After opening the season with two dominant quarters, the Eagles defense seem to have showed their true colors over the last six quarters. Against the Redskins, they had a large lead and shifted towards a “let’s try not to blow this” mentality. Against the Chargers, they were horrific from beginning to end. Just how bad were they on Sunday? I think this tweet sums it up pretty well.
— Ryan Messick 973ESPN (@rm973) September 16, 2013
Although I currently find the entire Eagles defense appalling, my biggest concern has to be a secondary that allowed Philip Rivers to throw for 419 yards and seemingly couldn’t step up on just about any third down situation.
I think one of the things that people are overlooking is the injury to Bradley Fletcher. If he plays in Sunday’s game, it would have allowed Brandon Boykin to play in the slot where it seemed the Chargers were doing whatever they wanted in the middle of the field. Instead, Boykin was forced to play outside while the Eagles ran three safeties on the field together. I thought Boykin played well, but I believe the defense would have had a lot more success if he was able to play in the slot.
Additionally, the Eagles had a lot of trouble covering tight end Antonio Gates who recorded eight receptions for 124 yards. Tight end coverage has been something the Eagles have struggled with for a long time, and they continued that trend again this weekend.
Rivers was able to pick apart the Eagles secondary in most part because he had all day to throw. In the first half of the Redskins game, the Eagles had this attacking defense that was getting great pressure on the quarterback and forcing turnovers. That defense apparently retired at halftime of Week One. When you’re facing a quarterback who isn’t very mobile, you can have a lot of success if you can get solid pressure. This was far from the case for the Eagles.
So the Eagles defense isn’t impressive in any facet of the game. Does that mean the Eagles are doomed for the rest of the season? Not necessarily. Odds are you didn’t think the Eagles were a playoff team before the season started. Hopefully your perspective didn’t completely change after that oh so awesome first half in Washington.
The Eagles defense isn’t going to be a top 10 defense. That’s something we know. However, when you have an offense like they do, you don’t need to have a top 10 defense to win games. They can score points. Defensively, they just need to play at a level where they can make some plays here and there, get the ball back in the hands of their offense, and occasionally come up with a big stop.
A healthy Bradley Fletcher should give a slight boost to the defense. They could potentially get better by bringing in a stop-gap safety free agent with some experience. If they go back to being aggressive and taking some risks to get to the quarterback, they could see that end up in some turnovers.
The ceiling isn’t extremely high for the Eagles defense this year, but they have no where to go but up from here.