The Eagles' coaching staff has been preaching the same goals again and again throughout Training Camp – eliminating the big plays and taking the ball away. Through two preseason games, both of those goals have been accomplished, as the Eagles' defense was stout once again in the team's 40-17 win over Baltimore on Saturday.
While new faces in the secondary, including Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond (both of whom had first-quarter interceptions on Saturday), have played a large part in the strong defensive efforts, head coach Chip Kelly believes his defense has, well, a condition of sorts.
"I think they are lactose intolerant in terms of they do not bite the cheese in front of them," Kelly said after the game. "When they have a deep zone, they play the deep zone. A lot of mistakes we made in some of those deep balls last year were we were just biting each either a play-action fake or we are biting an underneath route when that's not our responsibility.
"I think our guys are playing their responsibility. So right now we are good lactose-intolerant secondary."
The Ravens and #Eagles faced off at Lincoln Financial Field for Preseason Game 2. View the full gallery here...
Playing the entire first quarter, the starters on defense held the Ravens to just 69 net yards on offense, while intercepting Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on each of Baltimore's first two drives. It was another step in the right direction for a defensive unit that was once again without some of its top playmakers in the front seven.
"I thought they played well," Kelly said. "When you look at what they did, I think the first two were interceptions and then after that, I think we had five stops. So I think they are starting to come together. Then when you can get (Kiko Alonso), DeMeco Ryans and (Mychal Kendricks) back in with them, I'm kind of hopeful that we're going to be better than we have been there."
Thurmond's interception was a great illustration of how the secondary is coming together here in the preseason. Flacco aired one out into the Eagles' end zone looking to put the Ravens on the board first, but Carroll defended the ball perfectly, batting it up in the air and into the outstretched arm of Thurmond.
According to defensive coordinator Bill Davis, it was Carroll's sound technique that led to the turnover.
"It looked like (Carroll turned his head around at the right time)," Davis said. "I got my eyes back there late and saw the ball up there. It looked like he stayed calm and got his head around to look back, or else the flag comes, but he did a nice job there."
Davis has seen his defense making strides early, and while he's pleased with seeing how the team has played during the first two preseason games, he believes that the early success has been a directly translation of the strong play on the practice field.
"I'm not surprised, because it's what I've seen during the offseason and Training Camp, but it's really nice to see it show up in the preseason games," Davis said. "That's a box we have to check off, but it's happening in the preseason games. So far, so good."