The Eagles have really struggled on defense for the first 2 games and this was supposed to be an improved unit after a poor showing in 2013. Is it time to panic? What’s going on out there?
Let’s talk about a few things.
Curtis Marsh sucks. We need help at CB. There is one important thing to keep in mind with the struggles of Marsh vs the Pats and Roc Carmichael vs the Bears. They are the #6 and #7 CBs for the Eagles.
1 – Cary Williams
2 – Bradley Fletcher
3 – Brandon Boykin
4 – Nolan Carroll
5 – Jaylen Watkins
Fletcher didn’t look very good last week and Carroll could steal his job. Unfortunately, Carroll has been hurt for a couple of weeks. The Eagles need him to get healthy. It is no fun to watch Marsh or Carmichael get torched, but let’s not make too much of guys that aren’t likely to even make the team.
Where the heck is the pass rush? This is a tricky subject. The 3-4 is predicated on fooling offenses and getting rushers into favorable matchups. You do this by being creative. But…in the preseason you don’t want to show too much of your creative ideas. So the Eagles are being vanilla (sorry, I know some of you hate that word). This is not just some convenient coach’s excuse. It is reality.
That said, the Eagles just aren’t getting enough pressure. Even the 3-4 requires players to win some 1-on-1 matchups and get to the QB from base looks. That isn’t happening right now. Part of this may be veterans like Fletcher Cox, Trent Cole and Connor Barwin pacing themselves.
I also think the Eagles need to get the right combination of players on the field together. This means mixing in Vinny Curry with the starters in Nickel and Dime looks. Cole and Barwin as DEs, with Curry and Cox as DTs. Or Cole and Curry as 3-4 DEs with Cox at NT. There are plenty of options.
I don’t know what to say about Brandon Graham. He was relegated to the 3rd team last night. He did have a sack, but was unblocked on the play. I would like to see him mixed into the Nickel and Dime sets if he’s going to be here this year. I have no idea if he is, though.
Competition. The Eagles struggled against the Bears and Pats. Those teams finished 2nd and 3rd in scoring last year. They have good coaches, QBs and skill players. If the Eagles were getting lit up by the Jets, Jaguars or Browns, I’d be a lot more worried.
Bill Davis. Should he be getting more criticism? I don’t think so. This is the preseason. The goals are different here. You’d love the Eagles to go play well and look great, but he’s trying to evaluate individual players and find good combinations of players. That isn’t always conducive to getting top results.
For the sake of perspective, let’s remember that Davis and the D faced Chicago last year in a critical late season game. The Eagles held the Bears to just 11 points and won in a major blowout. Friday night sucked, but let’s keep it in perspective.
Hidden issue. The biggest complaint for me is all the mental mistakes. You see blown coverages. You see players failing to contain run plays. You see players taking poor pursuit angles. I’m referring to starters and backups here. No one group is to blame. Brandon Bokin let a runner get wide of him yesterday on a play that should have just gained a couple of yards. That is a rookie mistake. Being made by a 3rd year player.
I can live with players who get beat by players that are better than them. I can even live with missed tackles. I cannot stand mental mistakes like this. Covering a gifted WR is hard. Tackling a powerful or elusive RB is hard. It isn’t that hard to be in the right spot or to take the right angle.
Davis and his staff really need to get this stuff cleaned up.