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Eagles News: Philadelphia’s pass defense is not hopeless

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 11/14/23.

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Is there hope for the Eagles’ struggling pass defense? - NBCSP
And one interesting metric regarding pass defense is that despite all their issues, the Eagles are actually 14th-best in the league in yards per pass play. It’s just that they’re so good against the run — No. 1 in the league — that teams are throwing 40.2 passes per game against them, tied for highest in the league. They’ve also allowed only eight passes of 30 yards or more, second-fewest in the league. So quarterbacks are completing a ton of passes but not many deep balls. That’s why despite going from No. 1 in pass defense last year to No. 28 this year, the Eagles are only allowing one more offensive point per game this year (19.0 last year, 20.1 this year). And pass defense doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s not just the D-backs that go into the equation but linebacker coverage as well. According to Pro Football Focus, Nicholas Morrow and Zach Cunningham are ranked 12th and 17th among 78 linebackers who’ve played at least 100 coverage snaps. That’s very good. But Nakobe Dean ranks 70th. Dean has been rotating with Morrow and Cunningham, and honestly he’s been a liability in coverage. He’s now facing a long layoff with a Lisfranc foot sprain, which means Morrow and Cunningham – by far the superior coverage players at this point in their careers – will get virtually all the linebacker snaps.

10 reasons the Eagles are set up for a Super Bowl run - PhillyVoice
The loss of Avonte Maddox (likely) for the season has created chaos in the Eagles’ secondary, which was further compromised by injuries to Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Reed Blankenship, and Justin Evans. Nine games in, the Eagles have already played nine (!) cornerbacks and six safeties. Last year they only played five cornerbacks in the regular defense all season — Slay, Bradberry, Maddox, Scott, and McPhearson — and five safeties. 2022: 20 games, 10 defensive backs. 2023: 9 games, 15 defensive backs. While navigating the losses of players from week to week, there has been some good pass defense (notably against the Rams and Dolphins) and some bad (notably against the Commanders x2 and Cowboys). The Eagles’ projected five in their secondary Week 11 against the Chiefs will likely be Slay, Bradberry, Roby, Blankenship, and Kevin Byard. That is, in theory, their best starting five going forward. To be determined how long that group can stay on the field together, but it’s hard to imagine that the Eagles can have worse continuity in their secondary than they did the first half of the season.

Eagles Film Review: Midseason Offense Review - BGN
This year, we just aren’t seeing this anywhere near as much. The Eagles have gone from 1st in gap scheme rushing success rate to 27th in the NFL. There is no way this team, with this offensive line, should be 27th in gap scheme runs. The Eagles need to find a way to get the running game going, and I can’t help but feel we need to see some more counter and dart to try, even if it isn’t D’Andre Swift’s specialty, in order to get this running game going.

NFL awards for MVP, Rookie of the Year, DPOY, and more at midseason - SB Nation
Honestly, I do not think you can go wrong with either Jalen Carter or Devon Witherspoon here. Carter has been tremendous for the Eagles, and is the odds-on favorite right now for Defensive Rookie of the Year with good reason. Not only has he been a force against the run, and consistently resets the line of scrimmage when he is in the game, but he has been a massive contributor when the offense tries to throw. Carter already has four sacks on the year, an impressive number for an interior defensive lineman. If Carter is your pick — like James makes here — I get it. The reason for the Devon Witherspoon pick is this: He too is contributing in both phases of the game. Not only has he been stout against the pass this season — he has allowed an NFL Passer Rating of just 68.4 this year when targeted, and quarterbacks have completed less than 50% of their throws when targeting him — but he has also been a force in the run. Coming out of Illinois, his willingness to play downhill was a major selling point. He has showed that throughout his rookie season. That’s enabled Seattle to play him in a variety of alignments, both along the boundary and in the slot, and he has excelled in both areas. Both players are tremendous, but Witherspoon stands out for his versatility.

Three Eagles concerns as they return from bye week and prepare for brutal stretch - The Athletic
The Eagles are well-positioned for a similar adaptation in 2023. Stoll is Goedert’s top replacement, and the 6-foot-4, 247-pound veteran has largely been used as a blocker in his 205 snaps this season. But it will also be interesting to monitor how the Eagles use Julio Jones, who signed with the team on Oct. 17. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds (a suitable frame to demolish defenders), the seven-time Pro Bowl wideout has also long been a reputable blocker. Goedert told The Athletic in a Nov. 1 interview that when he first spoke with Jones in Philly, Jones told him, “I just want to go and crack a linebacker and make him not want to play the game anymore.” “For someone that is a physical player, likes blocking, that was really cool to hear from a wide receiver,” Goedert said then. “You don’t hear that all the time.” Jones has already been Philadelphia’s wide receiver of choice in run situations. Of his 19 snaps against the Cowboys, the Eagles lined up in 12 personnel (one RB, two TEs, two WRs) three times and ran the ball, according to TruMedia. By fielding Jones, there would also be flexibility in the passing game, although he’s only been targeted three times in 50 offensive snaps. Quez Watkins, who for now remains on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, saw his target share increase from 6.7 percent to 15.6 percent while Goedert was sidelined in 2022. The Eagles have also demonstrated they can field Jones, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith at the same time. Jones has played in the slot on 25 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

2024 NFL offseason: Early positional needs for AFC, NFC teams - ESPN+
Philadelphia Eagles. Projected biggest need: Cornerback. The Eagles’ front office has been amazing at rebuilding entire position groups, and it’s likely time for a reshuffle at corner, given the age of Darius Slay (32) and James Bradberry (30). The team added Eli Ricks (UDFA) and Kelee Ringo (Round 4) in the 2023 draft, but until they’re more proven, it stands to reason the Eagles will invest in another outside cornerback. Philadelphia is allowing 6.9 yards per pass attempt (16th) and only have four picks (tied for 29th).

Spadaro: Back from the bye, 8 key storylines to follow during Chiefs Week -
8. A dynamic duo getting to the quarterback: Haason Reddick has 7.5 sacks and Josh Sweat has 6.5 and that is some serious punch off the edge. Rookie Jalen Carter has four quarterback sacks and so the Eagles are really spreading things around. We saw how important it is to have depth along the defensive front when the Eagles chased quarterback Dak Prescott late in the win last Sunday, and that edge pressure will be so critical to complement what the Eagles are doing inside. The Eagles have 30 sacks so far this season. Through nine games in 2022, a year in which they had a franchise-record and league-best 70 sacks, the Eagles posted 29.

Cowboys win 12th in a row at home, leaving Jerry Jones dreaming of home playoff game - PFT
Dallas last hosted a playoff game in 2021, losing to the 49ers in the wild-card round. Since their last Super Bowl victory in 1995, the Cowboys had home-field advantage twice. They lost in the divisional round to the Giants in 2007 and in the divisional round to the Packers in 2016. “I do build that in. In other words, I flare early about not having a playoff game at home,” Jones said. “My point is, that’s when I think about our success, or the result of our success, it hits me right in the face that if you don’t have a certain kind of success, you won’t get a playoff game at home. That’s a big deal to me. You ask, and I’m saying, that’s a big deal. That’s not Super Bowl, but it’s a pretty significant thing to think about not having a playoff game at home. When I go to camp, I think about that. It’s a big deal. I know it is, is my point.

Report: Cowboys Leighton Vander Esch unlikely to return in 2023, C.J. Goodwin out for season - Blogging The Boys
The Dallas Cowboys remained undefeated at home with a 49-17 win against the New York Giants on Sunday, the start of a stretch of winnable games Dallas is hoping to take full advantage of and play their way back into the NFC East race. Unfortunately, the Cowboys won’t be doing so as close to full strength as they once hoped. According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, cornerback and core special teamer C.J. Goodwin is done for the season as he’ll need surgery to repair the pectoral injury suffered in week five at the 49ers. The team was also hopeful linebacker Leighton Vander Esch could rejoin the defense, but that is now highly unlikely as a second neck surgery may be in his future.

Grading The Game – Washington Commanders vs. Seattle Seahawks - Hogs Haven
Some mistakes include a lost fumble after a sizable gain, holding the ball too long on a sack, first-down production issues, and a couple of throws off the mark. However, Sam Howell had a third straight 300-yard game and did more than enough to beat the Seahawks with pinpoint passing, improvisational skills, patience, and scrambling ability.

Josh Allen to the Giants? Would you make this hypothetical trade? - Big Blue View
Lawrence Tynes, former New York Giants placekicker turned constantly active social media presence, tossed out a “for entertainment purposes only” trade idea on the platform formerly known as Twitter Tuesday morning. So, because we can all use a distraction from arguing about why the Giants’ season has gone so wrong and who should be blamed for it, let’s entertain ourselves. Tynes’ idea? The Giants send Daniel Jones and first-round picks in 2024 and 2025 to the Buffalo Bills for quarterback Josh Allen.

Breaking news: Buffalo Bills fire OC Ken Dorsey - Buffalo Rumblings
After ten games, Buffalo’s offense ranks in the top half of the league but, again, stats don’t always paint the full picture. Since their Week 4 drubbing of the Miami Dolphins, everything on offense has felt like a chore, getting out of the gate with a prodding, methodical approach that put the team behind the eight ball early and often. Like clockwork, the offense would flip a switch with six minutes to go in each half, coming to life and finding points via the end zone — a situation that once again reared its head against the Broncos. It will be interesting to see how much the game plan will change under new offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Previously, Brady served as the passing game coordinate for the LSU Tigers when they won the national championship. The quarterback on that team? Joe Burrow. [BLG Note: The Eagles host the Bills in Week 12.]

The Vikings are bringing back Anthony Barr - Daily Norseman
On Monday, the word came out that linebacker Jordan Hicks had suffered a shin injury and had some sort of “procedure” done after the victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. To take his place, the purple are bringing back an old friend. Per numerous sources, the Vikings will be signing linebacker Anthony Barr. At the present time, the plan is to put Barr on the practice squad. [BLG Note: Barr will not be signing with the Eagles despite working out for Philly.]

The Jalen Reagor Under was a Big Winner in Deutschland - Crossing Broad
Reagor, if you were not aware, was waived by the Vikings in August and wound up on the Patriots’ practice squad. They elevated him on 10/22 against Buffalo, and he went on to catch his only target for 11 yards. Last week, he caught one of his six targets for 11 yards, and then the Pats decided to reduce his snaps from 77% to 1% for the Frankfurt game against Indy.


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