The Eagles have continued their dominance over the National Football League with yet another victory. Philadelphia has the best record in the league and has been the best team in the league all year. You are not the best team in the league without all of your units playing at a high level. There hasn’t been much to complain about this year, so the defense has taken most of the heat.

Although it is easy to complain about Gannon’s scheme, the numbers don’t lie, as the Eagles have one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Eagles often rush four, making it easy to blame the defensive line if there is a lack of pressure. This is where scheme factors in as an increase in aggressiveness could benefit the production of the defensive line. There is still room to grow on this defensive front. This line will continue to improve as the season continues, and it was a massive factor in the Eagles victory on Sunday.

Showed Out on Sunday

After this week’s win, Jalen Hurts and AJ Brown will get all the praise and highlights. But even with the performance from the offense, the defense and mainly the defensive line was the reason the Eagles won the game. They did this by doing two things.

Getting to the Quarterback 

Philadelphia was in the backfield all day. Throughout the season, the defense has gotten big third down sacks. This trend continued when the Eagles recorded five of their six sacks on third down. Six sacks against Tennessee brings the Eagles sack total to 42, which is 13 more than the Eagles had all of last year – and it is only week 13.

It seems like a different player is getting the job done each week, and this was the case Sunday afternoon. The defense had a balanced attack as five different Eagles recorded a sack. Josh Sweat had two on the day (6.5). In addition, Haason Reddick (9), Javon Hargrave (8), Brandon Graham (5.5), and Fletcher Cox (5) all added a sack of their own.

The interior of the Titans line was often pushed back into the pocket while Reddick and Sweat were flying around the edges. The big third down sacks were vital in the Eagles victory. This allowed the offense to get the ball back and continue to go to work against an outmatched secondary

Stopping the Run 

The second reason the defensive line was key to the win was their ability to stop the run. This is big for many reasons. One being it keeps the Titans offense behind schedule. Henry wasn’t able to get big chunks of yards on first down. The defense held him to 30 yards on 11 carries. The linebackers, corners, and safeties all helped in the run game, but the defensive line won the line of scrimmage throughout the game.

Ideally, the Titans want to gain yards on first and second to make it third and short. This allows them to feed Henry the ball or use the play action to get someone open downfield. Instead, Gannon’s defense forced Tennessee into obvious passing third downs and the pass rush got to the quarterback as discussed above.

Tennessee finished with 87 rushing yards on the day. Tannehill was their leading rusher. With no playmaker on the outside, the Titans offense had no answer for the Eagles defense. To beat Tennessee you will have to slow down Derrick Henry and the Eagles were able to do that with a run defense that has been questioned all year.

Looking Ahead

If Philadelphia’s defensive line can continue to step up, this defense will reach another level. No one is talking about it but the Eagles have the second most sacks in the league. Which is why even with the second most sacks it feels like there is still meat on the bone for the d-line. Let’s remember the Eagles have a great secondary which gives the line time to get to the quarterback. The way the line got to the quarterback and stopped the run Sunday is promising for the rest of the season.

The interior on the line is able to stay fresh with Cox, Davis, Hargrave, Joseph, Suh, and Williams. Fletcher has looked fresh the past two weeks and I credit that to the depth of the interior. Also, Davis is able to play less snaps coming off an injury. The line will only get better as the season progresses. Davis, Joseph, Quinn, Reddick, and Suh are all new to the team this year. The chemistry will only grow from here and the defensive line will be key in the Eagles remaining atop the NFC.

 

Photo Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

 

 

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