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    Eagles' performance puts the Rams' defense to shame

    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Monday, Jan. 24 2005

    Oh, so THAT is how you defend the Atlanta Falcons.

    The Philadelphia Eagles gave Rams Nation a look at what smart and robust team
    defense looks like. The Eagles demonstrated how a Super Bowl-caliber defense
    plays.

    A week ago, the Falcons gashed the Rams defense for 327 yards on the ground. On
    Sunday, the Eagles limited that same three-pronged rushing attack to 99 yards.

    Ninety-nine!

    Not only were the Eagles linebackers visible, they were assertive. Couldn’t the
    Rams use a hammer like Jeremiah Trotter in the middle of their D?

    Eagles cornerbacks dove into run support instead of avoiding it. Agile
    defensive end Jevon Kearse shifted form the left side to the right side to
    contain the bootleg maneuvers of speedy Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.

    “I think it took him out of his comfort zone because I don’t think he even
    thought twice about scrambling to that (left) side,” Kearse told ESPN.com.
    “Basically, we knew we had to get upfield and not give him any step-up lanes.
    That’s it, just keep him in the pocket. When he gets outside the pocket, he has
    the ability to make plays running the ball or throwing the ball.”

    The Eagles didn’t yield gaping holes for Warrick Dunn to dart through. They
    didn’t allow the Falcons to play from ahead and eat the clock, a specialty of
    bruising back T.J. Duckett.

    There was nothing fancy about coordinator Jim Johnson’s game plan -– the
    Falcons saw little of the blitzing they were braced for -- but there was plenty
    to admire about their execution.

    “They tackled, they flowed to the ball, they understood their assignments and
    they kept backside leverage on Michael Vick,” observed long-time coach Marv
    Levy, now an analyst for NFL.com. “Philadelphia executed its plan and really
    had every player committed to it.

    “It's not always what you do in a game, but the way that you do it.”

    Just ask the Rams. Their defense took a major step backward in the Rams’ 47-17
    loss at Atlanta.

    We’ve suggested that coach Mike Martz and his reconfigured staff frequently
    show that game tape as the team prepares for the 2005 season. They can see how
    NOT to play defense.

    Then the Rams should view this Eagles tape for a very hard comparison. Philly’s
    performance, by contrast, was a defensive clinic.

    The Eagles challenged Vick to beat them with his arm . . . and he couldn’t.

    “By playing so much single coverage, the Eagles were able to commit more
    players to the line of scrimmage, which helped put more pressure on Vick, who
    was sacked four times, and stop the run,” Levy observed.

    Of course, it helps that the Eagles have three defensive backs headed to the
    Pro Bowl and a fourth that should be there as well. The Rams had two decent
    coverage cornerbacks in Travis Fisher and Jerametrius Butler this season, but
    both struggled against the run in Atlanta.

    And the Rams’ safety play this season was atrocious. Adam Archuleta was a shell
    of his former self and Antuan Edwards, the last of the fill-ins for Aeneas
    Williams, had a disastrous performance against the Falcons.

    The Eagles’ back seven, by contrast, filled the holes and made the tackles.

    “We knew those guys weren't going to come in and run the ball on us,” Trotter
    told reporters after the game. “I think they said during the week that they
    were going to run it right at me and I took that to heart. I take that
    personal. Very personal.”

    Hopefully the Rams will do the same next season.


  2. #2
    elAcky Guest

    Re: Eagles' performance puts the Rams' defense to shame

    to me this is 100% coaching a) because a coach has to instil discipline b) because a coach has to ensure that each player is fully aware of their assignment. The Atlanta game really highlighted how poorly prepared we have been on the defense all year.

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