After the collapse on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, Eagles fans and media members have spent the week debating which side of the ball deserves the most blame for the 3-4 start.
There are many arguing for and against the offense or defense. While both deserve blame for the fourth quarter collapses, the mental lapses, and just the lack of hunger to close out games, it seems like the popular take is that the offense should take the majority of the flack.
While this isn’t a bad take, the defense deserves criticism too.
The defense of the defense in these arguments has been that the Eagles are 6th in points against on the season.
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) October 24, 2018
Eagles offense – 22nd in NFL
Eagles defense – 6th in NFL
Why is the defense getting so much blame?
— Ben Livingston (@bliv94) October 23, 2018
Yes. The defense is 6th in points allowed this season. For the majority of the season the defense has been tough for opposing offenses to get in the end zone against.
But this is where the usage of basic statistics can be misused. It looks good on Twitter. If nobody looked deeper into the actual problems, this stat looks like it proves the defense doesn’t deserve blame.
However the use of this stat doesn’t help in the actual argument being made against the defense.
The argument isn’t that the defense has been a bad unit for the majority of the season. The argument is that the defense has been extremely efficient…..until the fourth quarter.
For three quarters this defense looks just like the 2017 defense that was atop the NFL. As of late, the fourth quarter has been a different story.
This team is just too easy to drive on late in games.
Even in two wins against Atlanta and Indianapolis where the defense won the games on a goal-line stand, the defense had to do just that because they gave up so many yards.
They shouldn’t have to hold tight in the red zone in every close situation.
Now that the defense isn’t playing like the elite red zone defense they were earlier in the season, those yards are coming back to bite them.
The Eagles have allowed the most yards for opposing receivers in the NFL.
So yes, Jalen Mills allowing 541 yards in coverage this year (most allowed in the league) does matter. Even if he has been a strong red zone corner. If he was the one to give up say a 60 yard bomb, but the offense scores on Sidney Jones, that is still on Jalen Mills for making it easier for the offense to score.
The coverage has been soft, the tackling has been weak, the defense just hasn’t been able to hold offenses pointless to close out games.
Even in a situation where a field goal ties it up against the Eagles, the defense is still allowing these yards. Against Carolina, the Panthers were down 17-14 and went on to score a touchdown to take the lead. If the defense held them to a field goal, it still ties the game and forces overtime.
Regardless of the offense only scoring 17 points against the Panthers, the Eagles were up by 17 points in the fourth quarter. That should be a big enough lead with one quarter left for the defense to close out the game.
Against the Minnesota Vikings, down by six, the defense failed to get the ball back to the offense without the Vikings scoring to make it a nine point game.
Against the Titans and Panthers the Eagles were two fourth and long stops away from winning those games and being 5-2 rather than 3-4.
The offense couldn’t increase those leads and failed to close games as well. They have been inefficient in the red zone, there isn’t a single running back that can take over a game, the offensive line has been inconsistent throughout the season, injuries have plagued the offense, and even Doug Pederson has been inconsistent.
That doesn’t mean the defense hasn’t come up short too. The offense and defense have played scared.
Both can be to blame but that doesn’t get clicks.
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