Eagles D takes step backward
All that progress the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense made over two
months vanished in one day.
It doesn’t mean they’re back to the beginning.
Led by Matt Cassel and a third-string running back making his
first career start, the Minnesota Vikings scored 48 points against
Philadelphia on Sunday.
Cassel exposed the secondary with deep throws, connecting with
veteran Greg Jennings 11 times for 163 yards on his way to a
382-yard passing performance.
The Eagles (8-6) hadn’t allowed more than 21 points in the
previous nine games since Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos
scored 52 against them – 38 off the defense and 14 off special
teams – in Week 4.
”I think it was a bad day, but I think you always have your
strengths and weaknesses,” defensive coordinator Billy Davis said
Tuesday. ”We’ve said all along we’ve got so much more to do. This
is Year One. We have had a lot of success that probably was
”But the weaknesses, nothing has really changed. We just
continue to try to get better and better as we go. We did walk into
a bad game, a good Minnesota team. We have to learn from it and
respond to it. I believe they will respond in the right way.”
The defense faced a team missing its best offensive player,
reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson, and his backup, Toby Gerhart. But
Matt Asiata ran for three touchdowns in their absence.
Cassel took advantage of a depleted secondary with six pass
plays of 20-plus yards, and several third-down conversions.
Cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher struggled along with
safeties Patrick Chung and Nate Allen.
The Eagles sorely missed rookie safety Earl Wolff, who didn’t
play because of a knee injury. Nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin
sustained a concussion during the game.
”I have never coached in a game where we didn’t have multiple
errors. I don’t think anybody has. It just doesn’t happen,” Davis
”There’s always the little things you have to tighten up and
get better. When you lose, a lot of times the mistakes you make,
they’re found. You always have to correct them. You have to be
really tight in your coverage and your assignment and doing your
Things won’t get easier for the defense this week against Jay
Cutler and the Chicago Bears (8-6). Brandon Marshall and Alshon
Jeffery have combined for 170 receptions, 2,450 yards receiving and
17 TDs. Matt Forte has 1,200 yards rushing and 522 more receiving
on 66 catches, and he’s scored nine TDs combined.
”It’s a huge challenge for us,” Davis said. ”Chicago might be
one of the most talented offenses we face. Big, physical Pro Bowl
receivers, two of them. They have a tight end who is a big,
athletic passing tight end.
”The running back is as rounded as any running back we’ve
faced. His pass protection is great. He runs the ball well. He
catches out of the backfield well. The offensive line is young on
one side, but it’s getting better and better as we go. The
quarterback can make all the throws. This is overall our biggest
The good news for the Eagles is the game might not mean much in
the standings other than playoff seeding, a No. 3 or 4. They have a
one-game lead over Dallas (7-7) in the NFC East.
If the Cowboys beat the Redskins in an earlier game, the
division winner will be decided when the Eagles play at Dallas next
week. If the Cowboys lose, however, the Eagles can clinch with a
victory over Chicago.
Notes: Boykin didn’t practice Tuesday because of the concussion.
… Safeties Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson also were injured. …
Davis said he didn’t bench Chung for Coleman during the loss to
Minnesota. He was rotating them for two series apiece and will
continue doing that if Wolff can’t start vs. the Bears. … S
Keelan Johnson was signed off the practice squad and LB Emmanuel
Acho was released.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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