Eagles Wake-Up Call: Good For the Ground Game
When the Dolphins faced the Bills in Week 9, Miami’s defense may have taken an unexpected look into its future without defensive end Cameron Wake.
Head coach Dan Campbell didn’t like what he saw.
Miami’s defense allowed Buffalo to pile up an eye-popping 266 yards on the ground, despite LeSean McCoy exiting the game with a shoulder injury in the second half.
McCoy and Karlos Williams each picked up over 110 yards and a touchdown apiece, slicing a Dolphins defensive front that was just beginning to deal with the absence of Wake, who will miss the rest of the season with an achilles injury.
Wake was the glue holding Miami’s expensive, shaky defensive line together, and without its leader against Buffalo, the cracks showed.
After the loss, Miami now ranks 31st in the league in rushing yards allowed, and 26th in rushing yards allowed per attempt.
“Losing Cam really hurts in pass game production, and his leadership, too, overall,” Campbell said in a conference call Wednesday. “The other [defensive linemen], they’re misfits.
“Last week, we played Buffalo. They do so many things, and they did a number of things that they’d done over the bye that were new schemes and systems. Sometimes when you’re trying to fit [new schemes] in the middle of the game, you’re going to have runs that break, and unfortunately they got us last week.”
“Those are things our coaches talk about all the time. We’ll get those things cleaned up; we know we have to this week. Philly’s going to run it. They do a good job, inside but also on the perimeter. They have a whole stable of backs that can run, so we’ve got our hands full.”
The Eagles have run for at least 150 yards in each of their last four games, which is the second-longest active streak in the league, behind the Rams who have done so in five straight outings.
DeMarco Murray is looking the strongest he has since the Eagles acquired him this offseason, averaging 87.8 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry over his last four games.
Whatever the reason, from improved health to increased familiarity, Murray and Ryan Mathews are clicking, and the Eagles’ offensive line is holding together well under the pressure of a few injuries.
If Jason Peters is able to return to the fray this week and start on Sunday afternoon, Campbell’s defense could be in for a long day against a strong Eagles rushing attack, and he knows it.
“They’re playing well together,” Campbell said of the Eagles’ offensive line and run game. “Certainly, when you have Peters in there, it’s even that much better. When you have a guy like [Jason] Kelce in the middle, I think he’s a hell of a player. He’s pretty gritty, you can tell he’s smart. I know you set the table for him, and then he gets out into open space with those other guys, and that’s where they get dangerous.
“They have a good tight end that can block the perimeter in [Brent] Celek, and then when you get those guys on the edge, and they’re pretty good athletes and run good for linemen, that’s where you get into problems.”
Campbell sounds well acquainted with what could very well be his team’s downfall this Sunday.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Josh takes an All-22 look at the transformation of Dennis Kelly and the Eagles’ offensive line.
“If I had to make a decision today, I’d tell Coach I would play.” Updates on Jason Peters‘ status for Sunday.
Malcolm Jenkins suffered a concussion against the Cowboys, and more injury updates.
“The Eagles can only hope this is the Bradford they will see the rest of the year.” What they’re saying about the Eagles.
Breaking down Jordan Matthews‘ winning TD, from practice, to Mark Sanchez, to a perfect throw.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
CSN Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank delivers a deep dive into the roots of Jordan Matthews work ethic and humility that is well worth your team.
“Coming from Alabama, my parents were from Mississippi, we were country, so that’s where the foundation was laid on hard work and making sure if you wanted to go make something of yourself, you had to go and work for it,” Matthews said.
“My whole family. My mom’s a computer engineer. My dad’s a contracting specialist. I have one brother, he’s a mechanical engineer for AT&T. So all of us had to make sure we were humble and worked for what we got.
“Our blueprint when it came to football was always Jerry (Rice). Well, how did Jerry go about it? He worked. I had one offer going into college. I didn’t even know if I was going to college, much less play in the NFL.
Billy Davis knows Jordan Hicks’ pectoral injury well, as does teammate Najee Goode, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Zach Berman.
When Jordan Hicks tore his pectoral tendon on Sunday night, Bill Davis guessed right away it was a serious injury. Coaching linebackers, Davis has seen that injury before.
“I’ve seen him make a bunch of arm tackles,” Davis said. “That’s what you’re doing. You’re trying to just get the guy down, and he just reached out, and sometimes it pops and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s like the Achilles; you can’t figure that one out. You see a guy jump up and land, and it just lands wrong. It was just one of those things where the arm tackle just hit the wrong spot.”
One Eagle who can understand what Hicks is feeling is fellow inside linebacker Najee Goode, who suffered a torn pectoral tendon early last season and went on injured reserve. Goode’s injury came on special teams. He underwent surgery and said it took him about 2 ½ months before he could run around and be comfortable. The full rehab lasted five months, but Goode said he could have played by the end of the season. Goode made a full recovery and is not affected by the injury this season.
Chip Kelly will address the media at 11:40. Plus, a new episode of Press Coverage drops.