Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means you’ll be gathering with family to stuff your face and talk Birds. Hopefully no mid-term election discussion, however. Godspeed if that happens.
You’ll likely come across a Jonathan Gannon hater during this festive time, so here’s a list of Eagles defensive statistics via Sport Radar that you can use to craft your dinner table arguments:
- 25 plays of 20+ yards allowed is second fewest in the NFL
- 2.9 hurries per game is tied for 13th
- 174.8 passing yards allowed per game is second, behind only Dallas
- they are the sixth-least penalized defense in the league (21 flags)
- they now give up 122.2 rushing yards per game, which is 19th (they’re basically middle of the pack here)*
- 3.3 sacks per game? third best in the league
- 31 opponent scoring drives is tied for second-fewest allowed
- they’ve defended the 4th most passes (55 total)
- 18.3 points allowed per game is 7th best
- for all the talk of being conservative and/or rushing four, they are 6th in the league with 66 quarterback hits
- 50 tackles for loss is 10th-most in the league
- 300.6 net yards allowed per game is the 2nd best number (behind San Fran)
- 4.64 yards per play is the fewest allowed in the NFL
- 21 takeaways remains #1 league-wide
- seven strip sacks is tied with Dallas for league best
For some added context, the Eagles blitz 8.8 times per game and are a middle of the pack team in that category, so when you look at hurries and sacks and things of that nature, the Birds aren’t putting emphasis on getting home or not getting home. They aren’t ultra-aggressive or ultra-conservative there.
They also play more nickel than all but 27 NFL teams and use very little dime and 4-3. Generally they use that 3-DT Bear front on obvious running downs and then mix in odd fronts, but more often than not they use four down linemen, two linebackers, and five defensive backs. Mix in the philosophical approach in limiting big plays and the larger statistical picture makes much more sense.
Now to the asterisk* –
When we talk about the Eagles run defense, they really are a middle-of-the-pack team because there’s not a lot of variation here. If you block off the middle portion of the league, you see that the difference between 10th-best against the run and 12th-worst is about 13 yards:
Small margins there. There is about seven rushing yards per game separating the Eagles from the top half and bottom half of the league.
Anyway, there’s some ammunition for you. We can go more in depth and talk about what coverages Jonathan Gannon calls at what times, but he’s the defensive coordinator of a 9-1 team and his unit largely gets the job done week-in and week-out.