OUR pass rush took heat this year for having lost something, even though we had 38 sacks in 2017, 40 in 2018, and 43 in 2019. There’s some truth to us having lost something, and I do cover that later in this series. However, the issue isn’t sacks.
The issue is opposing QB’s being able to throw the ball off of a three step drop, because their receiver is unchallenged to the spot. Most NFL offenses are timing based and our Defense scarcely ever disrupts passing game’s timing.
Most Eagles fans don’t know this, but during our Super Bowl year (2017), we were ranked 4th in points allowed per game (18.4). The following year (2018) we ranked 12th (21.8). This last year (2019) we ranked 15th (22.1). Raise your hand if you see a pattern. Stand in the corner and face the wall if you don’t.
And so despite an increasing number of sacks, we allow an increasing number of points. These are facts. They are absolutes. They cannot be argued. Let’s keep going.
We play a lot of soft man coverage. However, what we’ve seen over the last few seasons, is that unchallenged routes lead to easy completions, high completion percentages, and an increasing number of points surrendered.
Last year’s 22.1 points allowed, also factors in two division games against two rookie starters, a game against QB Case Keenum, and a game against now retired QB Eli Manning. All of whom we made look very good. The passers in this division will only get better. We need to figure out a way to keep them in check.
The knee-jerk response is always: “More pass rush.” “We need to be more aggressive with our pass rush.” Give me a BREAK! We roll these platitudes out every year, generally to similar numbers from the year before. Really, HOW can we be more aggressive when we rarely blitz, and still routinely only rush four? So stop. Just stop.
The problem is that we make the game too easy for opposing passers. We need to play more Bump and Run, to throw receivers off their routes, so that when the QB looks in that spot…his guy isn’t there yet. That makes the QB have to look elsewhere, which means (ABRACADABRA!), that he has to hold onto the ball a little longer.
Now pass rushers get a shot at him. Now passes get rushed. They aren’t pinpoint. They get tipped! They get juggled! They get intercepted! That’s how to generate turnovers, kill drives, and snuff out hope. But none of that happens if we keep allowing receivers free releases into their routes.