Defensive breakdown nearly cost Eagles opening day win

Eagles defense must address glaring deficiencies originally featured on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Anyone who says, “Any win is a good win,” didn’t see the Eagles’ defense in the second half on Sunday.

Yes, the Eagles won their first game in Detroit, but their surgically rebuilt defense did everything they could to put the game away.

“We still need to communicate a lot better,” Darius Slay said. “We’ve got to minimize the penalties, we gave up 3rd and 12, those are things you just have to clean up. Many times we should have been off the field in the third place, we all know that.

“We just have to do our job better. That’s up to us as players. We’re out there on the field, the coaches are calling us and we just have to execute. We just need to do a project. … We just have to execute a lot better at the end.”

The Eagles outlasted the Lions 38-35 despite allowing 2nd half touchdown drives of 75, 75 and 72 yards, won despite allowing 181 rushing yards, won despite nearly blowing a 17 point lead in the 3rd quarter and they won despite the whistle. in a terrifying number of tackles.

The newly improved defense at least this week looked significantly worse than last year’s unit.

And that was against a team that had the fewest wins in the NFL last year.

“We’ve got some things to work on,” Brandon Graham said. “But you know how hard it is to win in this league. It could have gone the other way around for us. A win is a win. We’ll clean it up, but I’m happy with how we fought until the end.

“We left some plays out there. When we were up we should have kept the 17 point lead. But when you mess up and don’t deal with your stuff, that’s when things start to slip. We have to make sure we clean up the run of the ball because 150 yards is not acceptable.

“But we know what we have to work on. … It’s the NFL. Just when you think you have a team? It’s like, man, it can get ugly real quick. We have to make sure we stay focused on every detail that can hurt us in the end. I’m just happy we got down on our knees and gave our last shot at the end.”

The Eagles only allowed 35 points twice last year – to the Chiefs and the Cowboys in the first month of the season.

You can understand this. New team, new staff, new plan.

But this? After adding so many new pieces?

This cannot happen.

“We could have been a lot cleaner, but we’ll get the win,” TJ Edwards said. “Just a hell of a job scrapping all the way through, honestly.”

The Eagles took a 31-14 lead on Kenny Gainwell’s touchdown run 4 ½ minutes into the third quarter.

The Lions then scored 21 points in nearly 15 minutes.

Only a late clutch drive by the offense to run out the clock saved the Eagles from a potential loss and saved the defense from a colossal collapse.

“There’s a lot of improvement (needed),” freshman Chauncey Gardner-Johnson said. “First game, we have to work on tackling, we have to work on stopping the run, but overall we look good. We played our ass off. We’re ready to get on with it. 1-0.”

The Eagles just couldn’t handle the Philly native and St. Louis coach. Joe’s Prep D’Andre Swift.

Swift’s 144 yards on just 15 carries are the most against the Eagles in a season opener since 1960, when Bobby Mitchell had 156 and Hall of Famer Jim Brown 153 in the Browns’ 41-24 victory at Franklin Field in 1960.

Swift’s 144 yards are also the most against the Eagles in any game with 15 or fewer carries since Mitchell’s 156 on 14 carries on the day.

Did the Eagles’ tackling issues have anything to do with not tackling on the ground in training camp?

“No, not at all,” TJ Edwards said. “That’s just us. We have to be better at tackling. We just have to get back to what we’re doing, get back in the lab tomorrow and we’ll fix what we need to fix. I thought the energy was great, the effort was great, we’ll be right back.”

Nick Sirianni tried to deflect blame for the second-half defensive collapse on an offense that ranked 25th in the league last year at 19 points per game.

They nearly doubled that Sunday.

“We’re going to look at it, we’re going to clean it up, and like I said, it’s always nice to know that, hey, we’ve got a lot to clean up,” Sirianni said. “And that’s offensively, defensively and special teams, but we were able to get a win. And in this league, on the road, in your first game, we’re going to take it any way we can.

“I’m the head coach and my name is on everything, and so I’m just going to talk to (Gannon) and see what’s going on and see what we need to do to adjust.”

No tackles in training camp? Lots of new pieces in defense? Fiery opponent?

“We don’t make excuses around here,” Graham said. “Whatever we need to fix, we will fix.”

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