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NFL Team Report - Philadelphia Eagles - INSIDE SLANT
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"Connor makes the scheme go," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said of his 6-foot-4, 264-pound outside linebacker. "I move him around multiple spots. He's inside on the outside on the right, outside on the left. He's inside. He's over at guard.
"We move him around. His position is called the Jack, as in Jack of all trades. We move him around and we have different techniques we use with him and he's great with picking them up.
"If I need an edge set on one side or a certain reroute or chip (of a receiver), Connor is the guy we go to. He wears a lot of hats and doesn't get as many (pass) rushes as he would like, but does a lot of things for the defense. It's unselfish on his part. He would love to be rushing every down and getting more sacks. But he's dropping and doing more other things, and never says a word about it."
Barwin has played 898 snaps this season. He has rushed the passer 343 times and dropped into coverage 229 times. That's considerably more than the team's other starting outside linebacker, Trent Cole, who has dropped into coverage on just 94 of 722 snaps.
But that's because Barwin has been playing in a 3-4 for four years now, while Cole is in his first year as a standup linebacker after spending his entire career as a 4-3 defensive end.
Barwin, who still has managed to collect four sacks, admitted that his duties in the Eagles' 3-4 are considerably different than they were when he played in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme in Houston.
"We ran a 3-4, but I set the edge on the run game and I rushed the passer on third down or second-and-long," he said. "This is a lot different. But it's been great. The defense is playing well. (Davis) is only asking me to do things that I'm capable of doing. He's letting the defense evolve with the type of players he has.
"I think as the season's gone on, we've learned about him, he's learned about us, and the defense has kind of come together, with a little bit of everybody."
While the Eagles are 31st in the league in yards allowed, they have held their last eight opponents to 21 points or less. They have won six of those eight games and take a 7-5 record and a share of the NFC East lead into Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.
SERIES HISTORY: 30th regular-season meeting. Eagles lead series, 14-13-2. They've won six of the last seven meetings, but lost the most recent one last year when the Lions won in overtime, 26-23, at Lincoln Financial Field.
NFL Team Report - Philadelphia Eagles - NOTES, QUOTES
--Punter Donnie Jones is having an outstanding season. He's seventh in the league in net average (41.3) and has a 44.3-yard net average in the last eight games. Just six of his last 28 punts have been returned. His 31.8 percent season return percentage is the fifth best in the league. He's dropped 29 of his punts inside the 20, the second most in the league, and just two short of the franchise record by Jeff Feagles back in 1993.
"Donnie was a huge part of why we had some success against Arizona last week," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said (Jones put seven of his eight punts against the Cardinals inside the 20). "Because of that drive start with Donnie putting it inside the 20. That was unbelievable. He's as big a reason for us to have some success defensively as anybody."
--The Eagles have taken a lead of 10 or more points into the fourth quarter in five of their seven wins this season. And have been outscored in the fourth quarter of those five games, 46-0. The Eagles have had trouble when they have gone away from their up-tempo approach and tried to slow it down and milk the clock.
"I think (the switch to a slower tempo) throws you a little off your rhythm," said right tackle Lane Johnson. "That's something we're working on. We're so used to going fast, getting the signal fast and playing fast. You get in a rhythm like that, that's really the only way you know how to play."
--In the 2010 draft, the Eagles passed on University of Texas safety Earl Thomas and University of South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul with the 13th overall pick in the first round and selected Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham. Thomas and Pierre-Paul both are Pro Bowlers. Graham is a backup who had just 8.5 sacks in his first three seasons. But he had two sacks in last week's win over Arizona and three for the season and is determined to prove to the Eagles that they didn't make a mistake drafting him.
"I don't think I'm going to silence them (his critics) until I get a couple of Pro Bowls under my belt," he said. "Because guys like Thomas and Pierre-Paul have been there before me. I hear that all the time. I'm definitely embracing it. It's cool. As long as I keep working, I know I'm going to be that guy that I believe I can be."
BY THE NUMBERS: 233 - The number of consecutive passes quarterback Nick Foles has thrown without an interception.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's a lot of intelligent people in the world, but there's not a lot of wise people in the world. I think Ted has wisdom. He's that wily old sage veteran in the room that we can really bounce a lot of ideas off." - Head coach Chip Kelly on tight ends coach Ted Williams.
NFL Team Report - Philadelphia Eagles - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--ILB DeMeco Ryans already has played 927 snaps, which is more than any other Eagles defensive lineman or linebacker. He's on pace to play 1,296 snaps, which would be more than 200 more than he's ever played in his career.
--LG Evan Mathis has taken every offensive snap this season. He and RG Todd Herremans both have taken every snap. Rookie RT Lane Johnson has missed just one. C Jason Kelce has missed just five.
--WR DeSean Jackson has caught 64.2 percent of the passes targeted for him this season. That's a career-high.
--RB Bryce Brown, who had two 150-yard rushing games as a rookie, is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry this season. Thirteen of his 58 carries have been for losses.
--QB Nick Foles has thrown a club-record 233 straight passes without an interception.
--DL Clifton Geathers didn't practice Wednesday, though the Eagles said it was not injury-related. It's not known whether he will practice Thursday or play Sunday.
--S Earl Wolff's injured knee still hasn't healed. He didn't practice Wednesday and almost certainly will miss his third straight game Sunday.
--LB Najeh Goode did not practice Wednesday. He injured his hamstring in Sunday's win over Arizona. He is not expected to play this week against the Lions. Goode is the top backup at inside linebacker.
--TE Zach Ertz was a full practice participant Wednesday despite being listed on the injury report with a shoulder injury.
--WR Jeff Maehl did not practice Wednesday. He suffered a concussion in Sunday's game against Arizona and it's not known whether he'll be cleared in time to play against the Lions this week.
GAME PLAN: The Eagles have nine sacks in the last two games. They don't expect to get a lot of them Sunday against the Lions' Matthew Stafford, who has been sacked just 15 times all season. But they hope they can get enough pressure on him to force him into some mistakes. Stafford, who is second in the league in passing yards, has 14 interceptions, 10 in the last five games.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Eagles CBs Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams vs. Lions WR Calvin Johnson -- Fletcher and Williams did a good job last week on Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. But the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Johnson has been unstoppable the last month-and-a-half.
--Eagles Gs Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans and C Jason Kelce vs. Lions DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley -- Suh and Fairley are the straws that stir the Lions' defense. Mathis, Herremans and Kelce are one of the league's top interior line trios. This is strength against strength.
--Eagles TE Zach Ertz vs. Lions FS Louis Delmas -- Delmas is the Lions' best defensive back, but Ertz is a tough matchup for any safety.