clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Eagles Film Review: Midseason Defense Review

Washington Commanders v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Eagles’ bye week comes at a really good time for the team. Coaches use the bye week to discuss all areas of the team and consider how the team can get better. I thought I would do the same this week, and try to imagine what the coaches might be looking at this week. So here is my midseason summary of the Eagles’ defense, and what I would be discussing if I was in the meetings! I won’t go into detail on every single point here because some of them are fairly obvious, but I’ll try to find some film or stats to back up my point. All stats that are included in this article are from Sports Info Solution, FTN Fantasy, and ESPN.

PREVIOUSLY: Eagles Film Review: Midseason Offense Review


Development of the defense line

The play of Jordan Davis has impressed me so much this year. He looks a different player compared to the end of last season, and the Eagles coaches deserve credit for developing him as well as Jalen Carter and Milton Williams. By rotating the defensive tackles more, the Eagles have also managed to keep Fletcher Cox healthy and he has had a really good season. The Eagles’ defensive tackles are playing at a very high level.

I know you can’t trust all these stats, but this is pretty incredible.

The starting EDGE rushers

Is there a better duo than Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick right now in the NFL? If there is, they won’t be better by a lot. I think Josh Sweat has gone to another level this season and he is playing really well. Since Reddick got over his early season injury, he has been fantastic. I don’t think anyone makes more clutch plays than Haason Reddick, who always seems to make a huge play when the game is on the line.

Although, it’s not just Reddick who shows up at the end of games!

The run defense

Without a doubt, this is the biggest improvement from the defense this year. The run discipline is fantastic. Last year, some of the gap discipline on show from the defense was really poor, but it was also a clear coaching issue and wasn’t just personnel-related. The Eagles just didn’t have enough bodies to cover each gap at times last year. This season, it is a different story. The Eagles linebackers are incredibly aggressive at getting downhill this year, whereas last year the linebackers were too passive and looked like they were more concerned about the pass than stopping the run. I have to give Sean Desai credit for improving the run defense so quickly.

Specific game plans

The Eagles’ defense has had some bad games this year, without a doubt. But I have also been very impressed with some of the specific game plans they have had, and it is clear that Desai is more willing to mix things up on a week-to-week basis. In particular, the Dolphins game stands out as a game plan that was really well executed and designed for that particular offense.

Simulated pressures

The Eagles have had some really nice sim pressures this year, which is something I wasn’t impressed with last year. This does require an edge defender dropping into coverage, which isn’t always great, but it is worth it when you can catch the opposing offense out. The Eagles have had some really cool designs this year.

Areas for Development

Dealing with stacks/bunches

This has been a huge problem for the Eagles’ defense and it has shown up week after week. The Eagles are playing a lot of man-coverage and they are also using 5-man fronts, which means they end up 3 over 3 in bunches and they don’t communicate or pass off routes well enough.

Personally, what I want to see is more zone coverage to take away these stacks and bunches. I want to see more triangle coverage (3 over 2) or box coverage (4 over 3). This should help take away the issue with stacks and bunches.

Personnel packages

I went into real depth on this in last week’s article and podcast, so I won’t go into real depth right now. But the Eagles personnel use vs. the Cowboys last week was pretty disastrous at times.

Handling star wide receivers

I don’t need to explain this one too much, because I’m pretty sure you all remember CeeDee Lamb going 11-191 just a couple of weeks ago. Yes, Lamb is an outstanding receiver. But the way the Eagles handled Lamb was pretty poor in my opinion. Cooper Kupp went 8-115 in his first game back this season against the Eagles. Justin Jefferson also went 11-159 against the Eagles. All three of these wide receivers are outstanding and it is not easy to stop them, but you can’t give up this many receptions and yards. Especially when you have a fantastic pass rush that can win by rushing 4. There has to be an improvement here.

The answer could be as simple as allowing Darius Slay to travel with top receivers for the whole game. Slay may not be elite anymore, but he is still a very good cornerback.


The Eagles’ pressure rate is really good this year when rushing with 4 but I still wouldn’t mind a few decent blitz packages. The Eagles currently rank 27th in blitz rate and also 27th in success rate when blitzing. For a team with a dominant defensive line and linebackers who can blitz, that number should be better.


What is the plan for rotation at EDGE? Is Nolan Smith ready?

Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick are playing a lot of snaps right now. Derek Barnett has not been productive at all as a pass rusher, and Nolan Smith hasn’t looked great at all. Nolan Smith has been doing a number of different jobs, and it might be time to simplify things for him and let him get after the quarterback so he can get on the field. Right now, he looks a little lost in pass coverage and in run defense.

I’m not sure if Nolan Smith is ready, but the Eagles might have to give him a chance and find out for themselves.

Should this defense remain a man-coverage unit?

This links heavily to my point from earlier about dealing with bunches and stacks. The numbers are pretty incredible this year when compared to last year.

The Eagles are going to get Bradley Roby back but they need to make a philosophical decision about whether this secondary (and the linebackers) has the required talent to win by playing a lot of man coverage. If the answer is yes, then this team must use different personnel packages and get more cornerbacks on the field in obvious passing situations.

Will Jordan Davis last the season?

This is just a personal concern of mine. I think Jordan Davis has been unbelievable this year, and I’m a little worried the defense is too reliant on him already. When he couldn’t play a lot vs. Washington a few weeks ago the run defense struggled for one of the first times. I also worry about his conditioning and whether he can stay this productive all season long.

That will do for this one. Any comments or questions, let me know as always! Just a reminder that I am now working with BGN Radio, and I will talking about this article in-depth this week. Please check it out and let me know what you think!

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bleeding Green Nation Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Philadelphia Eagles news from Bleeding Green Nation