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Eagles have a defense worth investing in…

It’s a new day in Philly when you have confidence in your Eagles’ defense…

That’s the dirty little secret in the NFL today…the Eagles have quietly assembled a nasty little defense that comes up big when momentum shifts threaten during a regular season game.

True, it hasn’t been tested yet in a playoff environment. But the Eagles’ defense is certainly prepping for that ultimate challenge.

It’s one reason why the Birds signed DT Tim Jernigan to a 4-year, $48 million extension yesterday with a $26 million guaranteed contract.

The young man (6-2, 298, Florida State) had a few promising moments in his prior life with the Baltimore Ravens, but his overall skill set was not optimized within the 3-4 system there. Give Joe Douglas credit for recognizing that Jernigan could be special in Jim Schwartz’ 4-3 alignment.

Throw in the fact that Jernigan has seemingly matured as a player and as a man in his new gig with the Eagles. Gone are the on-field tantrums and the foolish roughing-the-passer penalties which at times plagued his career in Baltimore and which put him in John Harbaugh’s doghouse for occasional stretches of time.

Jernigan seems to “get it” in Philly…and Howie Roseman noticed it, so he locked in Jernigan to potentially become Fletcher Cox’ partner-in-crime for the next four seasons.

The Eagles are allowing just 66 rushing yards per game and no running back has cracked the 100-yard mark against them…yet. Jernigan is a big part of the reason for that. He’s more agile than Bennie Logan was, and he gives serious reason for pause to teams that used to routinely double-team Fletcher Cox.

Jernigan has eight tackles for a loss, tied for the team lead. He also has five hurries, not bad given his limited pass-rushing snaps. For the most part, Jernigan is off the field on obvious passing downs.

So with a renewed commitment to a defensive line that is making a huge impact toward the Eagles’ current success, it would be a good opportunity here to showcase the DEFENSIVE STATS of the Eagles after 9 games as we relax during the Bye:

DEFENSE
TACKLES SACKS INTERCEPTIONS FUMBLES
NAME SOLO AST TOT SACK YDSL TLOSS PD INT YDS LONG TD FF REC TD BK
Nigel Bradham 34 16 50 1.0 3 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Malcolm Jenkins 42 5 47 1.0 8 1 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mychal Kendricks 34 13 47 2.0 5 2 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jalen Mills 34 9 43 0.0 0 1 10 3 53 37 1 0 0 0 0
Patrick Robinson 24 5 29 0.0 0 3 11 3 17 17 0 0 0 0 1
Jordan Hicks 19 9 28 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Vinny Curry 18 8 26 3.0 25 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Graham 16 9 25 5.0 39 5 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Rodney McLeod 16 7 23 0.0 0 1 5 2 54 50 0 1 0 0 0
Rasul Douglas 17 1 18 0.0 0 0 9 2 7 7 0 0 0 0 0
Corey Graham 15 2 17 0.0 0 0 3 1 14 14 0 0 0 0 0
Tim Jernigan 11 6 17 1.5 9 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Derek Barnett 12 2 14 2.5 24 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
Chris Long 10 2 12 3.0 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0
Chris Maragos 5 6 11 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fletcher Cox 8 3 11 4.5 36 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0
Beau Allen 7 4 11 1.0 5 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jaylen Watkins 9 1 10 0.0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Joe Walker 6 3 9 0.0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kamu Grugier-Hill 8 1 9 0.0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0
Najee Goode 8 0 8 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Destiny Vaeao 5 2 7 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dexter McDougle 4 1 5 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mack Hollins 2 1 3 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Corey Clement 1 2 3 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Justin Hamilton 0 2 2 0.5 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Darren Sproles 0 1 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Torrey Smith 1 0 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Brooks 0 1 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Zach Ertz 1 0 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Trey Burton 0 1 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Rick Lovato 1 0 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Carson Wentz 1 0 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ronald Darby 1 0 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Halapoulivaati Vaitai 1 0 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Trae Elston 1 0 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Nathan Gerry 1 0 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wendell Smallwood 1 0 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Elijah Qualls 0 1 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 390 124 514 25.0 167 40 56 11 145 50 1 7 5 1 2
Opponents 433 161 594 24.0 135 38 43 5 40 24 1 8 5 1 0

It’s funny how the stats don’t tell the whole story about what the EYE sees on a weekly basis— the moving parts of this defense have performed in an extremely coordinated complementary fashion. It’s quite impressive how the safeties, especially Malcolm Jenkins, Jaylen Watkins and Corey Graham, can routinely move down into slot and corner coverage, even mimicking linebacker responsibilities at times. The whole thing is fluid and extremely well choreographed. The cornerbacks have been amazingly solid in their coverage assignments, especially given the fact we had no guarantees of that kind of performance from outliers like Patrick Robinson and rookie Rasul Douglas, let alone the continued development of the Green Goblin (Jalen Mills). The fact that week after week Merrill Reese keeps going to the cliche of “a swarming Eagles defense” in his radio broadcasts kind of says it all. In years past when we weren’t doing a whole lot of “swarming”, Reese rarely used the term.

 

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