As the Eagles approach the home stretch of the 2010 season, Sean McDermott's defense is starting to take shape.
Young guys like safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, and defensive end Brandon Graham now have a real grasp of the playbook. Linebacker Stewart Bradley is just about fully recovered from a torn ACL that ended his 2009 season in training camp and certainly hampered him in the first half of the season. And, of course, cornerback Asante Samuel is having arguably the best season of his stellar career.
After limiting a potent Giants offense to 208 total yards, the Eagles travel to the Windy City this weekend to face Jay Cutler and a Bears offense that frankly, has struggled a bit of late.
Over the past seven weeks, the Bears have scored just under 18 points per game. They rank 30th in the NFL in total offense and 25th in points scored for the season. But Jay Cutler is still a dangerous quarterback, and one that McDermott believes is playing good football this season.
"I think he's playing with more confidence," McDermott said Thursday. "Really, he has two ex-head coaches in (offensive line) coach (Mike) Tice and (offensive coordinator Mike) Martz that are working with him and around him on a daily basis. So I'm sure that's helped his overall development and the development of the offense. Within that, I think he's playing with more confidence and has a better feel his receivers having been around them for a year-plus now."
The Eagles defense may be without defensive end Juqua Parker for Sunday's game in Chicago as he continues to rehab an injured hip. That will elevate rookie Brandon Graham back into the starting lineup for the first time since Week 4 against Washington.
Also uncertain for Sunday's game is cornerback Asante Samuel. He injured his knee against the Giants on Sunday night and hopes to play, but has yet to practice this week. For a defense that's predicated on high energy, opportunistic plays, the potential loss of two emotional leaders would be a tough pill to swallow.
While McDermott knows the value of Parker and Samuel, he believes in his defense and doesn't see their potential absence as taking away from the emotional play that he desires.
"Well it shouldn't, and I hope it doesn't if that were to be the case," McDermott said. "I hope it doesn't because that's what we do. We're a defense that plays physical football and emotional football. We attack the offense, and no matter who's in there that's not going to change. We expect whoever steps in, if that is the case, to play at a high level."
Stay tuned to PhiladelphiaEagles.com for the very latest injury updates leading up to Sunday afternoon in Chicago.
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 10:55 a.m., November 25