How concerned is Sirianni with Eagles' tackling?


Nick Sirianni says he’s not concerned with the Eagles’ tackling and run defense.

He may be the only one.

The Eagles are the worst-tackling team in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, and after getting gashed by Texans rookie Dameon Pierce for 139 yards Thursday night they’re now allowing 5.2 yards per carry – 29th in the league.

Yeah, it was a road game on a short week, and yeah, the Eagles did win 29-17. But this is four straight weeks the Eagles have allowed 120 or more yards, something they’ve done only one other time in the last decade, and that was late in the disastrous 2020 season.

Overall, they’ve allowed 570 rushing yards and a 5.3 average the last four weeks. This is the only sixth time in the last 30 years they’ve allowed at least 570 yards and a 5.3 average in any four-game stretch.

Sirianni must be pretty concerned.

“I'm not,” he said Friday. “We'll make sure we get back to work and fix it just like we did after the Detroit game.”

In the opener, the Lions rushed for 181 yards, 6.5 yards per pop and three touchdowns. Things did temporarily get better. The Eagles held the Vikings, Commanders and Jaguars under 90 yards each, although the Vikings did average 5.6 yards per carry.

But the last four games have been ugly. The Cards, Cowboys, Steelers and Texans have all averaged at least 4.8 yards per carry vs. the Eagles.

This is the first time in 63 years the Eagles have allowed 4.8 yards per carry in four straight games. In 1959, they gave up 7.4, 5.0, 4.8 and 5.0 in games against the Rams, Steelers, Washington and Browns.

After Thursday night‘s game, the Eagles dropped from 31st down to last in tackling efficiency, according to Pro Football Focus with a 30.0 grade. For the sake of comparison, last year the Eagles were No. 1 in the league in tackling with an 80.3 grade.

This defense has a lot of new pieces, and several of them show up among the NFL’s missed tackle leaders.

According to PFF, the Eagles had 14 missed tackles Thursday night, giving them 82 this year. PFF has Chauncey Gardner-Johnson with 11 – sixth-most in the league – and T.J. Edwards and Haason Reddick with 10, tied for ninth-most. Marcus Epps has nine, Kyzir White eight and Avonte Maddox seven.

Reddick has the most missed tackles of any NFL edge rusher, Edwards and White are fourth and 14th among linebackers, Epps is ninth among safeties and Maddox tied for seventh among corners.

Not ideal.

The Eagles’ worst tackling games according to PFF have been the Lions (15 missed tackles), Texans (14), Vikings (12) and Cards and Steelers (11). 

“Sometimes it's a certain player that's making you miss some tackles,” Sirianni said. “That was a good back (Thursday) night. We have to do a better job coaching. We have to do a better job playing, and really right there I know I’m confident in our coaches and our players that we'll respond like we did against Detroit and get it back on track.”

The Eagles certainly miss Jordan Davis, but run defense was a problem even before he got hurt.

“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 (they were) 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.”

Fortunately, none of this has cost the Eagles a game. Yet. Bad teams aren’t going to beat the Eagles running the ball. They can’t score enough points to keep up with the Eagles’ high-flying offense, and eventually they’ll be forced to throw, and that plays right into the Eagles’ hands because that’s when they can pressure and force turnovers.

But a glance down the schedule shows some worthy opponents with not just elite rushing attacks but capable quarterbacks – the Titans, the Cowboys and the Giants twice.

Miss a dozen or so tackles against Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley or Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott, and the consequences could be much worse.

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