Why Philadelphia Eagles Have Makings of a Top-10 Defense

Bryn SwartzSenior Writer IIINovember 18, 2013

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 13: Cornerback Brandon Boykin #22 of the Philadelphia Eagles warms up for play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers October 13, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Eagles won 31 - 20. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

"I'm asking you to trust me." That's what Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis said after his team allowed 52 points in a loss to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

At the time, there was no reason to believe that Davis knew what he was talking about. After all, the Eagles had allowed 135 points (33.75 per game) over the season's first four games, and Davis' past experience as a defensive coordinator had been less than satisfactory, to say the least.

But here we stand, seven games later, and the Eagles have allowed 21 or fewer points for seven straight games. It's the offense that is receiving the national headlines, thanks to the dominant play of second-year quarterback Nick Foles. But it's Davis' defense that has kept the Eagles in all seven games, even when their offense failed to collect a touchdown in consecutive games.

Through seven games, the Eagles have allowed 260 points, the 15th-best scoring defense in the NFL. They've forced 19 turnovers, good for 13th-best in the league.

It's a perfect bend-but-don't-break philosophy the Eagles have adopted so well. They're second-to-last in total yards allowed but if the other team isn't scoring points, does it really matter how many yards they pile up?

The game against the Oakland Raiders is a perfect example. The Raiders were allowed just 20 points, including a last-minute garbage touchdown, despite collecting 560 total yards. That includes 210 on the ground.

On the Eagles, you could make a legitimate argument that every single member of the starting defense is at least having an average season. The only player who wasn't, Isaac Sopoaga, was traded to New England.

Everybody's pulling their weight. When players like Mychal Kendricks and Bradley Fletcher have gone down with injuries, guys like Najee Goode and Roc Carmichael have really stepped it up. 

The best part about the Eagles' defense is the age of the players. The core includes players who are in their first couple of years in the league. 

It begins on the defensive line, with future Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox (23), Cedric Thornton (25), Vinny Curry (25) and Bennie Logan (24). Linebackers Mychal Kendricks (23), Connor Barwin (27), DeMeco Ryans (29) and Brandon Graham (25) are a solid bunch. And the defensive backfield has young talented players in Brandon Boykin (23), Earl Wolff (24), Bradley Fletcher (27) and even Nate Allen (26). 

Moving forward, the backbone of the defense appears to be Cox and Boykin. Both were selected in the 2012 draft and have played extremely well in their first year and a half. 

The best part is that the Eagles likely won't need to select a quarterback in the first round, meaning they can concentrate on the defensive side of the ball (pass-rushing outside linebacker, anyone?). 

The transition to a 3-4 defense definitely wasn't seamless for the Eagles. It had its rough moments early in the season, but coordinator Billy Davis has his young defense looking like they can turn into an above-average unit as early as next season. 

He was right. We just needed to trust him.