Sunday Afternoon Blues continued after a brief pause last week, as the Philadelphia Eagles fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In a hard-fought game, the Eagles could not find an answer for rookie receiver Chase Claypool. He lit up the defense for 4 scores. In an oddly familiar fashion, this game was lost due to the defense failing to make a stop. There are many positives to take from this game. However, none of the positives comes from the Eagles defense. In all honesty, it’s hard to pick a Defensive Player of the Week for this game, as no one seemed to want to play defense on Sunday. However, there was an unlikely hero. One guy proved to want the game more than any of his teammates. That pick is none other than (I can’t believe I’m saying it either) Duke Riley.
Eagles LB Duke Riley
Hear me out. This Eagles defense flat out stunk on Sunday. But Duke Riley had a career day against a high powered offense. Toting a whopping 13 tackles, Riley easily led the defense and added a tackle for loss to his resume. Perhaps his biggest play came when the Eagles needed it most. He forced a fumble on Eric Ebron, sparking life to an Eagles 4th quarter comeback. Duke Riley has not been impressive over his career as an Eagle, but he proved Sunday that he could play, and he plays with passion. His game was huge this week. Riley had 13 total tackles, one more than he has had in all 4 games this season combined. That isn’t necessarily a stat to be proud of, but Riley showed significant improvement this week against an offense capable of beating many competent NFL defenses.
A Weak LB Core
Everyone knows the Eagles have the worst linebacker core in the NFL. This game helped ease the pain a little. It brings a little bit of satisfaction to know one guy in the LB core at least wants to play ball. Riley was all over the field Sunday afternoon, bringing down guys for 4 straight quarters. He certainly isn’t the biggest, fastest, or most talented linebacker in the NFL. Nevertheless, Duke Riley plays with something the rest of the defense could have used Sunday: Passion. Even in a blowout, Riley did his best to play to the whistle. Unfortunately, a terrible day as a unit overpowered his career day as an individual. This was an ugly and awful game by the Eagles defense this week. Duke Riley came to play, though, and it showed in the box score. His tremendous effort and passion showed true on Sunday, making him my pick for Eagles Defensive Player of the Week.