Mikell, Defense Gets Stingy Versus Bengals… But Still Room For Improvement
By Lance Epstein
While the offensive side of the ball struggled, the first-team defense looked good for the second week in a row. Certainly, the first-unit defense had a drop off from last week, but it was expected as they faced a much more talented and high-powered offensive team in the Bengals.
One noticeable area of concern for the defense is that they allowed Bengals rookie TE Jermaine Gresham to beat them in the middle of the field. He frequently found holes in the defense and was a major reason the Eagles were not able to force more three-and-outs.
Remember this was a problem that plagued the Eagles last year and over the past decade since LB Carlos Emmons was let go. Furthermore, with the amount of first-class receiving tight ends in the NFC East, the Eagles must improve on this facet of the game otherwise the defense will have a hard time getting off the field and will wear down towards the end of the season.
In spite of that one negative, the defense stood tall as they only gave up seven points. The defense was still effective even with starting CB Asante Samuel on the sidelines and Joselio Hanson replacing him.
Despite, Hanson being picked on early and often by the Bengals (and getting beat several times), the Eagles still managed wrecked havoc on the Bengals offense. The Eagles secondary created two turnovers as they picked off QB Carson Palmer twice in the first half (once by Dimitri Patterson and the other by Quintin Mikell after Stewart Bradley nearly knocked out Cha OchoCinco—OchoCinco requested Tylenol on his twitter account after the hit).
Ultimately, the Eagles defense demonstrated that they are a vastly improved unit and that they could regain their 2008 form, which was a top five defense in the NFL.
Here are some of the quotes from safety Quintin Mikell on his and the defenses’ performance:
On getting what he wanted from first-string defense:
"Well, ideally you want to hold them to zero points. But, at the end of the day we just want to see us flying around, making plays on the ball, getting turnovers and getting big plays. And that's what we're about. So we're working towards it, we're getting better and better every week. Really, this is our first time getting more than six plays. So, we saw some things we need to work on and we're just going to keep getting better every week."
On the defense accomplishing some of the goals that they were not able to do last week because they played only six snaps:
"We wanted to come out, we wanted to establish ourselves in terms of being physical, make plays on the ball, getting after the quarterback. And also we wanted to see how we would do if we had some bad plays. We gave up a couple big runs, more than we wanted to, then they had the big play to T.O. We just wanted to see what we could do when we made bad plays, how we would bounce back. We're still gelling and we're still bringing this whole thing together. It's been a good feeling and we're excited about it."
On CB Dimitri Patterson's interception setting the tone:
"Yeah, anytime you get turnovers and big plays, that's what it's about on defense. No doubt about it, man. That's a good offense, they've got some good receivers and I think we had a pretty good game. We had a couple picks and made some plays. They had one play on us but we came back. So, that's what we want to see at this point in the year."
"Absolutely man. You're going to have good plays, you're going to have bad plays, but the mark of a good defense is a team that – no matter what – you come back on the next play. So, they had a good play. It was a good throw by (Bengals QB Carson) Palmer, a good catch by T.O. (Terrell Owens). At the end of the day we've got to keep playing ball and we came back and did what we were supposed to do."
On the defense’s resiliency, which was exemplified by his interception coming right after the last Bengals possession where they scored a touchdown: