Sunday was one of the more fun games to watch speaking exclusively from the defensive side of the ball. Heading into the game last week, all the talk was about the Jets dominant defense. That is a very good unit, but it was the Eagles unit that really shined on Sunday. Of course, the Jets don't have elite personnel and were dealing with some key injuries, but the Eagles dominated the Jets offense on both the front and the back end.
One thing I've discussed before that I don't think Billy Davis gets enough credit for is how creatively he uses his front seven to create advantageous one-on-one match-ups for his key pass rushers. The Eagles don't have that elite 3-4 edge rusher that most 3-4 defenses would love to have, so Billy needs to be more creative in creating matchups for some of his better interior pass rushers like Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry. This was on display on Sunday and several guys took advantage of those one-on-one matchups when given the opportunity.
For me, when you talk about front seven, it all starts with Fletcher Cox. He really is one of the most versatile defensive lineman in the entire league and perhaps one of the best kept secrets in football when it comes to the national media. On any given Sunday you will see Fletcher Cox line up in the 0-technique, 1, 3, 5, 7 and even 9. He's all over the field and a big part of this alignment is to either create matchups for him, or for some of the other Eagles pass rushers. Let's first have a look at Cox. The key personnel to point out here is Bennie Logan over the Center at the 1-technique. Cox is lined up as a 3-technique and check out Connor Barwin really wide at the 9-technique. The key with this alignment is that #74 has to account for Logan initally and #68 will need to block Connor Barwin off the edge who will also demand help from the running back. Based on this, Cox has a one-on-one match up against #67. He'll attack the A gap off the snap:
Cox gets penetration before the C can provide help and gets his hands on Fitzpatrick and forces him out of his spot:
Next, you'll find Fletcher Cox lined up outside the left tackle. Again, the key on this is the alignment and gap that Bennie Logan will attack. Logan is head up on the Center at the 0-technique and will attack the A gap off the snap. This gives Fletcher Cox a one-on-one matchup against the LT:
Cox might not have the speed or athleticism to truly bend the edge around a pro LT, but check out his bull rush and how he drives the LT all the way back into Fitzpatrick disrupting the throw which results in an incomplete pass on a ket 3rd down:
Now here's Cox at the 5-technique. This time, it's his job to create a one-on-one matchup for his teammate, Brandon Graham. Fletcher Cox is going to loop inside and attack the A gap drawing the LG over. This creates a one-on-one matchup for Brandon Graham off the edge:
And Graham also executes a nice bull rush and disrupts the throw from Fitzpatrick:
Here's Cox back at the 3-technique again, but this time, he'll attack the inside shoulder of the LT and draw help from the LG. This leaves a hole for Brandon Graham to stunt up the middle and pressure Fitzpatrick and flush him out of the pocket:
It's these types of plays that make Fletcher Cox a true difference maker week after week. You'll note Cox doesn't get on the official stats sheet on any of these plays I highlight, but he does this kind of stuff consistently week after week. And we aren't even speaking of his performance as an elite run defender.
This next play is really nice design. Davis lines Vinny Curry up over the C. Cox is outside at the 7-technique. Billy has Barwin and Jordan Hicks roaming around and threatening blitz. Because of this, the Eagles rush 4 against the Jets 5 and create one-on-one matchups for every pass rusher. Logan will attack the playside A gap, Hicks' pre-snap movement initially occupies #66's attention and Cox and Graham get one-on-ones on the outside.
But the fun guy to watch is Connor Barwin who initially spies Fitzpatrick. Check him faking out #77. True LOL material:
Finally, one more. Here's the pre-snap alignment. Curry is the 3-technique with Barwin lined up out wide. With this alignment, Barwin will draw the RT and Curry gets a nice one-on-one matchup. Billy Davis loves to threaten A gap pressure out of this alignment with a blitzing ILB. He doesn't do it here, but the Center ends up blocking no one. Curry and Barwin make the most of their one-on-one matchups.
Check out the bull rush from Curry (Is #66 on Roller Skates?) and Barwin cleans up for the sack:
Next up, we'll take a look at the defensive backfield who might have had their strongest performance of the Chip Kelly/Billy Davis era.