Should the Eagles Blitz Less?

Fletcher Cox, Destroyer of Worlds - Rob Carr

How often did the Eagles blitz? And how well did they do?

It's no secret that the Eagles' pass rush was below average last season. Philadelphia ranked 20th in sacks (37). Starting outside linebackers Trent Cole (8) and Connor Barwin (5) combined for only 13 of those total sacks. Too often the Eagles would get into a situation where they gave up a long third down conversion to the opposing offense because their pass rush could not get consistent pressure.

The pass rush numbers look even worse when you consider how often the Eagles blitzed their opponent. According to Pro Football Focus, the Eagles ranked 7th in terms of how often they sent the blitz (35.45%). This realization doesn't come as a surprise. Defensive coordinator Billy Davis often talks about how he likes the 3-4 defense because he can bring the blitz from a number of different spots. It doesn't always have to be as a simple as relying on a four man rush.

But just how effective was the Eagles' blitz in 2013? Not very. According to PFF's pass rush productivity signature statistic, the Eagles ranked 27th overall. That's some high volume, low efficiency blitzing. The Eagles' pass rush numbers without the blitz were a little better. When the Eagles did not blitz, their pass rush ranked 18th in the league. One would think this means the Eagles should blitz with less frequency than they already do. And maybe they would blitz less if they were more confident in their pass rush.

So what this all means is what we already know: the Eagles pass rush needs to get better. It won't improve on its own. The team needs more talent. Head coach Chip Kelly even admitted this at the owner's meetings in Florida earlier this month. BGN has also identified a pass rusher as the Eagles' biggest post-free-agency need. With the Eagles unable to add a pass rusher in free agency due to a weak market, it's now up to them to find an answer in the 2014 NFL draft.

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