Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has been preaching physicality all year. For whatever reason, his players have only shown the desired tenacity in spurts. It’s been particularly noticeable against the run, where the Eagles rank 27th in the NFL.
Sean McDermott hopes that inserting Moise Fokou into the lineup for Akeem Jordan at strong side linebacker leads to improvements. “Right now I feel that what our defense needs is for a physical presence to be inserted into the defense and that’s Moise, ” said McDermott.
The defensive coordinator has mentioned a few times this year that Jordan needed to play a more physical brand of football, and now in week five the job goes back to the guy who had it coming into camp.
Fokou said he’s ready for the opportunity and will try to focus on his strengths. “They called my number probably because I do some things well with my hands and whatnot, especially in terms of jamming the tight end or attacking the run, but I’ve just got to play my game,” he said.
Fokou was the Eagles 7th round pick last year, but found himself starting at the end of the year due to injuries and inconsistency. The former Terrapin held the starting job coming into training camp, but lost it early on to Jordan. Fokou took snaps at defensive end for awhile, but landed back at linebacker before the start of the season.
McDermott thinks that experience on the defensive line may come in handy. “He’s very strong in his upper body and he played some defensive end at Maryland, so he knows what it takes to play in the front seven,” said the Eagles defensive coordinator.
It seems like McDermott is hoping that extra strength and toughness will help Fokou shed blocks and make plays against the run, but ultimately McDermott thinks the fix for his defense is not about skill or strength.
“In the run game specifically, it comes down to technique and toughness,” McDermott said. “The toughness part is about attitude. Either you have it inside or you don’t. “
The Eagles defense has been flat at times and dominant at others, a streakiness that needs to turn into consistency quickly for Philadelphia. After a week two performance that saw the Birds give up 32 points to the Lions, including 15 in under 3 minutes in a frantic fourth quarter comeback, McDermott called into question his defense’s physicality and intensity.
The unit responded, giving up just 3 points in Jacksonville. McDermott raised similar questions today. “You’d like to think that you have a tough group coming into training camp, and I think we have a tough group, but you’ve got to bring that toughness every week,” McDermott said.