Man Up: Laws, Rolle and the Eagles' D
News blogs, sports blogs, entertainment blogs, and more from Philly.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.
Man Up: Laws, Rolle and the Eagles' D
Sheil Kapadia, Philly.com
Here's the player-by-player breakdown of how the Eagles' defense performed against the Jets.
As has been the case all preseason, I didn't get to every player - only those who stood out one way or another.
And given the nature of the first preseason game, I only re-watched the first half.
Meanwhile, if you missed my 53-man roster projection, I'd suggest checking that out before you read this.
Here's what I saw from the defense in the first half:
Derek Landri - He got good penetration on Joe McKnight's 2-yard run in the first. And Landri got some pressure up the middle on a 2nd-and-20 play in the first half. I think he could be a valuable rotation guy for this defense and toyed with the idea of having him make it over Anthony Hargrove. But in the end, I have Landri getting cut.
Anthony Hargrove - He got good pressure on the quarterback, rushing from left defensive end on the first series. And Hargrove made a nice play against the run, dropping Bilal Powell after a gain of 1. He had a near sack, but couldn’t finish as Drew Willy escaped the pocket in the second. I think Hargrove's versatility helps him sneak onto the roster with one of the final spots.
Daniel Te’o-Nesheim - The second-year player had some good moments. He got pressure on Greg McElroy, rushing from right defensive end on third down on the first series. And Te'o-Nesheim got pressure on McElroy on 3rd-and-17, helping the defense pick up a sack. He also had a good pressure on Willy in the second, forcing him to scramble out of the pocket. I left Te'o-Nesheim off my final roster. He's shown some potential this preseason with Jim Washburn, but not as much as Philip Hunt. Te'o-Nesheim and Hunt could both make the roster if Juqua Parker gets cut. Otherwise, it's almost certainly one or the other.
Antonio Dixon - I was somewhat surprised Dixon played so much. He got into the backfield on McKnight’s 4-yard carry in the first. And Dixon got some good pressure on Willy on a stunt at the end of the first half. We haven't seen too many indications that he's going to be a good pass rusher under Washburn, but considering how well Dixon played against the run last year, there will be a need to have him on the field this season.
Philip Hunt - I know he had some standout moments in the second half, but in the first half, Hunt hustled to chase down McKnight after a gain of 4. He pressured Willy off the edge at the end of the first half and forced him out of the pocket. I know the Eagles like the potential they see in Hunt. It will just be a matter of whether there's room for him. I say yes.
Trevor Laws - I don't think Laws' future was decided based on his performance last night. He's been in the organization for three years. That would be pretty short-sighted. Having said that, he made a nice play against the run, dropping Powell after a 2-yard gain. And Laws got good pressure on McElroy, hitting him on a third down. It looked like Laws got a hand on the pass attempt too. He came off the left edge on a stunt and pressured McElroy in the second on the team sack. Laws showed real potential last year, notching four sacks, seven hurries and seven passes knocked down. Plus he's in the final year of his contract. I've got to think the Eagles want to see what he can do under Washburn this season.
Brian Rolle - Domo wrote a good piece on Rolle in today's Daily News. He timed his blitz perfectly and burst untouched through the middle of the line to sack McElroy on the first series. He blitzed off the edge another time and met Keenan Clayton at the quarterback for a sack. He blew up an offensive lineman, disrupting a run play and allowing Chris Wilson to drop Powell for a 6-yard loss in the second. On one run that was called back because of an offensive penalty, Rolle did a good job of shedding an offensive lineman, who had gotten his hands on the rookie. And finally, he missed a tackle on McKnight in coverage on a 13-yard completion. He might not be the tallest guy, but overall, he looks like he belongs.
Akeem Jordan - He was fooled badly on the first play-action pass that went for 11 yards. But later, Jordan made a nice play to shed a block and bring McKnight down after a gain of 2. He and Clayton dropped McKnight for no gain in the second. And made a nice tackle in coverage, stopping McKnight after a 3-yard completion. I left Jordan off my final 53-man roster. Given that the Eagles are likely to play more with three and four cornerbacks this year, maybe they don't need six linebackers. Or maybe they add a veteran who gets cut. They could even bring Jordan back down the road.
Keenan Clayton - When he's on the field with Rolle, the Eagles really have good speed at the linebacker position. Clayton blitzed off the left edge, meeting Rolle at the quarterback for a sack. He and the rest of the linebackers bit on a play-action pass that went for 11 yards. Clayton and Jordan combined to drop McKnight for no gain in the second. And he made a nice play in coverage, breaking up a pass intended for the tight end at the end of the first. I think he makes the roster, and I think he's going to get on the field for this defense at some point.
Brandon Hughes - He's been used in a variety of ways this preseason, including special teams coverage. It looked like the Eagles were in zone when Hughes let the tight end get behind him, but the Jets couldn’t connect even though there was a big window for a completion. He got beat in the slot on the 14-yard touchdown in the second. I've got Hughes making it as one of six cornerbacks.
Curtis Marsh - Marsh was more impressive at practice than in the preseason games He gave a pretty big cushion in the red zone, allowing a 7-yard gain. It was tough to tell off of TV, but looked like Marsh lost the wide receiver when Willy scrambled and completed a 24-yard pass at the end of the first half.
Trevard Lindley - He played right cornerback, but I didn't see him get targeted in the first half. I know many of you think he gets cut, but I say he stays. The Eagles trusted Lindley enough to get him on the field last year. I don't think it makes sense to part ways after the shortened offseason if they still think he has starting-caliber potential.