Arians heaps praise on Eagles defensive line before matchup


The Eagles’ defensive line is coming off its most dominating performance of the year down in Carolina.

Bruce Arians took notice.

Because when asked on a conference call this week to say what stood out most about the Eagles’ defense, the veteran Buccaneers head coach didn’t hesitate.

“That front four. This is the best front four we’ve faced all season,” Arians said. “They don’t have to do a heck of a lot (else to get pressure). Those guys can wreck a game in a heartbeat. And for us, it’s controlling the line of scrimmage and controlling those guys.”

Of course, this time last week, Arians was praising the Dolphins secondary, saying it was “a lot better” than the Patriots secondary the Bucs faced in Week 4.

Then Tom Brady threw for 411 yards and five touchdowns against the Dolphins.

But if the Eagles’ defensive line plays another game like they did in Carolina, they’ll prove Arians to be right. Because against the Panthers, the Eagles got good play from Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett and even Ryan Kerrigan.

As a defensive line, the Eagles had 15 tackles, 3 sacks, 7 QB hits and 4 TFLs against the Panthers.

Hargrave has been consistently great all season, but the rest of the bunch really started to contribute last week. Cox had his first sack, Kerrigan had his first tackle and Sweat and Barnett got constant pressure.

Arians has definitely noticed the emergence this year of Hargrave, who has six sacks through five games.


“Well, it makes it a lot tougher,” Arians said. “Because you know you’ve got Fletcher. You gotta start with him. But Javon is really exploding on the scene. I really liked him coming out of college and I think he’s now in a defense where he can really show his stuff. He’s really a very disruptive guy.”

The Eagles’ defensive line against the Bucs’ offensive line will be important on Sunday.

The Bucs entered the season with the fifth-ranked offensive line in the league, according to ProFootballFocus, after returning all five starters from the Super Bowl team. All five starters — (left to right) Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa and Tristan Wirfs —  have started every game this season and have played at least 96% of the Bucs’ offensive snaps.

The other big takeaway Arians had from watching the Eagles’ defense is one that’s pretty easy to see. The Eagles want to take away big plays and they’ve been largely successful doing that.

“Very, very sound. Going to make us beat them,” Arians said. “They’re not going to beat themselves.”

All that makes the defensive line so important in this game (and in every game). The D-line needs to get after Tom Brady in this game, which is obviously easier said than done.

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