EAGLES NEED TO GET MUCH DEEPER ALONG THE D-LINE!

By Michael Donovan

As the NFL’s Final Four get ready to fight it out next Sunday for the NFC and AFC championships, the Eagles are again home, wondering how to get into next year’s Super Bowl tournament.

Improving the defensive line would help — Pro Football Focus has rated the Birds’ D-line 21st-best in the NFL:

Projected starters: DT Fletcher Cox (above), DT Bennie Logan; DE Brandon Graham, DE Connor Barwin; MLB Jordan Hicks, LB Mychal Kendricks, LB Nigel Bradham

Other names to know: DT Vinny Curry; DE Marcus Smith, DE Alex McCalister

Key stat: Fletcher Cox accounted for 24.7 percent of the total pressures recorded by the Eagles’ front-seven in 2015.

Shifting from a 3-4 to a 4-3 front in their base defense will put the Eagles’ two most productive players, Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan, into the heart of the defense. The defensive line is strong with a limited rotation, but beyond fifth lineman Vinny Curry, a versatile pass-rush weapon, the depth is shaky. Those issues creep into the starting lineup at linebacker, where the Eagles will have to hope Jordan Hicks can pick up where he left off in his rookie campaign to lead the group. Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham, meanwhile are coming off of poor seasons and will hope to return to former glories if the Eagles are to outperform this ranking in 2016.

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