Through the first three weeks, I used this feature on Jim Washburn's defensive line to examine the pass rush, and I'll get to that in a moment.
But first, a couple notes on the run defense.
Any way you want to slice it, the run 'D' has been horrible this season. Football Outsiders has the Eagles' run D ranked 29th. Opponents are averaging 5.3 yards per carry against the Birds; that ranks 31st. Overall, the Eagles are allowing 139.5 rushing yards per game (30th). And they've allowed five runs of 20+ yards (T-30th).
When I first saw Washburn implement the Wide-9 up at Lehigh, like many others, I wondered how it could be effective against the run with those giant gaps in between the defensive linemen. So I understood why people have blamed the system for the Eagles' run woes.
But then I took a look at the Titans under Washburn.
Let's take last year for instance. Opponents averaged just 3.9 YPC against the Titans; that was tied for seventh-best. Football Outsiders had them ranked as the third-best run defense in the NFL. In 2009 and 2008, opponents averaged 4.3 and 3.7 YPC, respectively. Football Outsiders had their run D ranked 26th and 6th in those two seasons.
That tells me it's not all the system. In other words, Washburn's defense can stop the run if the players know the system, and if he has the right personnel. Clearly, that has not been the case here. And it's fair to question the franchise's decision to go with such big question marks at linebacker, knowing the position would take on added importance with Washburn's system.
For example, Stephen Tulloch had 111 tackles (2nd in the NFL, per NFL.com) and assisted on 49 more last year. He made a lot of plays against the run, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. Clearly, no Eagles linebacker has been able to have anywhere near that kind of success.
Now on to the pass-rushing analysis, starting with snap counts:
|Player||% Snaps last week||%Snaps this season|
The big deal here is obviously that Cole won't play against Buffalo. He's played more than any other Eagles defensive lineman, followed by Babin, Jenkins and Patterson.
Laws played more last week, and he likely figures to be on the field quite a bit the rest of the way with Dixon out for the season.
Hunt saw his most extensive action against San Francisco. Tapp is probable, and Parker is questionable for Sunday. But Hunt will still be a part of the rotation regardless with Cole out.
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:
Laws was also productive with more playing time, picking up three hurries.