The beginning of a steep decline: Eagles quarterly report card

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Defensive line

One of the few positives on the team, the Eagles defensive line has been excellent for the most part. Before getting gassed against the Dolphins, they were manhandling Ryan Fitzpatrick, which should come as no surprise given how often they blitzed against the Seahawks.

Brandon Graham is riding a five-game streak of getting at least one QB hit, while Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, and even Josh Sweat are now seeing their production rise after some adjustments upfront.

Jim Schwartz started running more five-man fronts, disguising blitzes with linebackers, and giving his pass-rushers more room to work off the edge. It’s worked well…for the most part.

Miami game aside, the Eagles defensive front seemingly has better days ahead after a few tweaks and getting Timmy Jernigan back into the rotation.

Grade: B-

Linebacker

Nigel Bradham’s game against the Seahawks was excellent. That’s about the only positive thing I have to say outside of the sideline-to-sideline speed of KGH and Nate Gerry being visible in that game too.

Linebacker has been a weak spot on this team ever since the team surprisingly released Zach Brown and the group continue to struggle without much in the way of leadership. Bradham’s return saw a positive impact, but it may be too little, too late, for a very young cluster of linebackers who have been picked on all season.

Grade: D

Cornerback

This is frustrating. The corners actually looked…good(?) against the Bears, and weren’t totally ruined against the Patriots and Seahawks. It looked as though Jalen Mills had started to play with more discipline and was far more visible around the catch point (aka not being burned off the line), but maybe it was all a dream.

The defense came hurtling back down to earth with Davante Parker’s career-high 159 yards, with both Darby and Mills being bullied all game long. This wasn’t on scheme, there were no excuses about ‘needing safety help’ here, just bad cornerbacks being exposed by a good receiver.

Avonte Maddox has had a disappointingly quiet second season and the starting outside corners who are pending free agents haven’t really shown any significant reason to justify a new deal. The Sidney Jones experiment is over, and…oh, at least they have Captain Cre’Von, whose existence alone raises this grade to something postable.

Grade: D

Safety

Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins have been one of the other few bright spots on this team recently. A few errors here and there shouldn’t take away from the fact that they’ve massively stepped up after a worrying start to the year.

We’re not seeing the miscommunications anymore and the tackling is largely making up for what the linebackers lack, with the Eagles pushing McLeod in the box more than he has in any year he’s played as an Eagle.

Without the safeties, this defense may not have held on against New England and Seattle.

Grade: B

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

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