Eagles' pass defense passes with flying colors

Posted Nov. 08, 2010 @ 5:35 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The Eagles entered the bye week with major questions surrounding their pass defense after Titans WR Kenny Britt torched them for nearly 200 yards receiving in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' Week Seven loss at Tennessee. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott took the brunt of the blame, and reports surfaced that he would be replaced by secondary coach Dick Jauron.

Those rumors proved to be false, and the Eagles went to work during the bye on fixing the problems. They appeared to have done that in a terrific defensive performance against QB Peyton Manning and the Colts in Week Nine.

The PFW Spin

McDermott was billed as a Jim Johnson protégé when he took the job prior to last season, and he has shown a lot of Johnson's blitz packages and flair for sending pressure. It hasn't always been pretty. In some games during McDermott's reign, it has appeared he has been burned by his desire to pressure quarterbacks excessively. But on Sunday, it was McDermott's restraint that was a huge element to the Eagles' successful defense of Manning.

In the first half, they showed their patented double A-gap pressure package, where two linebackers line up on either side of the offensive center and blitz up the middle. It forced Manning to check out of a lot of plays, and the team did a pretty good job of adjusting to the QB's audibles.

But in the second half, the Eagles backed off. They showed the same looks but often did not blitz. Manning had to check to plays that accounted for the pressure, and the fact that the Eagles played coverage on those plays put them in advantageous positions. The fact that the Eagles still managed to get pressure on those plays meant that Manning was under duress.

Manning was picked off twice, which is as much as he had been intercepted in his seven games coming in. The Eagles made a switch at corner, benching Ellis Hobbs and starting Dimitri Patterson for the first time, and Patterson held up quite well. They also played rookie S Kurt Coleman quite a bit. Sure, the Colts were missing several skill-position players, but Manning typically eats young corners alive. That didn't happen Sunday. The Colts threw for fewer than six yards per attempt and hit on less than 60 percent of Manning's passes.