You may have thought the Eagles defense did a decent job of only allowing the Skins to score 17 points, but the Skins worked the game plan to success. They jumped out to a quick lead and sat on the ball in the second half to get the win.
I think trouble may be ahead for the Birds if they let other teams grab the lead on them rather than vice-versa.
Part of their defensive problem might be the fact that Michael Vick is sidelined. The Eagles football team is built for getting the lead early with big plays downfield from DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin or their other offensive weapons.
Once they get that lead, it forces opposing teams to throw the ball more than they want to, which plays into the strength of the Birds defense.
The Eagles draft players thinking pass defense first and run defense second. Rookies Brandon Graham and Nate Allen were brought in to stop the pass, not stop the run. Graham is a liability versus the run and it’s not Allen’s strength either.
If the Eagles offense sputters, it will allow the opposing team to put the ball on the ground and pound the Birds. That’s what happened against the Redskins on Sunday. Let’s take a closer look.
I believe the Eagles lack of size amongst their defensive front seven was exposed. The Redskins showed everybody that you can run the ball against the Birds if you come in with the right attitude. On Sunday the Skins had a lot of success with the stretch play against the Eagles defense.
On a stretch play the quarterback hands the ball off to the running back who heads to the sideline. The lateral movement gets the Eagles defensive line running. Once you get them moving, you get a big offensive lineman on each of the Birds smallish defensive linemen and it allows the size of offensive line to be used for a major advantage.
The running back simply cuts upfield through a hole that will be created naturally when the linemen start moving laterally.
The Indianapolis Colts have used the stretch play for years and we remember them dismantling the Birds with it a few years back on a Sunday night game. The Colts run it as well as any team in the league. Don’t look now but the Colts are on the schedule. That’s not good.
We saw the Skins dominate the game when it started with the stretch play. Later on with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, we saw them go back to it. The Skins ran the ball 35 times for 169 yards. That’s nearly five yards a carry.
If the Eagles offense doesn’t get off to a quick start, teams are going to put the ball on the ground and pound the Eagles upfront. That’s going to force the Eagles to make Kevin Kolb throw the ball downfield. He’s got to make some plays early downfield to the receivers or it will allow teams to expose the Birds undersized defense.
That brings us to what awaits the Eagles on Sunday when they play the winless and hungry San Francisco 49ers. The Niners don’t have any wins, but they are an aggressive and physical football team.
It would be humiliating if the Eagles were to lose to the 0-4 Niners, but when you look closely at the matchups, it won’t be a shock. Frank Gore and San Francisco is exactly the type of team the Eagles don’t want to see right now without Vick at the helm.
The Niners already like to run the ball, so if their defense is able to hold the Eagles offense in check, you know that they’re going to try to run the football down the Eagles throats.
Following the trip to San Francisco, the Birds will host another team with a tough running game. Big Michael Turner, Matt Ryan and the Falcons will visit Lincoln Financial Field. Turner will get his chance to punish the Birds defense if their offense doesn’t strike quickly.
After that the Birds will go to Tennessee and try to deal with Chris Johnson and the Titans running game.
All I can say to the Birds defense is buckle up your chin straps fellas.