Eagles’ Shane Steichen explains the challenges of facing 49ers No. 1 defense
The Philadelphia Eagles No. 2 offense vs. the San Francisco 49ers No. 1 defense. It doesn’t get much better than that.
This is the matchup that everyone around the league has been waiting for, and luckily for us, we’re getting it on the second-biggest stage in the sport, the NFC title game.
There are several key factors that will determine the outcome of Sunday’s contest. But for most fans, their eyes will be glued to the chess match between Shane Steichen’s offensive juggernaut and Demeco Ryan’s stifling defensive unit.
When speaking with the Eagles media on Wednesday, Steichen explained the difficulties of facing such a stout defensive group.
“I think just watching them over the past couple days, they’re very sound in what they do up front,” the Eagles OC said. “It starts with (Nick) Bosa and (Arik) Armstead. Those guys are really good players. Bosa is an exceptional player. He has really good speed to power. They do a good job in their rush lanes collapsing the pocket, especially on 3rd down.”
Bosa is what makes Ryan’s defensive unit go. The 25-year-old pass rusher posted career marks in 2022, en route to becoming the clear-cut favorite to take home the Defensive Player of the Year award. He racked up 18.5 sacks, 48 QB hits, 51 combined tackles, and 19 tackles for loss.
Armstead is no slouch either. He missed a good chunk of the 2022 regular season, but managed to record a sack in his team’s first playoff game against Seattle.
Right behind San Fran’s defensive line, we have the best linebacker duo in the game with Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw. The Eagles OC had nothing but great things to say about them.
“(Fred) Warner and (Dre) Greenlaw, really good players. I can’t say enough about Warner, just the way he plays within that scheme. You can tell he prepares the right way. He understands route combinations. He has incredible instincts to where the ball is. He understands line blocking schemes of when to shoot, go through the gaps. Like I said, he plays within the scheme really well, but phenomenal instincts.”
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Warner is probably the best overall LB playing today. His 85.4 Pro Football Focus defensive grade ranks second among 81 qualifying linebackers, and his 90.1 run defense mark ranks third. Greenlaw was the sixth-highest graded linebacker this season with an 82.2 overall grade. His coverage ability really complements Warner as well. Greenlaw has earned an 84.0 coverage grade this season, good for fourth-best among backers.
But wait, there’s more.
Steichen also hailed praise on the Niners safety tandem of Pro Bowler Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson.
“Both those guys are really solid,” Steichen said. “They can fly around. That whole defense is really good.”
In short, the Niners have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. The Eagles’ offense is right there, boasting six offensive Pro Bowlers in total. It’ll be up to Steichen to put his guys in the right positions in order to succeed on Sunday.
Even he would agree, the Eagles OC will have his work cut out for him.
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