Eagles' Defense Solidifies to the Max

Slowly but surely, the Eagles defense buckled down and silenced the Jaguars offense, holding Jacksonville scoreless for the game's final 44 minutes.

Bendability: a statistic that measures the stoutness of a defense. Take the number of yards an opponent gains, and divide it by the points they scored. Take that number, multiply it by seven, and that's how many yards the team needs, on average, to score seven points.

A top notch defense, like the Seahawks or Panthers, will average at least an 18.00 in the category (a touchdown allowed every 126 yards). Last season's worst in Bendability was the Redskins, who rated at 11.85 (a touchdown allowed every 82.95 yards).

The Eagles, for all of the guff they took last year over an inconsistent defense, actually ranked ninth in Bendability, scoring 16.51 (TD allowed every 115.57 yards). Of the eight teams that ranked ahead of them, the only one that missed the playoffs were the Dolphins.

Bendability is essentially the ability to bend, but not break (hence the name). Holding opponents to field goals, and forcing turnovers on your own half of the field, go a long way in testing the mettle of any defense. With timely turnovers and an unheralded run defense last year, Bill Davis' defense knew how to stall drives.

Yesterday, however, started as an exercise in heading south.

The Jaguars jumped to an early 17-0 lead, while the secondary was utterly confounded by a fluid Chad Henne, and the emerging Allen Hurns. These aren't the 2013 Jaguars, it seemed.

What started as a disastrous afternoon for the Eagles on both sides of the ball had spun around into a performance of guile and determination. The play of Darren Sproles, Zach Ertz, and a wide-open Jeremy Maclin will get the raves, but the defense had to buckle down and do their part.

And they did. Here's a look at all 16 Jaguar drives, with a 'real-time' Bendability rating for the Eagles along the way.

DRIVE 1 (from own 20)

A simple three-and-out, punctuated by good run stuffing from DeMeco Ryans and Fletcher Cox.

TOTAL: 8 yards, 0 points

BENDABILITY: No rating (no points)

DRIVE 2 (from Eagles 44)

A 34-yard touchdown bomb to a wide-open Allen Hurns was the first gash, with the secondary swiveling their heads in confusion.

TOTAL: 52 yards, 7 points

BENDABILITY: 7.43 (A touchdown, obviously, every 52 yards)

DRIVE 3 (from Eagles 21)

Jacksonville capitalized on another Nick Foles fumble with another TD pass to a wide-open Hurns.

TOTAL: 73 yards, 14 points

BENDABILITY: 5.21 (TD every 36.5 yards)

DRIVE 4 (from own 17)

Finally, a relief. A Brandon Graham run-stuff and a Nate Allen sack send the Jags backwards. Three and out, though it does inflate the rating unintentionally.

TOTAL: 64 yards, 14 points

BENDABILITY: 4.57 (TD every 32 yards)

DRIVE 5 (from own 1)

A downed punt at the one-yard line from Brandon Boykin was rendered null and void after Hurns immediately hauled in a 46-yard pass. The Jags made it to the Eagles' 31 before adding three points via Josh Scobee. Holding Jacksonville to three helps the defense's cause.

TOTAL: 132 yards, 17 points

BENDABILITY: 7.76 (TD every 54.35 yards)

DRIVE 6 (from Eagles 40)

Good field position following a punt gave way to three Denard Robinson runs that fell just short of a first down. Henne tried unsuccessfully to draw the D off on fourth down, which led to Scobee missing a 50-yard kick.

TOTAL: 140 yards, 17 points

BENDABILITY: 8.23 (TD every 57.65 yards)

DRIVE 7 (from own 20)

The momentum began its true shift at this point, as Jacksonville scorched their way for 62 yards (Henne was six of eight on the drive), only for surging surprise Brandon Bair to block a 36-yard field goal. This will certainly bolster the rating, right?

TOTAL: 202 yards, 17 points

BENDABILITY: 11.88 (TD every 83.18 yards)

DRIVE 8 (from own 9)

A time-killer to drain Philly of their time-outs. Six yards were gained on a three-and-out before the half.

TOTAL: 208 yards, 17 points

BENDABILITY: 12.24 (TD every 85.65 yards)

Quick aside: At halftime, the Eagles' 12.24 Bendability rating would have been better than only two teams last season: the Redskins and the Texans. Let's see how much of a difference the second half made.

DRIVE 9 (from own 14)

The Jaguars were responding to Darren Sproles' fourth-down, 49-yard touchdown dash up the gut. Their response was to go three-and-out on two short passes and a Toby Gerhart run, netting all of seven yards.

TOTAL: 215 yards, 17 points

BENDABILITY: 12.65 (TD every 88.53 yards)

DRIVE 10 (from own 20)

The Eagles marched back down following a Sproles punt return to the Jags 40, scoring a few plays later on a long pass to Zach Ertz. Jacksonville's counter-punch had no pop, gaining zero yards via three incompletions. Another three-and-out.

TOTAL: 215 yards, 17 points

BENDABILITY: 12.65 (TD every 88.53 yards)

DRIVE 11 (from own 19)

Same story as previous drive, with three straight incompletions, with one modifier: Henne had to burn a time-out due to a suddenly-loud crowd throwing off his line-calls.

TOTAL: 215 yards, 17 points

BENDABILITY: 12.65 (TD every 88.53 yards)

DRIVE 12 (from own 15)

A little momentum for the Jaguars' offense, but it stalled quickly enough. Jacksonville picked up two first downs on the drive, but things went awry at the 40 with, you guessed it, three straight incompletions.

TOTAL: 240 yards, 17 points

BENDABILITY: 14.12 (TD every 98.82 yards)

DRIVE 13 (from own 20)

Urgency sets in as Cody Parkey ties the game with a 51-yard field goal. After beginning the drive with an eight-yard keeper, Henne converts two first downs with the help of Gerhart and Marcedes Lewis. The drive dies at Philly's 46 on what should have been a fumble recovery for the Eagles, but a premature-whistle snuffed that out. Still, the Jaguars had to punt, but not before giving the Eagles a chance to tighten up under pressure.

TOTAL: 274 yards, 17 points

BENDABILITY: 16.12 (TD every 112.82 yards)

DRIVE 14 (from own 20)

Bad to worse: this is now following Maclin's more-wide-open-than-the-plains 68-yard touchdown catch. Now down seven, Henne throws two incompletions, burns his last timeout (with 6:48 left), completes a nine-yard pass, and then throws an incompletion on the fourth-down gamble. The Eagles are suddenly cruising.

TOTAL: 283 yards, 17 points

BENDABILITY: 16.65 (TD every 116.53 yards)

DRIVE 15 (from own 20)

Another Parkey field goal has made it 27-17, and Jacksonville has but two minutes to save their game. Ahh, but a Trent Cole sack-fumble allows Fletcher Cox to stick a hefty dagger into the heart. The lost yards actually hurt the Bendability rating, but who cares? You're up 17.

TOTAL: 260 yards, 17 points

BENDABILITY: 15.29 (TD every 107.06 yards)

DRIVE 16 (from own 13)

Number padding time! Jacksonville gained 46 yards in garbage time play, with no points to show for their futile efforts. Really, it does nothing but add some polish to Philadelphia's stoutness numbers.

TOTAL: 306 yards, 17 points

BENDABILITY: 18.00 (TD every 126 yards)

That 18.00 rating would have made the Eagles the fifth-strongest defense a year ago, behind Carolina (20.00), Kansas City (19.30), Seattle (18.95), and San Francisco (18.64).

I realize it's only Jacksonville, but still: the defense deserves plenty of credit for its tightening-up when things looked bleak.

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