Eagles better on defense, but can't sack the QB

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 12, 2012
Eli Manning didn't get dirty and Ben Roethlisberger never went down against the Eagles the past two weeks. Playing quarterback seems like a safe job for Philadelphia's opponents. Those ferocious pass rushers aren't producing sacks the way they're used to, but the Eagles (3-2) are getting results on the scoreboard anyway. ''The bottom line for our defense is that it's not about stats, sacks, or trying to give up less than 17 points or any of those things,'' defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said Thursday. ''The bottom line for us is to get the win no matter what.'' The Eagles have just seven sacks in five games, fewer than all but three teams. That's a drastic drop for a defense that tied for first in the NFL with 50 sacks last year. Manning wasn't even hit in Philadelphia's 19-17 victory over the New York Giants on Sept. 30. Roethlisberger had plenty of time to throw, especially on the final drive, and wasn't sacked in a 16-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. The Eagles haven't registered a sack in the last nine quarters and are on pace for a franchise-low 22. Despite their inability to put quarterbacks on the ground, the Eagles are getting it done on defense. They're eighth in total yards (307.2) and 10th in points allowed (19.8). At this point last year, they had 16 sacks, but were 15th in yards (352.0) and 28th in points allowed (26.4). They also were last in the division with a 1-4 record. ''It's all about not letting guys get into the end zone,'' middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. ''That's the biggest thing for us, not giving up touchdowns, holding guys. If they're down there, holding them to three points if possible. The focus of this game is winning. That's the only thing we care about. Sacks, blitzing, all that stuff, it doesn't matter to me. As long as we outscore our opponents, that's all I care about.'' Jason Babin had 18 sacks last year on his way to his second straight Pro Bowl, and two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Trent Cole added 11. The two speed rushers thrived in defensive line coach Jim Washburn's wide-nine system. This year, however, Cole and Babin have four combined sacks. They totaled 11 through Week 5 in 2011. A main reason why they haven't been getting as many sacks is blocking. Offenses are using maximum protection against Philadelphia's front four. Even when the Eagles don't blitz, teams are using seven or eight blockers and they're chipping the ends. ''It's tough, but it's not going to stop us from trying to move towards our goal,'' Cole said. ''We're going to fight. I don't care if I have to take two guys the whole game. We're out there to try to win games and we're going to fight as much as we can. ''This year has probably been the worst I've ever been chipped, but I'm not really worried about the chipping. I don't care. I'm not paying attention to the chipper. If he hits me, he hits me, but I know I've got to go where I want to go. I want to pass rush the tackle. That's my goal, so I'm not really worried about the chipping.'' Using max protect is helping opponents keep their QBs safe from Philadelphia's grasp, but it means fewer receivers go out for pass routes and that decreases production. The Eagles are ninth against the pass, allowing 206.8 yards per game. ''They're honoring your defensive line by giving you, what I consider, blitz protections,'' coach Andy Reid said. ''They're keeping tight ends in, sometimes two tight ends, running back-tight end combination in. Now, you've got to bank on your coverage here a bit to do that. There are a couple things you can do up front to try to give yourselves an opportunity to get your defensive lineman home in one-on-one situations.'' With Babin and Cole getting chipped and double-teamed, the Eagles need their interior linemen to generate pressure up the middle. Rookie Fletcher Cox has played well, but has the only sack by a tackle. While the sack totals don't reflect improvement, Babin insists this year's defensive line is better than last year's unit. ''Watching the way we work together, the way we rush, the way it looks, the way our footwork is, and our second string is, there is no question in my mind,'' he said. ''Do the stats reflect it? Absolutely not.'' --- NOTES: LB Akeem Jordan practiced for the second straight day Thursday and is expected to return to the starting lineup after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. Jamar Chaney started at weakside linebacker in his place. ... The Eagles host the Detroit Lions (1-3) on Sunday in Philadelphia. --- Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobMaaddi --- Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Goodell wants to keep Raiders, Chargers in home markets

Deadly shooting breaks out at Dublin boxing weigh-in

Mike Shula vs. Wade Phillips: The best story of Super Bowl 50

WATCH: Cubs' Kris Bryant went swimming with sharks

Sports Authority taking steps to file for bankruptcy

Major League Baseball threatens to disassociate from DraftKings

NFL considering moving Pro Bowl to Australia

Joe Montana warns NFL players about potential long-term damage after retirement

Report: Two people fired for leaking Jason Pierre-Paul information

USMNT are big favorites against Canada

‘Crying Jordan’ photographer had no idea it existed until this week

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in the NHL playoff hunt

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

‘Actor’ Todd Gurley wants to make ‘billions’

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

David Price donates $300K to build field for special needs kids

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Johnny Manziel dropped by agent

Michael Irvin: Cowboys should save Manziel

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

The merits of trading Blake Griffin to the Hornets

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

Could the Marlins contend in 2016?

Report: Browns to cut Manziel in March

Browns rip Manziel in statement

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker