Washburn effect: What will D-line look like in 2012?

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Jason Babin has 15 sacks and 40 hurries this season. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

The Eagles took advantage of a banged-up Dolphins offensive line last week, piling up nine sacks en route to a 26-10 victory in Miami.

Overall, the Birds' pass-rush has been one of the few brights spots this season. Only the Ravens have more sacks (45) than the Eagles (42).

Below is a chart with sack and hurry totals for the season for the defensive linemen.

Player Sacks Hurries
Jason Babin 15 40
Trent Cole 9 31
Cullen Jenkins 5.5 21
Mike Patterson 2.5 22
Darryl Tapp 2.5 19
Trevor Laws 1 12
Derek Landri 1 8
Philip Hunt 1 8
Juqua Parker 0.5 8
Antonio Dixon 0 1
Brandon Graham 0 0

Babin's 15 sacks are second to only Jared Allen, who has 17.5. In Eagles franchise history, only Reggie White, Clyde Simmons and Greg Brown have had more than 15 sacks in a single season. Babin also leads the team with 40 hurries. I wrote about his performance against the run on Friday.

Cole's numbers went up after his three-sack performance last week. Tapp has been good when he's been on the field too.

In the middle, Jenkins has 5.5 sacks, but Patterson has to lead the team in hurries that lead to teammates getting sacks. OK, that's a made-up category, but Patterson's quietly had a very good year.

Thirty-eight of the team's 42 sacks have come from the defensive line.

As always, it's good to look at opportunities. Below is a chart of sacks/hurries; pass-rushing chances; and pressure percentage, which just measures how often each player has notched a sack/hurry. Numbers from the second column are courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

  Sacks+Hurries Pass-Rushing Opportunities Pressure Pct.
Babin 55  339  16.2%
Cole 40  289  13.8%
Jenkins 26.5  325  8.2%
Patterson 24.5  320  7.7%
Tapp 21.5  141  15.2%
Laws 13  170  7.6%
Landri 9  111  8.1%
Hunt 9  64  14.1%
Parker 8.5  96  8.9%
Dixon 1  42  2.4%
Graham 0 21 0%

A lot of numbers, I know. Here's what stands out:

Not only does Babin lead the team in sacks and hurries, but he also has the highest pressure percentage.

The defensive tackles are obviously going to have lower percentages, and Jenkins, Patterson, Laws and Landri are all around the same number (between 7.6 and 8.2 percent).

Tapp and Hunt have made the most of their opportunities at defensive end (15.2 percent and 14.1 percent, respectively).

So, what happens the rest of the way and in 2012?

Graham told reporters earlier this week that he's not sure he'll see the field again this season. That means Hunt will continue to get an opportunity.

Babin, Cole, Tapp, Graham and Hunt are all under contract in 2012. Parker is almost certainly gone. The Eagles have had a lot of turnover in this group over the last couple years. Only Cole has spent more than two seasons with the Birds. In other words, don't expect many additions at defensive end in free agency or the draft. New players could compete with Hunt or Tapp for a roster spot, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw the same five defensive ends back in 2012.

At defensive tackle, Patterson and Jenkins will be back as the starters. Jenkins is third on the team with 5.5 sacks. And Patterson, who only had two hurries all of last year, has 22 this season, behind only Cole and Babin.

The Eagles will have to make decisions on Antonio Dixon, Trevor Laws, Derek Landri, Cedric Thornton and whoever else they add to the roster. Dixon was outstanding against the run in 2010, but the Eagles will have to decide whether he fits their system (he's a restricted free agent). Landri has been outstanding, and I'd expect the Eagles to try and re-sign him. Laws is a free agent and could be the odd man out. And Thornton was recently added to the 53-man roster.

The Eagles clearly (once again) need to upgrade at linebacker. And they need to make key decisions at safety and cornerback. But the defensive line is in pretty good shape going forward.


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