The surprising reality of the Eagles' defense

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The surprising reality of the Eagles' defense

The Eagles are ninth in the NFL in points allowed and 11th in yards allowed, which is pretty amazing considering that they’re only 23rd in sacks per pass play and 23rd in takeaways.

They're keeping points down despite an absence of big plays.

Let's take a look at what that means.

Other than the first half in Tampa, this defense actually hasn’t been terrible. The Eagles have allowed 10 touchdowns in five games, and only three NFL teams — the Titans, Ravens and Jaguars — have allowed fewer than two TDs per game.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was asked Tuesday specifically about defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao but used the opportunity to talk about the defense in general.

“I think just across the board I would say we need more production from our D-line in general, our entire defense in general," Schwartz said. "We're playing a lot of games that come down to one play, and we have been one play short. We need somebody, whether it's Destiny, whoever, Fletch, Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Malcolm Jenkins, we need to find a way to get that one more play.

“We're worried about our whole defense being efficient, not really the production of one player. If our defense can make that one extra play a game that will put us over the top, that's what we're looking for.”

It’s actually encouraging that the Eagles are keeping teams out of the end zone without the benefit of sacks and turnovers.

The Eagles have only allowed six touchdowns on the last 35 drives they’ve faced over the span of about 14 quarters of football.

And for the season, they actually have the seventh-best ratio in the entire NFL of points allowed per defensive possession. Here’s what that list looks like:

10.9 percent Jaguars [6 / 55]

12.3 percent Ravens [8 / 65]

14.7 percent Browns [11 / 75]

15.1 percent Titans [8 / 53]

17.7 percent Jets [11 / 62]

17.8 percent Bears [8/45]

18.2 percent Eagles [10 / 55]

19.2 percent Cowboys [10 / 52]

20.0 percent Giants [10 / 50]

20.4 percent Dolphins [11 / 54]

That’s really not that far off last year’s figure of 17.0 percent, which was fifth-best in the league.

Are they allowing too many big plays? Definitely. Are they underachieving in terms of sacks and takeaways? Absolutely. Are they allowing too many extended drives? No question.

But the bottom line is touchdowns, and this defense somehow is keeping people out of the end zone despite the perception that it's struggling badly.

The Eagles’ offensive disparity in terms of touchdowns per possession between 2017 and 2018 is massive.

The Eagles were third last year in terms of TDs per drive at 26.7 percent, behind only the Patriots (29.7) and Saints (27.8). This year they’re 20th at 19.3 percent. That’s an enormous drop.

There's a sense that the Eagles as a team have been terrible, and when you’re sitting 2-3 with three losses the last four weeks that’s understandable.

But these figures show that the defense has been doing its job to a much greater extent than the offense.

The Eagles are fourth-best on third down, sixth-best in the red zone and fifth-best in first downs allowed.

There’s still work to do, but if this unit can get back to its playmaking ways of last year and start getting those sacks, interceptions and fumbles, this will be an elite defense.

They’re closer than it may seem.

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Eagles injury report: A few key players miss another day of practice

Eagles injury report: A few key players miss another day of practice

Updated: 4:27 p.m.

For the second straight day, the Eagles were without three of their most important skill position players as they prepare to face the Lions on Sunday afternoon. 

Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Dallas Goedert, who were all listed as “day to day” by Doug Pederson on Wednesday, did not practice Thursday. The Eagles actually held a real practice Thursday after a walkthrough the day before. 

It doesn’t seem likely that any of those three will play against the Lions. 

Because the Eagles had a walkthrough on Wednesday, yesterday’s injury report was an estimation. Here's today's: 

Did not practice: 

Alshon Jeffery (calf), DeSean Jackson (abdomen), Dallas Goedert (calf), Corey Clement (shoulder), Tim Jernigan (foot), Jordan Mailata (back), Johnathan Cyprien (knee) 


Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee), Rudy Ford (hamstring) 


Nate Sudfeld (wrist), Derek Barnett (shoulder), Fletcher Cox (toe), Nathan Gerry (knee, calf)

Good news for Grugier-Hill, who is taking part in his first real practice since spraining his MCL in August. It’s probably more realistic to expect him to return to action next Thursday night in Green Bay. 

More good news that Barnett, Cox and Gerry were full participants today after being limited to begin the week. 

Cyprien was the only player who was limited to begin the week and didn’t practice Thursday. 

Mailata worked out on a side field today, as did Jalen Mills (foot), who is still on the PUP. Mills won’t be eligible to return until Week 7. 

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NFL trade rumors: Eagles definitely in the mix for Jalen Ramsey

NFL trade rumors: Eagles definitely in the mix for Jalen Ramsey

The Jalen Ramsey trade winds are blowing strong and the Philadelphia Eagles appear to be in the mix.

Our very own Dave Zangaro wrote about why the Eagles should absolutely kick the tires on Ramsey earlier in the week and not a lot has changed there.

A number of national NFL writers continue to toss the Eagles' name around as a team that could be a landing spot for Ramsey if Howie Roseman chooses to engage. Here's a quick roundup of the latest rumblings regarding the talented but often irksome corner.

Ramsey is expected to play this evening on Thursday Night Football for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said today that, "tomorrow is a more likely target date for a Jalen Ramsey trade."

CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora said yesterday that the Friday report is "the most artificial deadline in the history of artificial deadlines. There's one deadline, it's Week 9, the trade deadline."

La Canfora points to three teams, "The sense that I'm getting from GMs and personal directors are the Kansas City Chiefs, the Seattle Seahawks, and Philadelphia."

He goes on to say that Jacksonville wants two first-round picks but whether they get that sort of return remains to be seen given their cards are all already on the table and their hand is somewhat forced. Still, Ramsey is an incredible talent that will come at a very steep price.

NBC Sports' Peter King echoed some of those sentiments in a tweet today which again puts Philly right in the hunt for Ramsey. "Roseman unafraid, can offer 1+3+SJones," he wrote in a tweet.

I assume that's a first, a third, and Sidney Jones to get the deal done. Would the Philly fanbase be OK "giving up" on Jones so early in his career when he hasn't had a ton of time to show what he's capable of when healthy? If it lands Ramsey, I'd guess so.

Finally, King adds that inquiring teams would want to talk to Ramsey's agent about a new deal which makes total sense if landing him would come at such a big price.

Thursday Night Football should be interesting this evening when Ramsey's Jags take on the Tennessee Titans on national TV. You know Birds fans will be watching for any drama. 

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