Sea­hawks barom­e­ter for Ea­gles ‘D’

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> Doug Ped­er­son is a re­al­ist, not a brag­gart.

The Ea­gles’ head coach also is tired of tem­per­ing his re­marks about a de­fense he feels is wor­thy of be­ing men­tioned in the same breath as the Seat­tle Sea­hawks and their cel­e­brated Le­gion of Boom.

“If you look at the num­bers de­fen­sively, it’s one of the top de­fenses in the NFL in not giv­ing up many points,” Ped­er­son said of his guys dur­ing his presser Wed­nes­day. “And yeah, we should be. We should be men­tioned. Some­times you get over­shad­owed a lot by how your of­fense is per­form­ing but that has, by no means, over­shad­owed any­thing our de­fense has done in the first nine weeks.”

Ex­cuse the comment about the of­fense over­shad­ow­ing the de­fense. Also worth men­tion­ing is Ped­er­son com­pared his de­fense at the nine-game mark to a Sea­hawks out­fit miss­ing Michael Ben­nett, one of the premier de­fen­sive play­ers in the league.

All of that said, the Ea­gles (5-4)

4) can prove their de­fense be­longs Sun­day when they op­pose the Sea­hawks (6-21) in prime time at Cen­tu­ryLink Field. Mal­colm Jenk­ins is eager to make a state­ment.

“If you ask me about any de­fense in this league, I feel we can com­pare,” Jenk­ins said. “I have a lot of re­spect for what (the Sea­hawks) do and what they’ve done over a pe­riod of time, a pe­riod of a few sea­sons. Their body of work, their sam­ple size, is a lot big­ger. They’ve done it for a lot longer, have had a lot of suc­cess, have a bunch of Pro Bowl play­ers on ev­ery level of their de­fense and we’re a de­fense that’s try­ing to earn the re­spect of the league, try­ing to make a name for our­selves.

“That be­ing said, if you want to talk in the con­text of this sea­son, there’s not a de­fense that I wouldn’t com­pare us to.”

Sta­tis­ti­cally Ped­er­son and Jenk­ins can make a fairly solid case for the Ea­gles who are al­low­ing just 17.7 points per game, tied for third in the NFL, com­pared to 17.5 for the Sea­hawks, who are sec­ond.

Ad­di­tion­ally there are only five teams with more take­aways than Ea­gles, who have 16, in­clud­ing nine in­ter­cep­tions. The Sea­hawks (11 take­aways) aren’t among the hand­ful.

Over­all the Ea­gles rank sixth in yards al­lowed (323.0) com­pared to ninth for the Sea­hawks (338.4).

The Sea­hawks rank third in rush­ing av­er­age al­lowed (3.5 yards) to 24th for the Ea­gles (4.4) and sixth in yards per play al­lowed (5.1) to 11th for the Ea­gles (5.4).

Seat­tle is also sec­ond in sacks per play, the Ea­gles fourth. The Ea­gles are plus-four in turnover ra­tio, the Sea­hawks plus-five.

The Philly de­fense has a fan in Sea­hawks head coach Pete Car­roll. He of­fered a “yeah” when asked if the Ea­gles were play­ing at the same level as his de­fense.

“I think they’re prob­a­bly ranked higher than we are,” Car­roll said. “This is a re­ally good group. It starts up front for these guys. Very ag­gres­sive. Coach Schwartz has these guys com­ing off the foot­ball. They vary their stuff, they mix their cov­er­age. It’s a re­ally nice group.”

Look at the per­son­nel and the Ea­gles have

ca­pa­ble de­fen­sive line­men in Bran­don Gra­ham, Fletcher Cox, Con­nor Bar­win and Ben­nie Lo­gan.

Ben­nett, the Sea­hawks star de­fen­sive end and one of the elite play­ers in the NFL, has been hob­bled by a knee is­sue of late.

Lineback­ers Jordan Hicks and Nigel Brad­ham are mak­ing plays for the Ea­gles. So did My­chal Ken­dricks in the win over the Fal­cons.

Then again, Pete Car­roll could draw two names out of a hat to team with Bobby Wag­ner and have the best line­backer corps in the NFL.

The Ea­gles’ sec­ondary is solid at safety with Jenk­ins and Rod­ney McLeod. They com­pare fa­vor­ably with Seat­tle’s Kam Chan­cel­lor and Earl Thomas, who are the league stan­dard at safety.

“We want to be in that con­ver­sa­tion,” Jenk­ins said. “So when you have games like this, it’s fun to be able to be on the same field, not to nec­es­sar­ily mea­sure your­self, but to com­pete. Our goal all year has been to be the best tan­dem on the field when­ever we go out there and this is a re­ally good tan­dem that we’ll see this week that our of­fense will have to deal with. Ob­vi­ously they’re try­ing to ac­com­plish the same things they’ve been able to over the last few sea­sons to­gether. It’s been im­pres­sive. Me and Rod­ney are try­ing to start some­thing here.

With Richard Sher­man at corner­back, the Sea­hawks have the edge over not just the Ea­gles, but the rest of the NFL, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of the Car­di­nals and Pa­trick Peter­son.

Did we men­tion the Sea­hawks’ de­fense is a lot chat­tier than the Ea­gles? Ex­cuse me. Your rhetoric is de­nied, Mr. Sher­man.

“They’ve been on the stage for awhile,” Ea­gles corner­back Leodis McKelvin said. “They made a name for them­selves. They’ve been in the Su­per Bowl. Of course that’s go­ing to bring a whole lot of con­fi­dence in your­self. Of course you’re go­ing to be more flam­boy­ant, more able to say the things you need to say or be more out­spo­ken than any other guy that’s out there in this world. … Ev­ery­thing is all about tim­ing, man.

“And it’s our time. It’s time for us to step up and make a state­ment. It’s time for us to go out there and do what we need to do as a de­fense. In this game, it’s go­ing to be whose de­fense plays the best. And we’re up for that task.”

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