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Defense Continues To Improve

Posted Oct 27, 2013

Prior to the Giants' final possession of the game, when they were playing simply to run down the clock, the visitors had moved their offense into Eagles' territory five times on Sunday afternoon. But in those five trips the Giants failed to come away with a single touchdown against what is quickly becoming a stingy Eagles defense.

Yes, the focus following Sunday's disappointing 15-7 loss will be on the uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position and the sudden inability of the offense to score points. But the rapid improvement of the Eagles defense should not go unnoticed. After allowing 34.5 points per game through the first four games of the season, the Eagles have surrendered only 18.25 points per game over their last four. With a new defensive scheme and a slew of new players on the defense, it appears as though things are coming together with what was once the Eagles' neglected unit.

"Yeah, I think we're getting better," said linebacker Connor Barwin following the game. "Every week we've said that and I think we've done that, which is important … Any time you don't let a team score a touchdown, that's a positive. We played to the end of the game, which is a positive. We played together. We had, I think, fewer mistakes than last week, but obviously we gave up 15 points and that wasn't enough to win."

Over the last four weeks, the Eagles have allowed no more than 21 points to the opposition.

 "I just think they're starting to really get the grasp and understanding of what our defensive coaches are doing," said head coach Chip Kelly. "I think they're in the right spots. They're holding disguises a little bit longer. They can confuse the quarterback at times … They're starting to understand the package. I think since day one (they've played) with great effort and are doing a better job tackling right now. I think we defended some of the deep balls, some of the balls thrown in the end zone. They've done a really good job with that. They haven't gotten the ball thrown over their head, and they've kept the ball in front of them. So I think we can build where we are on the defensive side."

"I think we've become more cohesive as a defense," said cornerback Cary Williams. "We all understand what coach wants. We understand our responsibilities now in the defense. I think guys really are getting a clue as to what's their responsibility, what they're supposed to do. We work on it each and every week. We don't take days off. We work really hard at what we do. And it's basically showing up during game times."

"Bend but don't break" can become an overused mantra when describing a defense's approach, but that does appear to be defensive coordinator Billy Davis' goal. There has been an emphasis all season on not allowing big plays and forcing opposing offenses to executive over long drives. On Sunday, that approach yielded 15 points but zero touchdowns.

"The number one word … is consistency, and that is what we're looking for," said Davis. "Are we consistent? We have to be consistent on first downs. We have to get into third downs and then on third downs it wasn't as good as it needed to be. But, the red zone picked up. Consistency in every phase and situation in the game is what we are looking for. We have to continue to grow and get better, until we can pull out the wins."

"I just think overall Billy is calling really good games," said linebacker DeMeco Ryans. "He's doing a really good job. Our assistant coaches are doing a good job preparing us throughout the week and it's all just coming together as a defense … Our corners and safeties have been doing a good job at tackling. That's one thing we've gotten a lot better at in the back end, just tackling. Not allowing the receivers to continue running and create (yards after catch). That's a positive for us."

What happens, though, when one side of the ball is consistently outplaying the other? Does the Eagles defense harbor any frustration that the offense has scored only three points over the last two games while the defense has held the opposition at bay?

"We know what type of offense we have," said Nate Allen. "We know we have a lot of weapons, a lot of great players on that side of the ball. We're just going to keep working, keep staying together and not let anybody tear us apart."

"I think we have a good locker room," said Barwin. "I think Chip does a good job of keeping us together. I think there's good leadership in this locker room. I think people believe in what we're doing. Obviously it's been two tough weeks but I think the locker room is still together."

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