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Not just Wentz: Eagles' D deserves credit for 3-0 start

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Carson Wentz deserved the headlines this morning -- and he's getting plenty in Philadelphia -- but the Eagles' defense earned equal praise.

For as surprising as it might have been to watch a rookie QB slice through the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense like it was the Indiana State Sycamores, it's more shocking that Jim Schwartz's defense held Ben Roethlisberger and Co. to three measly points.

Entering Sunday's tilt, many noted that finally the Eagles' D would be tested after holding limping offenses from Cleveland and Chicago to a combined 24 points. Schwartz's unit did an even better job against a team that boasted the NFL's leading rusher (DeAngelo Williams), the top receiver in the league (Antonio Brown) and a future Hall of Fame quarterback (Big Ben). An offense that entered averaging 31 points per game earned three.

"Sure enough, we shut them down," Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said, via ESPN.com.

The Eagles discombobulated the Steelers from the onset, holding Big Ben to 257 yards passing and the run game to a paltry 29 yards (T-4th fewest rushing yards in franchise history since 1970). Big Ben completed just 24 of 44 passes for an interception, no touchdowns, and a 62.4 passer rating.

"We knew what they wanted to do," linebacker Jordan Hicks said. "They want to move their quarterback up in that pocket and find Antonio down the field. So we just tried to suffocate Big Ben and not let them hit that big play."

While Brown got his 140 yards, the Eagles shut down the rest of the Steelers and pressured Roethlisberger on nearly every snap.

Schwartz's defense has held each opponent to 14 points or fewer this season. Last year, the Eagles did that exactly once while giving up 27 points or more eight times.

As we've seen in his time in Tennessee, Detroit and Buffalo, Schwartz can coax pressure with his front four and drop seven into coverage, which bolsters a weak corner group -- which has been without its top cover man, Leodis McKelvin.

"When this coaching staff came in, they told us, 'We're going to give you the tools you guys need to own this defense. You guys need to take it over,'" cornerback Nolan Carroll said. "That's a great feeling as players and I think you see the results."

With Fletcher Cox making an early case for consideration behind Von Miller in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion, Brandon Graham in a defense better suited to his talents and a playmaking safety duo in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, the Eagles defense is soaring. Through three games it's the prefect mesh of talent and scheme.

If Wentz ever stumbles this season, the Eagles' D will be there to help prop up the rookie and get through a rough outing or three.

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