Eagles Defense Has Been Historically Great & Unique Stat Proves It

Reggie White

Getty Eagles fans celebrate Reggie White during his number retirement ceremony.

Building a list of the all-time greatest defenses always has a hue of Eagles green on it. When it comes to sacks, there has been no better franchise.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently put together an animated graphic where they show which NFL teams have had the most sacks since the league started charting the statistic in 1982. The Steelers top the list this year with 48 sacks — the Eagles rank 13th with 36 — but they are third on the all-time list, right behind the Saints and one other team. You may have heard of them.

The Philadelphia Eagles have 1,665 sacks dating back to 1982. It shouldn’t really be that shocking considering the great sack-masters that have graced the franchise’s hallowed halls.

Legends like Reggie White and Jerome Brown and Clyde Simmons, with more recent studs like Trent Cole and Fletcher Cox and Hugh Douglas, all built their reputations in Philly. White holds the all-time mark at 124, followed by Cole at 85.5. It’s an impressive list.

Of course, the most famous one was the 1991 Eagles who have been called the greatest defense of the last 30 years. That unit — anchored by White, Simmons, Brown, Seth Joyner, Eric Allen — accumulated 55 total sacks while forcing 11 fumbles and 26 interceptions.

According to Football Outsiders, Gang Green allowed a miserly 3.92 yards per play and opposing quarterbacks completed just 44.1-percent of their passes. Domination. Pure domination.

Ranking 2019 Eagles Defense

This year’s Eagles defense hasn’t really been a dominant force. (Paging Terrell Suggs). But the unit has been better than advertised.

The Eagles rank 10th overall this season in total defense, allowing 326.7 yards and 23.2 points per game. While the secondary has been largely to blame for some lopsided losses, the defensive line has gotten to the quarterback to the tune of 91 quarterback hits.

More impressively, their run defense has been basically impenetrable as the unit has surrendered just 89.6 yards per game on the ground, good enough for third-best in the league.

It’s been a point of emphasis and something they’ll need to show up this week versus Washington. Don’t let Adrian Peterson’s stats fool you. He’s still a vicious runner who seeks contact and can churn out yardage in chunks.

“He’s a guy that you have to sort of limit his opportunities and limit his touches,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said earlier this week. “He’s a guy that has great vision and can threaten all the gaps of your defense, so if one guy makes a mistake, he has the ability to make a big play. We’re going to have to play our very best to play him.”

Ronald Darby Shows Up on Injury Report

Eagles starting cornerback Ronald Darby was a late addition to the final injury report. He’s struggled at times this season but provided stability.

If Darby can’t go, then the Eagles may be forced to start Avonte Maddox opposite Jalen Mills. They could also choose to use Cre’Von LeBlanc on the outside, although they seem to like him better as the nickel cornerback. Either way, Darby’s loss would be huge for a secondary still searching for an identity.

“I think one of the big things you see with corners and when you guys talk about consistency, or we talk about consistency, the corners live in a world that if they make a mistake, it’s there for everybody to see,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said.

Darby is a game-time decision and listed as questionable for Sunday. He’s one of four starters on the fence for the game.

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