Do The Philadelphia Eagles Have The Best Defense In The NFC East?


Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

When the Philadelphia Eagles finished the 2014 season 10-6 and missed the playoffs, it felt like the team had just gone 4-12. The main reason for the teams disappointing end was it’s lackluster defense, especially the secondary. The teams main focus this coming year was to revamp a weak unit and the team has made its best effort in doing just that. The Philadelphia Eagles now look to own the best defense in the NFC East.

The Philadelphia Eagles biggest effort was making over a leaky secondary. The team signed corner Byron Maxwell to a big contract this offseason, they also signed safety Walter Thurmond, and drafted Eric Rowe in the second round of this years draft. Add those three with safety Malcolm Jenkins and you already have the best secondary in the NFC East, which to be honest isn’t really saying much.

Another hole the team plugged was the inside linebacker spot. The Eagles traded away running back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for ILB Kiko Alonso to pair with the combination of Mychal Kendricks and Demeco Ryans. Alonso missed the 2014 season due to a knee injury but as a rookie in 2013, Kiko had an astonishing 159 tackles his rookie season.

As far as the pass rush and rush defense are concerned, this is the Eagles biggest strength. The team finished the season with 49 sacks and allowed only 3.7 yards per carry. The average age of the starters on the defensive line and outside linebackers is 26 years old. To go along with the youth, there is serious talent. Defensive end Fletcher Cox was monster last season and earned all pro honors, Connor Barwin had 14.5 sacks and also had all pro/pro bowl honors, and Vinny Curry had 9 sacks playing limited snaps. The Philadelphia Eagles own one of the best front sevens in the entire league not just the division.

More from Eagles News

If you look at each team in the divisions roster, its easy to tell why the Eagles are the frontrunners to own the divisions best defensive roster. The New York Giants have always been known to have a scary pass rush. The Giants still have a decent defensive line but face questions after their best player defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul blew off his finger while messing with fireworks. To pair those concerns with their inexperinced linebacking corps that allowed 4.9 yards a carry and a thin secondary that had no consistency, the Giants will struggle on the defensive side of the ball this season.

The Washington Redskins also have their fair share of issues on the defensive side of the ball. Aside from only racking up 36 sacks, the team only managed to intercept the ball a total of 7 times, compared to Philly’s 49 sacks and 12 interceptions. Washington has some nice pieces on defense like outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and inside linebacker Keenan Robinson, but their secondary is the biggest issue.

The team has 31 year old corner DeAneglo Hall coming back from an achilles injury, Bashaud Breeland who looks more like a role player than a starter, and safeties Dashon Goldson who ranked as one of the worst safeties the past couple years per Pro Football Focus, and Duke Ihenacho who has never really played well when given the opportunity. Washington’s secondary may be the worst in the division.

The Dallas Cowboys enjoyed a good season last year because of a great run game, easy schedule, and improved play calling. The defense was admittedly better than most people thought, but because of the run game, the defense didn’t have to see much of the field. The Cowboys defense isn’t very good and is very thin in certain areas. The Cowboys had a tough time getting to the QB, only sacking the quarterback a grand total of 27 times. No individual player had over 6 sacks.

Dallas did draft defensive end Randy Gregory in this years draft, but rookie pass rushers usually don’t make an impact early. The Cowboys biggest and most controversial signing was defensive end Greg Hardy, who missed all of the 2014 season due to him beating his then girlfriend. Hardy is a good player when healthy but will miss the first 4 games of the season because of his domestic violence issues.

The Cowboys are also thin at linebacker where they will be starting Sean Lee who has missed 22 games in the past two seasons, Rolando McClain who has retired twice already and is suspended the first four games of the season because of a failed drug test, and Anthony Hitchens who has never really proved anything in the NFL.

Just like the rest of the NFC East, the Cowboys secondary is weak. The team drafted Byron Jones to try and help a bad secondary, but its hard to rely on rookies. Dallas has Orlando Scandrick, Brandon Carr, and Morris Claiborne to fight for playing time at the corner spot, J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church to round out a disappointing secondary that gave up over 4,000 yards passing last season. If the Cowboys can’t keep their defense on the sideline like last year, things could get ugly.

Player for player, position by position, the Philadelphia Eagles have the best defense in the NFC East on paper. It’s late July and games aren’t played on paper, but the way it looks the Eagles have the most to look forward to. If the Philadelphia Eagles can get production out of the players they have brought in, its really not that much of a debate when it comes to who has the best defense in the division. Football season needs to get here already.

More from Inside the Iggles