Friday, December 19, 2014

Washburn effect: Babin still producing

The Eagles' defense allowed 13 points against the Redskins, forcing four turnovers, picking up two sacks and hitting Redskins quarterbacks nine times in their second win of the season.

Washburn effect: Babin still producing

Cullen Jenkins (97) and Jason Babin (93) have combined for 12 sacks this season. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Cullen Jenkins (97) and Jason Babin (93) have combined for 12 sacks this season. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

The Eagles' defense allowed 13 points against the Redskins, forcing four turnovers, picking up two sacks and hitting Redskins quarterbacks nine times in their second win of the season.

Jim Washburn's unit took advantage of a banged-up Redskins offensive line and dominated up front - both against the run and the pass. The Eagles appeared to make a slight adjustment to the wide-nine, although as I argued earlier this week, the main difference seemed to be simply better tackling.

On the season, the Eagles have 18 sacks (second behind only the Giants) and are fifth in sack rate.

Here's the weekly look at the defensive line's performance, starting with snap counts from a week ago:

Player Pct. of Snaps
Jason Babin 73.6%
Cullen Jenkins 71.7%
Darryl Tapp 69.8%
Mike Patterson 64.3%
Trevor Laws 37.7%
Phillip Hunt 30.2%
Juqua Parker 26.4%
Derek Landri 26.4%
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Babin was on the field a little less this week, although he still had a heavy workload. He's played the most snaps of any Eagles defensive lineman, followed by Jenkins and Patterson.

The Eagles will have decisions to make when/if Trent Cole and Brandon Graham return after the bye. Hunt will almost definitely return to being an inactive, but that would still give the Eagles one too many defensive ends.

WHO'S PRODUCING?

Let's start with just last week. You can find sacks and QB hits in the box score, and the Eagles' coaching staff keeps track of hurries, so those are the three categories we'll go with:

  Sacks QB Hits Hurries
Babin 0 3 9
Laws 0 2 5
Patterson 1 1 4
Tapp 1 1 3
Parker 0 1 3
Jenkins 0 0 2
Landri 0 1 1
Hunt 0 0 0

Babin's performance is a great example of sacks not telling the whole story. His nine hurries were the most of any Eagles defensive lineman in a single game this season. Clearly, whatever tweaks the Eagles made up front did not affect Babin's production.

I can't remember the last time Patterson produced like he did Sunday as a pass rusher. He did a great job on the one sack and totaled a season-high four hurries.

Laws had just five hurries in the first five games, but he produced also with a season-high five hurries against Washington.

And here are the season totals:

  Sacks QB Hits Hurries
Babin 7 14 24
Jenkins 5 7 7
Cole 3 5 13
Tapp 2 4 7
Hunt 0 1 5
Patterson 1 1 9
Laws 0 2 10
Dixon 0 0 1
Parker 0 2 4
Landri 0 1 2

Babin leads the Eagles in sacks, QB hits and hurries. How about Laws? He's jumped up to third in hurries.

All 18 of the Eagles' sacks have come from defensive linemen.

As always, it's good to look at opportunities. Below are percentages on how often each defensive lineman has notched a sack or hurry, based on number of chances to rush the quarterback (provided by Pro Football Focus).

  Sacks+Hurries Pass-Rushing Opportunities Pressure Pct.
Babin 31 160 19.4%
Jenkins 12 157 7.6%
Cole 16 120 13.3%
Tapp 9 54 16.7%
Laws 10 76 13.2%
Hunt 5 45 11.1%
Patterson 10 142 7.0%
Dixon 1 42 2.4%
Parker 4 50 8.0%
Landri 2 17 11.8%

Once again, it's Babin on top. I know he's taken some heat for not playing the run, but I thought Babin was pretty good in that aspect too last week. He's clearly met expectations and is providing exactly what the Eagles were looking for at left defensive end.

Tapp has been solid, but the Eagles could definitely use Cole back on the right side. Even though he doesn't have the sack numbers, Laws has been a productive pass rusher at defensive tackle.

WHAT ABOUT THE BLITZ?

The Eagles blitzed the Redskins on five of 40 passing plays, or 12.5 percent of the time. Rex Grossman and John Beck combined to go 3-for-5 for 32 yards against the blitz. On four occasions, the Eagles sent five defenders, and on one occasion, they sent six.

Brian Rolle blitzed three times; Kurt Coleman blitzed twice; and Jamar Chaney and Nate Allen each blitzed once.

One new (or old, depending on how you look at it) wrinkle we saw from the Eagles was the zone blitz. Babin and Hunt each dropped back into coverage once, and Jenkins dropped back twice from the defensive tackle position.

On the season, the Eagles have blitzed on 31 of 202 passing plays, or 15.3 percent of the time. Opposing quarterbacks are 14-for-28 for 245 yards (8.75 YPA) against the Eagles. They've done a pretty good job of limiting big plays against the blitz the last two weeks though.

Overall, despite the tweak up front, the Eagles' pass rush looked good against the Redskins. And it should only improve after the bye week as players get healthy. It's clear that the front four is the best unit on this defense, and Washburn's group will have to lead the way if the Birds are going to make a run in the final 10 games.


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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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