Saturday, February 13, 2016

Eagles' D: Goals and personnel

Sean McDermott has a specific set of goals for his defense. Did the Eagles reach those goals on Sunday against the Packers?

Eagles' D: Goals and personnel

The Eagles´ defense did not meet all of Sean McDermott´s goals last Sunday against the Packers. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)
The Eagles' defense did not meet all of Sean McDermott's goals last Sunday against the Packers. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)

Back in May, Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott shared his goals with the media.

Each week, I'll take a look at those goals and see which ones the Birds met, along with a breakdown of their defensive scheme and personnel.

Let's start with the goals.

Allow 17 points or less: The Eagles obviously did not accomplish this one, allowing 27 points. The defense has not limited an opponent to 17 points or less since Week 15 of last season. The Packers are going to be one of the league's better offenses, but only five teams allowed more points than the Eagles in Week 1. Green Bay's average starting field position on its five scoring drives was its own 32 yard line.

Allow 285 yards or less: The defense was close on this one, but ended up allowing 299 yards. The Eagles actually outgained the Packers, 320-299, for the game.

Create two or more turnovers: Here's a winner. The Eagles picked off Aaron Rodgers twice, which is impressive, considering Rodgers was only intercepted seven times all of last season. The Birds won the turnover battle, only giving it away once (the Eldra Buckley fumble) on offense.

Limit opponents to less than 44 rush attempts and pass completions (combined): Rodgers completed 19 passes, and the Packers had 33 rushing attempts for a grand total of 52. Now, five of those rushing attempts were by Rodgers, which I'm pretty sure we shouldn't count. But even so, that puts the number at 47.

Allow no more than three big plays (defined as runs of 10 yards or more, or passes of 25 yards or more): Nope. The Eagles allowed five big plays. What's interesting is that four of those were run plays of 10 yards or more. The only pass play of 25 yards or more was the 32-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings.

Limit opponents to 5.5 yards per pass attempt: This is a very ambitious one. The Eagles limited Rodgers to 6.07 yards per attempt, and didn't reach the goal. Shaun Hill, the quarterback the Eagles will face in Week 2, was limited to 4.63 yards per attempt. Michael Vick, likely the Eagles' starter, averaged 7.29 yards per attempt.

Again, these are not my goals. These are the ones McDermott and his staff have outlined for the defense.


As I mentioned earlier this week, all eight defensive linemen who were active played. Below is a rundown of how often each guy was on the field.

  No. of snaps Percentage of overall
Trent Cole 58 92%
Brandon Graham 49 78%
Mike Patterson 34 54%
Brodrick Bunkley 32 51%
Antwan Barnes 28 44%
Trevor Laws 24 38%
Juqua Parker 19 30%
Antonio Dixon 8 13%

The Eagles had a fifth defensive back on the field for pretty much half the game (49 percent of the snaps). That was most often Joselio Hanson, but on four plays, it was a third safety, Kurt Coleman. On the plays when Coleman was in, Quintin Mikell played up at the line of scrimmage.

Mikell, Ernie Sims and Nate Allen played every snap. Asante Samuel and Ellis Hobbs played all but one snap.


Paul Domowitch of the Daily News had a good piece on the Eagles' blitz on Wednesday.

The Eagles blitzed 14 times on Sunday and used 12 different combinations. The only blitz package that was used more than once involved sending Sims by himself. That happened three times. The other blitz combinations:

Bradley and Sims
Bradley, Sims and Samuel
Sims and Allen
Bradley, Sims and Mikell
Sims and Gaither
Bradley, Sims and Allen
Sims, Gaither and Mikell
Sims, Hanson and Mikell

Sims was the most active blitzer. McDermott sent him 11 times. Here's an individual breakdown of how many times each player blitzed:

Player No. of blitzes
Sims 11
Bradley 5
Gaither 3
Mikell 3
Hanson 2
Allen 2
Samuel 1

And finally, the Eagles dropped linemen back into coverage on five separate occasions. Cole did it four times; Barnes did it twice; and Graham and Laws did it once each. Note that multiple linemen dropped back on the same play twice.

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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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