Eagles DL Review: Babin Leads the Charge
Here’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.
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.
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