Eagles Pass Rush Coming to Life
The Eagles invested heavily in their pass rush the past few seasons.
They brought in defensive line guru Jim Washburn, gave Jason Babin a lucrative deal, drafted Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox in the first round, Vinny Curry in the second round and rewarded Trent Cole with a lucrative new contract.
The results have been mixed. Babin and Cole performed well last season, not-so-well this season. Graham and Curry have struggled to get consistent snaps, but the overall improvement in the Eagles pass rush hasn't been overwhelming, but ever since the departure of Babin and Washburn the unit has certainly played better.
“The guys are playing the combination game," Reid said. "They’re playing both the run and the pass and doing a good job of transitioning from their gap responsibilities for the run into the pass game, but still being able to hold your ground on the run. They’re still being put into a nine technique in pass situations but they’re being kicked down in a couple different looks in situations where it could be run or pass.”
With that, here's a look at how the Eagles' pass-rush production breaks down this season:
Babin: The Eagles gave Babin a new contract worth $27.725 million over five seasons. He has already been cut a year after getting 18.5 sacks landing in Jacksonville.
Graham: The 13th overall in 2010 is tied for the team lead in sacks with 5.5 in limited time. He's picked up 14 tackles and four sacks in the past three weeks and notched 2.5 sacks in the loss to Cincinnati on Thursday night. Graham throttled the Bengals offensive line Thursday night, racking up 2.5 sacks, three hurries, six tackles, and a forced fumble while drawing three holding penalties - showing you what he can do if given the chance. The Eagles and NFL pundits raved about Graham when they drafted him. Head coach Andy Reid believes he can be a consistent pass-rusher in the league.
“Yeah, I do," Reid said. "You’re talking about one of the faster guys on the football team and explosive. He’s got speed, and he’s got a good attitude. It’s just a matter of getting him in there and giving him an opportunity.”
Jenkins: The Eagles hoped Jenkins would improve their interior pass rush when they gave the versatile lineman a five-year, $30.375 million contract. Jenkins has nine sacks in his two seasons, including four this season but has been up-and-down, he might be let go in the off-season.
Cox: Cox, was the teams top draft pick in this years draft and has really impressed. He has managed 5.5 sacks, tied for the team lead, despite playing in the interior of the line. He has the look of a guy who could become a force for years to come as a pass-rushing defensive tackle.
Others. Defensive linemen have combined for 26 of the Eagles 28 sacks. So even if the overall sack totals aren't great, it's safe to say that the Eagles defensive line is starting to show it has some talent and ability to get-to-the-quarterback. Veteran Trent Cole only has three sacks this season, after getting double-digits three straight seasons. Rookie defensive end Vinny Curry and second year man Philip Hunt hasn't played much of a role registering just 16 tackles and no sacks - but have the potential to add to those totals with playing time..
Defensive tackles Cedrick Thornton, a rookie and Derek Landri have combined for just one sack, Landri had two sacks a season ago. The tackles can impact passing plays even if they don't get to the quarterback and for the most part these guys are depth guys, not starters.
I would love to see the Eagles draft Utah defensive tackle, Star Lotulelei, a massive 6-foot-4, 325 pound low-leverage player with outstanding first-step quickness. He explodes off the ball at the snap and shows tremendous pop when engaging with blockers.
Adding a player like Lotulelei would add a player who would need a constant double-team and only raise the level of play from young players like Cox and Graham around him. The Eagles have shown they want pass rush from their front four, and getting Lotulelei would make their pass rush among the games best.