The Eagles starting defense have not looked good so far in preseason and were taken apart by all Patriots quarterbacks last week. Fans are starting to worry already that this defense will not be very good. The Eagles defensive backs have struggled to play in accordance with the rules about downfield contact with receivers after 5 yards and have given away numerous penalties throughout the first two games.
The Eagles had problems as a defense last year getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and so far in preseason they have failed to generate pressure again leading to questions about whether the defense will improve on last year at all. Although I am still confident the Eagles defense can perform to a reasonable level this season there are a number of problems that preseason has highlighted. It is clear that defensive end Vinny Curry and linebacker Brandon Graham are two of the Eagles best pass rushers but they do not fit the Eagles scheme and will struggle to get a lot of snaps.
The Eagles lack of depth at cornerback is worrying; cornerback Curtis Marsh showed against the Patriots that he still simply isn’t good enough and rookie Jaylen Watkins still has a long way to go. However, the season has not yet begun and we shouldn’t simply give up on the Eagles defense yet, here’s why:
I Have Faith In Billy Davis
The Eagles defense began last year looking awful, giving up a total of 34.5 points per game throughout the first 4 weeks. However from weeks 4-16 the Eagles only gave up 20.3 points per game and credit has to be given to defensive coordinator Billy Davis. I think the Eagles offense will put up huge numbers again this year and be amongst the best so they do not need to have a top 10 defense to win games.
Billy Davis knows that the Eagles are not blessed with a number of great pass rushers and he therefore has to come up with clever blitzes to get Eagles players to the quarterback untouched. Throughout preseason, Davis will not want to show any of these blitzes to opposing teams so he will therefore run a very vanilla scheme on defense. I therefore think the Eagles defense will be a lot better in the regular season than it has been so far in the preseason as Davis can be more creative.
The Secondary Will Be Better
The Eagles had major issues at safety last year, Nate Allen played really well but Patrick Chung did not. Adding safety Malcolm Jenkins in free agency to play alongside Allen should help the Eagles improve their secondary. Safety Earl Wolff will also rotate in throughout the season and will be a solid backup if Allen or Jenkins go down.
Free agent cornerback Nolan Carroll was signed to compete for the starting job with Bradley Fletcher who has struggled so far in preseason. Carroll has been injured recently so hasn’t played in preseason but reporters have been very impressed with him throughout training camp. If Carroll continues to impress he should start alongside Williams; adding Jenkins and Carroll should improve the secondary which needed an upgrade.