to head for the showers, he noticed his teammate Trent Cole had a crowd of reporters around him.
“Hey Trent, say the Bearcats played really good today,” Barwin yelled to a grinning Cole, his fellow Cincinnati alum. “Say that. Tell ‘em how the Bearcats showed up.”
Against the Redskins, Barwin and Cole both set season-highs in tackles. They combined for 21 total, along with three sacks, a batted pass and a forced fumble. All in all, a pretty good day at the office for the Eagles’ starting outside linebackers. Read more »
If you missed the game review of the offense, click here. Now, onto 10 observations of the Eagles’ defense after having re-watched the game.
1. The Eagles’ defense shut out the Redskins for three-plus quarters, but let’s start in the fourth where things got a little dicey. Trent Cole was trailing Darrel Young in coverage, and Patrick Chung was closing in from his deep safety spot down the left sideline. Robert Griffin III escaped pressure and lofted one to Young. Cole went flying at him, and Chung did the same from the opposite direction. They both whiffed and collided into one another as Young got free for the 62-yard score. Then on the 2-point conversion, the Redskins set up with a bunch formation to the right, and Chung completely lost track of Nick Williams.
2. Roc Carmichael had a rough fourth quarter. But his coverage wasn’t bad on the 41-yard TD to Aldrick Robinson. Griffin underthrew the ball, and Robinson made a great adjustment. I asked Carmichael last week when he’s taught to turn and find the football. He said he watches the receiver’s eyes and hands. Obviously he could have done a better job on that play. Carmichael also gave up completions of 19, 9, 28 and 7 in the fourth quarter. The most concerning of those was the 28-yarder. The Eagles had the Redskins with a 3rd-and-25, but they were able to extend their drive with a completion to Santana Moss. Carmichael might have been expecting more safety help, but the safeties are going to play particularly deep in that spot, focused on keeping everything in front of them. Read more »
When asked to describe Connor Barwin, second-year player Vinny Curry pointed to the impact his teammate has made during the week.
“He’s definitely brought a lot of different things to this team,” Curry said. “He’s a leader in so many different ways. He’s all about team camaraderie. We all get together and do dinner every week. The front, the D-Line, the inside linebackers and the outside linebackers. And that’s something he brought to the team. And just look at us now, guys out there making plays. Everybody’s happy, everybody’s jumping around, compared to last year. See what I’m saying? It’s just fun to be a part of.”
If having weekly dinners together led directly to defensive success, every unit in the league would be lining up for unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks. But there’s no denying that the Eagles had a toxic mix of personalities in the locker room last year, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.
Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn were fired in-season. Jason Babin was sent packing. And the defensive backs spent most weeks pointing fingers at one another.
“I think what we honestly lacked a lot on defense last year was leadership,” said center Jason Kelce, who played with Barwin at Cincinnati. “And I think that wasn’t DeMeco [Ryans’] fault. A lot of that was the defensive line and the DBs that we had in there were kind of very selfish groups, and that rubbed off on the ‘backers and everything else. Read more »
Brandon Graham is in his fourth year now, believe it or not, yet in many respects is still waiting for his career to get going.
He has been largely stuck in neutral since being taken with the 13th overall pick back in 2010. The Michigan product has watched some of his peers from that draft class take off to reach All-Pro heights. It is his belief that he will still reach that level. But it hasn’t shaken out for Graham thus far. He had multiple injuries early; underwent microfracture surgery and had his ACL repaired. He has played under four different defensive coordinators (Sean McDermott, Juan Castillo, Todd Bowles, Billy Davis) in as many years, and has simply been unable to capture the form that made him one of the premiere college players in the country.
Where is his frustration level at the moment?
“It’s almost at a 10,” Graham admitted. Read more »
On their first drive of the game, the Packers set up with a 1st-and-10 from the Eagles’ 31-yard-line.
They were in ’12′ personnel with two tight ends and Eddie Lacy in the backfield. The rookie running back had picked up 21 yards on his first four carries as Green Bay entered field goal range.
DeMeco Ryans lined up at his usual spot at middle linebacker about 4 yards behind nose tackle Damion Square. Seneca Wallace took the snap from under center, turned to his left and handed the ball off. As Lacy looked for a hole, Ryans flowed to his right.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari tried to get to him, but was unsuccessful. Ryans diagnosed the play, got downhill and planted his helmet into Lacy’s mid-section, knocking the 231-pound rookie backwards and onto the ground at Lambeau Field.
Lacy would manage just 54 yards on 19 carries (2.8 YPC) the rest of the day. And Ryans, with a game-high 13 tackles, was a big reason why. Read more »