Here's the player-by-player breakdown of the Eagles' defensive performance in their 30-27 win against the Cowboys Sunday night.
Juqua Parker- He started and played just under 72 percent of the snaps, the second-most among defensive linemen behind Trent Cole. And Parker played well, particularly against the run. He stopped Felix Jones for no gain in the second; Tashard Choice for no gain in the second; and Choice again after a 1-yard gain in the third. With Andy Reid announcing that Brandon Graham is out for the year with a torn ACL, Parker's going to have to continue his strong season with an expanded role down the stretch.
Brandon Graham- The rookie's season ended on Sunday in the fourth quarter. He'll have surgery and will begin the road to recovery for next season. Note on Graham: He only played 16 of 56 snaps before he got injured. In other words, the Eagles were going primarily with Parker at left defensive end. Graham had a couple good moments. He got good pressure on Jon Kitna in the first, shoving him to the ground.
Mike Patterson - Reid went out of his way to praise Patterson on Monday. He was solid inside as the Eagles' defense limited Cowboys running backs to 57 yards on 20 carries (2.85 YPC).
Trevor Laws- Laws got his hands on a Kitna throw on third down in the second. He and Darryl Tapp switched places with Parker and Trent Cole on a couple plays.
Antonio Dixon- I think you could make the case that he's been the Eagles' third-best defensive player this season behind Cole and Asante Samuel. Dixon is the single biggest reason the run defense has improved. He had a nice goal-line stuff of Choice in the first. Dixon stuffed Jones for no gain on a second-quarter carry. And he brought good pressure up the middle on the Dimitri Patterson interception in the fourth.
Brodrick Bunkley- He made a couple very nice plays against the run, dropping Jones after a 2-yard gain in the first and again for a 2-yard loss in the fourth.
Darryl Tapp- Don't be surprised if he sees an increased role, playing more left defensive end with Graham down. Tapp lined up all over the place - left DE, right DE and inside. He even set up as a middle linebacker once, dropping back into coverage. Tapp couldn't chase Kitna down on a 10-yard scramble on fourth down in the fourth. He got good pressure on the very next play. Tapp also picked up his third sack.
Trent Cole- Quiet game as a pass rusher. Cole had one QB hit and was held without a sack for the fourth time in five games. He jumped offsides and then was out of position on Jones' 14-yard run in the first. Of course, teams are not going to be able to completely contain Cole. He assisted on a tackle after a 1-yard Jones run. Cole dropped Jones for a 1-yard loss down near the goal line. He hit Kitna from the blind side on third down in the second. And he had good pressure on Kitna on the fourth down where he scrambled in the fourth.
Stewart Bradley- Bradley's likely out for the rest of the regular season, at least. It's a shame too because last week's performance against the Texans was one of his best games all year. Bradley couldn't make a play on Jones' 14-yard run in the first, and he missed a tackle on the 26-yard double reverse to Miles Austin. He stopped Jones for no gain on a dumpoff in the flat in the first and made a great play to drop Jones for a 1-yard loss.
JaMar Chaney- He'll get a chance to fill in for Bradley, but Reid said today the job will not be handed to him. I thought Chaney was OK. He made some good plays, but looked like a rookie at other times. Chaney plugged a hole, took on the fullback and allowed Parker to stop Choice for no gain in the second. He tackled Jones after a 4-yard gain in the third and again on a 3rd-and-20 run in the third. It was tough to tell on TV, but analyst Cris Collinsworth blamed Chaney on a 17-yard completion to Witten and the Witten TD.
Ernie Sims- Sims has really not played well the last two games. He is struggling in coverage and hasn't been great against the run either. Cowboys running backs and tight ends accounted for 158 of the team's 242 receiving yards. Sims couldn't get off his block on Jones' 14-yard carry in the first. He wasn't fooled on the double reverse to Austin, but couldn't shed a blocker or make a play. Sims was blocked on a 9-yard run by Choice in the red zone in the first. He couldn't keep up with Witten on the 1-yard touchdown in the first. Sims was beat in coverage and then missed a tackle against Martellus Bennett on an 11-yard completion in the third. He missed a tackle on the dumpoff to Jones that went for 35 yards in the third. And despite what Collinsworth said, it sure looked like he had some responsibility on the Witten catches.
Moise Fokou- He had ups and downs, but was pretty active throughout. Fokou and Patterson stopped Choice after a 2-yard gain in the first. And Fokou stopped Choice after a 2-yard gain in the third. He missed a tackle on Jones in the flat in the first; missed a tackle on Roy Williams in the second; and another on a dumpoff to Jones that went for 35 yards in the third. Fokou was also called for an illegal contact penalty for hitting Witten that must have been right outside the 5-yard window.
Dimitri Patterson- Patterson also had ups and downs, but I thought he really battled in the second half. Early on, he grabbed Kevin Ogletree's facemask, giving the Cowboys a first down on 3rd-and-6. He was beat by Austin on a 16-yard gain in the second and called for illegal contact in the third. But down the stretch, Patterson had an interception in the fourth, made a good tackle on Williams on a WR screen and stayed with Austin on a 3rd-and-8 play where the Cowboys tried to go deep.
Joselio Hanson- Hanson has been quietly playing well. Teams are not throwing much in his direction. He blitzed from the slot at the end of the first half. Hanson couldn't wrap Kitna up, but his pressure led to a Tapp sack. Before you blame all the defensive struggles on the secondary, keep in mind that Cowboys wide receivers had just 84 total yards receiving, and no Dallas wideout had more than 34 yards.
Trevard Lindley- I'm seeing improvement from Lindley. He made a good tackle on Ogletree on a third-down play in the first, forcing the Cowboys to punt. And he had good coverage on Austin on a third down in the third. Lindley cost the Eagles though with a missed tackle on a third down in the second on a drive that ended with a Cowboys field goal.
Quintin Mikell - Mikell played a good game. He did a nice job in coverage against Bennett on third down in the second. And he did a good job of making sure he got his hands underneath the ball on a second-quarter interception. Mikell made a good tackle on Witten after a 4-yard completion in the fourth.
Nate Allen- Pretty quiet game from Allen. The one standout play was when he blitzed and batted down a Kitna pass in the fourth. On the Witten touchdown in the fourth, Allen missed a tackle.
Kurt Coleman- Did you notice Sean McDermott inserting him into the game in special packages? Coleman played 10 snaps as the third safety. I only noticed him on one play when the defense swarmed to stop Jones after a 1-yard gain.
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