Seahawks barometer for Eagles ‘D’
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.”