No Defense for the Play of Eagles ‘D’

September 17th, 2013 by Jim Chesko | Filed under Eagles, Football, General.
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No Defense for the D

Job opportunity: Several defenders urgently needed for beleaguered professional football team. Pay commensurate with ability. Must be available to start work immediately (Thursday, perhaps?), be willing to relocate to Philadelphia and be able to perform in front of a rabid, unforgiving fan base.  Qualified applicants should contact Howie Roseman or Chip Kelly ASAP.

OK, that ad probably wasn’t really posted on any job boards Monday, but maybe it should have been.

Just in case you missed it, the Eagles’ defense gave up 33 points and a whopping 539 yards of offense in Sunday’s three-point loss to the visiting San Diego Chargers, who converted 10 of 15 third-down situations.  Quarterback Philip Rivers was 36-of-47 for 419 yards and three touchdowns through the air. The Chargers doubled up the Eagles in terms of time of possession. (The Eagles put up 30 points despite controlling the ball for just under 20 minutes.)  The Bolts’ punter was needed just once.  The Eagles’ defensive backs were flagged for four penalties – three of them grabbing-the-jersey pass-interference calls on cornerback Cary Williams. And, despite lots of blitzing, there wasn’t much of a pass rush by the d-line, either; Rivers was sacked just once.

Be honest: Were you at all confident that the Birds’ defense would be able to stop Rivers and the Chargers from moving into field-goal range on a short field in the final two minutes?  Didn’t think so.

The defense, coached by Billy Davis, was a big concern throughout the summer and the preseason, but played well against the Redskins in the season opener – in the first half, anyway.  But the Skins made a big, late comeback that fell just short and the Chargers moved up and down the field at will throughout Game 2.  The opposition has scored 53 points in the last 76 minutes of playing time.

Just one Eagles defensive back would get a passing grade Sunday. Cornerback Brandon Boykin broke up a couple of passes and forced a fumble by Antonio Gates just as he was about to cross the goal line for an early touchdown.  The others didn’t fare so well: Safety Nate Allen had a tough day in coverage despite his team-leading 11 tackles; the oft-penalized Williams missed a couple of tackles and appeared to blow his assignment on Rivers’ 24-yard third-quarter touchdown throw to Eddie Royal; safety Patrick Chung also missed a couple of tackles and was called for holding on a key third down in the third quarter; and rookie Earl Wolff looked overmatched on several plays as well.

Reporters asked Nate Allen about the secondary’s problems on Sunday, and the fourth-year safety said, “It’s nothing we can’t fix.” Well, with Alex Smith and the 2-0 Chiefs due at the Linc Thursday evening, that should be priority No. 1.

Kelly admitted there’s still a lot of work to be done defensively, but indicated we probably won’t see any major changes right away. “There ain’t any safeties on the street, I can tell you that. So we’re going to play with the ones we’ve got.”

Kelly’s to-do list between now and Thursday evening: Consider activating Vinny Curry for the first time this season; hope that cornerback Bradley Fletcher, due back in action after missing Sunday’s game with a concussion, will be a difference maker; remind the defensive backs that holding a receiver’s jersey while running downfield is a penalty; and, see if Brian Dawkins might want to come out of retirement.

With Andy Reid returning to town Thursday and the Eagles set to retire Donovan McNabb’s No. 5 jersey, it should be quite an atmosphere at Lincoln Financial Field.  Let’s see if the Birds’ defense can rebound from Sunday’s subpar effort.

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