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NFL Philadelphia Eagles

5 Philadelphia Eagles’ Defensive Improvements Needed for 2014 Success

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5 Philadelphia Eagles' Defensive Improvements Needed for 2014 Success

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 season for the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense was one of learning, growing and coming into their own. They made huge strides during a season when many had them slated as the scapegoat for what could have been a bumpy first year under a new head coach. Instead, the Eagles won the NFC East for the first time since 2010, they made the playoffs and the defense became a reason for their new found success.

Although they finished in the bottom five in total defense in the NFL, Philadelphia made big plays when the times presented themselves and began to rebuild the reputation of a defense once admired. Many of the second-year players helped the team make a drastic improvement in a new system due to the roles they stepped into as leaders on a young defensive group.

Looking ahead to 2014 and the potential surrounding the Eagles after their surprising performance this season, they’ll need to make some major improvements to the defensive side of the ball to be sure that they can meet the now expected lofty standards. With the strides that Bill Davis was able to make this season, piecing together a group that didn’t really fit the system, he should be able to make things even better with a year to work in free agency, the draft and with his current core. The Eagles will concentrate a majority of their focus this offseason on solidifying the defense and continuing the steps to make them a reliable option in all aspects of the game, improving the team overall and preparing them for the next step in the progression of success.

Bob Francis is a Philadelphia Eagles contributor for Follow him on Twitter @rfrancisjr, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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#5 Redzone Defense

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Although they made improvements in the red-zone, preventing the opponent from scoring a touchdown almost 50 percent of the time, the Eagles can do better. Improving in this area could mean the difference between winning and losing a game. Each set of downs counts in each game and if Philadelphia is to continue improving and moving on in the playoffs, improving on final opportunities at stopping the opponent will be key. It will mean improving multiple facets of their overall team defense, but it’s still something they are capable of improving upon.

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#4 Man-to-Man Coverage

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Although the secondary play was extremely upgraded from a year earlier, the Philadelphia Eagles can still continue to improve. Giving up large chunks of yards at key points of the season through the air really hurt them. Improving overall team defense and safety coverage will allow the corners to play more press coverage and take some of the space away from receivers which allowed them to make big plays. Adding to this the continually improving coverage of the linebacking core on opposing tightends and running backs will also help Philadelphia to deal with some of the difficulties from 2013.

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#3 First Man Tackling

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Philadelphia Eagles made huge strides in first man to the ball tackling from a year ago, there is still room for improvement. Too many times the offense is given extra yards that make the difference in the end, giving up extra first downs or worse, scores. The most likely way to improve upon this is through change in personnel. The safety position has been a sore spot for some time now in Philadelphia and making the necessary changes could have a great effect on the overall tackling of the defense. Continuing to upgrade across the board will help the Eagles to continue to improve in 2014.

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#2 Pressuring the Quarterback

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Through the change to a three-man front, the Eagles defensive pass rush took quite a hit. With some young players coming into their own, Philadelphia has much to look forward to, but adding the necessary pieces will be a key to improving their pressure on the quarterback. Look for the Eagles to add a defensive pass rusher either through free agency or the draft, that will allow them to add to their sack totals from 2013 and make them a viable part of the Philadelphia defense.

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#1 Safety Play

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Looking ahead, at the top the Philadelphia Eagles’ to-do list should be the safety position. Continuing to count on the current group will not be good enough in helping the defense to improve in 2014. They need to continue to help the younger players in the group along, learning the system and stepping into larger roles, while continuing to add the necessary pieces that can change the face of the defense. Whether by free agency or the draft, safety should be a top priority because it can drastically change the makeup of the defense.