The Philadelphia Eagles were among the league’s best teams on both sides of the ball last year, but it was clear that the defense didn’t pull its weight quite as much as the offense.
With Jalen Hurts showing even more improvements in training camp so far, there’s no doubt that this offense remains strong enough to win a Super Bowl. That leaves the defense as the potential question mark again. I fully believe this unit has what it takes to be just as elite as the offense, however, and that’s going to come together behind one key breakout.
Jordan Davis is the X-factor that takes this defense from “great” to “elite and Super Bowl-winning.”
Jordan Davis Eagles Breakout
It wouldn’t be fair to call Jordan Davis’ rookie year a failure, but injuries and some up-and-down play certainly made things a little disappointing. It’s hard to know just how much the ankle injury he suffered in Week 8 lingered, but it seemed to impact the rest of his season.
He played at least 30% of our defensive snaps in each of the first six games of the season, then after returning he didn’t play more than 26% in any game for the rest of the regular season (including falling below 20% three times).
It doesn’t seem like this was just coaches being unhappy with his play, either, because he then went on to play 37% and 35% in the first two playoff games, only being phased out again in the Super Bowl. That was likely matchup-driven against the pass-heavy Chiefs rather than about Davis’ play itself, however.
And things get really interesting if you look at the defense’s splits with and without Davis. Philly gave up 118.69 rushing yards per game when Davis played, but that number ballooned to 131.25 per game when he was out. And if we just look at those first six games, when he was fully healthy? The average dropped to just 109.8 rushing yards with opponents scoring only 17.5 points per game (a number that jumped to 21.7 per game after Davis got hurt).
We can’t immediately attribute all of those differences to Davis, but it’s also not a stretch to say that the drastic difference in rush defense can in part be attributed to having our 340-pound first-round-pick defensive tackle who earned an above-average overall grade from Pro Football Focus.
So even just having a healthy Davis at the core of this D-line should make a big difference in the upcoming season, and that’s before even considering any offseason improvements.
Early indicators have me very excited about these potential improvements. Davis looks to be in incredible shape heading into training camp.
Weight matters on the interior, sure, but it’s not like Davis is exactly looking small this year. And increasing his speed and explosiveness can be a massive plus. The league’s best defensive tackles are all mobile and athletic, and the new-look physique is a strong indicator that Davis was taking this offseason very seriously.
With Fletcher Cox getting up there in age and profiling better as a rotational pass-rush threat on the interior, having Jordan Davis able to anchor this defensive line on every down will be very valuable, especially while Jalen Carter gets up to speed.
The edge threats on this defense are obvious, and having just as many impact players in the middle make this defensive line one of the scariest in the league. If you ask me, it’s one that’s fully capable of helping carry Philly to a Super Bowl win.
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