Friday, April 18, 2014
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Man Up: Bradley rebounds, but D struggles

What were the issues on defense for the Eagles in their 34-24 win over the Texans? Here's the player-by-player breakdown.

Man Up: Bradley rebounds, but D struggles

The Texans scored 24 points against the Eagles´ defense Thursday night. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)
The Texans scored 24 points against the Eagles' defense Thursday night. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Here's the player-by-player breakdown of the Eagles' defensive performance in their 34-24 win over the Texans Thursday night:

Brandon Graham - The rookie had a quiet game. I can't say I noticed a single play where Graham pressured Matt Schaub. Graham was fine against the run, but really didn't make a play in this one. He dropped back into coverage and just missed getting his hand on a pass that went for 13 yards. And in the fourth quarter, he and Trent Cole switched sides for a play - something I don't think we've seen before this season. Graham played more than 70 percent of the snaps, second to only Cole among defensive linemen. I think different things are at play here. One, Graham is playing more than he has all season since Juqua Parker is sidelined. And two, at this time last year, his football season was over, so the whole "rookie wall" thing is definitely a factor. I think he'll benefit from fewer snaps when Parker returns.

Mike Patterson - Very strong game from Patterson. He was good against the run, bring Arian Foster down after a gain of 1 in the second and after a gain of 3 in the third. He also dropped Derrick Ward after a 2-yard gain in the third and disrupted a play that led to a 1-yard stop of Foster. Patterson has two sacks in his last two games. He had two sacks in his previous 42 games before that.

Brodrick Bunkley - He played the least of any of the defensive tackles. Bunkley had ups and downs. He was blocked on the 9-yard Foster carry in the second and was called for offsides in the second half. He had a good tackle on Foster after a 4-yard gain in the second and got good pressure up the middle, forcing Schaub to leave the pocket and throw it away in the fourth.

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Antonio Dixon - He wasn't as much of a playmaker as previous weeks but was solid in the middle. Arian Foster had a pad-the-stats 29-yard run at the end of the first half. Other than that, Foster had 54 yards on 21 carries (2.57 YPC).

Trevor Laws - His interception in the first half was huge. The Eagles could have gone into halftime tied 17-17 or up 17-13 had the Texans scored on that drive. Instead, the Eagles took a 20-10 lead. Laws did a good job on a 3-yard Foster carry in the second. The negative plays where when Laws jumped offsides on 3rd-and-8 in the third and when he was blocked to the ground on the Foster TD run in the third.

Darryl Tapp - He spelled Graham at left defensive end and also played inside. Tapp was on the field for more than 50 percent of the snaps. He showed good discipline and hustle on a play-action pass in the second, forcing Schaub to scramble and throw it away. Tapp also got good pressure and a hit on Schaub at the end of the second quarter. Against the run, he was blocked/held on a 7-yard Foster run in the red zone in the third.

Trent Cole - It was a bit of an up and down game for Cole. He got good pressure on Schaub on a completion to the fullback in the third. Cole made a great play against the run to stop Foster after a gain of 1 in the second. He made another nice play against the run in the third, stopping Foster after a 2-yard gain. Something I haven't seen all year: Cole was blocked successfully one-on-one by a tight end on the Jacoby Jones TD in the second. Cole was also called for a legit roughing the passer penalty in the second. And he was blocked on a 13-yard Derrick Ward carry in the third.

Daniel Te'o-Nesheim - The rookie saw what I believe was his most action of the season - 13 snaps. He played exclusively at right defensive end, spelling Cole. Te'o-Nesheim had a tackle, dropping back in coverage in the fourth.

Stewart Bradley - I thought he was probably the Eagles' best defensive player Thursday night. Examples: He avoided a lineman and tackled Foster after a 3-yard gain in the first; he did a good job of taking on a blocker and disrupting the play on a 1-yard Foster carry in the second; he shed a block and delivered a nice hit on Foster after a 6-yard gain in the second; he did a nice job to bring Andre Johnson down after a gain of 3 on a wide receiver screen in the second; he had a good blitz up the middle in the third - hitting Schaub; and he dropped Foster for a 4-yard loss in the second half. Only two negative plays I saw: Bradley was beat by Joel Dreessen and missed a tackle on a 20-yard gain at the end of the first half. And he was blocked out of the picture on the Foster TD run in the third.

Ernie Sims - On the other hand, Sims had a rough go. He bit badly on play-action and was late covering the fullback out of the backfield on a 21-yard gain in the first. Sims inadvertently pushed Cole down on a 6-yard Foster carry in the second. Dreessen beat him for a 12-yard gain on 3rd-and-9 in the second quarter. Sims bit on play-action on a 13-yard completion to Foster in the third. Foster beat him again on the 13-yard touchdown catch in the third. He was blocked by the fullback on a 9-yard Foster run in the third. And he was beat by Dreesen on a 15-yard completion in the fourth. Bright spots: He brought Foster down after a 1-yard gain in the third; and Sims' blitz in the third helped to force an incompletion.

Moise Fokou- Quiet game for Fokou. He had a chance to bring Foster down on the 13-yard TD in the third, but couldn't make the play. Matt Millen gave him credit for making a play at one point in the second half. That was awfully nice of Millen, considering Fokou wasn't even on the field at the time. He was called for illegal contact in the red zone in the third.

Keenan Clayton - He was on the field for three plays, with the goal being to cover the tight end. Clayton came in on third down in the first quarter in an interesting personnel group for the Eagles. They went with three down linemen, three linebackers, three corners and two safeties.

Dimitri Patterson - Tough game for Patterson, but not really a disastrous game. He was called for a facemask on the Johnson end around in the first quarter and was fooled badly on the Johnson 42-yard catch in the second. Patterson was beat again by Johnson in the third on a 31-yard completion. The truth is he was going against perhaps the best receiver in the game, the defensive line did not get much pressure on Schaub, and Patterson is a guy who had never started a game until about a month ago. I'm not making excuses for him, but let's just keep things in perspective. Patterson made a nice play on the lateral to Foster in the first, dropping him for a loss of 2. He also did a nice job in run support, dropping Foster for a 2-yard loss in the second.

Joselio Hanson - It looked like Hanson was on Jones on the second-quarter touchdown, but Schaub had all day on the play so it's tough to really kill Hanson. He was solid in coverage otherwise. Hanson made contact with Schaub's helmet on a blitz on fourth down in the fourth, but the refs didn't blow the whistle.

Trevard Lindley - I thought he definitely was better than a week ago, and it helped that the Texans didn't pick on him as much. Lindley was beat by Kevin Walter on a 14-yard third-down play in the second quarter, but I didn't see him get beat in other spots. He had good coverage on fourth down in the fourth, but could have been whistled for making contact early. The refs didn't blow the whistle though.

Jorrick Calvin - He had to come in for a couple plays after Lindley was shaken up late in the fourth. And Calvin was instantly charged with covering Johnson, who beat him on a 39-yard completion.

Quintin Mikell - Good game from Mikell. He had an outstanding blitz on third down in the second, hitting Schaub's arm and forcing an incompletion and a punt. In run support, Mikell did a nice job to drop Foster for a 2-yard loss in the third. He could have easily been called for pass interference in coverage against Johnson downfield in the third, but again, no call. Mikell nearly came away with an interception in the fourth.

Nate Allen - Allen was fooled just as badly as Patterson on the 42-yard completion to Johnson in the second. But he was able to chase him out of bounds. Allen was bowled over on the Foster touchdown catch in the third. He blitzed and sacked Schaub, forcing a fumble with just over two minutes left.


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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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