Will Vinny Curry Help the Eagles Defense in Second Half?
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Many people figured Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox would be at the top of the list to lead the Philadelphia Eagles in sacks - and they are with four apiece through the first eight games of the season. But what they didn't envision was Vinny Curry being stuck at one. Where the former may have been expected, the latter has been a disappointment.
The Eagles signed Curry to a five-year, $47.25 million contract through 2020 this offseason, a deal that includes $23 million guaranteed. He entered this season coming off a 3.5-sack campaign in 2015, but many thought going from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense would be a perfect fit for Curry. Prior to the Eagles’ season, new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said he wanted to "cut the handcuffs off" Curry and talked about how excited thee team was to re-sign him after producing 16. 5 sacks over a three year period on limited snaps.
"Well, there's a reason we re-signed him," Schwartz said back in August at training camp. "We think he's a good player. We think he fits the system, and you're right, we do have a rotation up front. It's hard to pass rush. It's hard to attack if you're going eight straight snaps. You've got to keep fresh guys coming.
"So, you know we're excited about him," Schwartz continued. "He's multi-dimensional enough -- he can rush inside. We haven't done any of that yet. We're just trying to stay outside right now. But I look forward to those guys getting more reps. They're here for a reason."
This makes it all the more startling that Curry has just 11 total tackles and one sack to his name through eight full games in 2016. Since making the change to the 4-3 defense, the typically-explosive Curry has hardly been a factor.
In explaining Curry's slow start - Schwartz acknowledged he wanted to get Curry more playing time, but its dictated by the opponent.
"Every game is going to be different as far as number of reps that guys play but just as a general rule," Schwartz said about three weeks ago. "He's one of our better players. He's going to have to be productive and we have to find a way to get those guys on the field.
As a whole, the Eagles’ pass rush has been slowing down of late, after a fast start to the season, where the defense racked up three or more sacks in six of their first seven games, the defense has recorded just three sacks in the last two weeks combined. They still are tied for 5th in the league with 23 sacks overall.
"Of course, our sack numbers haven't been where we want," Schwartz admitted. "But it's not always the result of not having a good rush."
Still, it’s troubling that Curry, who is making a ton of money, hasn't been a big part, of the defense. There as a lot of hope that he, along with Graham and Cox would turn into a dominate defensive front. Without Curry be a big factor rushing the passer, Philadelphia's pass rush goes from potentially dominant to very inconsistent.
It's one of the interesting things to keep an eye on the second half of the year, if they can ass another pass rusher, it should help the defense and the team remain in the payoff hunt.