Philadelphia Eagles: Better On Defense Heading Into 2015?
By Pat Roach
Nov 23, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole (58) celebrates his sack with outside linebacker Connor Barwin (98) during the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Titans, 43-24. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Key Additions: None
Key Losses: Trent Cole
Outside of the departure of Trent Cole (which wasn’t much of a blow in way of performance or production), there hasn’t been much change here. Staring down a thin market in which their top target, Jason Worilds, oddly retired, the team opted to bring back Brandon Graham and slide him into a full time gig. Though Graham may not have been Kelly’s ideal option in terms of mirroring Connor Barwin, his edge rush prowess could make him a formidable bookend in his own respect.
As Pro Football Focus revealed in their list of top 101 players, Graham boasted the league’s best pass rush productivity rating among 3-4 outside linebackers. That includes players such as Justin Houston, Aldon Smith, Clay Matthews, and Tamba Hali. While Connor Barwin is unlikely to replicate his stellar performance of 2014, Graham’s expanded role should help to mitigate any potential drop-off in production. It’s fair to expect the Eagles’ OLB corp to produce similar results to 2014, but the exceeding expectations is possible, as the needle is pointing up.