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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings OC: Eagles’ depth on defense line is ‘like hockey lines’

By Matthew Coller

Sunday’s NFC Championship game is expected to have an old school, grind-it-out feel.

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said Thursday one of the advantages the Philadelphia Eagles have in a ground-and-pound matchup is depth on defense, especially the defensive line.

“They play lots of players, so the ones that are in there, they’re rotating them like hockey lines, so they go in there and they sell out, and they get a rest,” Shurmur said. “They really trust their guys to be in critical situations. Sometimes when defensive lines rotate, you get to what would be considered a critical third-down, and they make sure they just put the front-liner, but they play their guys.”

The highest percentage of snaps played by any Eagles defensive lineman was pass rusher Brandon Graham, who was on the field for 64 percent of total plays. Superstar defensive tackle Fletcher Cox played 58 percent. Rookie pass rusher Derek Barnett added to an already-gifted D-line, playing 41 percent of snaps and picking up 5.0 sacks this season.

“You’ve got to know each guy that is in there,” head coach Mike Zimmer said . “Obviously, Fletcher Cox is a terrific player. They come at you in waves. They’re similar to us defensively. They line up and they do what they do. Kind of what we do too. So, you’re going to kind of know where they’re going to be. It may be a different guy that you’re going against because they’re changing but they’re all good and they come at you and stay fresh. So, we’re going to have to suck it up and play four quarters.”

Keeping the D-line fresh has played a role in the Eagles’ success against the run this season. They allowed the fewest total yards (followed by the Vikings) and ranked sixth in yards per attempt allowed.

Also playing into the success on defense is defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s decision to play one high safety on the majority of plays.

“They’re a solid scheme, they don’t give up many big plays, and they’ve got typically an extra guy close to the line of scrimmage,” Shurmur said. “I think that’s why they’re pretty good at making sure the runs don’t pop out.

Against the Pass, the Eagles have allowed the 17th most yards per game, but they intercepted 19 passes and ranked ninth in QB rating allowed.

“You don’t have much time to throw the ball,” Zimmer said. “Makes it difficult, because you have to run into an eight-man box. I think they trust their corners. They do enough stuff in the pass rush to affect the quarterback.”

The post Vikings OC: Eagles’ depth on defense line is ‘like hockey lines’ appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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