IN TRYING to explain how his defense managed to get scorched for 283 rushing yards Sunday by Doug Martin and the Tampa Bay Bucs, Bill Davis mentioned missed gap fits, missed tackles and bad angles.
Linebacker DeMeco Ryans agreed with all of those Tuesday, and even added one of his own: lack of effort.
"The runs were (about) gaps and also tackling and effort getting to the ball," Ryans said. "Even if somebody is out of a gap, if you have all 11 guys really going and getting after the ballcarrier, you're not going to have those types of runs happen."
The Bucs ran 42 times Sunday. Gained just 97 yards on 38 of them. On the other four, though, Martin, who had 235 of the Bucs' 283 rushing yards, struck oil. Broke free for 84-, 58-, 27- and 17-yard runs.
"It just, overall, it wasn't us out there," said Ryans, who got victimized on one of the long runs. "It was uncharacteristic of the way we play. It didn't look like the Eagles' defense that had been out there before that.
"I would just like to throw that out and say that was a horrible week, a bad week. We weren't ourselves. And let's go out this week and see if we can correct it and go back to playing ball the way we usually play. And that's forcing turnovers and stopping the run."
Said Davis: "I guess the good news is that 38 of (the runs) don't need fixing. But those other (four) damn well have to be fixed."
Ryans found little solace in the it-was-only-four-runs rationale. If somebody fires 42 shots at you and only four of them hit you in the head, you're just as dead as if all 42 found the mark.
"You can say it was only four big plays that they got on us, but it still happened," Ryans said. "And those shouldn't have happened."
The good news this week is they are playing a team that views the run game the way I view crabgrass. The Lions are averaging a league-low 20.7 rushing attempts per game, though lately they seem to be making a little bit of an effort to strike a better balance between the run and the pass. They ran the ball 31 times last week in their 18-13 win over Oakland.
That said, the Lions' offense still is about the pass. And if the Eagles happen to win Thursday, it will be because they neutralized quarterback Matthew Stafford, not because they shut down running backs Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell.
Stafford has one of the league's strongest arms, as well as one of the league's very best wide receivers - Calvin Johnson - at his disposal. But his confidence in his arm often causes him to use poor judgment. His 12 interceptions are tied for the second most in the league.
The Eagles, who have blitzed on 28.5 percent of their opponents' pass plays this season, blitzed the Bucs' Jameis Winston on 12 of 30 pass plays, or 40 percent, Sunday.
Sometimes they were effective and sometimes they weren't. Winston completed six of 11 passes for 86 yards and two of his five touchdowns when the Eagles sent extra rushers.
More often than not this season, the Eagles' blitz has been effective. They have a 73.0 opponent passer rating when they've blitzed and a 94.3 rating when they haven't.
On Thursday, they likely will blitz Stafford quite a bit, because if he has time to look for Johnson and the rest of his cast of receivers, well, you can kiss the Eagles' hanging-by-a-thread season goodbye.
Stafford has struggled against the blitz. Over the last five years, he has a 79.4 passer rating against the blitz. Thirteen of his 26 sacks this season have come against the blitz. He has completed just 59.4 percent of his passes and has three interceptions against the blitz.
"You have to bring the pressure on him and let him know that we're not going to sit back and allow him to pick us apart," Ryans said. "Because the guy has a big arm and some big targets. We can't allow him to get comfortable in the pocket. I think we've been getting good pressure with the blitz. But we have to continue to dial it up even more to force the offense's hand."
Figuring the Eagles
*The Eagles are 29th in the league in third-down efficiency with a 33.6 success rate. Chip Kelly has attributed his team's difficulty in converting third downs to an inordinate number of third-and-longs. But that's really not the case. Seventy-two of the Eagles' 140 third-down situations, or 51.5 percent, have been seven yards or longer. That's actually a smaller percentage than in 2013 (52.1) and only slightly bigger than in 2014 (47.7). The Eagles converted 43.5 percent of their third downs last year, and 39.0 percent in 2013. The Eagles have converted just 19.4 percent of their third downs of seven yards or longer this season. Last year, they converted 36.3 percent of them, and in 2013, 26.1 percent. A percentage breakdown of the Eagles' third-down situations this season and in each of the last two years:
* DeMarco Murray is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry on first down this season (78-219). By comparison, LeSean McCoy averaged 4.6 last season (175-796) and 5.0 in 2013 (157-780).
* The Eagles continue to have problems defending the pass on third down. Opponents have a 94.1 passer rating against the Eagles on third down. They have given up 49 passing first downs on third down, which is the third most in the league. Twenty-one of those 49 have come in the last three games. The Bucs' Jameis Winston completed nine of 12 passes for 101 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles on third down. The Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill completed eight of 12 passes for 121 yards. The Cowboys' Matt Cassel completed eight of 11 for 110 yards and two third-down touchdown passes.
* The Eagles have been having their biggest problems against the run early in games. In the last four games, opponents have averaged 8.4 yards per carry on their first seven rushing attempts against the Eagles. Six of those 28 carries have gained 10 yards or more. Ten have picked up six:
* Mark Sanchez completed five of 10 third-down passes for 88 yards in Sunday's loss to the Bucs. Those 88 yards were the most third-down passing yards the Eagles have had in a game this season. The previous high was 63 yards against Carolina in Week 7.
* Playing at home on Thanksgiving hasn't been a big advantage for the Lions lately. While they have won their last two Turkey Day games, they had lost nine in a row before that by a combined score of 319-113.
From the lip
* "He is aware that everything he does - his personality, his style, his enthusiasm - it's all going to be interpreted negatively. If he's not aware of that, then he's hurting a lot of people."
- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, on DE Greg Hardy
* "He likes me, I know that. I was calling him Brady, too."
- Bills coach Rex Ryan, after being told Tom Brady hollered out his name during pre-snap on a play Monday night
* "Aw, man, I'm always confident. My confidence is all the way up to 1,000. The only way my confidence goes down is when I'm dead. And I'm not sure it'll go down then. I think the Lord will know I'm confident. He'll be like, 'Dang, I got a confident guy up here.' "
- Lions CB Darius Slay, after holding Raiders WR Amari Cooper to one catch for four yards last week
By the numbers
* Chiefs QB Alex Smith has thrown a franchise-record 253 straight passes without an interception.
* The Eagles will be happy to know they were a part of history last week. The Bucs are the first team ever to have a quarterback throw for five touchdown passes and a running back rush for 200 yards in a road game.
* Carolina and New England both are 10-0. It's just the fourth time in league history that there have been multiple 10-0 teams in a season. The other three times: 1934, 1990 and 2009.
* J.J. Watt had two sacks in the Texans' win over the Jets last week. It was his 19th career multisack game, tying Hall of Famer Richard Dent for the second most by a player in his first five NFL seasons. Only the late, great ex-Eagle Reggie White had more in his first five seasons (24).
In advance of next spring's draft, we periodically pick the brains of NFL scouts and ask them to break down some of the top players. Today, an NFC personnel man takes a look at Cal quarterback Jared Goff and Mississippi offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil:
QB, Cal (6-4 1/2, 218, Junior)
Scout: "One thing you need to realize going in with this year's quarterback crop is that if you put Winston and Mariota in this draft, it would be Winston and Mariota and then this class. There is considerable separation between them and these guys, including Goff, who I think will be the best quarterback on the board, assuming he comes out.
"He's only 218 pounds and looks skinny. But he'll be a 235-pound guy when all is said and done. He's really smart. He's been coached well the last three years by Sonny Dykes. He's very astute in the passing game. They give him a lot of leeway. I don't always trust what coaches tell me, but according to Dykes, they give him three plays (to pick from) and he can choose any of the three. So he's able to get them in and out of plays.
"He's got great vision. He has a cannon for an arm. He's mobile. The one concern I have is that sometimes he doesn't have enough touch on the ball, like with the checkdowns and slide routes under 10 yards. But he's gotten better than a year ago on that.
"Durability is a concern. You look at him physically and say 'wow.' He's got really skinny legs. But he's going to get bigger and stronger. His offensive line isn't very good and he's taken a lot of hits. But he's a tough kid. He just gets up and doesn't complain or bitch.
"In my mind, he's the closest to Mariota and Winston. I could see somebody taking him in the top five because they're going to project a little bit. Even though he's played mostly in the (shot) gun, he's played some under center. Of all these (spread formation) quarterbacks that have come out the last 3-4 years - and I'm not counting Jameis because he didn't play in a spread offense, you'd worry less about (Goff) making the transition than anybody else.
"Is he perfect? No. But if you said, 'OK, you've got to pick a quarterback right now, he'd be the guy I would pick. I think he's better than (Paxton) Lynch, better than (Christian) Hackenberg, better than (Connor) Cook."
OT, Mississippi (6-5, 307, Junior)
Scout: "Tunsil is the whole package. He's got really good feet, really good hand use. The one area that he needs to improve on - and he will - is his lower (body) strength. People try to run him down the middle. If he can't win with his hands, he has trouble anchoring. They don't run over him, but he has to give ground.
"It's maybe a little unfair to say that because when I went down there, it was only his second week back (from a seven-game suspension for accepting illegal benefits from a booster). Everybody else already had played 7-8 games.
"But he's what you look for in a left tackle. Body type. Hand use. Feet. He's got really good feet and long arms. He's probably the first tackle off the board. If you have any reservations about his (lower-) body strength, you could play him on the right side to start. But I wouldn't have any reservations about making him my starting left tackle Day 1. Until he gets more strength in his lower body, he'll figure out a way (to compensate) athletically to win."
DeMarco Murray, who had a league-high 45 runs of 10 yards or more last season when he won the NFL rushing title and had a league-high 392 carries, has 15 runs of 10-plus yards in 141 carries this season.
The list of running backs with 15 or more 10-plus yard carries this season:
Source: Pro Football Reference