The Philadelphia Eagles will go head-to-head against the Jacksonville Jaguars tonight to seek a 2-1 start to the preseason.The Eagles have improved on both sides of the ball since Week 1 against the New England Patriots and will look to improve even more.
However, there is one area in which the Eagles really need to step up in: their pass rush.
In the Eagles’ two preseason games, the first unit has yet to record a sack despite the elite level of talent they have. The first unit has been able to gather some hits on Cam Newton last week against the Carolina Panthers, but that’s about it. This may be due to the changes on the defensive side of the ball, because it certainly is a work in progress; however, they need to step it up quickly since the regular season is right around the corner.
The one player I am the most worried about is Trent Cole. Cole had a down year last season as he was only able to collect three sacks. However, it seemed like everyone had a down year last season, so we shouldn’t hold him to that.
But now Cole has switched from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker, which he hasn’t played since his college days. Cole switching positions has been a hot topic because people were curious to see if he could adapt to the defensive change. In my opinion, I think he will start out of the gate very slowly, but eventually pick it up once he gets his feet wet.
Despite being 30-years old, Cole still is an exceptional talent, but he needs to turn on the jets fairly soon to get back to where he once was.
However, Cole isn’t the only pass-rusher who has had a quite preseason. Connor Barwin is another guy who hasn’t been able to make headlines with his play this preseason. Barwin came into the Eagles organization with experience in the 3-4 defense, but has unable to make a spark of solid play when he’s on the field.
Barwin is also another guy that may have a down year since he was only able to collect three sacks a year ago with a very talented Houston Texans defense. He may be guy that might take a while to shake the rust off, but he must find his rhythm once he meets Robert Griffin III in Week 1 against the Washington Redskins.
However, there has been some bright spots on the defensive pass rush, and that’s from Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. These two young guys have been able to apply very good pressure on a consistent basis. Cox, as we all know, should be a stud in the NFL and he should be able to prove to everyone this season that he is a legit defensive lineman that will wreck havoc among offensive lines.
Graham has also been a solid defender this preseason. He has been using a lot of his bull rush move on defenders, and it looks to be his best way to get to the quarterback. This shows the brute strength that Graham possess. If Graham keeps up his good pass rush and improves his coverage skills, than he should be seeing the field more often.
The Eagles’ pass rush has been awfully quiet in the preseason, and they need to find an answer before Week 1 comes around. Cole and Barwin must prove that they can get to the quarterback a lot this season since the secondary looks a little derailed at this point. If they can step it up, then they, along with Graham and Cox, can be a dangerous group for the opposing side to prepare against.
Sonny Bryan is a Philadelphia Eagles writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @SonnyBryan50