The Eagles defense was all over the place in 2013. They were up and down during the season, but also in games. There would be stretches where they looked outstanding. There would be other times when they seemed hopeless.
I started thinking about the Chargers game yesterday and a couple of things occurred to me. First, Bradley Fletcher missed the game. That meant that Brandon Boykin started and Brandon Hughes had to play a lot. Patrick Chung started at FS. My review of his game began with “Not a good game…”. That was also when Vinny Curry was banished to the bench. Damion Square was the backup RDE. He was useless as a pass rusher in that game. You had Sopoaga at NT. He got no push on pass plays. It really shouldn’t be a surprise that the Eagles gave up 539 yards and 33 points.
The Eagles gave up 396 yards to a beat up Packers offense. They gave up 427 yards to the Skins in the second meeting. What did those games have in common? Bradley Fletcher missed both of those games.
This is where having Nolan Carroll and Jaylen Watkins can make a real difference. There was no depth at outside CB last year.
Personnel changes at Safety will also help. Look back at last year and you’ll see that Patrick Chung starting meant bad stuff would happen in that game. He actually got benched for part of the Vikings game due to sloppy play.
Malcolm Jenkins doesn’t have to be Brian Dawkins to help the defense. He just has to play smart and eliminate some of the mistakes that Chung made. That will make a big difference. Jenkins spent a lot of time in the slot last year. This season he will be more of a pure Safety. The Eagles can move him around if they want, but they have good slot corners so Jenkins won’t be needed there on a regular basis.
Last year Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson struggled when they did play on defense. The Eagles feel like Chris Maragos should be an upgrade on them. Anderson never showed much potential on defense. Coleman did, but not last year.
I haven’t had a chance to go back and study all of my old notes, but it sure looked like the backup DL failed to do much in some of the bad games from 2013. This is where Joe Kruger, Taylor Hart, Vinny Curry, Damion Square and/or Beau Allen have a chance to make a difference. A play here. A play there. That can really help a defense. I’m not talking about strip sacks. Just a batted pass or some quick pressure on a 3rd down that forces an incompletion. Get the other team off the field.
Competition will help here. Kruger, Hart and Curry could be fighting for 2 spots. They certainly will be battling for playing time. Allen and Square will be battling for a spot and playing time.
I would have loved for the defense to add some impact player, but this group can get better with the guys they did add. Study the worst performances from 2013 and you’ll see how this group can make a difference.