By Joseph Santoliquito

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pressuring the quarterback was a problem for the Eagles last year, and that concern has carried over into this season.

But Eagles’ defensive coordinator Billy Davis sees a different team this training camp than the one he and the rest of coach Chip Kelly’s staff inherited from Andy Reid.

Under Davis kept saying, the Eagles defense did improve last year.

More importantly, the pass rush improved. The Eagles had 37 sacks for minus-271 yards, and though it ranked 20th overall in the NFL last year, it was the best production of any team in the NFC East.

Washington finished 21st in the NFL (36 sacks for minus-238 yards), while Dallas (minus-246 yards) and the Giants (minus-214 yards) were tied for 25th in the NFL with 34 sacks each. Now it’s not saying much, considering the Eagles are bigger and looking beyond the NFC East. However, 21 of the Eagles’ 37 sacks came in November and December. That does say something.

The Eagles’ best month was December, during the most important, grueling time of the year, when they had month-highs of 13 sacks for minus-100 yards. The Eagles averaged 2.6 sacks in games key games Arizona, Detroit, Minnesota, Chicago and Dallas. Minnesota was the only team not in the playoff picture.

Through the first eight games in 2013, the Eagles were sitting at 3-5. They gave up 211 points and 3,186 yards, while scoring 176 points and garnering 3,205. In the second half of the season, the Eagles scored 266 points and accumulated 3,471 yards and gave up 171 points and 3,118 yards.

The defensive front of nose tackle Bennie Logan and ends Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton are expected to be better this year.

“I want the defensive unit to disrupt the timing and rhythm of that quarterback, and hit him as often as we can,” Davis said. “Who it comes from, I think we have a lot of guys that have the skill set to get it done. They all understand the defense a little better this year. They’ll play a little faster, and a little more reckless in their pass rush, because they understand a lot more specifics where it’s comfortable to them now.

“I think early last year, it wasn’t comfortable. Now they know they know. They know what their responsibilities are and I anticipate the group as a whole will be better, individually and collectively at rushing the passer.”


You may also be interested in these Sports stories:

Watch & Listen LIVE