Eagles confident they have enough DT depth without Davis


Jordan Davis got hurt a couple of days before the NFL’s trade deadline. So the Eagles could have made a move if they wanted to.

They didn’t.

Part of that is because they expect Davis to return at some point this season. (After placing Davis on IR before the Houston game, he’s required to miss at least three more games.)

But the other reason is that the Eagles trust their defensive tackle depth.

“Yeah, we're confident in the guys that are there,” head coach Nick Sirianni said on Friday. “ We've always felt like that was a pretty deep room with Javon (Hargrave) and Fletch (Cox) and Marlon (Tuipulotu and Milton (Williams), and then obviously Jordan. Then Marvin (Wilson) off the practice squad.

“Yeah, we're confident there. We were excited to see Marvin play and get some good reps in there, and so yeah, we're confident in that group. I know they'll continue to get better, and the young guys will continue to get better for sure as they see more playing time.”

Of course, it’s not easy to replace a player like Davis. Even though he was averaging just 22.5 snaps per game before the Steelers game, Davis was a huge part of the Eagles’ defense as a run-stuffer on early downs. For the most part, Davis got all of his snaps as the nose tackle in the Eagles’ odd-man front and that’s not an easy position to replace, even though it’s not a three-down position.

Against the Texans, the Eagles tried a few different options in that bear front. We saw Wilson get called up front the practice squad and tossed out there and then the Eagles used Tuipulotu in that role. But eventually they found the most success in their bear front with Hargrave at the nose tackle. Hargrave in that game lined up more on the shoulder of the center instead of head up when he was in that role.

Here’s how the nose tackle reps broke down in that game, according to PFF:

Wilson: 16
Hargrave: 10
Tuipulotu: 6

There’s a reason the Eagles used Hargrave in that role much more in the second half in Houston and there’s a reason it seemed to work a little better. It’s probably fair to expect a tad more of that the rest of the way.

The Eagles’ top two defensive tackles are still Cox and Hargrave, followed by Tuiupulotu and Williams. We saw Wilson get elevated in Week 9, which means he can be elevated as a game-day call-up twice more this season.

Without Davis, the Eagles clearly have the personnel to be more four-man front heavy but they still have the pieces to run that five-man front on occasion. It wasn’t a bad idea to try out Wilson in that role, but it seems like Hargrave is better suited for it until Davis gets back. And Hargrave doesn’t seem to mind playing multiple spots on the line.

There’s no replacing Davis and some fans want the Eagles to go out and try to sign a free agent like Ndamukong Suh. But the Eagles look at it like they have enough depth to last until Davis returns.

“Anytime you have a player of Jordan's caliber, how he is against the run, and you’re without him, of course that makes you not quite as good against the run,” Sirianni said. “But again, I felt like we need to put our guys in a better position, and when they were in those positions and be able to tackle better. It always starts with us as coaches putting the guys in better spots. We need to do that, and it starts with us as coaches.”

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