Yesterday, I analyzed the Eagles first quarter offensive progress. Now, it’s time for the defense.
In a word, it’s been dominant. They rank third in the league in total yards allowed (and fifth in pass defense) and have had multiple games this season where they’ve looked almost like the 1985 Bears for a good chunk of the game.
Of course, that’s not always good enough, so we’ll see how they do overall.
Like the offense, I’ll break this down by position (line, linebackers, secondary and specialists, since special teams really don’t warrant its own category) and offer my analysis.
The defensive line certainly knows how to get at the quarterback.
In four games, they’ve recorded 11 of the team’s 16 sacks, with Trent Cole’s five leading the way—and all four of the ends in the main rotation are all on the board.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that they allow over 100 yards per game rushing, which is in the middle of the pack of the league. Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley aren’t playing particularly well, and runners are easily able to get to the secondary.
Even with a fourth tackle to rotate, they’re struggling. That doesn’t bode well with the Cowboys, Giants, Bears, and Chargers coming up in the next six weeks.
They do one thing well, one thing poorly…that sends out an even grade.
OVERALL GRADE: B-minus
What can you say? Outside of their rush deficiencies, they’ve been great.
Akeem Jordan is having a breakout season, leading the team in tackles and scoring off two interceptions with a sack to boot.
Chris Gocong (15 tackles, 2 sacks) has been his usual solid self, and Omar Gaither is second on the team in tackles and sacks.
The backups are doing okay, and even Jeremiah Trotter chipped in with a couple tackles in his debut, as they held the Bucs to 85 yards rushing.
But if you take out a pair of big runs (one of which was a scramble by Josh Johnson), they allowed 28 yards on 20 carries in the Tampa game.
OVERALL GRADE: A
They're ballhawks. That’s really all you need to know.
Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown have nine total INTs in five games and may both be on their way to the Pro Bowl. That’s happened before, but with both averaging at least one INT a game, this secondary could rival that of the 2007 Packers.
Quintin Mikell is second on the team in tackles and has been a steadying force for Macho Harris, who has performed well but also shown his rookie green-ness at times.
Even the backups have gotten in on the action. Joselio Hanson has been great as the third corner (with one INT), and Sean Jones and Ellis Hobbs have been
good in limited snaps.
They only allow 171.5 passing yards per game, which is good for fifth in the NFL.
Their one big bug-a-boo is that nine of the 12 TD the Eagles have given up have been through the air, but that is somewhat mitigated by the fact that they’ve blown out three opponents and both Tampa Bay and Kansas City got a garbage time passing TD.
OVERALL GRADE: A-minus
David Akers is seven-for-eight this year on field goals, with his only miss being a block. He’s perfect from 40-49 yards (the block was a 53-yard attempt) and hasn’t missed a PAT. Oh, yeah, and he’s consistently hitting the end zone on kickoffs.
Sav Rocca is averaging 45 yards a punt so far and has hit about a quarter of his boots inside the 20.
Jon Dorenbos is fine as a long snapper.
On the return side, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin have been nothing short of electric on punt duty, with D-Jack already taking one to the house.
Ellis Hobbs has been fine as the main kickoff guy, but has had a little fumble-it is at times. Still, as I said, he’s been fine.
Coverage has been much better this year as well, as teams are only averaging eight yards on punt returns and kickoff coverage hasn’t been burned yet.
OVERALL GRADE: A
They’ve been great, but their grade is knocked down a bit by average run defense and the Saints game—which wouldn’t have been as bad if the Jets and Bills didn’t both shut them down.
No less than four starters on defense are having Pro Bowl caliber seasons, so it’s safe to say that the loss of Jim Johnson has been more inspiring than demoralizing.
Sean McDermott’s club has beaten up on three cupcakes, but now it’s time to tackle teams that can actually move the football. Will they hold up?