Scouting The Eagles: Defense Is Vulnerable

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Though it's not as bad as it was earlier this season, the Eagles defense can be exploited.

The Philadelphia Eagles are one hot team. They have won six out of their last seven games and their offense led by Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy are lighting up the scoreboard like a pinball machine. But they have run into one bump in the road, and that was a 48-30 loss to the Vikings two weeks ago. And not just any old Vikings team, but one that was playing with Matt Cassel at quarterback and was without Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. How in the world did the Vikings put up 48 points on the Eagles defense that day? They exploited the Eagles secondary and poor tackling, among other things. The Philly defense bounced back the next week against the Bears, but let's use the Vikes game as a blueprint to attack the Eagles defense.

A few observations from that game:

1. The Eagles are decent at stopping the run, but the Vikings never gave up on the ground game even though overall they were terrible at it. The raw stats show the Vikes had 35 carries for 85 yards, a 2.4 average. Yet by running the ball, they kept the Eagles linebackers occupied enough to make the passing game easier. Plus, they racked up 11 first downs running the ball, many on short-yardage plays. As tempting as it will be to air it out, the Cowboys must keep DeMarco Murray and the run game involved.

2. The Eagles secondary was abysmal. Mainly the safeties (although corner Bradley Fletcher also had a horrible day). The Cowboys need to make use of the middle of the field especially with Jason Witten. They should also use the wide receivers on posts, slants, deep-ins and the like. Force the safeties into single coverage by going to four- and five-wide sets when you are in passing situations. The linebackers were also deficient in coverage. The Cowboys can make hay in the middle.

3. The Vikings threw a lot of hitches and wide receiver screens on the outside and the Eagles secondary was terrible at tackling. Dez Bryant and his ability to run after the catch might be perfect for some of this. So when passing for distance, use the middle, when using passes that are essentially runs, challenge on the outside against the corners/safeties.

4. The Eagles were very good at stunting and blitzing up the middle. Of course you have to be concerned with Trent Cole on the outside, hopefully he'll line up against Tyron Smith. But up the middle is where the Eagles pass rush can disrupt things, DeMarco Murray has to be solid in pass protection.

5. And here's the surprise one, Kyle Orton should consider running the ball when he has opportunities. Matt Cassell was able to burn the Eagles with his feet on several occasions. The Eagles defense did a terrible job of containing the quarterback. We all know Orton isn't fleet of foot or a particularly adept runner, but if the yards are there, he should take them.

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