Eagles Pass Rush And Pass Coverage Is Strength Of TeamBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, General News, News Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
We’ve done a lot of talking about the Eagles offense, their talent and explosiveness, but don’t get it twisted, right now the Birds defense is the strength of this football team. Their run defense isn’t going to be mistaken for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 70′s, but their pass defense could be the best the Eagles have ever had. They’re an extremely fast defensive unit on the line, at the linebacker position and in the secondary.
I was astounded on Sunday at how many times Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw the ball away. Flacco has developed into an outstanding quarterback with a much improved ability to scan the entire field and many times he had no where to go with the football. There was nobody open.
The combination of the Eagles pass rush, specifically their defensive ends getting upfield immediately and out of the sight of the quarterback, along with the jamming of the receivers, which delays their release. This combination is poison for quarterbacks.
We all know that the Birds have a defensive line which can take over a game. They haven’t been dominant in the season’s first two games, yet the Eagles still have two wins. I expect some big games out of this group before the season is over.
The defensive line hasn’t put up big sack totals yet, but they have made life uncomfortable for both of the quarterbacks they’ve played against. You saw that on the last Ravens offensive play, when Trent Cole and Jason Babin got upfield quickly, Flacco stepped up and knew he had to get rid of the football.
Usually quarterbacks get uneasy when they see defensive ends flash up the field and past them. They don’t know where they’re at, but they know they’ve got to get rid of the football. The mental clock speeds up when those defensive ends disappear.
The quarterbacks know those guys are back there, but they don’t know where they’re at. To be safe, they’ve got to get rid of the football, as opposed to having it knocked out of their hands.
The coverage part of the Eagles nickel defense are more talented than just about any other group in the NFL. They played well on Sunday, but they can get much better the longer they play together.
It starts with the Eagles corners, Nmandi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They’re capable of jamming the wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and taking them out of the play. Both of these guys are tall with long arms, and they can make life nearly impossible for wide receivers when they’re up in the press technique.
Nickel back Brandon Boykin is a tremendous athlete with great strength, speed and quickness. Add on top of that the fact he’s a tremendous competitor and you’ve got an outstanding slot cover guy.
DRC, Nmandi and Boykin were causing serious problems for Flacco and the Ravens on Sunday when they came up into press technique, jammed the wide outs and delayed the release of the receiver. It forced Flacco to abandon the wide outs most of the time.
Asomugha needs to be up in press technique every chance the Eagles can get him up there. He’s not comfortable playing off the ball. He can be beaten on a regular basis when he’s playing off receivers.
DRC can play either way. Both of the corners looked back too soon on Sunday. DRC gave up a big play on a post corner route and Asomugha on a stop and go for a touchdown.
The other area of the defense which has outstanding cover guys is at the linebacker position. DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks were glued to their receivers on Sunday. Ryans has shown us his ability to close on receivers. He jumped crossing Ravens tight end, Dennis Pitta and tackled him short of a first down.
Ryans made the same play during the preseason and it showed us that he could still run. Add that to his ability to study offenses and anticipate plays and you’ve got the perfect guy to be making the calls on the nickel.
Kendricks made a couple of tackles in pass coverage, which stopped the Ravens from getting a first down. Kendricks is just about as fast as any running back in the league.
To Be Continued
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