Monday, July 14, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Washburn effect: Adding Graham to the mix

Jay Cutler has been sacked 21 times this season. Only Ben Roethlisberger (25) and Kevin Kolb (24) have been brought down more.

Washburn effect: Adding Graham to the mix

The Eagles activated Brandon Graham off the PUP list on Saturday. (AP file photo)
The Eagles activated Brandon Graham off the PUP list on Saturday. (AP file photo)

Jay Cutler has been sacked 21 times this season. Only Ben Roethlisberger (25) and Kevin Kolb (24) have been brought down more.

So it goes without saying that pressuring the Bears quarterback will be key for the Eagles' defense Monday night, although really, we could say that every week.

The Birds will add a new body to the defensive line rotation in Brandon Graham. How will he fit in, playing in his first game since Week 14 of the 2010 season? Here's a look at that question and the overall production of Jim Washburn's defensive line.

As always, let's start with snap counts from last week against Dallas:

Player Pct. of Snaps
Trent Cole 67.3%
Jason Babin 65.3%
Cullen Jenkins 59.2%
Mike Patterson 51.0%
Trevor Laws 46.9%
Derek Landri 40.8%
Darryl Tapp 38.8%
Juqua Parker 32.7%

This was really the first time since Week 1 that Washburn was able to go with a real rotation. No defensive lineman played more than 67.3 percent of the snaps. That hasn't been the case for most of the season.

Cole returned from injury and played more than any other lineman.

Parker is listed as "doubtful" this week, and Graham is expected to fill in. My guess is the Eagles will ease him in at left defensive end, so don't be surprised to Babin and Cole play more snaps against Chicago.

WHO'S PRODUCING?

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:

  Sacks QB Hits Hurries
Cole 1 1 2
Babin 2 2 0
Jenkins 0 0 2
Patterson 0 0 2
Laws 1 1 0
Landri 0 0 0
Tapp 0 0 3
Parker 0 0 1

Cole had a sack and two hurries in his return; Babin had a pair of sacks; and Laws had his first of the season.

Patterson didn't have a sack, but he was directly responsible for two of them with pressure up the middle.

The Eagles have 22 sacks on the season, and all are by defensive linemen. Babin is third in the NFL with nine. Babin, Cole and Jenkins have accounted for 18 of the 22.

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 19 146 13.0%
Babin 33 187 17.6%
Jenkins 14 181 7.7%
Patterson 12 165 7.3%
Laws 11 94 11.7%
Landri 2 34 5.9%
Tapp 12 71 16.9%
Parker 5 63 7.9%
Hunt 5 45 11.1%
Dixon 1 42 2.4%

Babin has the highest percentage of any of the Eagles' defensive linemen, but it's worth noting that Tapp's not far behind. Tapp has two sacks and 10 hurries on the season, even though he doesn't get as many pass-rushing opportunities as the other defensive ends.

Patterson is really showing improvement. He had no sacks and five hurries in the first five games. He's got a sack and six hurries in the past two.

The same can be said for Laws. He had no sacks and five hurries in the first five games, but has a sack and five hurries in his past two.

WHAT ABOUT THE BLITZ?

The Eagles blitzed Tony Romo on just four of 40 passing plays, or 10 percent of the time. Again, blitz is defined here as five or more pass rushers. On one play, the Eagles went with five defensive linemen, so it wasn't a traditional blitz with a linebacker or defensive back, but I still counted it here.

Romo was just 1-for-4 for 11 yards against the blitz. All four sacks came on four-man rushes.

On the season, the Eagles have blitzed on 35 of 242 passing plays, or 14.5 percent of the time. Opposing quarterbacks are 15-for-32 (46.9 percent) for 256 yards (8.0 YPA) against the Eagles' blitz this season. But the blitz calls were effective in the two wins. Redskins and Cowboys quarterbacks were just 4-for-9 for 43 yards against the Eagles' blitz, averaging 4.78 yards per attempt.

Don't expect the Eagles to blitz much against Cutler. The Birds' four-man rush should be able to get to him without sending extra pressure. In addition to the sack numbers I mentioned above, the Bears have allowed 40 quarterback hits, ninth-most in the NFL. In case you're wondering, the Eagles are 11th with 38.


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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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