Jonathan Gannon’s unit has been criticized, but they have the talent to get the job done.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ defense has seen some criticism as of late. They continue to make the lives of opposing quarterbacks miserable, but they have also given up big plays as of late.
The third down and 30 failure versus the Dallas Cowboys comes to mind as does a 58-yard completion from Andy Dalton to Rashid Shaheed (also on third down). The latter led to a Saints score and a 13-0 lead late in the second quarter.
Limiting big plays is important. The potential addition of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson would be a sight for sore eyes, but a larger problem for the defense has come by way of the frequency with how they allowed both the Saints’ and Cowboys’ offenses to spend a ton of time in third-and-short situations.
Philly has to show consistency in stopping the run. They have to get off of the field on third-down opportunities. Their inability at times to do so has led to defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon employing more zone coverages recently.
The Eagles have the talent to limit the Giants’ rushing attack. According to Pro Football Focus, Josh Sweat, Ndamukong Suh, Milton Williams, and Jordan Davis each have a stop percentage of 8.5 percent or higher on run plays. They also grade above 70 in run defense. If all four are available and suit up, they should be featured in as many running downs as possible.
PFF defines a stop as a play that is considered a “failure” for opposing offenses- a number that usually is three yards or less. Stop percentage is the percentage of a player’s snaps they have an opportunity to generate a stop on.
Brandon Graham dominated versus the Giants in Week 14. He racked up three sacks, three tackles for loss, and forced a fumble. The 34-year-old is enjoying the best season of his career and will undoubtedly be looking to build on his career-high sack total during the regular-season finale.
Philly’s stars have to step up. A victory over the New York Giants will hopefully be a small taste of what is to come. The Eagles have larger goals in mind, but they can’t get too far ahead of themselves.