Eagles' pass rush finding no answers

Posted Jan. 02, 2011 @ 11:35 a.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The Eagles' defensive woes have come to light down the stretch, raising concerns for how long this team can last in the playoffs with such an unbalanced team. Injuries have hurt this defense, and the pass rush has slowed considerably from the start of the season.

Although the team has a fairly acceptable 11 sacks in their past six games, the overall pressure has leveled off a lot. Losing DE Brandon Graham to a season-ending injury hurt, as he was beginning to emerge after a bit of a slow start. Signing Bobby McCray appears to be a bit of a reach if the team really expects him to supply much more than a sporadic rush. Juqua Parker is a solid left end, but he's best as a run defender. And Trent Cole, as high as his motor runs, has worn down a bit lately. Cole could crank it up for the postseason, but he routinely sees extra blocking attention.

But the Eagles' hesitancy to blitz also has played into their lack of pressure. The Eagles clearly don't trust their corners in man defense other than Asante Samuel, and he's not effective as a press corner. CB Dimitri Patterson has struggled in this area and routinely has been picked on in recent games. Perhaps look for the Eagles to install more zone pressures for their playoff game, which might not leave their secondary quite as exposed.

Teams also have gone to quicker counts and shorter drops, getting the ball out faster in order to eliminate the pass rush. Because the Eagles often will play "off" coverage, it has been harder for them to react to the quick passing game. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, though, appears hesitant to employ too fancy a defensive scheme because he now is starting a pair of rookies right up the middle in MLB Jamar Chaney and FS Kurt Coleman.

The Eagles wanted to get to the point where QB Michael Vick and the offense didn't have to bail out the defense and win every game for them, especially when Vick has been banged up. So it appears the defense will have to find a solution to level off the makeup of this team, which has been too slanted toward the offense doing the heavy lifting, if the Eagles want to do damage in the postseason.