Remember how dominant the Eagles defensive line was in the preseason? No matter who was out there, they were getting to the quarterback early and often. They racked up a ton of sacks and it looked like in a 16 game season they may be able record roughly one million.
However, we’re five games into the regular season and that has not been the case. Instead, there are only three teams who have recorded fewer than the seven sacks the Eagles defense currently has. So what’s going on?
Are they not as good as we thought? Are they seeing a lot of double teams and chips? Are quarterbacks just getting the ball out too quickly? I don’t think you can blame it on one thing, but at the end of the day they just aren’t living up to the high expectations that they set in the preseason.
Coming into last weeks game against the Steelers, Trent Cole promised that the sacks were coming. That didn’t exactly happen. However, Cole still felt strongly about the Eagles defensive line after the Steelers game stating, “They leave max protect and every team you go against that max protects … that’s called respect. That tells you, That’s the best damn defensive line in the [expletive] NFL. That’s just real talk. That’s common sense. It’s right there in front of your face. Every team.”
Jake Louden of EaglesFan4Life had an interesting take on this. In a breakdown of 51 defensive snaps for Jason Babin, Louden believes Babin saw roughly nine double teams. That’s not an overwhelming number at all for a guy who is known to dominate the way that Babin is.
So what gives? I think there is a bit of an overreaction when it comes to the Steelers game. Ben Roethlisberger is extraordinary at extending plays and moving outside the pocket. He has been sacked a lot over the years, but the number would be even more dramatic if it wasn’t for his abilities.
The Eagles have seen a number of other quarterbacks who don’t have the same talent level keeping plays alive like Roethlisberger does though. So what happened there? Who knows, but I must say I am surprised by the lack of sacks from this defense and I’d like to think Jim Washburn feels the same way.
Moving forward, I hope this trend doesn’t continue. Overall, I think the defense has performed pretty well as a whole. If the defensive line can have the type of impact they are capable of, the defense should be able to perform even better.