After looking closely at the Eagles' offensive performance in the win over Buffalo, I wanted to break down how the defense performed as well. Jim Schwartz's group, outside of some missed tackles and a couple of unfortunate conversions on third-and-long, had a strong outing against the Bills in the victory. Like on offense, the success started in the trenches, with Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham leading the way.
ALL OF THE VIDEO CLIPS FEATURE AUDIO ANALYSIS FROM FRAN DUFFY
Cox and Graham wreaked havoc up front and created stops in both the run and pass game. Whether it was sacks, tackles for loss, turnovers, run stuffs, or sniffing out screens -- you name it and that duo did it on Sunday. They helped propel the team to victory.
Derek Barnett drew the toughest matchup on the day, going up against Buffalo's talented left tackle Dion Dawkins. He eventually got a strip-sack late in the game, and a well-executed stunt helped from the opposite side of the line from both Cox and veteran defensive end Vinny Curry.
One last note from the defensive line, I continue to be impressed by second-year defensive end Josh Sweat. Watching him at Florida State, you couldn't help but be intrigued by his upside. Sweat had legit NFL size, an explosive first step, a strong anchor against the run, and a motor that never quit. What he lacked, outside of a clean medical report, was refinement as a pass rusher. Sweat had some impressive rushes, but he wasn't fully developed from a mental standpoint when it came to attacking offensive linemen with a proper plan. Watching him this summer and in the first half of the year, we've consistently seen him work on that and improve.
I know the sacks aren't mounting up for Sweat, but he is improving. I'm enjoying watching him develop. Once he puts it all together, I think he can be a really important piece for this Eagles defensive line.
I broke down the addition of Genard Avery and how he figures into the defensive line picture here, so make sure you take a look at that as well to see how I feel about the Eagles' newest pass rusher!
Defensively, as a whole, the Eagles clamped down on the Buffalo run game. Yes, Josh Allen had a couple of scrambles, but Frank Gore and Devin Singletary were nonfactors in a game where the Bills honestly needed them to be because of the weather. It required all 11 guys on the field to get that done.
This was a great performance from everyone. The guys up front were stout against a mauling Buffalo offensive line. The Eagles' young linebackers were aggressive and decisive downhill. I loved what I saw from rookie T.J. Edwards. The defensive backs did their job filling in gaps on the edge. It was an impressive day from top to bottom in the ground game on both sides of the ball.
The defensive back who impressed me most was Malcolm Jenkins. The captain had plenty of stuff brewing in his mind entering the week of action. Jenkins was active against the run, clamped down in coverage at all three levels, and delivered the plays that needed to be made when his number was called.
Chicago will bring another physical run game to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, and with all of their trick plays and gadgets and option run game concepts, this will be a mental test as well. Sunday's win over Buffalo is an excellent springboard for this unit to jump off in preparation for the Bears.
Fran Duffy is the producer of the Emmy-nominatedEagles Game Planshow which can be seen every gameday during the season on NBC10 in Philadelphia. He is also the host of two Eagles-related podcasts,Eagle Eye in the Sky, which examines the team from an X's and O's angle each and every week as well as theJourney to the Draft podcast, which covers college football and the NFL Draft all year round. Fran also authors the Eagle Eye in the Sky column, which runs four times a week during the football season to serve as a recap for the previous game and to preview the upcoming matchup. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging, and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team's games, practices, and opponents.