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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Eagles pass rush will be tough to handle for Vikings

By Matthew Coller

While the Philadelphia Eagles have dropped their last two games, they are still one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Eagles have given up the third fewest points per game at 15.6 per contest. The biggest reason for Philly’s defensive success has been their pass rush. They have sacked opposing quarterbacks 14 times, good for 10th in the league, and have given up the seventh fewest yards per pass attempt. Considering the Vikings have struggled to protect Sam Bradford, they should be concerned about the talent up front for Philadelphia.

The Eagles are similar to the Vikings in that their front four provides most of the pressure. Even while in Detroit and Buffalo, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz picked his spots when it came to the blitz. Like his previous spots, Schwartz has a lot of talent to work with. While the Eagles will be without Bennie Logan, a run-stuffing nose tackle, their most important pass rushers Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry will still be in the lineup.

Cox is the most dominant of the three because of his versatility. The former first-round pick of the Eagles can either be the guy who takes up two blockers and creates gaps for linebackers or one-on-one matchups for D-ends or he can be the nightmare one-on-one for a guard or tackle.

Most of the time opponents do use two linemen on Cox because of his explosiveness and strength. And he still often finds a way to the quarterback. Here, he just drives his man straight back into the quarterback.

Cox and Curry are often lined up on the right side and Graham on the left, which presents problems as opposing teams would prefer to put two guys on both Cox and Graham but Curry is a solid rusher. Cox ranks No. 2 at his position according to Pro Football Focus and Graham No. 4 at the edge rusher spot. Curry is 41st but has a strong pass rush rating.

Here, the tackle attempts to give a little help to the guard on Cox, but instead loses a step on his man Curry. Meanwhile the center does not help the right guard and the result is a disaster for the Steelers.

Cox’s rare quickness allows the Eagles to line him up on either the inside over the guard or outside the tackle, depending on the look they want to give the opposing team.

When the Steelers went to a set without a running back in the backfield, Vinny Curry lined up on the interior and Cox went outside to pin his ears back and rush Ben Roethlisberger.


Graham is a pure speed rusher, whose explosiveness is tough to match. He has three sacks, two hits and 18 hurries so far this year. Watch as he whips by Pittsburgh’s left tackle .

Looks kind of familiar…

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said the team plans to approach practice with TJ Clemmings taking reps with the first team, but the team signed former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long during the bye week. If Long has anything left – if he could be even below average – he would be an improvement over Clemmings. However, if Long is asked to play this week, he would be handed one of the most difficult matchups in the NFL.

Sam Bradford has been excellent at getting throws off quickly and not letting pass rush affect his accuracy. Graham told Pro Football Focus that his goal isn’t just to sack the quarterback, but alter how they are getting rid of the ball.

“I measure pass-rush based off of moving the QB, getting him off his spot,” Graham said.

“You want him to feel you. That’s all I want to do, have my presence be felt. I might not have got you, but I know I forced you to throw. And I’m going for the throwing arm every time. That can be as good as a sack, too. That’s one thing I learned in our defense in the 3-4. Our defensive coordinator, Billy Davis, was always talking about getting that throwing arm, and affecting the throw as much as you can.”

Cox, Curry and Graham present one of the toughest challenges the sputtering offensive line has seen all year. They will need a step-up performance to slow down the Eagles four-man rush.

The post Eagles pass rush will be tough to handle for Vikings appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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