Pittsburgh Steelers Exposing Philadelphia Eagles Defense as Being Soft?
It's the second week of the NFL preseason after a long and tiresome lockout that dragged on until the end of July and robbed teams of OTAs and mini-camps.
Teams had to jam four months of free agency into one week before they reported to camp, and in some cases, it was less than that.
The Philadelphia Eagles didn't seem to get bothered by the craziness, and put together arguably the best combination of free agent pickups we've seen in a long time.
They needed help on the defensive line, so they signed Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin. They needed help in the secondary, so they signed Nnamdi Asomugha—the prize of the market—and traded Kevin Kolb for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Add that to Asante Samuel, and you have what looks to be the best pass coverage corners in the NFL.
One thing skeptics will point to is the fact that they have a very average group of linebackers, and their safety unit took a hit with Quintin Mikell signing with the St. Louis Rams.
Casey Matthews is a rookie starting at middle linebacker, Jamar Chaney is in his second year and Moise Fokou is in his third year. They are young and there are certainly going to be growing pains at the position.
Where will the Eagles defense rank?
There is no question they have improved against the pass, but is their defense capable of stopping the run? If you watched their game against the Steelers, it doesn't appear so.
The Steelers have had a 14-play, 80-yard drive and a 14-play, 96-yard drive that both resulted in touchdowns against the Eagles' first team defense. By all accounts, the Eagles got embarrassed.
The Steelers trio of Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Redman and even Jonathan Dwyer made the Eagles defense look silly.
On the second 14-play drive, they ran the ball nine times. Overall the first unit ran the ball 14 times for 71 yards in a little over a quarter. That's 5.1 yards per carry.
But what about the pass defense, the supposed strength of the Eagles? Well, Ben Roethlisberger finished his day 8-of-12 for 125 yards and two touchdowns for a 140.9 QB rating.
The defense stayed in for most of the first half, and even Pittsburgh's second offense moved the ball well on them. It felt like the only good part of the Eagles defensive showing for the first unit was the blocked field goal by Asante Samuel.
I realize I'm upsetting a lot of you Eagles fans, but not a lot went well for the supposed favorites of the NFC tonight.
I'm not going to get too much into the offense because the Steelers have a great defense, but Vick threw three picks and they punted on his other drive, which doesn't exactly bolster confidence in the offense.
The silver lining here is that it's the preseason, and you never know which teams game-planned and which teams just showed up.
Eagles fans are obviously hoping for the latter.
After a locked out year, you expect teams to be shaking off the cobwebs, but it's hard to ignore what everyone from Green Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans and New York are saying—maybe signing a bunch of free agents in a locked out year wasn't the right move.
The Eagles did not sign ANY of their own free agents and instead splurged on what the market had to offer.
I honestly would not be shocked if the Giants won the division, but if you asked me to put money on it, I would pick the Eagles. I still believe they have the mental edge in the head-to-head matchup, and the Giants looked terrible in their opener as well.
The defense played well, but the offense was abysmal.
If tonight is any indication of what is to come, it could be a long year for the Eagles defense. Or it could be a learning experience that they build on.
If I'm an Eagles fan, I'm banking on the latter, but as a pessimist, I can't help but worry for them.
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