The Philadelphia Eagles defense is not the same as last year, that is pretty obvious given the new influx of players that have joined the team in 2018. Despite the changes and the accusations the Eagles defense is “not good,” they still rank amongst the best defenses in the NFL and are stacked amongst the game’s elite.
Here’s what many fail to take into consideration. NFL offenses are on pace to shatter league records across the board. Through Week 6, there have been 504 total touchdowns and 4,489 total points scored. Both the most in NFL history through the first six weeks of a season.
How has the Eagles defense fared? They are fifth in the NFL at 19.5 points per game, 12th in yards at 352.8 per game, allowed 29.49 percent of third down conversions (third in NFL), first in opponents red zone conversion percentage at 34.78 percent, and fifth in touchdowns allowed per game (two).
Pretty good numbers considering the trend the NFL is heading, and really has been headed for over a decade.
The Eagles allowed 20.3 points per game at this time last season (ninth in the NFL) and 339.2 yards per game (19th in NFL, see how much offenses have improved). The Eagles allowed 32.88 percent of third downs to be converted at this time in 2017, which was also third in NFL.
All and all the Eagles defense is holding their own, even with a makeshift secondary with Avonte Maddox in the slot and Rasul Douglas at safety. Let’s not forget Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby getting off to bad starts.
“We’re still a work in progress here. Let’s not give us any gold stars yet,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. “We’ve got a long way to go. But I think all those guys are serious about their craft. They all work really hard. [Eagles defensive backs coach] Cory [Undlin] and [Eagles safeties coach] Tim [Hauck] do a great job of getting those guys ready.
“There is a lot of pride in their group. I’ve said a bunch of times, it’s not about the individual performance when it comes to our defensive line. I say the same thing with all of our position groups, but our secondary is an especially tight group. They do things together, they really take an all for one, one for all mentality and that serves them well.”
The Eagles are actually giving up less passing yards per game (273.0) than at this time last year. Schwartz’s plan to prepare is players for whatever role called upon them is working. No matter how many yards they give up, the Eagles are keeping teams out of the end zone…the most important stat.
“That’s one of the reasons we cross-train so many guys and put such an emphasis on versatility is because of this,” Schwartz said. “We had some pretty well-recognized injuries last year that we were able to overcome. Our safety position was really tight early in the season last year, lost Rodney [McLeod] for a few games, lost Corey [Graham], so injuries are nothing new. When you start getting multiple at a position, it can become challenging. That’s what we do.”