The Eagles may not have the overall best defense in the entire NFL – at least not yet – but they have a strong case as one of the league’s elite units.
After the 49ers’ stout defense lost to the Vikings on Monday night, Kirk Cousins could break them down not long after the Browns’ historic defense allowed the Colts 39 points on Sunday, and just a month after the Cowboys’ turnover machine is against the Cardinals are faltering — well, maybe there’s a little more parity than anyone thought.
And after the Eagles’ defense made a statement in Sunday night’s win over the Dolphins, holding an offense of 500 yards per game to just 244 total and 10 points (not including Jalen Hurts’ pick-six), the front made up its mind Office for another major upgrade, trading for two-time All-Pro safety Kevin Byard.
Here are some really compelling numbers that paint the Eagles as an elite group of disruptors and run stoppers:
|Yards per game||290.3||6|
|Points per game||20.1||20|
|Rushing yards per game||62.9||1|
|Yards per rush||3.6||4|
|QB hurries up||34||3|
|Net yards per pass||5.5||6|
Their biggest weakness on paper is that they allow a lot of yards through the air – currently the 15th most per game in the NFL. The Birds’ secondary has allowed 12 passing touchdowns – the fourth-most in the league – but they are so good at stopping the run that they actually make opposing offenses one-dimensional and particularly pass-happy, which has resulted in them being seen the fourth-most Pass attempts in football (266) and fewest running attempts (123).
“They talk about it every week that you have to earn the right to rush the passer,” Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai said Tuesday, proudly answering most of his questions impressive Performance at work not yet. “The way to earn the right is to beat the run out. That’s a core philosophy of what they believe in, what I believe in, what we believe in as a defense, as a team and as players. They are very proud of that.”
They also found a way to limit Miami – a team with 32 rushes for 10 yards (the most in the NFL) and 17 passes for 25 yards (second-most) – to just three such plays this year, with relatively mundane length from 10 yards 29 meters.
“I think the big role was obviously being physically forward, right?” Desai said: “We were very excited about the coverages and disguises we presented and the route distribution we expected. We put our guys in the right spots to make sure they understood that these targets were coming here and where they were going, and we have to defend those parts of the field and those routes in those parts of the field.”
It’s a defense that always seems to be fun, which can sometimes be just as valuable as solid fundamentals and game planning. If the defense can stay healthy and develop chemistry together, there is a pretty solid mix of over 30 veterans and extremely talented first-round draft picks sharing the field together each week.
“I think you have to allow guys to play freely and within the defensive structure and know when to make their shots,” Desai said. “We have playmakers and so they need to know when to play and that’s our job, to give them the opportunities to make plays when we need them…”
“They are a team. They have to do everything together. It can’t just be one guy saying, “Hey, now it’s my turn to make a play.” The other ten guys better understand the same thing, and that’s it. “Part of our preparation that we’re trying to get through to accompany her.”
Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports