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Timmy Jernigan Extension Portends Future Dominance

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The timing of DT Timmy Jernigan‘s extension couldn’t have come at a better time. Having buried myself in stats that highlighted the Philadelphia Eagles dominance against the run, Jernigan’s impact became obvious.

In 2016, the Eagles defense allowed 100+ rushing yards on seven occasions and only held opponents under 50 yards in two games. In 2017, the Eagles defense have allowed only one 100+ yard rushing performance while already holding teams under 50 yards  in three games. Last year’s average of 103.2 rushing yards (15th in the league) has transformed into a stifling 66.4 average that leads the league, and it’s not close.

Taking a deeper look into their success and it becomes obvious that teams have simply decided that there are better, or less tragic options, than running the ball on the Eagles.

Taking quarterback runs out of the equation, no team has run the ball with their running backs or otherwise 20 times in a single game. Even when factoring in Carolina Panthers’ QB Cam Newton’s 11-71-1 rushing day against the Eagles in Week 6, the rest of the Panthers ball-carriers ran 14 times for 9 yards and a pathetic 0.64 average. It was clear in that game that the Panthers wanted no part of running into the teeth of the defense, often opting for toss and stretch plays that attempted to attack the perimeter.

Overall, the Eagles hold non-QB ball-carriers to 3.09 yards per carry.

To pile on for a moment longer, the Eagles have had 599 defensive snaps. Only 135 of those have been carries by players other than quarterbacks, which works out to 22.54%. Leveraging rivalry week for a comparison, I looked at the same situation for the Dallas Cowboys. In 517 snaps, 159 carries were from a non-QB, for 30.75% and a 4.65 average, significantly higher than the Eagles.

The Eagles have done an excellent job scheming disruption along the front lines and are getting top notch play from each of their linemen.

DE Brandon Graham is becoming notorious for sniffing out run directions, using his keys to get an advantage on backside pursuit. DT Fletcher Cox anchors very well against doubles and is often seen taking guards and centers to the skating rink. DE Vinny Curry has played with good gap discipline, something that he improved on vastly this year, combined with good timing when shedding blocks. Rookie DE Derek Barnett processes blocking schemes with surprising efficiency for a 21 year old and leads the team in run stop percentage with 16.4%. Depth pieces Destiny Vaeao and Beau Allen have combined for an effective 11 run stops on 109 snaps.

DT Jimmy Jernigan has been the biggest boost among the newcomers, possessing a quick first step with violent hands that wreaks havoc to blocking schemes. Recording 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks, the story of Jernigan’s impact isn’t properly represented by box score scouting. He has freed up Cox to get singled up more frequently and has helped the defense, as a whole, consistently create a new line of scrimmage in the backfield.

On Locked On Eagles, we have talked more than a few times about Jernigan being the priority in the group of players needing to be re-signed.

With a brand new 4-year, $48 million dollar contract with $26 million in guarantees, the General Manager Howie Roseman has a made a strong move to ensure the Eagles run defense remains tops in the league for the foreseeable future.

Michael is an NFL Draft enthusiast, aspiring scout, and grandson of longtime East Stroudsburg (Pa.) HS football coach John P. Kist. He hosts Locked On Eagles and writes for Inside the Pylon & Breaking Football.

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