The Eagles Secondary has evolved into one of the most dominant units in the NFL. Its two safeties are ranked amongst the top 5, Nolan Carroll is still yet to allow a receiving touchdown and Byron Maxwell has shut down two of the NFC East’s brightest receiving talents…but they face a very different threat this week and it’s going to test them to their very core.
The Dolphins are either very good, or shockingly bad and depending on which way the coin falls, the Secondary are either going to have an easy day at the office or one of their toughest tasks this season. Why? Two names. Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry.
Not only is Landry ranked as the NFL’s top punt returner, he’s coming off of a season high 11 catches and has over 500 yards on the season so far. The Dolphins will do anything they can to get the ball in his hands, whether that be trick plays or just a regular seam route. Now Landry’s stats alone are intimidating but when you take Matthews’ stats as well and combine them..it gets scary.
REC TAR YDS TD 20+ YDS
Jarvis Landry 53 76 535 2 5
Rishard Matthews 37 51 554 4 8
Combined 90 127 1089 6 13
Ouch. The pair have been on fire all season and sure the 70% pass completion is impressive and the 1,000 yards simply has to be commended..but the big one here is the amount of plays that have gone for over 20 yards or as the Eagles like to call them, “X-Plays”.
These plays are the very plays that the Eagles wanted to eradicate when they made all of their off-season moves and so far they have been successful. But Miami rank 12th in yards per passing attempt and their deep threats are two of the most consistent in the NFL all season. Not only that but 33 of Landry’s 53 catches have come out of the slot this season meaning that it will be Malcolm Jenkins looking to shut him down. Jenkins suffered a concussion against the Cowboys in the 2nd quarter and played through, not telling coaches or officials. It could explain why he suffered against Cole Beasley but if he isn’t at 100% (which he should be), this doesn’t bode well. There will be consistent pressure coming over the slot and Jenkins could well see the most action he has all season.
Landry puts up over 10 yards after the catch on average which is a worrying sign if you look at how “impressive” Maxwell’s tackling is..(take note of the sarcasm). It’s a matchup the Dolphins would be silly not to test and one the Eagles should be prepared for.
Realistically, this shouldn’t be too tough for the Eagles. If this was week one then perhaps there would be a greater cause for concern but the evolution of this unit has been incredible to watch. What this game should be, is a demonstration of just how far the unit has come as opposed to highlighting an area for improvement.
In week one, Julio Jones torched the Eagles time after time.But as weeks went on, Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr have all found troubles in doing what Julio did. This is a dominant secondary and one that instead of being looked at as a potential worry, should be looked at as a potential success. If this secondary can hold two receivers who have combined for over 1,000 yards to minimal scoring drives and just over 100 yards then that’s not an average game..that’s a HUGE success and should be recognised as such. It would show just how much progress Bill Davis has made with this Defense and yet again raise the ever growing ceiling that this Defense seems to have.
The Eagles Defense has strived in recent weeks on all fronts. From the ball hawking abilities of Walter Thurmond to the breakout of the now injured Jordan Hicks, this Defense has rapidly become one of the best in the NFC. But for the second time this season it faces a tandem of receivers who can do equal amounts of damage. The cornerbacks will be under intense pressure all game, the bubble screens are a huge part of the Dolphins Offense and the Safeties will need to be in their best shape possible if they are to dominate against two of the Dolphins’ brightest stars.