Philadelphia Eagles: 2 factors keeping this defense from being elite
The Philadelphia Eagles are currently in a very unique situation. The organization should feel optimistic about the possibility of having a winning season despite being in the midst of a transition, but you shouldn’t discount any theories that this team might be good enough to take the NFC East.
Jason Kelce, the starting center for the Eagles, stated in a sit-down with the media at the beginning of OTAs that he seems to think the team is capable of winning the division. If the NFC East performs as it did last season, walking away with its crown doesn’t mean much, however, there are still two things preventing this Eagles from a deep playoff run.
The Philadelphia Eagles have to be better defensively in the red zone
Scoring touchdowns in the red zone as opposed to field goals and demonstrating the ability to consistently move the ball on the ground are cornerstones to a great offense. The ability to limit each aspect in an opposing team’s offensive attack is what separates playoff teams from championship teams.
You may be familiar with the old phrase, “offense wins games but defense wins championships”. Last season, the Eagles’ defense struggles to limit the opposing teams’ offense in either category.
The Eagles ranked 27th last season in the area of giving up touchdowns when opposing offenses reached the red zone. Teams were punching the ball in the end zone nearly 65 percent of the time.
That’s a big difference from the Super Bowl-winning season when the defense ranked 11th (50%). Obviously, limiting opposing offenses red zone visits altogether would be ideal, but giving up three scores rather than seven in those situations would be a huge win.
The Philadelphia Eagles have to be better versus the run.
Opposing teams, more often than not, did whatever they wanted to do when running the ball versus the Eagles defense. Everyone’s running game seemed efficient when playing the Birds.
Last season, Philly’s defense ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in rushing yards allowed, giving up a little over 125 yards per game. That’s 45 yards more than the team averaged that finished in first place.
A stout rush defense will be key as well. That forces more unfavorable down and distance situations for the opposing offense and increases their predictability. Philly’s mastery of both red zone defense and limiting the other squad’s rushing attack will increase the likelihood of this team being in a position to win games more often than not. We’ll have to wait and see how things shake up in 2021.