Trench Warfare: Philadelphia Eagles run defense can dominate against New York Jets

Derek Barnett #96, Fletcher Cox #91 (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Derek Barnett #96, Fletcher Cox #91 (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Eagles’ run defense has been dominant during the first month of the 2019 NFL season. That advantage upfront will be the primary key to victory in Week five.

With names like Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, and Timmy Jernigan on the roster, it was safe to say most Eagles fans were optimistic about the team’s defense heading into the 2019 regular season. Key injuries to the latter two players in the first month left Philly in a ‘sink or swim’ scenario where they could have easily faltered.

Instead, the Eagles defensive front has galvanized around its’ best players and become one of the top three run defenses in the NFL.

The Eagles’ proficiency against the run isn’t something that can be credited to any individual player. Instead, it’s a manufactured dominance forged through clever scheming and effective play from every member of the team’s front seven. This elevated level of play against the run has not gone unnoticed.

ESPN’Field Yates put the teams’ success into perspective after their Thursday night victory over the Green Bay Packers.

With the exception of Derrius Guice (who is still essentially a rookie), those other three names represent a who’s who of running backs in the NFL today.

Devonta Freeman has scored double-digit touchdowns multiple times in his career and appeared in a Super Bowl. Kerryon Johnson is the darling of both fantasy football communities and the Detroit media. Aaron Jones had shredded the Minnesota Vikings defense only a week prior to his match-up with Philadelphia. The Eagles have had their issues in the passing game, but they were on another level entirely on the ground this past week per Pro Football Focus.

The play of this defense against the run has been a boon to Philly’s early struggles. By denying opposing teams the rushing advantage, they have allowed themselves to set the pace in games early, and that keeps opposing quarterbacks off the field.

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The Eagles’ next stretch of games will put this unit to the test even further as they’re set to face Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dalvin Cook. All three men represent the elite class of rushers in the league today, but this front seven has proven themselves to be more than up to the challenge.