Redskins @ Eagles: Four questions on the defense

As before, you can find my mostly irrational answers to JasonB of Bleeding Green Nation's questions over the Redskins defense here. I had my own questions for him over his beloved Eagles and he was kind enough to abide. In other words: The dude abides.

Hogs Haven: I don't have the exact numbers in front of me but you guys had something like 87 sacks against Pittsburgh. Uhm. That is terrifying. You lead the league in sacks and I think as a result recovered fumbles. Assuming damage is done to Jason Campbell this week, who is the main culprit? There's a lot of guys getting a lot of sacks on your team so far.

Bleeding Green Nation: Yeah it's been a real team effort. In typical Jim Johnson style he'll bring pressure from everywhere… But if I had to pick one guy it would Juqua Parker who has been a real pleasant surprise this year. He already has 3.5 sacks this year and has been playing like a man possessed. Coming off his first pro bowl, Trent Cole has gotten a lot of attention on other side and Parker has really taken advantage of the opportunities that has given him. He seems to get pressure from that left side almost every play. He's always been a decent pass rusher that's good for 5 or 6 sacks a year… but so this year he's played on a different level.

HH: As good as your pass rush has been, you're even better against the run. Your defense was good last year, is typically quite good, but I don't think they were this good. What happened?

BGN: I'd say two things. First, the two first round DT picks in the middle, Patterson & Bunkely, have really fulfilled their promise. Last year those two rarely get moved at the point of attack and did a nice job eating up blocks… but this year, Bunkley especially, have started penetrating into the backfield much better. Right behind them is another reason the run defense has been so stingy and that's Stewart Bradley and the Eagles LB corps. Bradley was a rookie last year and got a chance to play a bit toward the end of the year and really impressed. This year he won the starting middle linebacker job in camp and has really made that position his own. He's a big, physical guy that moves quickly, reads gaps well, and has really been a great compliment to the two DTs in the middle. Between those three it's become very difficult to run up the middle on this Eagles D. Omar Gaither & Chris Gocong, the other two LBs, have done a nice job against the run as well. I should also mention safety Quintin Mikell who has done a nice job getting up and supporting the run.

HH: If there is a weakness in your defense, questionable premise, it appears it might be covering running backs and tight ends -- Football Outsiders ranks you by DVOA at 29th and 23rd respectively. Is this just a result of your schedule, faced with above average TEs and RBs or is that a legitimate exploitable weakness in the Eagles D?

BGN: For me the biggest concern is the coverage of TEs. In our defense, we've faced some pretty good TEs so far this year but they've really done the job on us. Our linebackers are not great in coverage and our safeties have looked questionable as well, especially when matched up one on one with good TEs. That's certainly an area to watch this weekend with a good TE like Cooley. Obviously our plan to stop him will be to get after Campbell.

HH: Shooting the question back at you. Name me a player on the Eagles defense Redskins fans might not have heard of yet, but will know him before next Monday.

BGN: I'll say Stewart Bradley. Basically for all the reasons stated in question #2 there. A couple weeks ago Peter King wrote that he didn't know if there was a better run stopping middle linebacker playing right now than Bradley. John Madden gushed over him quite a bit on Sunday night too. The guy has been a real revelation in only his second year in the league and first as a starter.

HTTR

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