September 15 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Paul Domowitch:
“FOOTBALL IS A bottom-line business. Wins and losses. Points scored and points allowed.
So the fact that the Eagles failed for the ninth time in their last 11 games to hold an opponent under 20 points in Sunday’s 27-20 loss to the Packers was disappointing to defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.
But this wasn’t a repeat of the two bloody beatings in Dallas last January. There was nothing good to salvage from those defeats. Not so Sunday.
Despite giving up those 27 points, McDermott’s unit did a respectable job against one of the league’s top offenses, holding the Packers to 299 net yards, which was 80 yards under their 2009 average. Buoyed by a strong pass rush from their front four, the Eagles held Aaron Rodgers to 188 passing yards, sacked him three times and intercepted him twice.
“Our line did a good job,” McDermott said. “Rodgers is a quarterback who gets the ball out extremely fast. He’s a tough quarterback to blitz. He was the top-ranked quarterback against the blitz in the league last year. We knew that going in.
“I thought we pressured him well and had him off-balance. I think he threw for just 167 [net] yards. So I was proud of some of what we did Sunday.”
Last year the Eagles had trouble getting consistent pressure on the quarterback with a four-man rush. Making matters worse was the fact that their vaunted blitz wasn’t nearly as effective as it had been in years past under McDermott’s predecessor, Jim Johnson.
Improving their front-four pass rush was a major point of emphasis in the offseason, which was why the Eagles traded up in the first round of the draft and grabbed defensive end Brandon Graham.
Graham started Sunday, rotating between left end and left tackle. He was expected to be used a lot this year as an interior pass rusher in nickel packages, much as Darren Howard was in years past. But McDermott lined him up quite a bit there on first and second down as well.
Graham lined up inside 19 times against the Packers, including 13 times on first and second down. While he didn’t have any tackles or sacks, he did get some inside push on Rodgers that prevented him from stepping up in the pocket.”
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