I’m still working through the game, but wanted to touch on some hot topics. First up, the DL. The group has gone back to back weeks without a sack. Not good. However, this is not the problem that some make it out to be. I remember us playing Dallas back in either 2007 or 2009. Tony Romo literally didn’t need to have his jersey washed. The guy sat in the pocket and picked apart the defense. That was a case of the pass rush being completely ineffective.
In the last 2 weeks, the Giants and Steelers combined to score 33 points. There were 2 TD passes. Neither QB completed 60 percent of his throws. Both QBs did get hit. Big Ben took a nasty hit to his hand by our rookie DT, which bugged him for a few minutes. The teams combined to go 3 of 8 in the Red Zone. They were 8 of 24 on 3rd downs. You don’t have this kind of defensive success unless the DL is getting pressure.
We all want sacks. That is the goal for the DL. If they can’t get sacks, you at least want pressure. That affects the QB and limits his ability to do what he wants and lead the offense to points.
EaglesJake has posted a couple of videos on his site. He did one for Jason Babin and one for Brandon Graham. They total about 9 minutes. He’s what I want you to do. Watch the videos twice. The first time, watch them and focus on Big Ben. The second time through, watch our DL. You’ll be surprised at how different the game seems. The Steelers ran a ton of draw plays. They threw a lot of quick passes. Oddly, Jimmy Bama and I discussed that on a show last night and I didn’t think the Steelers did make quick throws. I was wrong on that. You’ll see chip blocks and double teams mixed in. Big Ben did not drop back and have 5 seconds to throw. That’s simply not what happened. There were only a couple of troubling plays on those clips. The DL got solid pressure and forced him to move around in the pocket on a regular basis.
Is the DL good enough right now? No. These guys do need to play better. They do need to make plays. That said, they are not struggling as some people think. Sacks can be misleading. Last year the Vikings tied us for the league lead in sacks (50). Great. Opposing QBs had a passer rating of 107.6 against them, the worst figure in the entire league. QBs held the ball looking for big plays. That meant taking some sacks, but it also led to 34 TD passes. And the Vikings had just 8 INTs all year.
The Eagles sacks are down, but not because the DL is ineffective. Teams fear the pass rush and are gameplanning accordingly. The Eagles are 4th in the league in opposing QB rating (67.6). Teams are on pace to throw for 16 TDs against us, while giving up 19 INTs. And remember that we’ve faced Flacco, Eli, and Big Ben. That’s good competition.
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People are still complaining about KO coverage. Don’t. David Wilson had 5 returns in the Giants game that all went for 35 or more yards. Go re-watch those returns. He was running free up the middle of the field. It was literally as if we were missing guys on the coverage unit. Are 11 guys really out there?
This week we had 3 KOs. One was a touchback. Nice to see. Colt Anderson made a sensational play on another. He tripped up the KOR inside the 10-yd line. Amazing hustle on his part. The other return did go for 44 yards. That’s not good, but it still was very different than Wilson. Rainey was almost tackled by new LB Adrian Moten. He got his hands on Rainey, but couldn’t really get hold of him. There was another Eagle in the area, but Rainey got by him as well. The result was still bad, but nothing like last week when Wilson ran free up the middle of the field. We are making progress. Should be even better when Akeem Jordan returns.
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One thing I haven’t noted, but several people have brought up to me is that the conditions were somewhat slick on Sunday. The Steelers had 2 errant snaps. Rashard Mendenhall dropped the ball without getting hit while running out in space. A couple of Steelers WRs dropped passes that hit them in the hands. DeSean Jackson had a ball come loose after he was tackled. And I think you might recall Vick having a fumble or two. Or three.
It is possible that moist conditions affected ball handling by the players and played a part in the mistakes above. That is a lot of balls not being secured or handled properly by various players on both teams. I know Vick fumbled the ball in Arizona. That was totally on him. He didn’t fumble once on Sunday night. Let’s see what happens next week vs the Lions. It will be interesting to see if he has any issues or is fine.
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Our buddy NFL Gimpy has a new MAQB column posted. He’s got some interesting stuff on the Vikings. I’m not sure I buy them, but he makes a good case. Did you know how good a year Percy Harvin was having? Good column. Check it out.
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As I mentioned earlier, Jimmy Bama and I did record a podcast covering the Steelers game. We cover the normal topics and all kinds of oddball stuff. That’s what happens when you get 2 great minds feeding off each other. I compare favorably to Albert Einstein. Jimmy is more the Albert Haynesworth type. Geniusness at its most finestness.