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The Burning Question

Which Defense Is The Real Eagles Defense?

The Eagles were run over in Sunday's loss to the Redskins as Washington piled up more than 200 yards on the ground. After four weeks, the Eagles ranked first in the league in run defense and Sunday's beating was shocking and alarming. The defensive line was dominated and the linebackers were taken out of plays as Clinton Portis and Co. took over the game.

Without question, the defense can't do much of anything unless it plays like it played for four weeks against the run. The penetrating linebackers and the quickness up front created havoc and clogged up running lanes. Cutbacks were sealed. The tackling was sure. The results were encouraging for a young front seven.

Now that the Redskins laid out a blueprint for the rest of the league to follow, the defense has to answer. Expect an inspired performance against the 49ers, but also understand that San Francisco running back Frank Gore is a hard-charging player who has great feet and can get to the edge and up the field very quickly.

What the 49ers have in their favor is a mobile quarterback in J.T. O'Sullivan and a premier back in Gore. What they don't have is an offensive line that has had much success protecting Sullivan – the 49ers rank last in the league in sacks per pass play. The Eagles need to step it up against Gore and then go after Sullivan to make some big plays in the passing game.

This is a particularly crucial game. The Eagles are in a deep hole at 2-3 and 0-2 in the NFC East. Philadelphia needs to be at the top of its game for the next 11 contests or the playoffs will be very difficult to attain.

As for some of the technical breakdowns on Sunday against Washington, hey, the Eagles need to correct the errors. They need to be stronger at the line of scrimmage. They need to get their linebackers to the ball. They must be better in red zone defense – the Eagles rank 28th in the league in a category in which they usually are among the best teams in the NFL.

Are the Eagles as bad defensively as they showed on Sunday? No way. But they did not play a good game in Dallas, did not play well in the first half in Chicago and then struggled all game against Washington. They need to play fast, confident football to get back on track, beginning immediately.


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