The Eagles defensive line has underperformed through four games this season. They’ve only accounted for 6.5 sacks, and five of those have come from Javon Hargrave. No starter along the line has recorded more than half a sack.
All of the team’s pass rushing statistics are middle of the pack at best. 8.6% hurry rate, 13 quarterback knockdowns, 33 pressures, a 23.7% pressure rate. They all rank outside the top-10 in these categories. For a defensive line that was heralded as perhaps the best in the league entering the year, they’ve disappointed tremendously.
This week, the Eagles defensive front will face arguably the worst offensive line they’ve seen all season. The Carolina Panthers have done some good things on both sides of the ball this year, but their offensive line has been a consistent weak spot through four games.
As a unit, Carolina’s line has surrendered 11 sacks this year, an average of 2.75 per game. It’s also tied for the fifth most sacks given up in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus hasn’t been kind to Carolina’s offensive lineman in their grading system. Out of the five starters, only one has a respectable pass blocking grade, right tackle Taylor Moton (70.3) Every other lineman has a pass-block grade under 60.
When Carolina suffered their first loss of the season last week to Dallas, it was easy to point to their offensive line as one of the main reasons why. They gave up 15 pressures and five sacks on the day, and once the pressure started getting to Sam Darnold, he turned it over twice and it led to 14 points for Dallas.
Every week, we talk about getting pressure on the quarterback. It effects every quarterback a little differently, as some aren’t as prone to mistakes under heavy duress. Darnold is not one of those quarterbacks. Throughout his career, he’s made several costly mistakes with pressure in his face.
His turnover worthy play percentage is at an all-time low this year (3.0%), but as he displayed last week, he’ll still revert to his gun slinging ways with constant pressure.
While the Eagles line has yet to truly takeover a game yet this season, this may be the week we finally see them reach their full potential. Without Brandon Graham, the ceiling for that potential is much lower, of course. But guys like Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, and Fletcher Cox should be able to have a significant impact on this contest.
If the Eagles front fails to control the line of scrimmage facing this weak offensive line, then they’re probably not the defensive line we all thought they were.