Using the Right Tools

Posted: November 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 97 Comments »

The Eagles are 31st in yards allowed this season. The 3-4 is a failure. Bill Davis isn’t doing a good job. The defense is bad.


Not so fast, my friend.

This summer I wrote a piece for the Eagles Almanac on how one of the challenges would be judging the Eagles defense. Chip Kelly’s teams at Oregon were never highly rated in terms of yards. But they played pretty good defense when you checked some other stats.

* Red Zone defense

* Sacks

* Takeaways

Because of Kelly’s up-tempo offense, you can’t use standard metrics. Opposing teams are going to run more plays. That will obviously boost the yards allowed total. Games are more likely to be shootouts. That will affect scoring. You still need to look at yards and points allowed, but you can’t stop with them the way you could in previous seasons.

Yards per play is a more relevant stat. This is true for a couple of reasons. Think about the Raiders game. The Eagles allowed 560 yards, but that came on 92 plays. Last year the Eagles were more likely to face 65 plays. The Eagles would have given up just under 400 yards in that scenario, based on the 6.1 yards per play the Eagles allowed in that game. 396 isn’t good, but sound friggin’ awesome compared to 560. When put into context, you can see how misleading the 560 can be.

The other consideration is that Bill Davis has designed the defense to not give up big pass plays most of the time. The Eagles are 9th in the NFL, having allowed only 4 pass plays of 40 yards or more. The Ravens are dead last with 14. Davis is willing to give up underneath passes. He wants to keep plays in front of the defense. This is a bit of the Jim Johnson bend but don’t break theory. When you play like this, teams can sustain drives easier and will have more plays. If the Eagles keep big plays from happening, the yards per play should be a reasonable number.

If this is the design of the defense and it is greatly affected by the offense, then this becomes a key statistic. Right now the Eagles are 22nd in the NFL, allowing 5.6 yards per play. That isn’t good enough, but it is sure better than 31st.

The Eagles are 20th in scoring defense. Over the last 6 weeks, the defense has kept everyone to 21 points or less. That’s real progress.

What about Kelly’s good stats from Oregon?

The Eagles are 9th in the NFL in RZ defense. That’s crazy when you remember a few years back the team was historically bad. They were one of the worst RZ teams ever.

The Eagles are 14th in the NFL in takeaways. Since the Broncos debacle, the defense is averaging 2 takeaways per game. That’s not great but would be a solid total. Eagles LBs have 4 INTs this year. The whole team only had 8 for all of last season. We’re seeing real progress.

Sacks are a trickier subject.

The Eagles only have 20 sacks and they aren’t generating nearly enough pressure. But this isn’t like last year when QBs had too much time and picked apart the secondary with ease. Opposing QBs have a rating of 83.6 vs the Eagles this year. The Eagles might allow the 2nd most passing yards, but they are 13th best in opposing QB rating. The Eagles are 13th in passing TDs allowed. They’re giving up yards, but keeping teams out of the end zone. We’ve seen 4 or 5 intentional grounding calls this year. I don’t have a way to track that total, but it seems higher than ever.

You would rather see the opposing QB getting put on the ground a lot, but if that can’t happen you at least need to know he’s under enough pressure to not pick the defense apart with ease. The Eagles are forcing some bad throws. They are forcing QBs into grounding calls. They are creating INTs. This is effective pass defense.

The point here isn’t to make the Eagles defense into a good unit. They aren’t.

You do need to understand how to accurately judge them so as to figure out what is right, what is wrong and what must be addressed.

There is a need for a top pass rusher. The front seven lacks an elite speed rusher.

There is a need for a starting CB who can play tighter than Cary Williams.

The Eagles need the Safeties to make plays. Nate Allen has one FF. Earl Wolff has one INT. That’s it. You need those guys to make plays. Wolff, Allen and Chung are playing adequate football this year and that’s an improvement over last year. But they aren’t making plays. Wolff has shown potential and I think he’ll start to make plays as he gets more experienced. Nate used to be a guy who could pick off passes, but we’ve not seen that from him in a while.

We’ve seen tremendous progress from the Eagles defense since last summer. This unit is mostly young and is heading in the right direction. They’ll never be a shutdown, juggernaut unit playing opposite of Kelly’s up-tempo offense, but the Eagles defense can become pretty darn good if the current talent continues to get better and they add a few good pieces in the offseason.


97 Comments on “Using the Right Tools”

  1. 1 RIPJJ said at 4:06 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Roc Carmichael is not a good fill in for Fletcher – he and Cary Williams both dont turn around to play the ball…if Fletcher cannot go this week, we will have issues on the backend – also keeping in mind that Wolff is out…would prefer Wolff than have Chung on the field…I thought Colt Anderson did get some snaps last week at safety or was I wrong?

  2. 2 CrackSammich said at 4:30 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Only as the dime DB. He was the third safety in a 3 safety, 3 CB look. Chung replaced Wolff.

  3. 3 sprawl said at 5:08 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    I watched the GB game again and it’s looking like Roc Carmichael is still catching on with the system.

    He has done a good job about being in position and not totally blowing any coverages BUT it looks like he is still so focused on the big picture that he misses the little technique things… like turning around to actually make a play on the ball.

    I’m pretty happy with him as a September pickup for little cost

  4. 4 Anders said at 6:33 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Carmichael was much better than I dared hoped for.

  5. 5 Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran said at 4:14 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Amazing, incredible, “are-you-sh%&-ing-me-or-what?” stat of the day:
    “The Eagles are 9th in the NFL in RZ defense.”
    For that stat alone we should no longer speak ill of the Billy Davis hire.
    All hail Billy (and Chip, too)!

  6. 6 sprawl said at 5:10 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    What actually makes this stat more awesome is that we really aren’t giving up TDs from OUTSIDE the redzone either.

    Just think about 2012 for a second…
    Ok stop thinking about 2012 now!

  7. 7 BC1968 said at 7:13 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    That second was almost killed me.

  8. 8 mtn_green said at 7:31 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    I almost got knocked off my tackle by Coleman in that second.

  9. 9 nicolajNN said at 4:16 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    I’m just theorising here, but could it not be argued that the Eagles would be better off with an all-of-nothing kind of defence?

    They would be on the field less if they either gave up long plays or forced 3-and-outs/turnovers, which would keep them from getting worn down, though that hasn’t been much of an issue.

    With regards to the offence, it would give them more chances to score, and give the opposing defence less time to rest between drives.

    As I said, just theorising. Giving up long plays doesn’t sound very awesome

  10. 10 TommyLawlor said at 4:43 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    There is some logic to that thinking. My guess is that Kelly figures the more slowly you make the offense work, the more likely you are to come up with a takeaway and get the ball back to your offense. Just a guess, though.

  11. 11 Tom33 said at 4:50 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    The other part, I would imagine, is that if you cannot consistently get to the QB, and your secondary is, err, let’s say not the best, I think the result would be more like the 2012 Eagles than the 85 Bears.

  12. 12 Mac said at 4:52 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    With improved personnel, this defense will be even more frustrating for opposing offensive units. Right now it’s a death of 1,000 paper-cuts. Hopefully next year we can mix in some uppercuts and a wicked right hook.

  13. 13 OregonDucker said at 12:47 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    You’re right Tommy. Chip covets turnovers and hates, absolutely hates, his O (or ST) turning the ball over. This theme is central to his football coaching philosophy. Foles has really understood this.

  14. 14 anon said at 1:18 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    that’s all i can think too. Each play is a chance to create a turnover. Better it take 10 plays for a team to score than 2.

    The D hurts us if we are playing from behind because we can never get the ball back.

  15. 15 Mac said at 4:50 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    I think this defensive style is a perfect fit for Chip Kelly.

    Andy Reid, he was a rambler and a gambler. Tommy is frequently quoted as saying that when Andy and Marty’s plans for the long ball didn’t work they would “double down” and do it even more frequently. The explanation we got after games was “we saw some things…”

    After the passing of Jim Johnson (may he rest in peace). Andy shifted to a more gambling style of defense. He allowed McDermot to experiment, and when patience with that ran out, he experimented with his own defense through scapegoat Juan Castillo.

    Fast forward to 2013.

    Chip Kelly has implemented the anti-gambler’s defense. In classic Kelly style, he wants something that covers all the bases and has elements of repetitive accuracy (in this case repeatable success at stopping the opposing offense or limiting their scoring potential). He is taking away the home run and making the other team exhaust themselves against his bulwark defenses.

    Kelly’s offense is predicated on taking what the defense gives you. His defense therefore, is giving the offense short pass plays, which is what he can live with.

    I believe the reason he can live with the short pass plays is because pass plays are the most difficult for an offense to replicate with success. Part of the reason for our increase in turnovers is related to the increase in plays from scrimmage by opposing offenses. In other words, Kelly’s defense is designed to slow the other teams progress down, and create more plays and thereby more opportunities for failure. No team in the league can have unmitigated offensive success. Eventually, someone on the offense will make a mistake, and in those times the defense needs to be in position to capitalize.

    It may be mind numbing at times for us fans, but imagine how frustrating it is for teams like the Raiders who put up 560 yards of offense and yet were on the wrong end of a record breaking curb stomping by a second year QB that most national analysts have barely even acknowledged.

  16. 16 RIPJJ said at 6:09 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    But the downside to that is that the Offense falters if they go a few 3 and outs; it put immense pressure on the D…and eventually they will tire out

  17. 17 RobNE said at 6:48 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    I think eagles lead the league in least 3 and outs

  18. 18 Adam said at 10:55 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    Nope.. not even close.. 22nd in total 3 and outs. 6th best in 3 and out percentages, only going 3 and out 16% of the time.

  19. 19 Neil said at 9:17 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    When a team scores, the chance of stopping them becomes zero.

  20. 20 mtn_green said at 10:03 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Yes, agreed. I think chip will move to gambling later.

  21. 21 Mac said at 4:57 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    It’s a nice retirement activity.

  22. 22 Anders said at 6:32 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    I think this the better way in the long run. Stop the run, make teams travel the full length of the field and force turnovers or sacks.

    If we had a better OLB (a 8+ sack guy), CB (just needs tighter coverage than Williams) and a play making safety, this defense with the rest of the players we have and the coaching staff could be top 10 in points imo.

    Watch Stanford or Bama (or even Oregon), both teams play 3-4 2 gap and rely on similar tactics. I know they also play a different kind of offense, but Oregon also wants to play a similar style of defense.

  23. 23 mtn_green said at 7:43 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    I think a gambling all or nothing defense is the goal. Billy Davis talks of getting his defense to stop run first, then stop long passes. Once those are done challenge mid passes. Once down then challenge short passes.

    Also they don’t have a speed pass rusher, all or nothing doesn’t fit personnel.

  24. 24 Weapon Y said at 4:17 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    It looks like Chip has significant control over the defense. The Eagles are using a two-gap 3-4 similar to Oregon’s defense. This is unlike what Billy Davis previously ran (heavily 4-3 under in Arizona from what I understand). There are some differences between the Oregon defense and Eagles defense like the use of 4 man fronts in nickel packages which suggest Chip isn’t a total dictator on that side of the ball. Chip has control of the big picture, while Davis takes care of day-to-day operations. I’m good with that power structure.

  25. 25 T_S_O_P said at 4:18 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Off Eagles topic, but mentioning our historical RZ woes, they started after the death of JJ under McDermott. Though he now works under a defensive head coach, his D isn’t looking too shabby at this point either. As a Carolina native Tommy, any thoughts on this?

  26. 26 47_Ronin said at 12:19 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    I watched the Panthers-Niners game after the Eagles this past Sunday and I started thinking about McDermott and his Panthers D and came across this

    I think the additions in the Carolina defense like Kuechly plus help from Rivera has allowed McD to “grow” or get more comfortable as a DC, he definitely deserves a reevaluation.

  27. 27 CampDracula said at 1:07 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    I always thought the Eagles gave up on Sean too quickly. Even beyond Sean, it seemed like the team got reactionary to DCs for a few years there and never gave any of them enough time or support to succeed.

    Defensive players (such as Asante) and assistant coaches (such as Washburn) openly dissed the coaches during that time period. Leaders need to have their authority supported by the higher-ups, or they’re set up to fail.

  28. 28 Tom33 said at 1:22 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    I think you can’t assume because he is now having success in Carolina that he would eventually have had success in Philly. No way would Bill Belichick have won Superbowls if he had stayed in Cleveland. I think the fact that Sean M was inexperienced and trying to replace his mentor, in retrospect, made it very unlikely that it would work long term. I’m glad he seems to be doing well in his second stint as DC though.

    One note – I think Sean was fired before Washburn got here. He saved all is vitriol for Juan.

    p.s. – Todd Bowles is doing a pretty good job in Arizona with that D this year too. Maybe somebody should hire Juan based on the success of the guys that went before and after him!

  29. 29 CampDracula said at 1:38 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    I know that Washburn wasn’t here with Sean. My point there is that during the revolving door of DCs, it looks like there was an organizational problem throughout that timeframe. I’m using Washburn as evidence that something was up with the organization. Why wasn’t he fired a lot sooner than he was? Why wasn’t Asante reprimanded or let go sooner than he was? Leaders need to be backed by leaders higher on the food chain or they simply can’t succeed. Since multiple DCs failed here and succeeded elsewhere only bolsters my claim. And then look at issues like players and assistant coaches publicly defying the leaders without the organization taking swift action.

  30. 30 Mike Flick said at 2:42 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    I think it was the ‘Shark in the Water’ when he jumped the shark.

  31. 31 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 4:30 PM on November 13th, 2013:


    How many seniors at CB and OLB do you currently project to go in the 1st round in April?

    And do you have your eyes set on someone in particular? I’m thinking we’ll draft in the 12-18 range, so that leaves out the blue-chip prospects like Barr. But maybe a Mack could be there for us?

  32. 32 D3FB said at 9:26 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Mack and Kyle Van Noy are the two guys we have to hope fall to us right now.

  33. 33 deg0ey said at 3:57 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    I think it’s unlikely that Mack would fall for us and, at 235, I question whether Van Noy has the size to play 3-4 OLB at the next level – I think he’d be better off in a 4-3.

    My favourite guy that we might have a chance to actually get is Adrian Hubbard. He’s a good pass rusher, but Alabama ask him to drop in coverage often enough that he shouldn’t be a liability in that area either (which is presumably why Graham doesn’t play much).

    Current projections (not that they mean much) have him going in the early-mid second round, so he could be an interesting one to keep an eye on if Chip wants to trade up/down on draft day.

    I think my preferred scenario, though, would be one that nets us Ryan Shazier in the first (because I love him and the thought of a Shazier-Kendricks connection at ILB gives me happy dreams) and then Hubbard in the second.
    Combine those two with an improved Wolff and a CB/S in free agency and we’re looking at a pretty fixed D.

  34. 34 D3FB said at 10:09 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    Van Noy only needs to put on 15 lbs to be effective. He’s got plenty of room to fill out his frame. I can’t say I have watched any of Hubbard this year (no film on DraftBreakdown) but I don’t recall him particularly wowing me last year. He seemed to just overwhelm inferior tackles my being so big and still fast. DIdn’t seem developed as a pass rusher. I go back and forth on shazier. He has great insticts but also love to use his speed to run around blocks and that wont work consistently. My personal preference would be Van Noy in round 1 and Kyle Fuller CB from VT in round two.

  35. 35 deg0ey said at 10:19 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    The thing with Hubbard is that he’s not the best at anything, but he’s above average at pretty much everything. He doesn’t tend to stand out much, but I think he’d be a great guy to have around for his versatility.

    With Shazier, there are obviously areas that he could improve, but he seems to have an innate sense of where he needs to be and makes sure he’s there; that’s much more difficult to teach than encouraging him to take on blocks (let’s be honest, he’s not exactly shy about being physical)

  36. 36 D3FB said at 11:13 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    I agree Shazier is very talented. Personally I just think he profiles better as a 4-3 Will. Plus Meco has a couple season left in the tank and with other more pressing needs I feel that a better use of resources would be addressing Meco’s possible replacement in the mid to later rounds.

  37. 37 deg0ey said at 11:53 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    I’m not really disagreeing with you, to be honest, he’s just my favourite college player right now and I’m trying to find a scenario where I don’t have to hate him next season 🙂

  38. 38 D3FB said at 12:07 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    He decides to play for the Philadelphia soul. Leading them to multiple championships and then signs with the Eagles as a free agent in the prime of his career.

  39. 39 CrackSammich said at 4:33 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    I think both Chip’s defensive and offensive strategies are the same. Our offense speeds everything up so that their defense has a higher risk of making a mistake. Our defense slows them down so that they have to take more plays to get where they want to go. Sure, it gives them lots of yards and lots of chances to keep moving, but there’s also tons and tons of chances for them to screw up. It means their offense is going to have to put more and more plays on film.

  40. 40 Euler said at 4:33 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Do you think that Davis’ scheme hurts the ability of the safeties to make big plays unless he’s using them in blitz packages?

  41. 41 TommyLawlor said at 4:45 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    No. Earl has to learn to read offenses and anticipate plays better. That should come with time.

    Nate just seems like he’s lost some speed, Not sure what’s up with him.

  42. 42 Stormbringer said at 5:48 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    But Nate isn’t making really boneheaded mistakes now and killing us either. While he may have lost his speed due to that injury, he seems to have recovered his confidence. Last year, it seemed his confidence was shattered.

  43. 43 theycallmerob said at 6:52 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    May be one of the reasons he’s seeing more time in the box. Honestly, Nate’s hitting harder than I’ve ever seen him, almost can’t believe what my eyes are seeing.
    Is it the dragonfruit, vanilla whey, and ginseng smoothie (the ol’ Smaug Smoothie)? or maybe the 200 daily SEAL leg flutters have toughened his core? leg flutters=tired legs, which also may explain your speed observation

  44. 44 Tom33 said at 4:41 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    The only real criticism of the defense that I have is the lack of a reliable pass rush from the OLB’s. I think Barwin has 3 sacks and Cole/Graham each have 1. Most 3-4 concepts produce (and rely on) a lot more sacks coming from that position. I think that’s a big part of why they can’t get off the field. With all the plays being run against them, you’d think Cole would be getting more rest and Graham would be getting more snaps, if only to keep Trent fresh. The YTD stats are roughly 75%/25% split, but in terms of # of snaps, there are only ~25 LB’s who have played more than Trent.

    The D-Line has performed way above what people could hope for, especially with all the talk early in the year about how they didn’t have the right personnel to run the 2-Gap concepts.

  45. 45 Anders said at 6:24 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Yea give me an elite pass rusher and this defense should improve a lot.

  46. 46 Adam said at 12:38 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    Having a great pass rusher would allow Barwin to do what he excels at, which is basically everything but rushing the passer.

  47. 47 BlindChow said at 6:53 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Here’s all you need to know about penalties!

    You are dead on about intentional grounding. The Eagles lead the league with 7 IG penalties called against their opponents. The next highest team is the Giants, with 3 (they also lead the league in IG penalties called against them, with 5!). Four teams have 2, eight have 1. Not sure what it is about the Eagles, but other teams just do not want our guys getting credit for sacks…

    And what’s really strange is from 2009-2012, no team had more than four IG penalties called against their opponents in a single season. We’ve had seven in only 10 games! This year’s Eagles are practically drawing an historic rate of intentional grounding!

  48. 48 Anders said at 7:03 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Based on that the Eagles goes from 25th in sacks to tied 12th if we say that an IG penalty is also a sack.

  49. 49 A_T_G said at 8:34 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    I hope that soon they are just counted as sacks.

  50. 50 P_P_K said at 9:16 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    This is a very good point. Makes me pause and reconsider how well the pass rush is doing. Did you also include IGs on the other teams to determine Eagles would be tied for 12th in sacks?

  51. 51 Anders said at 9:22 PM on November 13th, 2013:


  52. 52 BlindChow said at 7:05 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Another interesting tidbit: the Eagles lead the league with 81 penalties called against their opponents. The next highest are Baltimore and Buffalo with 72.

    51 of those penalties are on opposing offenses against our defense. The next highest is 39 (Kansas City). I checked out holding penalties drawn by our defense, and we’re tied for second with 16 (three teams have 17) with 2 declined, so that’s good, but nothing out of the ordinary like the intentional grounding numbers…

  53. 53 Anders said at 7:07 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Didnt knew it was that many. Would think superior pass rushing teams would have more, tho it seems most holding calls comes in the run game

  54. 54 A_T_G said at 8:32 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Wow! This is more relevant, helpful information than I have read on every other site’s comment sections, combined. I love this place.

    Great work, Chow.

  55. 55 Mac said at 4:54 PM on November 14th, 2013:


    If memory serves correct, I think Eli had 4-5 intentional groundings in our first Giants game.

  56. 56 goeagles55 said at 7:14 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    The Giants have 5 intentional groundings and 4 are against the Eagles.

  57. 57 BlindChow said at 7:22 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Another bizarre anomaly: the Eagles lead the league in opposing “Illegal Formation” penalties with 6. This is the most since Carolina had 6 in 2009. Not sure how this reflects on the the defense.

    The Eagles also have committed the most illegal formation penalties, with 4.

  58. 58 Anthony Hart said at 8:32 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Awesome info, thanks BC!

  59. 59 TommyLawlor said at 8:35 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Very cool. How did you find this info?

  60. 60 A_T_G said at 8:40 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    The link is the word “here” in his post.

  61. 61 Neil said at 9:12 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Man, I totally missed that.

  62. 62 Neil said at 9:13 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Your powers of google are impressive.

  63. 63 mtn_green said at 7:27 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Defense has swag!!! They look like first 5 games last year.

    They’re still not good tho. Better fun to watch and not horrible. Defense at least gives you hope that every 3rd down can be a stop and that there is a good chance they’ll stop em in red zone.

  64. 64 BlindChow said at 7:52 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    This might make you feel (a little) better about Alex Henery:

    Houston drafts kicker Randy Bullock in the fifth round. Drafting kickers essentially amounts to a crapshoot; the Texans took Bullock, a 2011 All-American, one round before the Vikings selected Blair Walsh and the Rams selected Greg Zuerlein. Bullock missed his entire rookie season with an injury, leading the Texans to use veteran Shayne Graham as a middling fill-in during 2012. Healthy again in 2013, Bullock has been a disaster. He’s hit just 14 of his first 23 attempts as a pro, including two home games with three misses each. Bullock’s work as a kicker this year has cost the Texans 14 points per Football Outsiders; he’s been nearly twice as bad as the second-worst kicker in the league, Garrett Hartley (-8.1 points). This could just be a small sample, but it’s also entirely possible that the Texans landed on a bad kicker.

    Henery has been rough this year, but at least he hasn’t been awful for his entire career!

  65. 65 Neil said at 9:04 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    With roughly 30 attempts per year, a small sample size is built into the kicker position. I don’t think we’re in a position to know how good Henery is. The coaches get to see hundreds of kicks throughout practicing, so if they don’t think he’s a problem, I think it makes sense to not be bothered by that.

  66. 66 Gary said at 3:20 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    To me this is just a reason to generally avoid drafting kickers, especially before round 6 or so.

  67. 67 Dominik said at 6:29 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    Henery has to be gone after the season. You just can’t miss a 39 yarder unless you have a huge leg and are also able to make the tough ones. Henery doesn’t have the huge leg and he also misses way too many doable FGs (5/8 40-49).

    Being a kicker isn’t easy, you only have that many chances. You can earn a good living without having a great leg, with “just” being clutch (Adam Vinatieri). But you have to be clutch (and reliable) or have the big leg, you can’t have none of those attributes.

  68. 68 Joseph Dubyk said at 7:56 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    If we could get 2 more players who can really make a difference on the front seven I like our chances of being a good defense again… 1 star LB and another stud DE?…

    WIth that said, I’m TOTALLY cool with how Wolf and Allen are playing. In this day and age being able to cover is #1 and making tackles in space is #2 and I think they are both doing a solid job on that… Like you said they aren’t GIVING UP.

    Like you said the unit is heading in the right directon

  69. 69 Anders said at 7:57 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    I do not think we need another stud DE (who should he play over?), but Ra’shad Hageman could be an awesome NT/DE for us.

    I think its more about getting a stud OLB and a stud CB/S.

  70. 70 Joseph Dubyk said at 8:32 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    OLB for sure… If not TWO more stud OLBs…. I’m ok with safety for now… CB for sure as well.

  71. 71 Mitchell said at 10:15 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Really enjoying our D-line right now. We arguably have 4 good young players on the rise (Cox, Thornton, Logan, Curry). Totally agree with the OLB and I don’t think you can find many Eagles fans who don’t think we need a rushing OLB.
    As far as the secondary is concerned, I’m not sure who is going to be free agents next year. Safety is a thin position all over the league so to even have capable safeties is an asset. If the Eagle want to go for a safety it almost seems like the draft is the best bet but then again who else is going to be an upgrade aside from HaHa?
    In summation, personally, I would like the Eagles to pick up a stud OLB in the first round. I still have to do my homework on college players but I am a fan of the CB from OSU that Jimmy brought up several weeks ago, Justin Gilbert. OSU is playing this Saturday and I may have to watch. Gilbert also can return kicks and has good size at 6′ 200.

  72. 72 ACViking said at 8:16 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Re: Inside the (Defense’s) Numbers

    The Eagles have 20 sacks — ranking them 27th in sack’s per-game. And the team also rank 31st in sack-yards per game.

    Also, the Eagles rank 32nd — dead last — in attempts and completions. And the Birds rank 31st in gross yards allowed.

    By themselves, the Sack, Sack-Yards, and Attempts-Completion-Yardage numbers suggest a weak pass defense.

    Not so, however, looking at some other metrics.

    The Eagles rank:

    1. 8th in percentage of TDs allowed per pass attempt

    (Notably, 6 of the 7 teams ahead of the Eagles in this TD% also rank in the top 10 in Sacks and Sacks Per Game, whereas the Eagles are near the bottom — making this a pretty impressive number for the Birds defense)

    2. 10th in Interceptions Per Game

    3. 12th in Yards Per Catch (despite being 31st in total yards allowed)

    4. 13th in Passer Rating Against

    5. 15th in Yards Per Attempt (again, think of all those yards allowed)

    6. 20th in Completion Percentage (despite being 32nd in attempts and completions).

    Overall, these numbers confirm the “eye test” — what we’ve seen from the defense the past few weeks. More sacks would be better, I think. Especially down the stretch when the Eagles will be facing better QBs. But overall, the pass defense is doing pretty darned well.

  73. 73 TommyLawlor said at 8:34 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Good stuff.

  74. 74 BlindChow said at 9:36 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    Interesting! I wonder if when we looked at the mediocre numbers of Billy Davis’ past defenses, we were looking at the wrong ones…

  75. 75 anon said at 1:02 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    Nice to see the D w/ some swag. real test comes when we play lions and bears.

    i actually think stopping the run and stopping big passing plays are great. i think teams game plan against the old eagles who would always give up big plays in running and pass games. great to see we can play fundamentally sound — makes up for a lot of talent deficiencies.

  76. 76 Alex Karklins said at 9:24 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    I’m coming around to the new defensive philosophy. It has to be demoralizing to the other team when they drive the length of the field, only to end up with a FG or turnover, then the Eagles turn around and score in 1:30. I am also loving the fact that the Eagles secondary prevents big plays with solid tackling and deep coverage. Billy Davis is building a fighting force of extraordinary magnitude:

  77. 77 Insomniac said at 11:36 PM on November 13th, 2013:

    I was on draftbreakdown and watching some CB prospects play. This kid named Justin Gilbert caught my eye. He’s still raw but he has all of the intangibles to be a great CB. Size, athleticism, and playmaker on defense and as a returner. His style kind of reminds me of Asante (good and bad). Draftniks are saying he’ll go in the 2nd round and honestly he could kill two birds + one stone if he’s wearing midnight green next draft.

    Edit: damn I feel stupid after googling. Awesome site and a better break down for some prospects.

  78. 78 D3FB said at 12:06 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    That’s a great site, thanks! From my own tape study I have the same sentiments. His lack of physicality from playing press to refusing to get off a block are absolutely infuriating. I was literally screaming at my computer. If you could put a Cary Williams mentality into this kid he would be incredibly talented. Unfortunately though you can’t teach heart.

  79. 79 Mitchell said at 12:40 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    This is who I’ve been talking about for a while now. Not only is he a playmaker on defense but special teams as well. He just returned a kick for 100 on the 11th.

  80. 80 BlindChow said at 8:43 AM on November 14th, 2013:


    Gilbert is an extremely poor tackler and really does not look terribly
    interested in getting involved in plays or getting better. He tends to
    just throw himself at opponents, lunge at them and ends up coming up

    I see that way too many times on losing teams…

  81. 81 Mitchell said at 12:38 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    There is only one YouTube video of game footage I was able to watch on him and he didn’t look as bad a tackler as that article made him out to be. I think OSU plays on Saturday so if you’re not busy maybe give him a look. Dude is a playmaker fr sure.

  82. 82 Iskar36 said at 11:51 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    I think there is some truth to saying that with Chip Kelly’s offense, the defensive numbers need to be looked at slightly differently from simply Yards per game and Points per game. With that said though, I’m not sure yards per play are a great substitute. They are an easy statistic to find, so there is a convenience factor with them, but yards per play completely ignores the ability of a defense to get off the field. What I mean by that is, against Oakland, the defense went up against 92 plays. That is an insane number of plays and I fully agree that Chip Kelly’s offense was a major contributor to that statistic. However, if the defense forces more three and outs, or forces more punts, the number of plays would also go down. That is a significant factor on playing good defense that yards per play simply does not account for.

    To me, a much better statistic (which may not be readily available, therefore a lot less convenient to use and compare to other teams with) would be statistics where the denominator is drives. So in other words:


    To me, that would be a much better (albeit not entirely perfect) indicator of how the defense is playing. It eliminates the issue of Chip Kelly’s offense getting off the field quickly, leading to a large number of plays the defense has to face, and emphasizes the defense’s success from possession to possession.

  83. 83 Tom33 said at 12:11 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    Middle of the pack in Yds/Drive. Pts/Drive is slightly better.

  84. 84 Iskar36 said at 12:19 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    Much appreciated.

  85. 85 ICDogg said at 11:58 AM on November 14th, 2013:

    Go Najee Go Go Go
    Go Najee Go Go
    Najee B. Goode….

  86. 86 Dominik said at 12:32 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    Just turned on Spotify just to hear the song. Now I have an earworm. Thanks. 😉

  87. 87 P_P_K said at 2:33 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    Maybe some day your name will be in lights…

  88. 88 Jason said at 12:09 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    Anyone see this on Rotoworld:

    “Dolphins DC Kevin Coyle said he has no intention to increase DE/OLB Dion Jordan’s role. Jordan,
    the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, is serving as a situational
    pass-rusher. The Dolphins don’t trust him to play against the run, so he
    played on just nine defensive snaps against the Bucs on Monday night.
    For the season, Jordan has played on 178-of-672 snaps (26.4 percent). He
    has one sack and 11 tackles.”

    It’s been mentioned before on the blog, but what about pursuing D Jordan for our 3-4 instead of his odd fit in their 4-3. Maybe the Birds mid round first next year would be enough? Or could a certain DE from Michigan out of place in our 3-4 be a good swap for the Phins 3-4 former Oregon OLB out of place in their 4-3 (different contracts notwithstanding).

  89. 89 mtn_green said at 12:14 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    Yes. Real trades are rare. They probably have an inflated view of their 3rd pick overall. Graham can’t block run either and is mainly a bull rusher.

  90. 90 Jason said at 12:47 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    They may indeed have a defensive and inflated view of third pick and not to look like they are giving him away. Acquiring another first round DE could assuage some of that sensitivity.

    I buy the bull rush critique, but I’ve seen Graham do pretty well against the run when healthy and getting snaps.

  91. 91 Iskar36 said at 12:23 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    I understand that the underlying assumption here is that he is being badly misused, but shouldn’t some consideration be given to the fact that he is also under-performing?

  92. 92 Jason said at 12:44 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    Absolutely worth consideration, as would considering that he is slower to develop than a team impatient with a 3rd overall they traded up to acquire and Eagles could benefit.

  93. 93 Iskar36 said at 12:53 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    Certainly way to early to know the direction his career is heading towards, but I would be extremely careful in trying to trade for him if the opportunity presented itself (which I agree with others is very unlikely to begin with). He never put up great stats in college, then in the NFL, he has thus far not had a great impact. If you are going to trade a first round pick for a player, you better be absolutely sure that he is worth that pick, and it just seems to me, you want him to prove that on the field first, and then at that point, the Dolphins would want to keep him anyway…

  94. 94 jshort said at 3:26 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    Think someone mentioned, he needs the off season in an NFL weight room. What team is going to give up on a #1 draft pick after their first season.

  95. 95 BreakinAnklez said at 11:01 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    The Browns.

  96. 96 CampDracula said at 1:15 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    I get the logic of giving up the underneath passes in all situations but 3rd and long. I have no stats to back this up, but it sure looks like the defense will just give them seven yards, even on 3rd and 7.

  97. 97 Tumtum said at 1:40 PM on November 14th, 2013:

    To me we are getting exactly what we should of expected out of C.W. Help in the run game from the outside, a guy who runs his mouth, is adequate in coverage, and is terrified to be beaten deep. His fear of being beaten deep causes him to give up short and intermediate stuff frequently. His lack of speed and athleticism (or whatever it is that he is missing) causes him to get beat on the crossing patterns etc.

    What we have seen from him is exactly what we saw from him last year (if not better honestly). Its what we all wanted and its a damn sight better than the powder puff gang from last year. We knew what we were getting, and were pleased to have it. I am still there with him. It was good enough to win the SB, its dang sure good enough as a couple year band-aide while other issues are addressed.

    IMO, of course.