Eagles expect D to make strides in 2014

It was far from perfect.

The Philadelphia Eagles' defense struggled mightily at times early in the season, especially giving up 52 points at Denver.

As the 2013 season wore on, the defense steadily improved.

The defense was good enough to help the Eagles win 10 games and capture the NFC East title.

One key player who proved his mettle all season was linebacker Mychal Kendricks. He was a huge reason the defense stepped up.

“We’re so far along now, than we were last year,” Kendricks told the Delaware County Daily Times. “It’s the second year with the same guys, the same coaches. It’s a great thing.”

Kendricks registered four sacks, three interceptions and made so many big tackles in the second half of the season.

More importantly, he was familiar with coach Chip Kelly’s fast-paced system.

DeMeco Ryans was one of the leaders on defense all season. Coupled with the ever-improving Kendricks, the unit should be even stronger in 2014.

“If for some reason DeMeco is not here, gets an injury, rolls an ankle, he’s sick, Mychal can step in,” Kelly told reporters. “That’s just part of everybody getting outside of their comfort zone and expanding their role. Instead of waiting for someone to tell him what we are going to call he’s going to make the call himself. ... I think sometimes Mychal leaned on DeMeco and didn’t make the decisions himself.”