- Alex Hand
Defense Helps Eagles Fly Past The Giants
It was not pretty by any means, but the Philadelphia Eagles got the ‘W’ in the end. The 27-7 win over the New York Giants places the Birds atop of the NFC East, a feat that is no small task given that the NFC East is the dice-game of divisions in the National Football League.
For the first time in many moons, the defense carried this Eagles team to victory by completely dominating Eli Manning and the Bed McAdoo offense. Sans the initial touchdown on the Giants opening drive, the defense stiffened, and showed first hand why they possess one of the more underrated front-3’s and why this re-worked secondary is night-and-day to what is was in the previous two seasons under Chip Kelly.
But it is not the defense that has fans in the worrisome mood; it’s the offense, and more specifically, the offensive line and DeMarco Murray. Yes, Sam Bradford threw 3 interceptions, but one was ripped from Jordan Matthews and the other two look to be miscommunications regarding the play.
The offensive line played phenomenal Monday night, however, the amount of penalties garnered by the O-line was enough to disrupt drives. Both Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce were flagged twice, which negated positive gains on a couple of those occasions, including a would-be 14-yard gain by DeMarco Murray.
Speaking of Murray, fans and analysts alike are still scratching their heads as to why he is not getting the same production that he did in Dallas. Obviously, the Cowboys’ scheme is more geared toward his power skillset, and Dallas did own the best O-line in 2014, but Murray still should not have to bear the statistic of 10+ runs for negative yards. It is easy to simply say that he is not a fit for this system, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth. While he may, deep down, yearn for running a power-O in an I-formation, he is still splitting the reps with an equally talented tailback in Ryan Mathews.
Also, Murray almost always possesses the negative yardage plays when the Eagles ask him to run through the middle where two new guards, Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin, wade. Asking him to run through the lanes offered by those two when he is only seeing a fraction of the snaps that Dallas fed him, and it is really not at all difficult as to why his production is as low as it is.
That being said, it should also be noted that Mathews has had little problem running the football down the middle and Murray’s vision is the part of the reason to blame. Mathews is patient, but he also does not stop moving if he is running north-to-south. It is very distinct when Murray runs through the middle that he tries to do too much, or possibly save himself from injury by not lowering his pads into multiple defenders. If Murray were to piggyback off of Mathews’ run-game and watch how he hits the first open lane regardless of what is on the other side, Eagles fan may start to see the same DeMarco that originated from the Dallas Cowboys.
Next Sunday the Eagles will fly down to Bank of America Stadium to face the Carolina Panthers who are coming off a hot away win against the Seattle Seahawks in primetime.