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By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Slightly overshadowed by the musical chairs the Eagles have been playing at quarterback, the Eagles defense each week seems to be improving.
It’s the one area that’s shined in the brief 1-2 dip the Eagles have taken in the last three weeks. When the offense struggled to score a touchdown against Dallas and the New York Giants, it’s the defense that kept the Eagles in those games.
Against Oakland on Sunday, Raiders’ running-threat quarterback Terrelle Pryor was rendered a nonfactor by linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who kept Pryor contained.
It’s something that Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly has seen coming.
“I thought Mychal did a nice job [against the Raiders],” Kelly said. “A couple of times he got knocked off just at the last second the one time he was blitzing and let Pryor get outside. But he really used his athleticism to put [Pryor] is spots to make plays. I think Mychal is one of those guys that every single week he keeps getting better and better. I think he probably had his best game the week before that. He’s really starting to come along and it’s exciting.”
Since the beginning of the season, rookie safety Earl Wolff has also made marked improvement. Kelly chalks that up to the experience he’s gained, now playing in a rotation with Patrick Chung and Nate Allen. When route combinations occur, Wolff now knows how to react, because it’s not the first time he’s seen them.
“He’s not biting the underneath route and getting the ball thrown over the top,” Kelly said. “When he’s in a zone, he can disguise a little better, because he knows where he’s supposed to be when the ball is snapped. He can move around and be a little more familiar in what we’re trying to do. You gain see him gaining experience and see his confidence growing.”
Defensively up front, Kelly lauded the work done by Fletcher Cox, and he also noted Trent Cole, long an MIA on the defensive front, finally get his first sack of the season in the Oakland game.
“I thought we did a really good job up front pressuring [Pryor]; I don’t know if there is anybody faster than him,” Kelly said. “I would say, him, [Robert Griffin III] and [Colin] Kaepernick are probably the three fastest guys, and there were a couple of times where he broke contain where if anyone else, we would have had a sack. I thought Fletch and Trent really played well up front in terms of creating some havoc up there.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.