Thursday, July 10, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Familiarity breeds doom for Birds

NFC East opponents know where the holes are in the Eagles.

Familiarity breeds doom for Birds

Giants running back Brandon Jacobs ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles. (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer)
Giants running back Brandon Jacobs ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles. (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer)

See, here's the thing about the Eagles. Everybody is fixated on what they weren't able to do on third and fourth downs at the end of the game, but the big number is 219: the number of rushing yards the Eagles allowed against the Giants on Monday, against Brandon Jacobs and the fellas, a monstrous number, a total monstrosity, especially at home.

See, here's the problem: the Redskins also ran it down their throats a couple of weeks ago. Two division opponents now have done it -- and the Cowboys laid more than 40 points on the Eagles' doorstep earlier in the season, besides. There is a reason. The reason is that the Eagles have a terrible design flaw on defense -- they are too small up front -- and the division teams seem hellbent on making them pay.

It's a funny thing about division opponents. They know you. They might know you better than you know yourself. They see you twice a year, they spend an inordinate amount of time tracking your every stumble and belch. Entire periods of minicamps -- yes, minicamps -- can be spent in an early spring simulation of what a division opponent might show you in the fall. Training camp, too, just updates the study a little bit more. They watch your film. They draft players to counteract what you might be doing. They plot. They scheme. In the case of the Eagles, they determine that they're going to manhandle your front four and run over you.

It is the risk the Eagles have taken in order to generate a pass rush. They have chosen speed over size and done it for years. And they are rushing the passer well this season, as well as they have in a while. There are benefits.

But against an opponent determined to run it and determined to commit the personnel to making it work, there is a problem. If you are good at running the ball, you can beat the Eagles. Check that -- you can batter them. And the division teams clearly know it.

Asked after the game if it was a schematic problem or a simple physical problem, Eagles coach Andy Reid said, "There are some physical things that we can do better. It was combination of things. We made a couple of adjustments, but we still have some issues there.”

They do, and they're not going away.

With that, everybody can get back to bitching about the play-calling.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com Reach Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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