Young Standouts in Philadelphia Eagles’ Defensive Resurgence
Young Standouts in Philadelphia Eagles' Defensive Resurgence
The Philadelphia Eagles began the 2013 season with few expectations surrounding the defensive side of the ball. They were a young group for the most part, with little experience, learning a new system. It was the beginning of a new era, with a new defensive coordinator and the introduction of the new hybrid 3-4 system. Many planned on the defense being the scapegoat for what would be a bleak rebuilding season in Philadelphia.
Part way through the year, the production was about what could have been expected of a team in the learning process. But, as time passed and young players built confidence, the Philadelphia defense began to change. They have quickly become supportive to a high powered offense and comparable to other productive defenses in the league.
Overall, looking at the numbers, it would not seem that Philadelphia has made great strides. However, one aspect, their points allowed per game, has consistently improved since early in the season. The Eagles are currently a bend but not break defense which allows them to keep opponents to a minimal amount of points weekly and give the offense an opportunity to take the game over.
The Eagles are building on a five-game win streak, mostly because the defense has been able to produce at the same time as the offense. It has been the play of many of the younger defensive players, stepping up, that has allowed the Eagles to rattle off a string of wins and build a case as a playoff contender from the NFC East.
#7 Earl Wolff
Until his injury a few weeks back, Earl Wolff was quickly developing into the best option the Eagles have had at safety in quite a while. His ability to tackle in the open field and his quick development in a new system made him an intricate part of the defensive movement happening in Philadelphia. With his return imminent, the Eagles will be afforded with another young player gaining experience, yet playing well enough to make the grade at the same time.
#6 Vinny Curry
Beginning the year on the outside looking in and fighting for small minutes of playing time or even being part of the game day squad, Vinny Curry has come a long way and made some major contributions to an up and coming defense. His ability to pressure the quarterback has always been his biggest asset and he continues to produce even in a three man front. Curry is young and still has plenty of room to grow, which should the Eagles decide to hold on to him and see where it goes, could pay dividends in the end.
#5 Bennie Logan
Another of the defensive line group, rookie, third round draft choice, Bennie Logan has made an instant impact for the Philadelphia Eagles. His addition to the line and production up front have come as an instant upgrade to the past few years in Philadelphia. He has the motivation and determination to contribute to the Eagles front for many years, and his early production is most likely just a sign of things to come.
#4 Fletcher Cox
In his second year, defensive lineman, Fletcher Cox has quickly been thrust into the role of leader. Although he has only 3 sacks on the year, his upgraded play and pressure applied to the opponents offensive line consistently provide the Eagles with a viable rushing option. Combined with his ability to play the run, Cox is quickly developing into a defensive presence that will exist in Philadelphia for years to come.
#3 Mychal Kendricks
Beginning the year by moving to the inside linebacker position in the 3-4 system, Mychal Kendricks was given more responsibility in covering ground, stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback. He has stepped up to the challenge and really led by example. He has become most notably recognized for his sideline to sideline pursuit and his ability to cover in the pass game as well. Kendricks is currently second on the team in tackles with 110 and leads the NFL with four fumble recoveries.
#2 Cedric Thornton
A strong, athletic piece to the defensive line rotation, Cedric Thornton has really come into his own, as an intricate part of the success of the Philadelphia defense. His contributions stopping the run and solidifying the pass rush in the new 3-4 system have really allowed the Eagles to build on some midseason confidence. Thornton has become a go to on the defensive line and looks to be someone who will man the trenches in Eagles green for years to come.
#1 Brandon Boykin
Cornerback Brandon Boykin, in only his second year, has become a go to cover man for the Philadelphia defense. Although undersized, in comparison to many receivers around the league, Boykin has produced four interceptions in 2013 and has really stepped into a leadership role on the defense. His continued success in coverage and his ability to take the ball away from the opposition has helped to improve a secondary which was surrounded by many questions entering the season.