It's hard to find consistent numbers on such things, but based on what's collected from each game by Pro Football Focus, it's probably safe to conclude that only one NFL team has missed more tackles than the Philadelphia Eagles have the last two years.
So while it's easy to point fingers at Andy Reid, Juan Castillo, Todd Bowles and Jim Washburn for the schemes in place, the fact of the matter is this defense appears as though it has lacked the ability to win individual battles in the open field.
Think how many yards that is costing the Eagles in comparison to their opponents.
Numbers from Football Outsiders also indicate that the Eagles fare OK early on in runs from opponents, but really struggle once opposing backs reach the second level.
So is it possible that the traditionally under-sized Eagles are simply too small? Could getting taller and wider make this defense stronger?
It's not clear how much bigger new head coach Chip Kelly will want the Eagles defense to become, but there are clues that he differs from Reid on the philosophical debate regarding whether size matters. PhillyMag.com's Sheil Kapadia points out a piece from the National Football Post's Dan Pompei in which Pompei mentions Kelly's preference for tall players.
If new Eagles coach Chip Kelly adopts some of the strategies he was using at Oregon, the Eagles will begin coveting "longer" players. Kelly's NCAA teams were known for their speed and stamina but Oregon was also recruiting taller players across the board, particularly on defense where he made length a priority with a recent change in philosophy. Some people around the league believe the Eagles will begin seeking taller players on that side of the ball.
Kapadia concludes that while for years Reid "had no problem plugging in defenders that some would deem under-sized...it looks like that philosophy could change with Kelly."
So would a shift in focus from speed to strength and an increased emphasis on measurables help Philadelphia on either side of the ball? That's just one of many questions facing this team as a significant transformation continues.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!