Philadelphia Eagles Pass Rush Here to Stay?


Sep 28, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole (58) celebrates after a sack against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi

5-1. Only a few diehards were so bold to predict the Philadelphia Eagles to enter their bye week with such an outstanding record.

The Eagles get a chance to rest this weekend with two weeks to prepare for their next game at Arizona. They’re coming off a huge win on Sunday Night Football against their NFC East rival New York Giants. The Eagles are on top of the division owning a tiebreaker with the Dallas Cowboys with their 2-0 record against the NFC East. Life is good in Philadelphia.

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One of the most interesting storylines heading into the bye week, is how the Eagles’ defense completely neutralized a Giants team coming off a hot three-game winning streak where their offense appeared to finally start clicking. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis dialed up one of his best games as the Eagles recorded their first shutout in 18 years. They held the Giants offense to 254 yards of total offense, the lowest output by the Eagles defense since their Week 14 victory over the Lions in an incredible snowstorm last year.

Philadelphia picked up eight sacks last week bringing their total up to 19 on the season. After only getting three sacks in their first three games, the pass rush has really turned the corner and found their groove. Outside linebacker Connor Barwin paces the group with six sacks of his own as he’s been used more of a pass rusher than last year. As the Eagles enter their second year in a 3-4 system, Barwin is more free in Davis’ system to play his role of “Joker” as the rest of his teammates continue to improve and get more comfortable in their positions. He can now mix up his rushes and drops in coverage more freely than last year where he had to often drop back as Trent Cole or Brandon Graham rushed the passer.

Cole and Graham have experienced some early success this year with their pass rush. The pair has combined for 5 1/2 sacks with Graham coming off of limited snaps. One of most effective pass rushers the Eagles have, Vinny Curry, has picked up four of his own while playing on only 30.6% of the Eagles defensive plays. Getting Curry involved more from his interior defensive end position could help make this defense more versatile.

“You know, to win in this league, it’s about consistency. We’re moving in that direction.” – Chip Kelly

An interior pass rush from Curry coupled with the outside play of either Barwin or Graham can cause a lot of trouble upfront for opposing offensive lines. Additionally, once speedster Mychal Kendricks returns from injury, he can provide another threat as an interior rusher. Defensive tackle Bennie Logan has had an impressive campaign so far as he has been piling up the tackles and making a real name for himself as an interior force.

The defense’s pass rush has picked up their performance the last three weeks as they now trail only Detroit for the most sacks on the season. Philadelphia is also having immense success forcing fumbles this year as they lead the league. The duo of Cole and Graham have combined for six of the ten fumbles the Eagles have forced to date. A fierce pass rush paired with a knack for punching out the ball has defined the success of this defensive unit so far. Three of the Eagles next five opponents rank in the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed, providing the defense a great opportunity to continue this upward trend.

With an already phenomenal special teams unit and a defense that’s on the rise as of late, this Philadelphia team could really cause a stir once the offense finally pieces it together. If all three phases of this Eagles team learn to play full games together, this team could make a deep run towards the top of the NFC rankings.