The Philadelphia Eagles front seven had no problem getting to the quarterback in 2011, ending the season with 50 sacks. Well that wasn’t the case the following year in 2012 when the Eagles only had 30. Obviously the Eagles need to get back to getting pressure on the quarterback in 2013 because they definitely have the personnel to do so.
With the players they have at outside linebacker, the Eagles should be able to get pressure off the edge. Guys like Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin and Trent Cole will provide a lot of heat this season, if used correctly. I expect one of these guys to be the sack leader, however, second-year DE Fletcher Cox could also be in the mix. Cox was tied for first on the team with 5.5 sacks last season, along with Graham and Jason Babin. Cox has the potential to become the next J.J. Watt, which is why he could be in the mix as the 2013 Eagles sack leader.
As of right now, I believe that Graham will be the 2013 sack leader for the Eagles. I think Graham has adjusted very well to the NFL and has adapted the mentality of getting to the quarterback. He is a relentless, young pass rusher who can get to the quarterback and also defend the run. I wouldn’t be surprised if Graham was able to get at least 12 sacks this season, especially since he was extremely dominant towards the end of the year in 2012. Graham seemed like the only bright spot on that pathetic defense last season and his momentum could be carried over to this year.
Barwin is a very good football player that still has a lot left in the tank. He will play a major role on the defense this year. However, I just don’t see him keeping up with Graham as far as sacks goes. Barwin’s production dropped a lot last season as a member with the Houston Texans when he was only able to put up 3.5 sacks. His numbers should increase this season, but if he is going to rotate in and out than his numbers won’t be a major increase, yet he should still provide solid depth.
Cole on the other hand will give Graham a run for his money. Cole is an exceptional talent that a proven he can get to the quarterback. However, Cole’s production dropped significantly last season when he was only able to get to the quarterback three times. Yet, I see Cole having a solid year with double-digit sacks along with Graham. Both of these guys have the ability to wreck havoc and can change the game on one play.
The Eagles have solid pass-rushers that will provide a lot of heat, so it should be exciting to watch them get after the quarterback this season.
Sonny Bryan is a Philadelphia Eagles writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @SonnyBryan50