Last week’s Eagles win in Green Bay felt like a universal announcement the team had returned to its status as a true contender - going into Lambeau Field and winning on a short week in a stadium where very few visiting teams win.
It also is no coincidence, knowing how the Eagles under Howie Roseman/Doug Pederson have built the team around the two lines, that Week 4 was by far the strongest performance by the Eagles’ highly-paid defensive line all season.
With how much the team has invested in the defensive line, the bottom line is the Eagles needed more production from the defensive front than they got the first three games. They registered only two sacks total, one by Tim Jernigan (out for several more weeks), and one by Andrew Sendejo, a backup safety. While we all know sacks don’t tell the entire story about a defensive line’s performance, the Eagles also simply were not putting enough pressure on the opposing quarterback. Case Keenum, Matt Ryan, and Matthew Stafford picked the Eagles’ secondary apart early and often without any pressure whatsoever.
With the Eagles’ cornerbacks are falling to the injury bug yet again, there was only one hope to remotely slow down Aaron Rodgers’ and the Packers. All-Pro-caliber and highly-paid veterans like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham needed to return to form, along with the support of Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, and others.
Green Bay sure seemed to be the turning point.
We all know Cox has been ramping up coming off foot surgery and Barnett off shoulder surgery. Losing Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan didn’t help matters. But Cox, Graham, and Barnett all had tremendous games in Green Bay and sure seemed to turn a corner. Aaron Rodgers was pressured and running for his life all night and, despite throwing over 400 yards, did so by making escapes and plays only Aaron Rodgers can make.
This week the Eagles return back to their home crowd and will face Luke Falk at quarterback. While not to overlook Falk’s ability as a pocket passer, he is far less mobile than Rodgers and won’t make any Houdini-like escapes when pressured. The Jets’ offensive line enters Week 5 as the 28th ranked unit in the league. They struggle to both pass protect as well as open up running lanes for Le’Veon Bell, who is averaging a miserable 2.9 yards per carry. The Eagles’ also will have Rasul Douglas, a hobbled Sidney Jones, 32-year-old Orlando Scandrick, and Craig James as the corners this Sunday.
This game screams an opportunity for the Eagles’ defensive line to dominate. Absolutely dominate. This is the perfect week for Cox, Barnett, Graham and company to step up and help cover up the deficiencies in the secondary.
Many view this week’s game as an opportunity for the Eagles to make another statement. The offense is another week healthier and should have no problem scoring points. If the Eagles’ defensive line can step up and build on their effort vs. the Packers, this game can turn into a resounding victory and put the team over .500 at 3-2 before hitting the road for the next three weeks.