The Eagles defense was shredded last Sunday by Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers, but at least one defender is emerging as a playmaker. That would be Brandon Boykin. In Week 1 against the Redskins, Boykin got his first INT. In Week 2, he forced an Antonio Gates fumble inside the Eagle 5 yard line, which the Eagles recovered.
The forced fumble was particularly impressive because of the heady nature in which Boykin made his play. Boykin explained that earlier in the game, he observed that Gates was carrying the ball carelessly, and that he wanted to take advantage.
"The way I saw Gates [carrying] the ball the whole game, he was kind of having it out here a lot," said Boykin, mimicking Gates carrying the ball away from his body. "In my mind, I was saying if I got close, if I was coming in from the side or something I was always going to try to strip it. Luckily I was able to catch him right before he got the touchdown."
I went back to take a look, and he was dead on. Here's Gates on a reception in the 1st quarter:
And here he is in the 2nd quarter, on the same drive as the fumble:
Notice how Gates is carrying the football away from his body in the pictures above.
On the play in which Boykin got his strip, watch as he winds up...
And punches violently downward on the ball.
Eagles ball, huge play.
Boykin had no INTs last year, and one forced fumble, but he thinks the game is slowing down.
"I've gained a lot more experience," said Boykin. "I'm more confident in my abilities, so the game has slowed down. I'm able to make those those turnovers, those plays, the pass breakups, and things like that. As the season goes on, I'll get better and the defense will get better."
Boykin just turned 23 in July, and is starting to become a ballhawk. That's a great sign for the work in progress that is the Eagles defense.