Only Cause For Concern After Eagles-Bears Game is 3rd-Down Defense | Eagles Addict
Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Nick Foles threw two interceptions and it could have been three if not for a drop by the defender.  The offensive line apparently didn’t look too good in pass protection.  The raging Jordan Matthews fire of training camp was snuffed out by a 14-yard, four catch and three-drop performance.

All of those things, among others, are not what has me concerned — at this point.

*Quick disclaimer: I did not actually see the game against the Bears as I was away on vacation and didn’t return until late last night.  My opinions here are derived from reading a hell of a lot of game observations from a bunch of highly respectable beat writers (Sheil Kapadia, Jimmy Kempski, Jeff McLane, Reuben Frank, and Zach Berman). 

In other words, this is my observation based on observations.

It was the first preseason game and the first chance to shake off some rust.  And more importantly, those things are correctable and should be corrected by opening day (or hopefully the third preseason game).

Allen Barbre saw his first action at a new position and needs a little time to adjust playing on the opposite side of where he’s used to.  I’m not concerned with Mathis’ holding penalties or Peters/Kelce getting beat on a play.  This is still a solid group and will get better as they settle in.

Foles is going to throw more INTs this year, let’s just get used to that idea now.  I did happen to see a replay of one of his picks and it appeared to me that Ifeanyi Momah ran an incorrect route that drew the defender directly into the path of a pass intended for Zach Ertz.

Foles didn’t set his feet and threw off his back foot to where Ertz was (he appeared open), but Momah came on a cross and the defender that was trailing him was in perfect position.  By no means does it excuse Foles, but many INTs happen when receivers run wrong routes.

If Foles continues to make bad throws or bad decisions into the third preseason game, I may become a little concerned to start the season.  However, until then, I believe he will get these things corrected.

Don’t let Matthews’ dud of a debut get down on him.  We have to keep in mind that he’s a rookie in his first preseason game.  For comparisons, the highly regarded rookie duo of Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans combined for ZERO catches in their preseason debuts!

The only thing that gives me cause for concern at this point is our 3rd-down defense.  It’s only the first preseason game, but that is a sore spot for this defense.

The Eagles ranked 24th last year in this area in allowing an overall 40.3% conversion rate.  However, according to the stats the Eagles keep, there were 140 occasions where teams faced anywhere from 3rd-and-1 to 3rd-and-8 against them last season and 70 of them were converted into first downs.

That’s 50 percent!  Or, in other words, when we watched teams line up against the Eagles defense in a 3rd-and-8 or under situation, chances were literally 50/50 that they’d convert!

They were also the third worst team last year in giving up 18 conversions on 3rd-and-10 or longer (Reuben Frank).

Against the Bears, the defense allowed conversions on 10 of 17 attempts.  This included two killer third downs (of 10 and 11 yards) by the first team defense that resulted in a TD drive by the first team Bears offense.

Going back to the last time we saw the first team defense in real action —  the playoff loss to New Orleans — the Saints converted 53.8% of their third downs.  This included a whopping 100% on five tries from 3rd-and-3 or shorter (two on the final, back-breaking drive).

The starting defense is largely the same this year with the exception of Malcolm Jenkins and a handful of rookies, backups and role players.  Therefore, we’re mostly depending on improvement from the same guys from last year.

Bill Davis tried to somewhat explain-away his unit’s 3rd-down struggles against the Bears by saying they don’t scheme for third-downs nor do they use any pressure packages (blitzes, etc).  He wanted to keep them in base defense for evaluation purposes.

But, he did say that “third down wasn’t a good night for us”.

Yeah, no shit Bill.  That’s like saying Eagles fans “somewhat dislike” the Cowboys.

Needless to say, this is a sore spot that needs to be fixed this year.  Big third-down plays are often momentum-shifting for whichever team wins the battle.  The Eagles lost that battle too often last year.

It’s just the first preseason game so I won’t go overboard, but it’s the only thing that made me raise an eyebrow when considering the Eagles’ overall performance.

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8 Responses to Only Cause For Concern After Eagles-Bears Game is 3rd-Down Defense

  1. Buddyball46 says:

    I am concerned about the D also. I read a quote somewhere in which Bill Davis said he seen that the players were not winning there one on one matchups. I feel like Cole, graham and Curry are the only defenders that regularly can create pressure and 2 of them barely play. I hope the Eagles can jump out to some 2 TD leads early so that Curry can get on the field more. I like Graham but can not argue to keep Cole off the field for him. I am also nervous about RB depth. Does anyone know what is going on with Polk? How has Bryce looked in Buffalo? I wish we would have kept him

    • Completely agree that Curry must be put on the field more this year. If not, that’s a complete injustice to the defense!

      It’ll be interesting to see if Chip keeps 3 or 4 RBs this year. He only kept 3 last year but with Sproles as the #2, it makes things a little shaky if something happened to McCoy. I like Polk, but he’s been dealing with a hammy issue and missed the game last week. Bryce Brown has been reportedly doing well in Buffalo and will be a nice part of their rotation. He’s been having a good showing in preseason so far.

  2. tval says:

    I think our center is atrocious and foles will show his true colors..not saying he wont play well..just more close to average amongst starters in the league..I think the defense will mesh nicely enough not to be a weak link like early last season..I just don’t think bryce fit much rather risk it with the straight line polk, and rookie sleepers josey or fluellen as 4th option

  3. tval says:

    Ill go ahead and add wr to the list of worries..maclin has never been known as tough, and hes already hurt..could be a blessing in disguise for matthews huff and us..I dont think maclin stays next year anyway. might as well develop the rookies now. If we lose the division because djax is gone, and the redskins make up the ground, at our expense, we should be outraged!!! 1 player may shift the power in our division, I feel it..the football gods have spoken. .lol!!

    • Wait tval, we have Riley Cooper! 😉 I think Maclin will be okay and if so, our WR corps will be fine. Ertz is going to catch a lot of passes for us this year too. Hell, so will Sproles. Those guys will make up for any lack of depth at the WR position.

      I think the Deadskins will be our toughest competition in the division, but I don’t think DJax alone will shift the power in the division. He’ll be a piece for them, but definitely not the sole reason.

  4. buddyball46 says:

    Can we cut all of our ILB’s other than the starters and start fresh? Could Smith and Graham be swing backers?

    • Not feeling our backup ILBs? 😉 Najee Goode should be okay, he looked good last season when filling in for Kendricks. Graham is out of position as an OLB and would be completely lost inside. I certainly wouldn’t want to stunt Smith’s development on the outside by making him learn the inside. We will need Smith in a big way as an OLB and pass rusher going forward – next year and beyond for sure.

  5. tval says:

    Lol, dave!! I agree somewhat..ertz is a monster and celek is as steady as they come..I like casey alot too..we shld utilize him more..I think desean added to healthy jordan reed and rg with garcon, itll be tough for our d to matchup..they played us so tough last year, at half strength..I think sproles is gonna be nice just not nearly enough to offset deseans departure..I agree with our mlbs…told ya guys I wanted!!..go noles!! Bout that time guys. Thanks again dave, for all the time and work you put into our eagles..i just want kelly green jerseys and ill lighten up..:)

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