A presence undetected lingers in South Philadelphia, waiting patiently until autumn to rear it’s frightening form. Waiting ever so patiently, the Philadelphia Eagles bide their time until they can impose their will on unsuspecting quarterbacks next season. And while chatter surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles has avoided focusing on the defense, a fearsome and formidable group could be on the hinges of something great. Provided the acquistions of the offseason exceed expectations, a championship caliber defense could supplant the Incredible Hulk as the most talked about green monster of 2015.
Eric Rowe, the Philadelphia Eagles’ second round draft selection, is a representative of a new breed of Eagles corners. Alongside the aforementioned Rowe, Byron Maxwell and Nolan Carroll are 6’1 and Walter Thurmond is 5’11. While height does not necessarily equate to talent, the Philadelphia Eagles have a set design for how they’d like to address arguably one of the greatest weaknesses on their defense. Physicality, sound technique, and harrowing size replace outdated and over-aggresive opportunists.
Of last 16 participants in the Super Bowl, only four have had a defense that ranked outside the top ten in the NFL in the category of yards allowed per point scored. Two of those teams lost in the Super Bowl (Arizona and Denver), while the other two were the Eli Manning-led New York Giants.
Coincidentally or not, defensive coordinator Billy Davis’ first season in charge of the Philadelphia Eagles transformed the defense from the 32nd ranked defense in that category to the 9th resulting in a playoff berth and a division title. Statistics can be manipulated and adjusted to fit into any enclosed package. But the addage “Defenses win championships” has sustained the test of time.
Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles led the NFC in sacks with 49, a significant upgrade from 2013 where they only had 37 sacks. Connor Barwin certainly contributed towards the positive change and is poised to deliver another banner year. What has hindered the Eagles defense from being considered amongst elite company has been turnover differential. For the past two seasons under Billy Davis and head coach Chip Kelly, the Philadelphia Eagles have been -8 in turnover differential. Given the fluctuation at skill positions due to injury, turnovers could be remedied immensely by a healthy quarterback.
The defense is doing their job better than they have in recent years. With upgrades in the secondary, the Eagles will finally be able to shed the porous label that has been bestowed upon them and become an elite defense. But what will really help the defense is the one upgrade on the offensive end. With running back DeMarco Murray, Chip Kelly finally has a north-south runner that can grind out the game clock, move the chains, and keep Billy Davis’ defense resting on the sidelines. With the offense taking care of the ball, the Eagles defense appears primed to impose their will on opposing offenses in 2015.
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