Philadelphia Eagles

Can Eagles' Defense Bounce Back Vs. Panthers?

“We got a beatdown on Sunday, so everybody’s definitely motivated to kind of turn that perspective around and get back to work against Carolina,” said Javon Hargrave, the Eagles’ only decent performer on defense so far

Can Eagles' defense bounce back after back-to-back disasters? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

They’ve faced two of the NFL’s top offenses and in the process looked like one of the NFL’s worst defenses.

After allowing 76 points to the Cowboys and Chiefs, the Eagles’ defense will try to regroup Sunday on the road against the Panthers, who aren’t the Cowboys or Chiefs but still post a formidable challenge.

It’s one thing to allow 34 points to Dak Prescott. It’s one thing to allow 42 points to Pat Mahomes.

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This is Sam Darnold and the Panthers, and the Eagles’ defense has to be better.

“We got a beatdown on Sunday, so everybody’s definitely motivated to kind of turn that perspective around and get back to work against Carolina,” said Javon Hargrave, the Eagles’ only decent performer on defense so far.

“Playing in the NFL, a lot of people have experienced this before. When I was in Pittsburgh or even some times last year we went through this, and it’s just more so what are you going to do to turn it around?”

Sacks, interceptions, fumble recoveries, tackles for loss and quarterback hits would be a good starting point.

This Eagles’ defense, with Brandon Graham out for the year and Fletcher Cox unproductive, just doesn’t have playmakers outside Hargrave.

That’s why the Eagles have just one interception, one forced fumble and eight sacks, all among the fewest in the NFL.

Hargrave has five sacks and a forced fumble. The entire rest of the defense has three sacks and an INT.

“We’ve got to be better,” safety Anthony Harris said. “We’ve got to have better execution from all angles, all sides, and just continue to chip away at it, continue to look to get better on each little detail, continue to have that attitude that we have as far as getting in on the assignments, getting in on the tendencies, and then finding a way to win.”

This is only the third time in franchise history the Eagles have had just two takeaways after four games. They had two in 1984 and one in 1998.

Opposing QBs have a 114.8 passer rating, highest against the Eagles through four games since 1968. They’ve allowed 600 rushing yards through four games for the first time since 1986.

The Eagles are only the seventh team in NFL history that after four games had allowed 600 rushing yards and a passer rating over 110 and had two or fewer takeaways.

The Panthers lead the NFL with over 35 minutes of possession per game. They want to play old-fashioned ball control. If the Eagles can’t get their act together, it could be another long day.

“Someone’s got to make a play,” linebacker Alex Singleton said. “That’s what we’re preaching in our rooms, those turnovers. … We’ve got to get those. Someone’s got to be in the right spot and go make a play and that comes with the hustle, the intensity and the smarts - being in the right spots to get those takeaways. We’ve had opportunities. We’ll get them.”

Darnold’s thrown three interceptions, fumbled four times and been sacked 11 times. He’s playing OK but he's no Prescott or Mahomes.

D.J. Moore (30-for-398) and dangerous but oft-injured Christian McCaffrey are the two guys the Eagles have to slow down. McCaffrey is questionable for Sunday with a hamstring injury.

“Everybody’s still working toward the same goal and that’s all getting better, learning from our mistakes and trying to come out with a win,” corner Steve Nelson said.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed but those who have been around the game for quite a while understand it’s still early in the process and still time to grow.”

But a loss Sunday with Tom Brady coming to town four days later means the Eagles could very well be looking at 1-5 for the first time since 1998.

“Everybody knows how we felt after Week 1, everybody knows how we should have felt after Week 2,” Singleton said. “We know we need to go down there and win and that’s just kind of where we’re at.

“We obviously have this game and then a Thursday night back-to-back. It’s almost like a mini-bye, and you don’t want to go into those 0-2. It’s a grind getting through those.

"So we’re focused on Carolina this week and we know that winning brings that good energy into a Thursday night game, so we’ve really got to take control, do what we can and go out there and win this game.”

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