One of the most famous phrases in the history of football goes something like this. “Offense sells tickets but defense wins championships”. Former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan believed that, and that’s why he decided he’d build the meanest and nastiest defense that the NFL had ever seen.
Then again, Buddy Ryan never won a playoff game as Eagles head coach, and when Philadelphia actually did win their first Vince Lombardi Trophy, outside of a few plays here and there they did so primarily with offensive firepower.
Shot out to a knockout shot by Malcolm Jenkins, the greatest strip-sacks in Super Bowl history and a stop on third down by Rodney McLeod that led to a missed field goal. We shouldn’t act like the defense didn’t do anything, but the Birds won and held off an offensive onslaught by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots because they put up points.
You’ll have to trust us on this one though. Defense can win championships. There’s evidence of that theory as well, and if the Eagles are to build a consistent winner, they’ll need to bolster theirs. They may be on the way. It also looks like some watchful eyes are taking notice as, recently, the Philadelphia Eagles received a fairly decent nod (at least they weren’t at the bottom of the barrel).
Philadelphia Eagles defense is seen as a third-tier unit.
Recently, the stat gurus over at Pro Football Focus ranked the NFL’s 32 defensive units, but they also added a twist. They threw teams into five tiers. The Philadelphia Eagles got an average rating. They wound up as the last team mentioned in tier three.
Here’s what Sam Monson, the writer of this one, had to say on the subject.
"Philadelphia’s defense was once built off the strength of the front four, which could run seven players deep including rotational bodies who could all rush the passer. They were still good in 2020, but dropped to third in the league in pressure rate (38.4%), some way short of their rate at their peak. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox remain very good players, but each seems to be on the decline given their age, and there is no obvious replacement on the roster who seems set to match the elite level those players were at during their best seasons. The good news for the Eagles is that the secondary all of a sudden could actually be the best it has been for a few seasons with Anthony Harris coming on board as a free agent signing."
Some of that felt like some very sour truth serum, but it’s hard to argue with a lot of that. The Eagles added guys like Anthony Harris, Steven Nelson, and Eric Wilson at various points of the offseason. They added Zech McPhearson, Milton Williams,
Just in case anyone’s interested, the Washington Football Team landed in tier one, the New York Giants finished at the top of tier three, and the Dallas Cowboys landed in tier four. Might we expect a few more shootouts in 2021? Regardless of where you stand on that, one thing is certain. This Eagles defense figures to look a lot better in 2021 than it did in 2020.