Eagles had NFL’s second-best front seven in 2016, per Pro Footbal Focus


Maybe the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense wasn’t all that bad after all?

The Philadelphia Eagles‘ defense didn’t have a great reputation in 2016 due to below average play from cornerbacks Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin. However, the play of the secondary doesn’t exactly tell the whole story. According to Pro Football Focus, the Eagles had the second-best defensive front seven in the NFL, behind only the Seattle Seahawks’.

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Unsurprisingly, defensive end Brandon Graham received the highest grade of the Eagles’ front seven with an overall grade of 93.3. With an overall grade of 42.1, Connor Barwin had the lowest.

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Here’s what PFF had to say about Philadelphia’s defensive front:

"It was a difficult decision between the Eagles and the Seahawks for the No. 1 spot, as this front-seven propped up a hodge-podge secondary to form one of the league’s most effective defenses for a good portion of the season. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox finished with the third- and fourth-highest pass-rushing productivity marks at their respective positions. Philadelphia’s front-seven also features a budding star in second-year linebacker Jordan Hicks, who led all players at the position with five interceptions."

As impressive as the Eagles’ front seven was this season, the team’s secondary was just as impressive. But for all the wrong reasons.

The Eagles’ secondary was ranked as the worst in the NFL by PFF, dropping the team’s ranking in overall defense to 13th in the league.

"To the credit of the Eagles’ safeties, both played better than the Philadelphia secondary’s overall ranking might indicate. However, that shows just how bad the Eagles’ cornerbacks were. All three of the team’s top corners ranked in the top eight for total receiving yards allowed among all defenders in the league. It really wasn’t skewed by a seeing a higher volume of as passes, either, as Leodis McKelvin and Jalen Mills ranked first and third, respectively, in yards allowed per snap in coverage. Ron Brooks wasn’t much better before he suffered a season-ending injury. Had he played enough snaps to qualify, his overall grade would have also been among the bottom dozen cornerbacks (out of 120 players)."

Overall, Jim Schwartz did a good job turning the Eagles’ defense around in his first season as defensive coordinator. But the team desperately needs to bolster the secondary, which they will almost certainly look to do in the offseason.