Kerryon Johnson knows the Eagles’ run defense has been near-impenetrable so far this season. The Lions running back doesn’t care because he’s planning to run roughshod all over it.
Johnson, who is averaging a minuscule 3.2 yards per game, had strong words for the Lions’ opponent on the eve of their showdown in South Philadelphia. He has read all the scouting reports. He knows the Eagles have allowed a stingy 40 rushing yards over the past two weeks to two excellent running backs. The unit held the Redskins’ Derrius Guice to 18 yards on 10 carries and then boxed in the Falcons’ Devonta Freeman to 22 yards on 11 carries. They have surrendered 85 rushing yards in two games.
The way Johnson sees it, every dog has his day. And this dog is ready to bark.
“Everybody gives up (yards) eventually,” Johnson told Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press. “No matter how good your run defense is. You’re never perfect. Those are good backs. They stopped them that week. But this is a whole new week, we’re a whole new offense they have to deal with and we look forward to running.”
As a team, the Lions have 210 total rushing yards this season, with Johnson accounting for 90 of them. He has rushed for five first downs while failing to get into the end zone on the ground. Johnson does have a score through the air. But Detroit’s average of 3.5 yards per play ranks 25th in the entire NFL.
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Eagles Run Defense Looks Nasty After Two Weeks
The Eagles have lost two stud defensive tackles in consecutive weeks after Malik Jackson went down with a Lisfranc injury in Week 1, followed by Tim Jernigan suffering a broken foot in Week 2. These are major blows to a defensive line that was thought to be thin entering the season. However, the unit has been suffocating against the run. They have allowed just 37.0 yards per game and rank third in the league in that department.
With their big run-stoppers in the middle missing, it has been the unexpected play of their linebackers turning away opposing rushers. Nigel Bradham leads the Eagles with a team-high 11 tackles, along with nine tackles from Zach Brown. Tackles are a tad misleading, though. According to Pro Football Focus, Bradham has also missed four tackles and graded out as the league’s fourth-worst tackling linebacker.
Still, the fact remains that teams have been ineffective running the ball against the Eagles. Credit safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod for stepping up and bearing down on the run. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz likes to cheat and use his safeties in the box, much like linebackers. The Eagles should throw new defensive tackle Akeem Spence into the mix against Detroit.
“Defensive tackles, every single play get contact, and it’s a tough position to play. You have sometimes 700 pounds of guys pushing on you with double teams and stuff like that,” Schwartz told reporters. “We take an approach trying to keep guys fresh, and I think that served us well over long term, but short term, doesn’t always work out that way. We’ll just take it as it comes a little bit like the corner position.”
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