Don’t look now folks, but the Philadelphia Eagles defense is starting to become a solid unit. Over the last five weeks the Eagles have held their opponents to 20 points or less and have limited opponents to an average of 18 points per game.
That’s not exactly in the category of elite, but it’s a big and steady improvement for defensive coordinator Billy Davis‘ crew. The players are finally gaining a familiarity with one another, and the back end is starting to gel with guys like Nate Allen, Cary Williams, and Bradley Fletcher starting to come into their own. The linebacking crew has also come on of late. Connor Barwin is doing it all rushing the passer, covering, and making plays. Demeco Ryans is always a steady force back there, and Mychal Kendricks is finally displaying his athleticism and burst to the ball. He has had two straight really strong showings as he starts to flourish in this 3-4 scheme
The biggest stars of the defense have been along the defensive line. Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton are playing lights out right now. Thornton may be their best defender. He can do a little bit of everything from rushing the passer, stuffing the run, and creating havoc by forcing double teams. The light looks to have gone on for Cox as well as his play in the 3-4 has shown marked improvement especially from a pass rushing stand point.
The defense was a much maligned unit coming into the season. So far halfway through the season they are exceeding expectations. Granted they still need some more pieces, and a pass rushing outside linebacker off the edge or an impact guy in the secondary would really help put this defense over the top. But right now coach Davis is doing a masterful job at coaching what he has and making the most of his talent.
It’s not exactly the old Gang Green defense of the 1980s, but it is on its way to becoming a solid unit. They may actually be just a few pieces away from being an elite defense.