The Eagles had four defensive ends active for last Sunday's game against the Packers. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was able to rotate them in and out of the game effectively as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked three times and had to evade pressure on numerous other occasions. The pressure from the front four allowed McDermott to mix in the blitz without being predictable.
"There was good four-man pressure on the quarterback, as we all saw and it resulted in three sacks," McDermott said. "And then the pressures overall were just a combination of blitz pressures, and four-man pressures, and the ball came out extremely fast."
It's no surprise that ironman Trent Cole was on the field the most of the four ends - 62 snaps on defense to be exact.
But would you be surprised that first-round pick Brandon Graham was out there for 52? Not all of those snaps came at defense end, in fact, about half were inside as a pass-rushing tackle.
Antwan Barnes, acquired in a trade from Baltimore just a week before the start of the season, was on the field for 30 snaps in his Eagles debut. The player who might have benefited the most from the rotation was Juqua Parker, who had two sacks in 19 snaps.
"I felt like I had to prove that I still have it," said Parker, who lost his starting job in the preseason to Graham. "I always feel like I have to show something."
The philosophy is certainly not new. For years, the Eagles have tried to rotate as many defensive ends as possible to keep everyone fresh. But for some reason, the ideal rotation hasn't always come to fruition.
Could this year be different?
"We've had a bunch of good groups coming up, but for some reason this is a special group," Parker said. "They say it's a young team, but to me it's not. We don't act like we're young. We have fun, but when we step on the field the fun goes to the side and we accomplish our goals."
It was only Week 1 and on Sunday another test awaits in Detroit. But if the Eagles can keep their pass rushers performing at a peak level, it will pay off as the season creeps into the winter months.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 11:00 a.m., September 28