HomeDa Birds NewsFirst Priority for Matt Patricia: Fixing the Eagles' Run Defense

First Priority for Matt Patricia: Fixing the Eagles’ Run Defense

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The Philadelphia Eagles are gearing up to face the New York Giants, but Matt Patricia, the defensive coordinator, recently spoke to reporters for the first time since their loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He wasted no time acknowledging their struggles and talked about the areas they need to address moving forward.

“Not good enough of a performance here this past weekend, that falls on me. I gotta do a better job of getting our guys in positions to help us win — that’s first and foremost.

And, I do want to give Coach [Jonathan] Gannon credit. They did a great job of game-planning, I think, the offensive staff. Arizona had some great schemes and ideas, and got us into some different sets and looks — adjustments both in coverage and front, and really did an outstanding job of taking advantage of those situations.”

Patricia went on to say that those are the things he needs to focus on and get fixed, which he says they will, but noted that the guys played really hard and were competing on the field. The coaches have to do a better job putting the guys in positions to go out and perform at a high enough level to win.

“The run game is obviously the first and foremost place we’ve got to start.

I think [Arizona] did a good job of using a lot of runs that have caused issues for us — that we’re going back and making sure we have those tightened up and fixed from that standpoint. You know, run fits are a big part of defense and really some place you want to start from a defensive philosophy standpoint to make sure that you can stop the run.”

He explained that the Cardinals did some good things with the scheme, and it was good for them to see some of that now and get prepared for those.

Patricia was asked what the problem was if they’re still having these issues in Week 17, and he took ownership of the situation, saying that it’s on him for not preparing the guys well enough. When pressed, he wouldn’t put any blame on Sean Desai, saying that they all worked together to develop this defense over the course of the offseason and season, to be where they are now. It’s not as though Patricia is running a defense he didn’t have a hand in building, so things evolve from week-to-week and this week they’re putting an emphasis on stopping the run.

On second-half breakdowns

Patricia gave credit to the players who have come out strong in the first half of their last three games, and then took the blame for teams putting up a ton of points in the second half of those games. He explained that it’s something he has to evaluate, and it’s on him to make sure he’s making the right calls and getting them communicated fast enough for the players to play aggressive.

He also noted that in the second half of games, it becomes a lot more of a situational game, when there’s things like the clock, down-and-distance, and things that he has to be sure he’s aware of when calling the defense.

Patricia explained that he didn’t get a sense that players are more tired in the second-half of games — even though they’ve played a lot of snaps this season. He said that the players work really hard during the week to make sure their bodies are ready to go, and he doesn’t really see any kind of issue for them at the end of games.

“I admire the way that they come in every single day and they work, and they study, and they gotta delete all the information from the week before, start over, rebuild, go, put the effort into practice, understand we’re seeing a different offense, we’re seeing different scheme, we’re putting in new install or whatever it may be from that week game-plan wise.”

He went on to talk about how much he marvels at these guys, who he admits are the best in the world at what they do, but how they’re able to retain and explain information so quickly when it’s something relatively new. Patricia said that sometimes he just sits back and appreciates seeing guys operate at such a high level — which also admitting that no one is at the top of their game 100 percent of the time, but he appreciates them for their abilities.

On Haason Reddick’s usage

“I’m always conscious of making sure that I get our guys that can rush to rush as much as we can. And sometimes the game dictates or the personnel packages dictate a little differently in those situations. Sometimes the hash can dictate a little bit on that, too, where the ball is lined up.

I think that’s where I can do a better job of understanding that maybe we got caught in a spring of plays and sometimes that happens if you’re playing a really long series, sometimes it’s easier to correct that stuff, if it’s a quicker series, you come to the sideline and you’re looking at it like hey we need to do more of this. You get caught in a long series, sometimes that becomes a little bit more difficult.

So, I have to do a better job in that situation of saying, okay, I got stuck in this or we got stuck in this, let me change it and let me get, you know, certainly a guy like Haason [Reddick] in the mix where I think he can help us.”

Patricia pointed out that in some instances of that game, Reddick dropped back to help his teammates in space.

It was later noted that the Cardinals completed every pass thrown to a guy covered by Reddick, Brandon Graham, and Nolan Smith. Patricia admitted that if you look at every pass and all of them were caught, it’s something that he has to take responsibility for, and reiterated that guys like Reddick and Graham should be used to rush the passer as often as possible.

Other notables

  • He acknowledged that they need to address the tackling, because it wasn’t up to their standard against the Cardinals. Patricia said it boils down to fundamentals, and that’s on him to make sure he’s structuring practice and individual drills in a way that allows them to work on the details.

“We are late in the year. Two weeks ago against the Giants, we tackled extremely well in that game, and that’s something that I’ve got to make sure we keep the focus on each week of going and making sure that our approach angles are good and that our hips and ankles and knees are bent in the right direction; that we are leveraging the ball properly and we are not getting out of alignment from that standpoint; and our pad level is in the right place; and our eyes are in the right place when you tackle; and we are wrapping appropriately and driving through. Those are certainly things that you can walk through.”

  • Patricia explained that first and foremost his thoughts are on the Giants and preparing for them in Week 18. They have to go out and play well, and most importantly, win — in addition to improving the things they’re highlighting this week. So, the focus is on this week.

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