Eagles Holding Steady on Defense

The lack of sacks and interceptions hurt the Eagles defense more than anything else. Besides the lack of production there, Philadelphia's D is among the best in the league. Yes, really.

If the Philadelphia Eagles could get some sacks, they'd be among the best defenses in the NFL.

A template of the fan's lament: if, if, if. Every fan does it when their team has obvious chips and cracks in their visage, and the Eagles are no different. They're 3-0, sure, but there've been some close games that wouldn't have been as close if Bill Davis' defenders could drag down the QB a time or two per game.

It should be said, however, that a closer look at the numbers swings the case firmly in favor of any Eagles fan that believes this.

Cold Hard Football Facts measures defensive fronts through a metric known as "Defensive HOG Index". The measurement consists of three important qualities that make up a defense's potency:

* Yards Per Rush Allowed

* Negative Pass Play Percentage (percent of dropbacks that end with a sack or pick)

* Third down percentage

After three weeks and three wins, the Eagles defense, all three categories considered, are tied with the Dolphins for the tenth-most efficient defense in the NFL. Amazingly, the Lions are tops in the league, with the second-best YPA-allowed average (2.81), and the second-best third down percentage (28.57%) steering their ship. They also lead the league in linebackers lost to dance-related injuries, but Defensive HOG doesn't weigh that.

How do the Eagles fare in all three categories?

YARDS PER RUN ALLOWED: 3.48 (7th out of 32)

The Eagles defense boxed in Toby Gerhart in Week One (2.33 YPA), and did a bang-up job against power back Alfred Morris (3.35 YPA). Despite struggling a bit against the Colts, who surprised the Eagles D with heavy use of both Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw, the run defense has largely been the glue that's held the defense together. Fletcher Cox is on pace to have a Pro Bowl season, while Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans, and free agent signing Malcolm Jenkins have been big contributors to shutting down the run.

NEGATIVE PASS PLAY PERCENTAGE: 3.91% (30th out of 32)

Amazing that the Eagles are still among the top ten with this number. It's true, three sacks and two interceptions over the course of three games needs to improve. Only Baltimore (3.88%) and New Orleans (3.39%) rank worse. Chicago's 13.08% in NPP is the league's current gold standard.

THIRD DOWN PERCENTAGE: 34.15% (5th out of 32)

Hardly surprising after the Eagles defense held opponents to converting six out of 26 attempts in the first two games. The Redskins cut into that mark by going eight of 15 this past Sunday, but to the Eagles credit, Washington started out seven of eight, and the defense tightened up on thirds the rest of the way.

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