Thursday, February 11, 2016

Washburn effect: Castillo calls on the blitz

Against the Jets, Juan Castillo dialed up the blitz on 10 of 34 pass plays, or 29.4 percent of the time.

Washburn effect: Castillo calls on the blitz

Jason Babin leads the Eagles with 18 sacks and 42 hurries on the season. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)
Jason Babin leads the Eagles with 18 sacks and 42 hurries on the season. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Against the Jets, Juan Castillo dialed up the blitz on 10 of 34 pass plays, or 29.4 percent of the time.

The only time they've blitzed more this season was against the Cardinals.

So, did it work?

Mark Sanchez was 6-for-6 for 65 yards against the Eagles' blitz, but the Birds sacked him three times on those plays, and the Jets were called for one holding penalty. In other words, Castillo's blitz calls had varying degrees of success.

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Which brings us to this week and Tony Romo. In the Eagles' first matchup with the Cowboys, they blitzed Romo on just four of 40 pass plays. He went 1-for-4 for 11 yards against the blitz. All four of their sacks came on four-man rushes.

According to Pro Football Focus, Romo has been vulnerable to the blitz this season, completing 57.1 percent of his passes and averaging 6.8 yards per attempt for six touchdowns and three interceptions against extra pressure.

Last year, Romo was deadly against the blitz, completing 72 percent of his passes and averaging 8.52 yards per attempt with six touchdowns and one interception against the blitz.

Through seven games, all of the Eagles' sacks had come from defensive linemen. But in the last seven, linebackers and defensive backs have accounted for four sacks. It'll be critical for Castillo to pick the right times to blitz Romo on Saturday.


The Eagles went with a different group of defensive linemen last week, due to injuries to Darryl Tapp and Trevor Laws. Jason Babin had three sacks to go along with two hurries, and Philip Hunt had one sack and one hurry.

Juqua Parker saw increased playing time - both at DE and DT - and had a season-high four hurries. Trent Cole didn't have a sack, but was great against the run and had three hurries.

Brandon Graham, Cullen Jenkins and Derek Landri each had one hurry apiece.

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.
Jason Babin 60 362 16.6%
Trent Cole 43 313 13.7%
Cullen Jenkins 27.5 346 7.9%
Mike Patterson 24.5 347 7.1%
Darryl Tapp 21.5 141 15.2%
Trevor Laws 13 170 7.6%
Derek Landri 10 134 7.5%
Philip Hunt 11 78 14.1%
Juqua Parker 12.5 112 11.2%
Antonio Dixon 1 42 2.4%
Brandon Graham 1 28 3.6%

Babin leads the team in sacks (18) and hurries (42). And as you can see, he leads the team in pressure percentage also.

Cole is second in both sacks (9) and hurries (34). And Tapp has been effective when healthy. Assuming those three are back and Graham is healthy, the Eagles will have a very good group of defensive ends next year. Hunt will likely figure into the mix somehow too.

At defensive tackle, Jenkins has 5.5 sacks; he and Patterson are tied for third on the team with 22 hurries apiece. Laws is questionable against Dallas, and Landri continues to be a pleasant surprise.


The Eagles' defensive line had four sacks and 10 hurries in the first meeting against the Cowboys. Babin had two sacks, while Cole and Laws had one each.

Tapp led the Eagles with three hurries; Cole, Jenkins and Patterson had two apiece. In that game, Patterson did a good job of getting pressure up the middle and was directly responsible for two sacks.

In the Eagles' 34-7 win, Romo set season-lows for yards (203), completion percentage (51.4), yards per attempt (5.8) and QB rating (66.7).

Since that game, he's been outstanding though, with 18 touchdowns and two interceptions in seven games.

Castillo's defense has been impressive against Matt Moore, J.P. Losman and Sanchez, but Saturday, the Eagles will have to pressure Romo and create turnovers if they want to win their third straight for the first time this season.

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Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for 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 or by clicking here

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