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Friday, October 7, 2011
Eagles need defensive turnaround vs Bills

By John McTigue

The Philadelphia Eagles travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills on Sunday, looking to end its three-game losing streak. This is the first time since Week 12-14 of 2007 the Eagles have lost three straight regular season games. Another loss would give Philadelphia its first four-game slide since 2005 and possibly doom the Eagles postseason chances. Under the 12-team playoff format (1990-10), only five of the 100 teams to start 1-4 have reached the playoffs.

During their current losing streak, the Eagles have taken a lead into the fourth quarter of each game only to be outscored by a combined 36-0 in the final period. It’s the first time the Eagles have lost three straight games when leading through three quarters since Weeks 15-17 of 1994.

If you’re looking for reasons why the Eagles blew a 20-point lead last week, look no further than the red zone. Philadelphia scored TDs on just two of seven red zone possessions, lost fumbles at the San Francisco 49ers four and 32-yard lines and missed FG attempts of 39 and 33 yards.

Overall, the Eagles nine fourth-quarter possessions have resulted in three turnovers, two missed FG, two turnovers on downs, one punt and the end of the game.

Not only are the Eagles struggling offensively, but defensively as well. Philadelphia is blitzing less this season and are actually picking up sacks at the highest dropback rate this season thanks to Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins. However, their prized cornerbacks and lack of linebackers are causing big problems.

The Eagles are pass rushing five or more at the 28th highest rate this season after ranking in the top five each season from 2008 to 2010. The Eagles have allowed a Total QBR of 63.1 when rushing four or fewer compared to 28.7 when rushing five or more this season.

Philadelphia’s rush defense has struggled stopping runners between the tackles. The Eagles are giving up a league-worst 6.2 yards per rush between the tackles this season. In addition, the 503 yards allowed is second-to-last and the 21 first downs allowed between the tackles is tied for 27th.

This week, the Eagles defense gets to face Fred Jackson, who is seventh in the NFL with 516 yards from scrimmage this season. That’s the most by a Buffalo Bills player through four team games since Thurman Thomas in 1992 (533 yards).

One more problem for Philly is that Jackson has the most rush attempts against defenses with five or more defensive backs this season, posting the most yards and yards after contact as well. The Eagles are allowing 3.3 yards per rush more than the second worst defense in those formations this season.