Last weekend was a big win. Puts us in sole possession of first place (even for but a week) and was great to see another solid performance from the offense. However, the thing to get really excited about, was once again another solid showing by the defense. This was a bit more of a meaningful data point for me since the Redskins had a very good offense coming in and as poorly as RGIII seems to be playing in comparison to last year, he's a much tougher opponent than Scott Tolzien and Terrelle Pryor (or was he?)
There were 3 main themes I noted that had a significant impact on our overall defensive performance last sunday. Against a strong running team like the Redskins, especially who like to run outside the tackles, Billy Davis had to focus his troops on outside contain. They struggled at times particularly early on, but did much better as the game progressed.
On that note, in the first series, the Redskins ran an end around with Pierre Garcon which we got burned badly on. At the snap Trent Cole is going to work down the line to defend the run (presumably by design), but Patrick Chung is really the guilty defender on this one:
Trent Williams is supposed to block Chung, but he sees his reaction and is just going to let him go:
Hello, Patrick? and Cole hasn't figured it out either. Luckily we have our old trust Nate Allen highlighted in the yellow circle (did I really just say that?)
Nate Allen saves the day by not only reacting quickly, but making a big tackle in the open field. Otherwise, this was going to be a lot worse:
One of the things the Redskins like to do on offense, is run a triple option. They are very good at it, and have burned a number of teams on it this year. Check out how we defend it:
It's Cole's job to keep outside contain on this one, but he doesn't do a good job. Najee Goode does a nice job of recognizing that Griffing has the ball early, but he gets picked up by the motioning TE. Kurt Coleman comes up on defense, and makes the key play. If he attacks Griffin, RGIII will pitch it outside for a bigger gain. Coleman stays outside of Goode and forces Griffin to not only keep, but turn it back inside to where Eagles defenders are pursuing:
Force the franchise QB to keep the ball and take a hit? Sounds good to me.
Here the Redskins are running one of their patented stretch plays to the right. Connor Barwin's job is to set the outside contain. Does a great job of forcing the TE back and cutting off the edge. Morris has no option but to cut back. Notice the push Cedric Thornton is also getting:
Morris has to cut back into the waiting arms of a pursuing Cole and Cox:
Here's a great play by Vinny Curry. Against a guy like Morris you want him run east-west, not north-south. Check out the push Vinny Curry gets off the LOS. Vinny pushes the OG 5 yards deep off the LOS right into Aldred Morris:
Who then gets surrounded by Eagles defenders:
Trent Cole struggled a bit setting the edge earlier in the game, but he got better as the game progressed:
He does a nice job here forcing the runner back to the inside. Cox also gets some really nice push. Goode and Barwin are in pursuit on the cutback:
and make the tackle:
Excellent team defense from the Eagles.
One of the major beefs of the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles defense, including over the last 7 weeks where we have seen significant improvement, is the overall lack of a pass rush. Certainly a top-flight pass-rushing OLB looks to be on the top of Howie Roseman's list for the 2014 draft. But the defense has gotten better each week at pressuring the QB. The blitzes seem to be getting home more, and the OLBs probably had their best game as a pass rushing unit. RGIII just didn't get a lot of opportunities in this game to sit in the pocket. When he wasn't sacked, he was prematurely forced out of the pocket.
Here's a nice bit of pass-rushing from Bennie Logan with a 2-gap technique. Starts on the inside shoulder of the LG:
Griffin moves in the pocket:
Logan crosses the face of the protection and applies the pressure on the other side. Good motor, relentless pressure. Griffin is forced out of the pocket:
Here's one of those blitzes we've been running all year which we haven't hit as much as we've liked (although I think Kendricks got a sack on the same call earlier in the season). Cox and Cole are going to attack the LG off the snap drawing help from Trent Williams:
This gives Najee Goode a clean path through the C gap for an easy sack of Griffin:
This is a great piece of pass rushing from Connor Barwin. He attacks off the edge and this is the last time the Redskins will leave a back to pick up Barwin:
Helu tries to take out Barwin low:
Barwin just goes low and lays in his shoulder to bowl over Helu on his path to the QB. Merely a speed bump:
and Barwin decks RGIII for a big fumble recovered by Cox:
This is vintage Trent Cole. Rush to the outside and a swim move on Trent Williams:
Stays low with a shoulder dip:
And finishes the play. Let's hope this is the beginning of sacks in bunches for Cole:
Here's Fletcher Cox in an "8" technique at DE.
Beats the RT to the outside:
For the game-clinching INT:
Now as good as the defense played, and as much as I am impressed with their progress. They did get lucky. You have to give the credit for RGIII not being on his game, but he missed a number of plays in this game that could have lead to a different outcome. Here's a play early in the 1st quarter. RGIII has Paulsen coming open in a hole in the zone:
Paulsen is wide open and RGIII sees him:
But RGIII overthrows him by a mile:
Key 4th down for the Redskins in the 2nd half. They make the absolute perfect call. Paulsen is wide open for the first down and perhaps more:
But RGIII underthrows him badly and Paulsen has no chance to make a play on the ball. Turnover on downs:
Earlier on a 4th quarter drive, Brandon Boykin made a huge diving PBU to break up a big pass play. Unfortunately, Roc Carmichael is not Brandon Boykin and he almost cost us the game on this one. Griffin throws an out on the top of the screen. Carmichael has know the situation. Instead of conceding the catch making sure he makes the tackle, he goes for the diving PBU:
Fortunately, Boykin is in position to get the receiver out of bounds, otherwise this is a TD for the Redskins and a potential tie game if they can convert the 2 pointer.
Griffin missed one more on that last drive. He gets pressured, but rolls to his left and has a man coming on the bottom of the screen:
But Griffin makes a poor throw on the run and the Eagles breathe a sign of relief:
Overall, I am impressed with the progress the Eagles are making on defense. They are taking to coaching and playing great team defense. But like most good defenses they are getting their share of breaks. These last series of highlights indicate that while they are improving, they still have a ways to go if they want to play in January, and especially win in January. Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers aren't missing those throws.