The NFC East used to be all about great defense. This year…not so much. Anyone who saw the SNF game knows what I mean. There were multiple missing O-linemen. Starting RBs were suspended or injured. Each team had impact pass rushers. And yet…the teams combined for more than 70 points and almost 1,000 yards. Lousy defense.
There were some badly blown assignments by each team. Receivers were wide open for long TDs. I’ve read comment after comment this year about Juan Castillo and “how he can have coverages where players get so wide open?”. I explained last week that it isn’t Castillo for 99 percent of those, but rather simple blown assignments.
Then people wanted to know why players would blow assignments. Surely it was due to the fact Juan was a horrible, terrible, evil, awful, horrible coach. Right? Or maybe the Eagles players are talentless idiots who’ve quit on Reid because they don’t believe in Castillo (because he’s such a horrible, terrible, evil, awful, horrible coach).
As I wrote last week, blown assignments happen for a variety of reasons. I’m glad they were such a problem last night (and in the Bears-Broncos game). I think it is important for fans to realize that the Eagles aren’t the only team making mistakes this year. That doesn’t excuse our sloppy play, but I always think you have to put things in context to fully understand them.
WAS 10th in Total D – 19th in Pts – 17th Rush – 13th Pass – 15th 3rd Down %
PHI 11th in Total D – 20th in Pts – 18th Rush – 12th Pass – 13th 3rd Down %
DAL 16th in Total D – 16th in Pts – 9th Rush - 24th Pass – 18th 3rd Down %
NYG 30th in Total D – 27th in Pts – 22nd Rush- 29th Pass – 20th 3rd Down %
Takeaways: NYG 24, DAL 23, PHI 19, WAS 16
Sacks: PHI 42, NYG 36, DAL 35, WAS 34
As you can see, we’re either the 2nd or 3rd best defense in the division. I think you can make an argument for Dallas ahead of us or us ahead of Dallas.
The one area where we are off the charts bad is still Red Zone defense. We were dead last heading into yesterday. Miami was just 1 for 3 so that did help us, but I’m assuming we’re still last.
I’m not writing this as an argument to keep Juan Castillo or anything like that. I think Juan is in over his head, but I do think the defense is closer to being a good unit than people realize.
If you listen to the critics:
* Juan is a terrible coach
* the Wide 9 is a terrible scheme
* we can’t sign any good free agents
* we can’t draft any good players
And yet…we’re probably going to end up as the 2nd best defense in the division (Dallas still has to face Tampa, us, and the Giants in a rematch).
The DL is good, sometimes very good. Jim Washburn was given players who fit his system and the results have been impressive.
The LBs are improving, but still a weakness. At least we’re headed in the right direction. I think adding one top flight talent would make a huge difference to this bunch. In last week’s column for PE.com I wrote about how Brian Rolle could help himself going forward by making plays. He had a sack and knocked the QB out with a later hit. Casey Matthews did some good things in the Nickel.
The Safeties deserve a post of their own. I like our guys, but most Eagles fans hate them. Experience is the big issue here. The best Safeties are usually veteran players. Brian Dawkins was a better player in 2007 than 1997. It took a while for Quentin Mikell to develop.
The CBs are good. DRC did some good things in his return yesterday. The light seems to be going on for him.
The Eagles defense doesn’t need to be rebuilt. It needs some youth up front and some help at LB (at least one key starter). Add in a veteran Defensive Coordinator and this group can be a Top 10 unit next year. The right choices have to be made. It isn’t a matter of adding just any LB or any DC. Whoever makes the choices needs to find the right guys to help the situation.