It’s time to stop sleeping on the Eagles Defense

At the end of the season opener against Atlanta, a lot of Philadelphia fans were pleading for the firing of Defensive Co-ordinator Billy Davis. Byron Maxwell was torched constantly against Julio, the pass rush was non existent and the team gave up over 200 passing yards alongside 15 first downs. But fast forward two games, and the Eagles Defense has not only improved significantly and ranked among the best in the entire league, but it has performed as we said it would…with signs of a top ten Defense beaming from all angles. It’s time to give this Eagles Defense some credit and stop sleeping on the guys who not only saved the Jets victory, but also stopped a beating from becoming a murder against Dallas.

Since the season opening loss, the Eagles have conceded just 27 points in two games. Seventeen of those came against a Jets Offense who have been able to unbuckle one of the leagues most prominent teams. But that’s just a peak into how impressive this Eagles Defense has been as a whole.

CSNPhilly  reported earlier that only three teams in the NFL have allowed fewer points since the halftime of week one than the Philadelphia Eagles. Those teams being the Steelers, the Jets and the Texans. Do you still want Billy Davis fired now?

The Eagles were able to dominate the Jets Offense on Sunday, forcing them to commit four turnovers. Whilst the emergence of the new breed in Philadelphia has been fantastic to watch (we will get to that soon) a lot of the Eagles Defensive prowess has come from blocking the run. Don’t believe us? Here are the rushing stats from all three games so far.

Rushing First Downs       Rushing yards            Rushing YPC          Rushing Attempts

Atlanta Falcons:                    3                                     105                                   3.0                             35
Dallas Cowboys:                    4                                     109                                   3.3                             33
New York Jets:                      4                                       47                                   2.9                              16

The Eagles rank ninth in the NFL when it comes to stopping the run and they have been able to completely remove the running game from the matchup. Now it could be argued that the Eagles are yet to face an established running back, but the power needed on the D-Line to ensure holes don’t open and for the linebackers to meet the running back so early on in the play is a factor that will transition regardless of who they play. Especially if they can do it against “the best Offensive line in the league”..

36 points in 33 drives. That’s the Eagles current streak. They’re conceding less than a point a drive. Does that not tell you something? Malcolm Jenkins and Walter Thurmond have been assigned the task of preventing the dreaded “x-plays” that the Eagles suffered so many of last season, and they are playing out of their skin. You can almost see the midnight green tint in the sweat, Jenkins has looked emphatic in every game and as Thurmond gets more and more comfortable in this new Defense, the pair are only going to improve.

Now it’s time to talk about the new era. Kiko Alonso was expected to light the Defense up this season and to be fair he did for his opening stint..before he fell injured. The responsibility then fell to Jordan Hicks. The Eagles don’t exactly have the greatest history when it comes to linebackers and the NFL Draft (cough, Marcus Smith, cough) but Hicks looks primed to break the mould.

The rookie out of Texas in his first full debut had an Interception, a forced fumble and ten tackles..incredible stats when you consider that this Defense was not at its strongest and the stakes were arguably the highest they have ever been. There is no doubt that big things are coming when it comes to Jordan Hicks, and for a Defense that until last night struggled on the pass rush and struggled when it came to preventing big plays…it’s reassuring that not only is Hicks more than worthy of a start, but depth at the position is solid.

Eric Rowe is another man who stepped up massively. Rowe was a player subject to a lot of pre-season scepticism due to his position history..but his Safety instincts certainly were prominent when he put his ball hawk eyes to the test, securing a crucial interception against the Jets.

Even Bryon Maxwell had a more physical game and that was something fans had been crying out for. The Eagles over the last 3-4 years have a woeful history when it comes to defensive flops. Nnamdi Asomugha, Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams are to name but a few and the last thing the Eagles fans wanted to see was a player who the team splashed so much money on securing who fails to live up to expectations.

The truth is, I think we can put the early struggles of a lot of key pieces down to chemistry. This is an entirely new unit, with upgrades and changes at just about every position. Some of these players have had time out of the game due to injury and others are experiencing their first live NFL matchups.Not only that, but they’re having to adapt to arguably one of the most complex systems in the league and they are expected to put on a show week in and week out in front of the toughest fans in the NFL.  They are going to be wobbly and they’re going to make mistakes. But the good news is, the mistakes now look few and far between as the unit begins to gel.

The Eagles have some very winnable matchups on their schedule in the coming weeks and following two opening games where the Offense failed to produce anything of substance, it was the Defensive guys that kept the game alive. When the Eagles struggled against the Jets in the second half Offensively, it was the Defense who kept the game alive.

If Sam Bradford can find a way to maintain his high octane Offense production and pin point accuracy for four quarters, then this team may be unstoppable. But until then, this Defense could be the most crucial unit in the team right now as without them, this team would be at the very bottom of the league in all categories, and walking through Market street on a Monday would be like walking through a ghost town.

Whether you like Billy Davis or whether you hate him, he has taken a group of talented individuals as diverse as you could imagine and united them under the same banner. The result? A slow starting but now intimidating force at every position from the trenches to the secondary. There are still some minor concerns and we will address those throughout the week, but this Eagles Defense played as much of a part in yesterdays win as the Offense did.

Philadlephia is a team that demands passion and heart. It demands physical play, strength, character and will. Ever since the departure of Brian Dawkins, the birds have been missing that fire..but it looks like Billy Davis may have just re-ignited a spark to light a flame in the hearts of the next generation of Eagles Defensive standouts.