Much has been said about the progress of Vinny Curry during the last two years. After signing a five-year, $47.25 million contract extension with the Eagles following a breakout season, Curry was expected to thrive in the wide-nine scheme implemented by Jim Schwartz. Curry ended the year with just 2.5 sacks and 26 tackles. Statistically, the pass rusher was extremely quiet at times and he had just 1.5 sacks in 12 weeks along with a hauntingly low 10 quarterback hurries in 435 snaps. However, while the Eagles appeared to overpay for what they received last year, it was way too soon to abandon hope.
The presence of Derek Barnett may have provided enough fuel to help spark a rejuvenation in the game of Vinny Curry. Jim Schwartz consistently referred to Curry’s struggle to “finish”, doing everything else to create the big play except putting the bow on top. Most of the time, it was other pass-rushers who took credit for Curry’s work, but this year things are beginning to look different.
Curry had one of his loudest games of the last twelve months on Sunday. Registering his first sack of the year and four tackles, Curry reaped the rewards of a wounded offensive line and essentially lived in the backfield against the Cardinals.
His breakout started halfway through the opening quarter. Curry as a stern reputation as a pass-rusher, but his run defense and ability to get off of his block was consistently on show in week five. Curry Is able to push off John Wetzel and bring down Chris Johnson for a minimal gain on first down after quickly dissecting the run.
A little later in the game, Curry lined up inside and was able to keep his hands outreached and push past. With his legs churning, Curry got past his man once again, storming into the backfield and bringing down Carson Palmer for a sack
Curry also showed some hustle later in the game, practically throwing his block back toward the endzone after picking up the run and leaping onto the back of CJ2K. It’s an underrated aspect that doesn’t go noticed but watch how Curry drops and rolls Johnson over. Too often last season did we see players escape the clutches of Curry, but this season the DE seems intent on smothering ball-carriers and ensuring they hit the ground and stay there.
Curry wasn’t credited with anything on this play, but on a play-action screen from the Cardinals, the Eagles pass rusher blows it up. If Palmer had a lapse of concentration and gifted the ball to his running back, it would have been over. Curry terrorizes his man and gets right up in the face of Palmer who dumps it off the other way. Curry then hustles back to the ball to make sure it doesn’t get past the line of scrimmage.
We talk a lot about the ankle flexion of Derek Barnett, but Vinny Curry is no slouch. Here, he displays incredible agility and flexibility, getting around his block and colliding with Palmer moments after the ball is thrown. The legs don’t stop driving and his outside arm is poised for the strip.
If not for a sliding safety here, Curry would have likely come up with his second sack of the game. Curry has some room to work with off the snap and is able to slide inside like a hot knife through butter to collapse the pocket.
To round it all up, Curry had the kind of game he was paid to have on a weekly basis. The production is beginning to follow…in fact it wasn’t that long ago he bailed Doug Pederson out of putting the Defense in a bad situation. There’s a lot less pressure on Curry this year and much like Nelson Agholor on the other side of the ball, he’s beginning to thrive in his second season in the new scheme.
Regardless of whether or not the team extend Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Derek Barnett should provide the Eagles with some much needed stability and explosiveness at defensive end for years to come.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports