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How Much Has D Progressed?

Posted Oct 10, 2013

Bill Davis knew going in it would take some time. With new personnel learning a new language, Davis understood that his Eagles defense needed to be managed with a pinch of patience ...

The kind of game the defense played on Sunday against New York, though, enforced what Bill Davis has felt all along -- that his defense was improving, even if the results weren't overwhelmingly positive.

Four takeaways, including three fourth-quarter interceptions, a strong job against New York's running game, good pressure on quarterback Eli Manning and some sound technique and assignment discipline boosted the defense as the Eagles won their second game of the season.

And the strong performance made Davis a happy man.

"It was a big confidence booster. Obviously the wins are always going to boost your confidence in the scheme. But whether it was a win or a loss, when you look at the tape, you know, with a microscope like we do, you can see the techniques moving forward, we can see the defensive linemen playing more consistent," he said. "And it really is, I say it, I know, every week up here, but the more consistent play we get out of the technique part of the defense, the more plays will come our way.

"And I thought the defensive backs did a great job on the deep ball. There's 11 balls thrown up and I believe they only caught one. There was an interference. But we knew that was a challenge for us going in, and the guys responded. And that has to do with somewhat a rush, too.

"You know, we didn't come out of there with the sacks that you might say the sack numbers, but Eli chose to throw the ball away and get three intentional groundings and he chose to throw it into coverage a couple times instead of taking a sack. So although only one sack showed up on the stat sheet, you know, we believe that the D you know, we had some pressure on them."

The victory, of course, is long past as the Eagles prepare for a new kind of challenge on Sunday. Tampa Bay's offense has been points challenged this season, averaging just 11 points per game in four contests, starts a rookie quarterback, Mike Glennon. Tampa Bay has a pair of big, strong and outstanding receivers, and the running game is fueled by Doug Martin, who is a power runner with speed.

The chore on Sunday is the same as it is every week. The Eagles need to win up front, and then follow suit on the back end.

The true sign of progress is following up a strong outing with an excellent performance. The Eagles are aware that what they did against the Giants is only one step in the right direction.

"We need to build on it," said linebacker DeMeco Ryans. "It isn't enough to just play one good game. It's a long season. Our goal is to keep improving, to keep getting better. That comes from communication and from making sure we all understand our assignments and then going out and doing our jobs.

"Tampa Bay has a big offensive line. They are very good up front. They run the ball well. They have a lot of people who can make plays. We have to play good, smart and sound football on Sunday."

NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT

  • Lost in the lookback at last year's 23-21 win over Tampa Bay is the fact that the Eagles offense couldn't run the ball a lick against the Bucs. Bryce Brown had 12 carries and just 6 yards and Dion Lewis had one carry for minus-4 yards. Nick Foles led the way with 27 yards on 3 carries. "We have to be a lot better," said Evan Mathis, the only lineman slated to start on Sunday who played in 2012 against Tampa Bay. "They're good up front. Strong, quick to the ball. They do a good job against the run."

  • Still nothing official on the quarterback front. Michael Vick will keep taking treatment and working on his hamstring injury, and if he is ready to go on Sunday, head coach Chip Kelly will give Vick the nod. In the meantime, both Vick and Foles -- and Matt Barkley, for that matter -- have to be completely up to speed and prepare for playing time.

  • How will Davis work his situation at safety with Patrick Chung on course to return to the lineup? Chung has been at full strength the last couple of days at practice, a plus for the defense. Davis can rotate Chung in with Earl Wolff and Nate Allen and keep them fresh in the very warm conditions (a temperature in the high 80's is expected). The Eagles must be careful not to allow Tampa Bay to get a deep in the passing game.

  • More snaps for Vinny Curry? The defense has to concentrate on running back Doug Martin, who carried 28 times for 128 yards and a touchdown in the 2012 meeting, and then work on pressuring Glennon. Curry has been productive in his limited time, with a sack and two quarterback hurries in his three games. In those games, he has had 12, 13 and 14 snaps, respectively.

  • How much does a nickel cornerback play? Brandon Boykin has seen action on 262 snaps (with one start in place of the injured Bradley Fletcher), so the second-year man has been busy. He also is a gunner on kick coverage. "I love the work. I will do whatever the coaches want," said Boykin. "Whatever the responsibility, I'm good with it."

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