Everybody is focusing on the Eagles offense when talking about why Andy Reid made the change at quarterback. I think he looked at his offensive line before making the decision but he also looked at his defense.
The Eagles defense is built to play with a lead, if the offense can’t get ahead and a team is allowed to pound the Eagles smallish defensive front with a tough running game, the Birds will be exposed.
If Kevin Kolb were to start and struggle, it would put pressure on the defense which they can’t handle.
The Eagles defensive front isn’t built to be pounded for a full game. If the offense can’t put points on the board the defense will be decimated before the season is over.
Let me make it plain, the Eagles defense didn’t play winning football last week in Detroit. The offense saved them. Think about it, if Michael Vick hadn’t put on a Superman cape, the Eagles would have lost to the Lions. Yes, you read it right, they would have lost to the Lions.
On the other hand, if they can get ahead, force teams to throw the ball and turn their pass rush loose, it makes them a better defense and also a better football team.
Before defensive coordinator Sean McDermott starting utilizing some run blitzes this past Sunday, the Eagles front seven was getting manhandled. On the first scoring drive the Lions ran the ball down the Eagles throats with seven or eight straight running plays until they had marched nearly 80 yards for a touchdown. It wasn’t pretty.
The defensive tackles especially Mike Patterson were being cleared away in the middle by one of the Lions guards.
Middle linebacker Omar Gaither was getting pushed back by the center, guard or fullback. Ernie Sims was overrunning plays or being caught out of position.
Detroit’s ability to run the ball was disarming the Eagles pass rush. It’s much more difficult to rush the passer, if you’re worried about a running attack.
Disappointingly I saw number one draft pick Brandon Graham get handled by Lions tight end, Brandon Pettigrew. Graham looked like a little guy being dominated by a bigger, stronger, more powerful man.
On the play I’m talking about Lions running back Jahvid Best was able to get the ball on a handoff, then take it deep and outside, as Pettigrew solo-blocked Graham. The young defensive end had better not let this happen in the future. If you can block a defensive end with a tight end, you can dominate a defensive front.
Graham impressed me with his ability to bull rush guards on pass rush downs, but he’s got to be more of a factor against the run. You’re probably going to see a lot of Juqua Parker at left defensive end on run downs.
It will help the defense to get Stewart Bradley back in the lineup but I don’t know how much he will help if the defensive tackles are being handled.
The problems on the defensive side are one of the reason’s Vick has been made the starter.