Eagles defense has a handful of things that need to go right

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Of all the things that went wrong for the Eagles at the end of last season, the disintegration of the defense was the most damaging.

A season-long battle to find four healthy defensive backs to put on the field eventually led to every other portion of the defense to crater and eventually splinter into smithereens.

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Any chance for the Eagles to return to respectability at worst and Super Bowl contention at best hinges on the defense figuring out how to stop teams and get the Eagles offense back onto the field.

Here are five things that the defense needs to get right this year.

Restore leadership and continuity

The Eagles had two disastrous performances out of their defensive coaching booth last season. Sean Desai opened the season with the job only to see Matt Patricia take over defensive play-calling duties midway through the season.

Ironically the hiring of new coordinator Vic Fangio comes a year after Miami hired the veteran coach away from the Eagles last offseason. Fangio was a consultant for the team during its Super Bowl season of 2022, but left when former coordinator Jonathan Gannon dragged his feet before eventually being hired as Cardinals head coach.

Fangio should bring clarity and a renewed aggression to the Eagles defense.

Get younger up front

The retirement of defensive tackle Fletcher Cox will leave a huge hole in the Eagles defense and especially its leadership.

A lot of the responsibility for replacing Cox’s on-field efforts will come down to the play of a trio of young linemen.

Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis and Nolan Smith have more in common than just being University of Georgia products, the young trio will be counted on to do far more than just flash the talent that made them top draft picks.

The excuses are over, Smith needs to be an impactful defender from the edge, while Davis and, especially, Carter will have to anchor the interior line, which should kick start the Eagles pass rush that all but disappeared at the end of last season.

Get a rookie boost

There’s a reason the Eagles drafted two of the top cornerback prospects in the league at the top of the draft. The Eagles need Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell or Iowa’s Cooper DeJean to live up to their billing and become anchors for the next generation of Eagles defensive stars.

Even if one of the two rookies makes an immediate impact, the Eagles defense will be immeasurably better.

Make linebackers matter again

The Eagles famously, or infamously, haven’t prioritized the linebacker position in recent years. Newsflash, they matter.

Out of an uncertain group that includes Zack Baun, Devin White, Oren Burks, Nakobe Dean or even rookie Jeremiah Trotter Jr., the Eagles need someone to step up and make an impact for them.

For too long, the Eagles have neglected the linebacker position, that stops now.

Bring back that swagger

Does anyone remember Andre Waters? How about Brian Dawkins? Jerome Brown, anyone?

Philadelphia likes offense. Scoring touchdowns is fun.

Philadelphia loves defense. Getting the chance to smack around Cowboys, Giants and whatever that Washington team calls itself on any given week is what gets Eagles fans up on Sunday mornings.   

The Eagles lost a bit of that swagger at the end of last year. It doesn’t really matter which position that swagger comes from, the Eagles need to get it back. Once they do, all things will snap back in place, a winning place, for the Eagles.

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