More importantly, the first team defense was solid for the most part in maintaining gap control and staying disciplined against a highly mobile and talented young quarterback in Cam Newton. Newton was pressured and running for his life for much of the night thanks to the play of the front 7.
Once again, Vinny Curry really stood out as he got great inside pressure as a defensive tackle in the nickel defense. Brandon Graham, Cedric Thornton and Bennie Logan also really shined. The defensive line is shaping up to be a real strength of the defense which is a key element in the 3-4 defense.
The key now is improving further from here. While the tackling and overall fundamental football was better, the secondary was still too loose in coverage as receivers ran open. Steve Smith seemed to have his way with Cary Williams for much of the night and going forward may have to be a patchwork unit this season.
Even if the defense is average this season the Eagles could make some noise. The first team offense has looked excellent in both preseason games really moving the ball down field with authority regardless if Michael Vick or Nick Foles is under center. The special teams which is the difference in many games that are decided by a field goal or less has also been excellent early on in preseason.
The defense just has to hold down the fort. If they could just be an average unit the Eagles could make some noise in 2013.