FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- They know how bad it looked. Jay Cutler with all sorts of time in the pocket. The Bears converting one 3rd-and-long after another. Chicago’s offensive line barely tested.
It looked, at times last Friday night at Soldier Field, like some of the same dormant moments from last year’s pass rush from the Eagles' defensive line.
“No doubt, no doubt,” defensive end Cedric Thornton said. “But it's the preseason.”
Maybe, but the Eagles' defensive line didn’t exactly make its reputation off hitting quarterbacks last season. Sure, the responsibilities are different. In a 3-4, two-grap front, the three down linemen are supposed to play the run first. Pass rush usually comes from outside linebackers and nickel specialists.
But ends Thornton and Fletcher Cox and nose Bennie Logan also need to show they can generate pressure when the Eagles are in base defense. This isn’t 1994 or even 2004. Opponents aren’t running on every first down.
Cox, especially, needs to get his pass rush going. The 12th overall pick from the 2012 draft has been quiet all camp, as most defensive linemen are. He barely came within arm’s reach of Cutler in the preseason opener.
Not until Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham and rookie Beau Allen entered the game did the defense show signs of life in the pass rush.
“Of course we could have done better as a team,” said Logan, who didn’t play in the preseason opener because of a bum hamstring but will play Friday night against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. “A few mistakes cost us the game, things that we polished up and worked on the past week.
“You'll see improvement on it. You can't take anything away from Cutler. Cutler is a good quarterback. Of course, anytime you give a quarterback that much time, of course he's going to make the pass.”
This time, the name changes from Cutler to Brady.
That’s Tom Brady, the one with three Super Bowl rings and one of the game’s most natural feels for sidestepping traffic in a dirty pocket. He’s protected by one of the league’s best offensive lines.
Give him time, he’ll carve you apart worse than Cutler can.
“It’s real important [to get pressure],” Thornton said. “But, I mean, it's preseason. We're not running all our plays. Basically we're just trying to get 1-on-1 situations, just try to pass rush out of a basic defense. It's kind of hard when you're not blitzing and you're not showing all your stuff on defense. I think we did a good job [against Chicago]. We could definitely do better, but getting to the quarterback is kind of hard in the 3–4 when you've got to play the run first.”