Saturday, December 20, 2008

DEFENSE

The defense has been pretty good all year, but really outstanding here recently. We're up to 3rd in the league in total defense. We're first in the NFC. Very impressive stuff.

The defense hasn't been flashy. We don't have 50 sacks. We don't have a bunch of turnovers. The guys are playing sound, fundamental football and are doing a great job on 3rd downs. We're 2nd in the league in 3rd down D. They get off the field and turn the ball over to the offense, which has been a good thing for the past 3 weeks.

Reuben Frank has a good article with some numbers:

http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/99-12192008-1640645.html

Here are a couple of key samples:

After allowing 20 points per game and 288 yards per game the first 11 weeks of the season, the Eagles are allowing 12 points and 222 yards per game the last three weeks.


the Eagles now rank third in the NFL in defense (first in the NFC), fifth in rushing defense, third in sacks, second on third down and second in first downs allowed.


Reuben's article focuses on some personnel changes. That certainly is part of the reason for the hot play. I also think Jim Johnson got more aggressive. He played safe in the first Giants game more than I cared for. He focused on limiting Plaxico Burress. They killed us.

Since then he's turned the guys loose. We've run more 8-man fronts and not been as obsessive about big pass plays. The ironic thing of course is that by being more aggressive the defense has played better and the big pass plays have gone away.

It also helps that Brian Dawkins seems to be playing his best football of the year. For some odd reason, he just comes alive in December games.

The defense also has gotten a boost from the offense. We're 33 0f 50 in the last 3 games on 3rd downs. That means drives keep going and the defense stays off the field. Arizona's potent attack couldn't do much while McNabb, Westy, and company methodically moved up and down the field.

As for the personnel changes...they have helped. Akeem Jordan has been very good at WLB. He's done much better at taking on the FB than Gaither did. Joselio Hanson is happy to be on the field and it shows in his play. Lito wasn't happy at all and it definitely showed in his play.

Up front, Victor Abiamiri is getting more and more of Juqua's snaps. He doesn't have much in the way of production, but he's come close to sacks and TFLs a handful of times. Victor has to learn to seal the deal. He's added a good presence at LDT in the Nickel as well. Chris Clemons only has a couple of sacks, but he's getting good pressure from LDE in the Nickel and Dime sets. He caused the INT to Samuel last week by pressuring Ken Dorsey. Chris has also had some good moments when they've used him as The Joker. JJ hasn't used the Okie much the last couple of weeks which has me wondering if that is something they've sorta shelved until the finale against Dallas.

There is still room for improvement (more "plays" from the DTs...more coverage plays by the LBs...etc), but I've really enjoyed watching this defense. The best thing is that the group isn't all that old. I'd love to see this group play well for the next few years. For now, I'll just settle for them getting us to the postseason.
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1 comment:

Stephen said...

The sickest thing in the whole post is the stat about 3rd down play for our offense. I noticed how good we've been doing on 3rd downs while watching the game. I used to dread 3rd downs, feeling like it was inevitable that we were going to punt, especially on 3rd and short. Now all of a sudden we're like a machine on 3rd down. 33 out of 50 is just ridiculous. and its not just Mcnabb either, we've run for a few 3rd downs that we never would have gotten before.

All I know is whatevers gotten into the team, I like it.