Friday, November 28, 2014
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Washburn effect: Can Eagles pressure Brady?

When the Eagles lost to the Giants in Week 3, the defensive line sacked Eli Manning three times, but had just two additional hurries. Manning carved the Birds up, completing 69.6 percent of his passes and averaging 11.0 yards per attempt for a QB rating of 145.7.

Washburn effect: Can Eagles pressure Brady?

The Eagles hope Jason Babin and the defensive line can pressure Tom Brady. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
The Eagles hope Jason Babin and the defensive line can pressure Tom Brady. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

When the Eagles lost to the Giants in Week 3, the defensive line sacked Eli Manning three times, but had just two additional hurries. Manning carved the Birds up, completing 69.6 percent of his passes and averaging 11.0 yards per attempt for a QB rating of 145.7.

Last week, the defensive line sacked Manning three times, but the difference was this time, they piled up an additional 23 hurries, consistently getting in Manning's face and creating disruption.

The play of Jim Washburn's group was the key to limiting the Giants' offense to just 10 points.

Next up are Tom Brady and the Patriots. Brady has been sacked 19 times this season, which is two more than the Eagles have given up (17). And he's been hit 44 times, just two fewer than the Eagles have given up (46).

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Keeping all that in mind, here's the weekly look at the Birds' defensive line, with an eye on Sunday afternoon's matchup. As always, let's start with playing time:

Player Pct. of Snaps
Trent Cole 64.3%
Jason Babin 62.5%
Cullen Jenkins 60.7%
Mike Patterson 62.5%
Trevor Laws 42.9%
Derek Landri 33.9%
Darryl Tapp 35.7%
Juqua Parker 37.5%

Washburn was able to maintain a rotation with most of the linemen healthy. Brandon Graham was inactive, but Parker saw his most significant playing time since Week 1.

Cole, Babin, Jenkins and Patterson - the starters - all played fewer than 70 percent of the defensive snaps.

WHO PRODUCED?

Here's a look at sacks and hurries:

  Sacks Hurries
Cole 0 3
Babin 1 6
Jenkins 0.5 6
Patterson 0.5 2
Laws 0 0
Landri 0 0
Tapp 0.5 4
Parker 0.5 2

Babin obviously made the play of the game at the end, sacking and stripping Manning. Jenkins, Patterson, Tapp and Parker split the Eagles' two other sacks.

Jenkins set a season-high with six hurries; Tapp set a season-high with four. Tapp's performance was especially impressive, considering he had (by my count) just 14 opportunities to rush the passer.

It was a very balanced effort from the defensive line. Laws was shut out in terms of sacks and hurries, but he played a really good game, especially against the run. Landri batted down a ball at the line of scrimmage.

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.
Cole 31 227 13.7%
Babin 46 271 17.0%
Jenkins 20.5 270 7.6%
Patterson 19.5 247 7.9%
Laws 11 137 8.0%
Landri 7 69 10.1%
Tapp 16.5 105 15.7%
Graham 0 21 0.0%
Parker 7.5 80 9.4%
Hunt 5 45 11.1%
Dixon 1 42 2.4%

On the season, Babin is getting to the quarterback most frequently. He leads the Eagles with 10 sacks and 36 hurries.

While Jenkins' rate isn't particularly high, he was probably the team's best defensive lineman (and actually, their best defensive player) last week. His 5.5 sacks on the season are second on the team and the most among NFL defensive tackles, per NFL.com.

I mentioned Tapp above. He's making the most of his opportunities, filling in for Cole at right defensive end. And Patterson is perhaps the Eagles' most improved pass rusher under Washburn. He's really having a good season.

WHAT ABOUT THE BLITZ?

In Week 10, the Eagles blitzed more than they had all season, sending extra pressure at John Skelton 47.8 percent of the time.

But that was not the case against the Giants. Juan Castillo dialed up just one blitz, sending Keenan Clayton and Joselio Hanson after Manning, found Victor Cruz for 47 yards on the play.

There were no zone blitzes. Instead, Castillo moved the defensive linemen around a little, playing Jenkins at defensive end and moving the normal DEs inside on certain plays.

On the season, the Eagles have blitzed on 65 of 359 dropbacks, or 18.1 percent of the time. Opposing quarterbacks are 29-for-59 for 538 yards, averaging 9.1 yards per attempt, when the Eagles send extra pressure.

Which brings us to Brady. Don't expect the Eagles to send much extra pressure at him. Brady's QB rating the past three seasons against the blitz: 118.4 (2010), 106.5 (2009), 109.7 (2008). According to PFF, he's completing 63.6 percent of his passes and averaging 9.6 yards per attempt (119.7 QB rating) against the blitz this season.

Once again, Castillo and the Eagles will have to rely on the front four. And if the defense has any hopes of containing Brady, Washburn's defensive line will have to lead the charge, just as it did against the Giants.


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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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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
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