Game Review: Eagles Defense Vs. Rams


NFL: St. Louis Rams at Philadelphia Eagles

Here’s a player-by-player breakdown of what we saw from the Eagles’ defense after having watched the All-22 tape.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Fletcher Cox – He was outstanding as a pass-rusher. Cox beat his man cleanly and forced Austin Davis into the Connor Barwin sack in the first. His pass-rush forced Davis out of the pocket on third down later in the quarter. Cox got pressure on third down in the second, but Davis completed a pass to Jared Cook. Cox hit Davis on third down in the fourth, but he completed the pass anyway. For the most part, he was solid against the run also. Cox got blocked on Zac Stacy’s 14-yard run in the first. He and Bennie Logan tackled Trey Watts after a 4-yard run in the first. And Cox blew up a run that gained 1 in the second. Overall, two tackles and two hurries, but he played better than those numbers indicate.

Bennie Logan – He was OK. Logan was credited with three tackles and two QB hurries. He and Cox tackled Watts after a 4-yard run in the first. Logan walked the center back into Davis’ face on the 22-yard completion in the first. Logan drove the O-Lineman back and made the tackle on Stacy for no gain in the second. He helped blow up a 1-yard run in the second. On the flip side, there was a big hole between him and Cox on Stacy’s 14-yard run in the first. And Logan got trapped on a 6-yard run in the third.

Cedric Thornton – He finished with three tackles and two hurries. Thornton recovered a couple fumbles, scoring on one and returning another for 40 yards. He and Casey Matthews combined to stop Stacy after a 1-yard run in the second. Thornton split defenders and combined with Logan to stop Stacy for no gain in the second. He got pinned inside on Benny Cunningham’s 13-yard run in the second. And Thornton got pinned inside on an 8-yard Rams run in the third. Good hustle to jump on the fumble in the end zone for the touchdown in the third.

Beau Allen – The center let him go, and he hit Davis, forcing an incompletion in the second. Allen was not credited with a tackle or hurry by the coaching staff.

Brandon Bair – This was probably his most active game. Bair batted down a Davis pass in the fourth. He brought Cunningham down after a 4-yard gain. It looked like he ended up on the ground on Cunningham’s 13-yard run in the second. Bair pursued Davis into a throw-away in the third. One tackle and one hurry on the day.

Vinny Curry – He was unblocked on the sack/forced fumble in the second. And Curry had a good rush in the fourth, forcing Davis to step up in the pocket. Against the run, he got blocked by the TE on an 11-yard Cunningham run in the fourth. Three tackles, one sack, one forced fumble.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Trent Cole – He beat the left tackle cleanly and forced a Davis fumble in the third. Cole twisted inside with Barwin and helped his teammate get a sack in the first. Two tackles, one sack, one hurry and one forced fumble on the day.

Connor Barwin – He was solid as usual. Barwin looped outside and sacked Davis in the first. He got a coverage sack in the fourth. Barwin didn’t bite on the play-fake and batted down a Davis pass in the second. This happens at least once a week. Teams need to stop rolling their QBs out to his side. He never is caught out of position. Overall, five tackles, two sacks, one hurry, one batted down pass.

Brandon Graham – He was their best defensive player. Graham finished with three tackles, four hurries and a forced fumble. He bowled over the RB and affected Davis’ throw on an incompletion in the first. Good pressure on an incompletion in the third. Pressured Davis into a scramble in the third. On a third down, he rushed the A-Gap, took on the RB and hit Davis’ arm as he threw. Great move against Jake Long in the fourth, forcing Davis to step up. Another excellent rush against the right tackle in the fourth, but Davis dumped it off. Good job setting the edge on Watts’ 2-yard run in the first. On the very next play, dropped in coverage, ran to the ball and tackled Stacy for a 2-yard loss on a completion. Nice job punching the ball out of Stacy’s hands in the third. The only hiccup was in coverage against the TE in the first. Graham had pretty good coverage, but couldn’t find the ball on a 22-yard completion. Overall, he was just very difficult for the Rams to block. Graham played 35 percent of the snaps. That number needs to go up. He’s the Eagles’ best pass-rusher.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

DeMeco Ryans – This was not his best game. Ryans suffered a groin injury in the third and came out. He was very deep in his drop and then got blocked by a WR on a 15-yard dumpoff to Stacy in the first. He missed a tackle on Stacy’s 14-yard run in the first and had trouble getting off his block on Cunningham’s 13-yard run in the second. He couldn’t get to Stacy on a screen that picked up 12 in the third. And he couldn’t get off his block on the 14-yard TD in the third, although he might have been injured at that point. Bright spots? He tackled Stacy after a 3-yard run in the first. Good coverage on an incompletion in the second. Ryans made a tackle on a 1-yard run in the third. And he tackled Watts after a screen that picked up 1 in the second. He said Tuesday that he’s expecting to play vs. the Giants.

Casey Matthews – This had to have been his best game as an Eagle. Matthews finished with six tackles and two QB hurries. He diagnosed the play and made the tackle on a Stacy run that gained no yards in the first. He came unblocked and pressured Davis in the first. Matthews and Thornton stopped Stacy after a 1-yard gain in the second. He tackled Cunningham after a 1-yard run in the third. Good pressure in the third, forcing Davis out of the pocket. Tackled Stacy after a 4-yard run on the very next play. Good job in coverage, upending Cook on an incompletion. Good job in coverage in the fourth – Matthews hugged up on Tavon Austin and made Davis hold the ball, while Barwin got the sack. Unblocked, he pressured and hit Davis on the final drive. The Eagles will likely count on Matthews to help replace Mychal Kendricks once again on Sunday.

Emmanuel Acho – He was OK. Acho and Nate Allen tackled Stacy after a 5-yard run in the first. He missed a tackle in space on a 12-yard completion to Cunningham in the fourth. Acho got Ryans’ snaps after Ryans went out in the fourth. He was matched up with Watts in man coverage and gave up an 11-yard completion in the fourth. Acho got the wind knocked out of him in the second quarter.

Marcus Smith II – He twice had opportunities to get to the quarterback up the middle, but got tripped up both times and fell down. No tackles on the day.

CORNERBACKS

Bradley Fletcher – He fell apart down the stretch. Coverage was pretty good, but he failed to make a play on the ball on the 30-yard TD in the fourth. Fletcher was whistled for a 24-yard pass interference penalty while in man coverage in the fourth. The Rams completed a 43-yarder in between him and Malcolm Jenkins on the final drive. There should have been another big gainer in between him and Allen on final drive, but the receiver dropped it. Early on, Fletcher broke up a pass near the sideline on a deep out. He’ll remain the starter, according to Billy Davis.

Cary Williams – He gave up a 32-yard completion to Kenny Britt down the sideline in the second and a 25-yarder in the third. By my count, Williams has given up pass plays of 25 yards or more in three consecutive games. He also allowed a 5-yard touchdown, but Davis said he played the route exactly right. Early on, Williams broke up a pass intended for Britt on a crossing route on third down. Williams also had a breakup down the sideline in the third. He’s been giving up way too many big plays.

Brandon Boykin – Good job not giving up on the play and forcing an incompletion on the final drive near the sideline. On fourth down of that same drive, Davis brought a seven-man pressure, and Boykin rushed freely, forcing Austin Davis to get rid of the ball quickly. The incompletion ended the game. He wasn’t involved in any of the big plays downfield. Boykin will match up with Victor Cruz this week. There are no plans to get him on the field more.

Nolan Carroll II – He was essentially playing inside linebacker in the Eagles’ dime package. Carroll got matched up with the TE and got just enough of the ball to force an incompletion down the sideline on third down in the second. He nearly had an interception dropping into coverage in the fourth, but was half-a-second late. There were times when he looked uncomfortable in his role. Carroll got way too deep in his drop as the underneath defender and allowed an 11-yard completion on third down in the fourth. He missed a tackle on a Cunningham run that picked up 11 on the next play. Carroll showed poor awareness as an underneath defender in zone in the fourth and gave up a 10-yard completion. Good tackle on Cunningham after a 2-yard gain on the final drive. He’ll have to continue to play quite a bit until Kendricks gets healthy.

Nate Allen – Not a great game. Allen gave up a third-down completion to Cook in the fourth. He played extremely deep in Cover 3 on the final drive, but the receiver dropped what could have been a big gain. Allen was beaten on third-and-long for 13 yards in the second by Cook in man coverage. He gave up an 8-yard TD to Quick in the second, losing the WR late in the down.

Malcolm Jenkins – He had been playing so well, but this was not a good showing by Jenkins. Bad job in coverage on the 43-yard completion on the final drive. The Eagles were in quarters coverage, but he failed to make a play on the ball that was thrown between him and Fletcher. On the 30-yard TD in the fourth, Jenkins was supposed to be a deep safety, but he cheated up. Had he stayed at home, perhaps Davis doesn’t throw the ball because there would have been two defenders on Britt. The Eagles stuck him on the slot a few times, and the results were not good. Jenkins gave up a third-down completion in the second on a mesh concept. He got picked on a 22-yard drag route to Tavon Austin in the third. And he allowed a 16-yard completion to Austin Pettis on a crossing route in the third. Jenkins gave up a 12-yard completion to Cook in the third as well.