The main focal point of the Eagles is always the Offense, and rightly so. It’s fast, exciting and puts up crazy amounts of points..in fact, over 470 last season! If the team hit 500 points this year they will become the 19th team in NFL history to do so. But the Eagles Defense haven’t received enough credit..until now.
Last season there were numerous factors as to why the team missed the playoffs. The secondary stuck out like a sore thumb however, but all of that has changed as we head into the new season. Pre-Season is the perfect opportunity to look at the new players, new formations, new ideas and see what works and what doesn’t. What we have learned through the first two weeks of Pre-Season is that this Eagles Defense WORKS.
Without explaining anything just yet or going into detail, let’s look at how the Eagles Defense ranks in pre-seas0n so far.
Points allowed- 27 1st in the NFL
Interceptions- 4 1st in the NFL
Sacks-3 12th in the NFL
Forced Fumbles- 3 2nd in the NFL
Yards PG- 357.5 8th in the NFL (stats sourced at NFL.COM)
If someone told me last year that our Defense would have the potential to be ranked inside the top five in the league..I would have told them to stop smoking the silly stuff! But even more interesting is that whilst these stats are perhaps a little less credible due to there only being two games…we have put up those numbers without our STARting linebackers. DeMeco Ryans, Kiko Alonso and company have been absent so far and the team are still tearing apart Offenses.
Think about it, it’s not as though the Eagles have faced Oakland and Jacksonville to put up these numbers? Both teams are previous Superbowl champions and both have elite starting Quarterbacks. Andrew Luck has a deep roster of Wide Receivers whilst Joe Flacco has never really had many big names to throw to..but his pin point accuracy has ranked him among the elite and given him a Superbowl ring.
In his first two drives against the Eagles, Joe Flacco was picked off by both Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond, two new additions to the roster. People have doubted the Eagles Defense this year until recently. Brandon Boykin joined the list of big names who have been forced to find their futures elsewhere as fans questioned if this really was a good move. But the birds so far have looked absolutely dominant defensively. Here’s why each position can lead the Eagles all the way to the top:
Byron Maxwell was a questionable call at first but all worries were put to rest after two impressive outings, swatting away and intercepting some of the best QB’s in the game. We know that Maxwell is a tremendous corner and he can now truly escape the shadow of Sherman and become a franchise name in Philly. Walter Thurmond has shown incredible versatility to play two positions whilst Eric Rowe has looked great in Camp. Guys like Denzel Rice and Watkins who are still vying to make the roster are all showing signs of improvement but all the guys share one thing in common. Anticipation. It’s very rare that someone escapes down the field on his own with acres of space. The Eagles corners of this year play extremely tight coverage, always keeping a step behind the receiver. It’s great to watch, it’s composed as demonstrated by lack of penalties and effective as shown by interceptions last night and lack of yards allowed.
Fletcher Cox is among the best in his position, there’s no debating it. Vinny Curry is a man who should be picking up plenty more reps this year whilst Cedric Thornton is just a tank..there’s no other word for it. Mihalik could also be a pivotal point in this years Defense. At 6″9, he is a nightmare at defensive end. A sack against the Colts and two assisted tackles against the Ravens as well, depth in this position is big strong and scarier than King Kong!
Arguably the strongest position on the roster, Connor Barwin leads the linebacker unit and seeks a second straight year of having the most sacks in the NFC whilst Bryan Braman sits behind him on the outside ready to take more Quarterbacks to #SuplexCity. Diaheem Watkins looked great in his opening games for the team. Three tackles in each and a sack last night, he’s definitely a great depth option should the undrafted rookie make the final 53. Then we move onto Mufassa and Kiko Alonso..no words needed here. DeMeco Ryans is the leader of this unit whilst Kiko Alonso is expected to tear it up with his sheer tenacity and impressive rookie numbers before injury got in the way. Expect ruthlessness..expect sacks…expect plenty of them!
There isn’t a lot of star power here, but instead there’s intimidation and the Chip Formula. Thurmond was brought in this Off-Season and has already shown his versatile skillset, picking off Flacco last night so early into the game. Thurmond has looked sharp all through camp and he will definitely be the name to watch this year. Malcolm Jenkins is a household name amongst Eagles fans and after 15 passes defended, 3 interceptions and 80 tackles in 2014..Jenkins is primed for his biggest season yet. Ed Reynolds has had a blistering pre-season so far and has turned just about every spotlight onto him…expect big things from this unit.
Whilst the Eagles Offense may be the unit that gets all the media hype in the run up to the season with Bradford, Murray and company stealing the headlines..not to mention Tebow! It could well be the Defense that pushes this team as far as it can go. It’s debatable that the secondary cost the Eagles a playoff spot last year, that problem has been rectified…the Eagles are coming.