Thursday, November 26, 2015

Washburn effect: Castillo calls on the blitz

Many similar issues surfaced for the Eagles' defense in the team's 21-17 loss to the Cardinals last week.

Washburn effect: Castillo calls on the blitz

Juan Castillo had the Eagles blitz more last week against Arizona. (Don Wright/AP)
Juan Castillo had the Eagles blitz more last week against Arizona. (Don Wright/AP)

Many similar issues surfaced for the Eagles' defense in the team's 21-17 loss to the Cardinals last week.

The fourth-quarter collapse; getting beat by an unproven quarterback; confusion in the secondary; poor linebacker play.

But one part of the scheme that was different was the blitz. Juan Castillo dialed up extra pressure more often than he has all season.

More on that below, but first, let's start with snap counts for the defensive line last week:

Player Pct. of Snaps
Trent Cole 70.4%
Jason Babin 70.4%
Cullen Jenkins 71.8%
Mike Patterson 69.0%
Trevor Laws 35.2%
Derek Landri 32.4%
Darryl Tapp 29.6%
Brandon Graham 25.4%
Juqua Parker 4.2%
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The Eagles had an unlikely inactive last week in DeSean Jackson, as they went with only four wide receivers. That opened up a spot, which went to a ninth defensive lineman, Parker, even though he only played three snaps. That spot could be taken away this week against the Giants.

At defensive end, Cole and Babin played a lot of snaps, with Tapp, Graham and Parker rotating in.

At defense tackle, it was mostly Jenkins and Patterson on the field, with Landri and Laws rotating in.


Here's a look at sacks and hurries:

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

Cole was the Eagles' best pass rusher with a sack and six hurries. Jenkins was shut out completely for the second straight game. Patterson continues to show he's improved with three hurries. And Landri's four hurries were second-most on the team, even though he only had 13 chances to rush the passer.

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 28  201  13.9%
Babin 39  247  15.8%
Jenkins 14  244  5.7%
Patterson 17  223  7.6%
Laws 11  121  9.1%
Landri 7  57  12.3%
Tapp 12  92  13.0%
Graham 0  21
Parker 5  65  7.7%
Hunt 5  45  11.1%
Dixon 1  42  2.4%

It should come as no surprise that Babin and Cole have been the team's productive pass rushers. Babin only had one hurry last week in his quietest game of the season. He's been held without a sack in four of the Eagles' past five games.

Jenkins is tied with Cole for second on the team with five sacks, but if you look at how often he's getting to the quarterback, the numbers aren't very impressive. Jenkins plays a lot of snaps, but he's notching a sack/hurry at the lowest rate of anyone on the team, except for Graham (and Dixon, who's out for the season). It's natural for the defensive tackles to have lower numbers than the defensive ends, but since the loss to the Bills, Jenkins has no sacks and four hurries in four games.

Patterson, on the other hand, has gotten better. He has a sack and 11 hurries in the last four games, and several of those hurries have led directly to sacks by other linemen.

Laws has been quiet too, with a sack and no hurries in the past three games.


Getting back to what I mentioned at the start, the Eagles blitzed more Sunday than they had all season. Entering the game, Juan Castillo had dialed up blitzes on 15.3 percent of pass plays. But against Arizona, the Eagles went with extra pressure on 22 of 46 snaps, or 47.8 percent of the time.

So, did it work?

Against the blitz, John Skelton was 8-for-20 for 157 yards. He was also sacked twice. While he only completed 40 percent of his passes against the blitz, Skelton hit on passes of 29, 30 and 42 yards against extra pressure.

Jamar Chaney blitzed 10 times; Brian Rolle and Kurt Coleman eight apiece; Akeem Jordan five times; Jaiquawn Jarrett four; Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie twice; and Joselio Hanson once. The Eagles also ran several zone blitzes, dropping Trent Cole and others into coverage.

Chaney and Rodgers-Cromartie both had sacks, the first by non-defensive linemen all year.

On the season, the Eagles have blitzed on 64 of 320 pass plays, or 20 percent of the time. Opposing quarterbacks are 28-for-58 for 491 yards, averaging 8.47 yards per attempt.

Eli Manning was 2-for-6 for 92 yards against the Eagles' blitz in the first meeting, but both completions were touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Manning has a 103.4 QB rating against the blitz this season, averaging 9.0 yards per attempt. In other words, don't expect the Eagles to bring extra pressure as much this week.

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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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