Philadelphia Eagles: If you can’t rush the pass, you can’t win games

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Despite looking close on paper, the Philadelphia Eagles’ non-existent pass rush kept the team light years away from a Week 3 win over the Detroit Lions.

The Philadelphia Eagles defensive line is anemic.

Once considered the deepest position on the roster, with players to spare going into the final trim down to 53, the team’s front-seven – front-four specifically – have been an absolute mess over the first three games of the season – but none of their performances have been quite as ugly as Week 3.

Granted, the Detroit Lions are a little bit better than most assumed when the season opened up and had it not been for an opening drive 100-yard kick return for a touchdown we could be talking about a very different result, but this was not a game that Matt Patricia‘s squad won.

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No, this was firmly a game the Eagles lost, and they lost badly – death by a thousand cuts.

Sure, one could point to a bevy of drops, offensive pass interference penalties, or a trio of first-half fumbles as to why Doug Pederson‘s offense couldn’t get things started, even after Malcolm Jenkins blocked a crucial, last-second field goal that Rasul Douglas returned to the 50, but had the Birds been able to get things going on the defensive side of the ball, that wouldn’t have even been an issue if the defense could disrupt Matthew Stafford in the pocket.

And believe me, the team tried.

Though Jim Schwartz relied on his typical four-man rush for much of the afternoon, he mixed in a fair share of different looks and blitzing options, and yet, the team picked up exactly zero sacks, with only three QB hits split over 17 defensive players.

Simply put, when Vinny Curry is the only player on the defensive line to record a quarterback hit, you are in trouble.

Had the pass rush been a bit more potent, maybe Douglas and Sidney Jones wouldn’t have had to cover their men for 10 seconds in three-deep zone. Maybe if the pass rush was hitting, the Eagles wouldn’t have needed a few fluky plays to remain competitive deep into the fourth quarter when it was clear the offense couldn’t pick up a play for more than 20 yards.

Need proof? Look no further than the Lions own pass rush, who kept Carson Wentz uneasy for the majority of the game despite typically rushing three – amassing three sacks and five quarterback hits against the ‘best’ offensive line in the league without Da’Shawn Hand and Mike Daniels.

Maybe chalk it up to the obvious downgrade of rotating in Hassan Ridgeway and Akeem Spence as opposed to Malik Jackson and Timmy Jernigan, but between Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett, and Brandon Graham, the Eagles have exactly zero sacks on 200 or so combined snaps.

That is not a winning formula.

Howie Roseman got great value for Lamar Jackson. dark. Next

But hey, it’s not all bad. Fortunately, the Philadelphia Eagles will have a short week to prepare to play the white-hot 3-0 Green Bay Packers on the road at Lambeau Field on Thursday Night Football. What could go wrong?