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Eagles defense deserves credit for taking advantage of limited offenses

Eagles defense deserves credit for taking advantage of limited offenses

You wouldn’t think it just to look at the group on paper, but the Eagles’ defense has played well more often than it has not this season. To reiterate, they’ve had more good games so far than bad.

Yes, I’m aware Philadelphia is ranked 31st overall in total defense and 30th in points allowed. Yes, defensive coordinator Bill Davis has been jamming the square pegs leftover from a bad 4-3 defense into the round holes of a sophisticated 3-4, to varying results.

When you look at what the unit has done on a game-by-game basis though, the Birds actually have demonstrated an ability to handle the more one-dimensional offenses they’ve come across. It’s played a huge role in both of the club’s wins this season, and they arguably should have one more.

Way back in Week 1, the Eagles managed to keep Washington’s offense off the board until late in the third quarter. With Robert Griffin III getting his first live action under center for the burgundy and gold since tearing his ACL in January, the Birds honed in on Washington’s running game. Of the two touchdowns they did score, one was aided by a Jason Avant fumble in Philadelphia territory.

In Week 3, Davis took advantage of the fact that Alex Smith is not the type of quarterback who beats a defense vertically. The Eagles again focused their attention toward shutting down the run, and this time were able to keep Kansas City’s offense out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. Philly surrendered one touchdown in 60 minutes despite the Birds offense committing a whopping five turnovers and losing time of possession 2-to-1.

Then just this past Sunday, the Birds ignored the Giants’ pathetic ground attack altogether, especially once David Wilson exited with an injury, choosing instead to erase big plays through the air. The plan was largely a success, as New York did threaten with three touchdown drives and some good fantasy days for two of their three wide receivers , but the pressure eventually got to Eli Manning who turned the ball over three times.

On the flip side, a pair of signal callers were able to decimate Philly’s patchwork defense. But Philip Rivers seems to be in the midst of a career renaissance, and Peyton Manning must be a cyborg or something.

The key at this point would in fact appear to be the quality of opposing team’s quarterback. Rivers and Manning are both in the zone to start with this season, already franchise quarterbacks that when provided enough time will pick apart any defense. The Eagles haven’t been able to consistently rush the passer, and if he has time to throw, there are matchups in that secondary waiting to be exposed—particularly at safety.

RG3 is probably going to go be an elite NFL quarterback someday, but he was clearly rusty coming off of a light training camp and no preseason. Alex Smith is a quality game manager, but he’s not the guy who’s going to spin the ball all over the field and carry a team to victory. Eli Manning has two Super Bowl rings, but without a running game or much help from the offensive line, he looks less than ordinary.

That seemingly bodes well for several of Philly’s upcoming games. Some of the quarterbacks on the schedule include third-round rookie Mike Glennon this week in Tampa Bay, decrepit Carson Palmer in Arizona, whoever happens to be starting in Minnesota come December, and Eli and Griffin one more time each.

Of course, they have the likes of Tony Romo, Terrelle Pryor, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Stafford to worry about too.

Overall, the Eagles’ defenses has had several games which they can build upon this season. Nothing is going to change the fact that they lack playmakers at safety, or a true nose tackle who can occupy blockers and create push at the line of scrimmage. Yet despite numerous personnel issues, they’ve been able to get the job done the majority of the time.

The points per game stat isn’t even entirely fair to Davis’ unit. The Eagles have conceded 28 points to opponents directly off of offensive giveaways returned for touchdown and special teams miscues. That’s almost one score for each game they’ve played, and if counted separately would reduce the defense’s PPG allowed from 31.8 to 26.2—which still isn’t great mind you, but does separate them from the dregs of the league a little bit at least.

That’s probably about the kindest thing you can say about the defense at this point—they might be closer to league average than out-and-out bad. If they can stay the course against the Bucs on Sunday, and all indications are they will, the Eagles have a good chance to get back to .500 this week.

CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

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CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
Company: Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia
# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours

Deadline: November 20

Basic Function

This position will work closely with the Vice President of Sales in generating revenue through commercial advertisements and sponsorship sales. The intern will gain first-hand sales experience through working with Sales Assistants and AEs on pitches, sales-calls and recapping material.

Duties and Responsibilities

• Assist Account Executive on preparation of Sales Presentations
• Cultivate new account leads for local sales
• Track sponsorships in specified programs
• Assist as point of contact with sponsors on game night set up and pre-game hospitality elements.
• Assist with collection of all proof of performance materials.
• Perform Competitive Network Analysis
• Update Customer database
• Other various projects as assigned

Requirements

1. Good oral and written communication skills.
2. Knowledge of sports.
3. Ability to work non-traditional hours, weekends & holidays
4. Ability to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
5. Must be 19 years of age or older
6. Must be a student in pursuit of an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Juris Doctor degree
7. Must have unrestricted authorization to work in the US
8. Must have sophomore standing or above
9. Must have a 3.0 GPA

Interested students should apply here and specify they're interested in the ad/sales internship.

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Malcolm Jenkins not concerned about status of Eagles' banged-up secondary

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Malcolm Jenkins not concerned about status of Eagles' banged-up secondary

It was Oct. 31, 2010 -- Halloween evening in New Orleans. Steelers vs. Saints at the Superdome in a Sunday night national TV game.

It was nearly seven years ago, but Malcolm Jenkins remembers it clearly.

Because this week reminds him of that week.

Because that night the Saints played with six defensive backs. And on Wednesday, the Eagles practiced with six defensive backs.

With cornerback Ronald Darby out indefinitely with an ankle injury and safeties Corey Graham and Rodney McLeod and corner/safety Jaylen Watkins all out of practice with hamstring injuries, the only other defensive backs healthy enough to practice Wednesday -- four days before the Eagles' home opener vs. the Giants -- were cornerbacks Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Dexter McDougle and Patrick Robinson and safety Chris Maragos.

Just like seven years ago on Halloween.

"At one point we had myself and Usama Young playing corner, Pierson Prioleau was the dime, who played the nickel, we had Roman Harper, Darren Sharper … and the only active corner we had was Leigh Torrance," Jenkins recalled. "And he got a concussion at some point in that game.

"And we won (20-10). We actually played really well in the back end. So it’s one of those things. It’s a mindset. You can either let it distract you, let it slow you down, or you can prepare to win, and we’ve decided that whoever’s out there, we’re going to prepare to win.

"If we need to adjust, we’ll adjust. Obviously we feel that our D-line is one of those things that can equalize some of the depth that we have. If not, we’ll adjust as we go on."

Darby got hurt against the Redskins. The Eagles lost Watkins and McLeod in the second quarter in Kansas City Sunday. Graham also got hurt against the Chiefs but was able to finish.

Even though none of them practiced yesterday, it doesn't mean none of them will play Sunday. Graham in particular seems likely to see action.

But this is certainly as thin as the Eagles have been in the secondary in years. And remember, Maragos is essentially a special teamer -- he has one defensive snap the last two years. And McDougle has never played a snap in an Eagles uniform.

“We’re a little thin right now, but we have few backup plans in case somebody else gets hurt," Jenkins said. "We’ll have to get creative. But as of right now we’re game-planning with everything we’ve got, not changing anything. We’ll move forward and see what happens.

“We’ve got options. A lot of us are very, very versatile. (Special teamer) Chris Maragos is a safety, somebody who can slide in. We can put Kamu (Grugier-Hill, linebacker) back there or we can change the defense and put one of our corners there and move some guys in and out of the slot. Dex McDougle we can put in the slot or move Patrick. "

The biggest weapon the Eagles' secondary has is the defensive line.

The Eagles have eight sacks in their first two games, third-most in the league and most by an NFC team, and seventh-most in franchise history after two games.

“It’s going to come down to the play of our D-line," Jenkins said. "They’re definitely going to need to help us in that regard so we don’t have guys out there trying to cover some really good receivers for a long a long amount of time with a really good quarterback.

"But there’s some things we’re going to have to do in the secondary, especially covering early, giving our D-line some time to be disruptive and be able to get so many skill players on the ground."

Jenkins was asked several times at his locker Wednesday about the threadbare secondary, but he genuinely doesn't seem concerned.

At all.

“I’m not," he said. "I’m getting ready to play the Giants at home and I’ve got nothing in my mind but winning.

“We prepare, man. As a group, I’d be surprised if anybody we put out there flinched at all. Just the way we prepare, the way we challenge each other, we’ve got full confidence by the time we get to Sunday in whoever's out there.

“It might be a mindset. Honestly, we’ve got places we want to go, places we think we should be, and no matter who we got or what stands in our way, we’re going to get there.

"I can assure one thing - that we’ll go out and compete on Sunday. That’s the biggest thing. Whoever we put out there is going to play hard, they’re going to prepare hard throughout the week, and we’ll be ready to play. Will it be perfect? It’s never perfect. But we’re going to play hard and we have faith in the guys we’re putting out there."

Assuming the 22-year-old Mills and 23-year-old Douglas start at cornerback, it will be the youngest starting cornerback duo in franchise history.

In 2004, the Eagles started two 23-year-old corners -- Lito Sheppard and Rod Hood -- in one game, Week 14 against the Cowboys. And in Week 1 of this season, they also started two 23-year-olds -- Darby and Mills.

“Everybody’s out to prove something," Jenkins said. "Jalen has probably the most confidence in our room, out of any of the guys, and I think that’s what makes him the player that he is. Rasul also is a guy that has a lot of confidence in his ability and his preparation and plays with a chip on his shoulder and has something to prove.

"That’s all I ask for, guys like that next to me. If we have that attitude, no matter who we play against, we’ll go out and compete."