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Linval Joseph, Ndamukong Suh Can Make a Very Good Defense a Great One

The Eagles' defense was stout before the arrival of the two veterans, but chinks in the armor had begun to show in the run defense
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Linval Joseph had a dream. Several of them.

Whether he was dozing on his couch with an NFL game on the TV or tucked in for the night. There’s an image for you - a 6-4, 345-pound man tucked in for the night under his covers ready to sleep like a baby.

Until the dreams arrive.

He would dream of playing football again. Of lining up where he has always been able to wreak havoc – over a center’s head.

“I promise you I’d been dreaming about this opportunity, come on a team, being a sparkplug, helping the team win,” said Joseph. “Everything that happened (Sunday), I promise you, I had a dream about it.”

Joseph played more than he expected in the Eagles’ 17-16 comeback win over the Colts on Sunday, on the field for 40% of the snaps. Ndamukong Suh, the other newcomer signed a day after the Eagles added Joseph last week, played 26% of the snaps.

Perhaps the arrival of the two will spur dreams of the Eagles going from a very good defense to a great one.

"I just want to continue to add value and be one of the guys to help this team get into the playoffs and hopefully win a championship," said Suh.

It takes more than personnel, though, to make that happen.

It should be made clear that as much as the two new, veteran additions helped in the win, the Eagles defense was already doing well enough to win eight games.

Jonathan Gannon critics won’t like this stat even a little bit, but it’s impressive and needs to be pointed out:

The Eagles have recorded 30-plus sacks (33) and 20-plus takeaways (21) while allowing less than 20 points per game (18.3) through 10 games for just the third time in history.

Want to guess which two defensive coordinators did that for the Eagles?

Not Jim Schwartz, who led the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship as their DC.

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It was Jim Johnson in 2001 and Buddy Ryan in 1989.

Add Gannon to that list now.

Yes, there were chinks in the armor that had begun showing up before Joseph and Suh arrived. Like the run defense, but, still, eight straight wins through the middle of November wasn’t all because of the offense.

There was nobody better at taking away the ball than this defense before Joseph and Suh burst onto the scene.

And they are still atop the league with 21, ahead of the Ravens and Bills, both of whom have 18.

The Eagles rang up four more sacks against Matt Ryan. They all came from the defensive line.

Suh and Joseph shared one, but Milton Williams had his second of the season and first since the end of October.

Haason Reddick had one and took over the team lead at 7.5, just a half-sack more than Javon Hargrave.

And, of course, Brandon Graham may have had the biggest when he took Ryan down as the Colts tried to work their way into the field goal range for a potential game-winning kick.

“BG just has this knack of making plays in critical moments, as this entire city knows,” said head coach Nick Sirianni on Monday.

The Eagles had 29 sacks all of last season. Their 33 puts them only behind the Cowboys (42), and Patriots (36).

“We thought the entire defensive line played really well (against the Colts),” said Sirianni on Monday. “Obviously those two guys (Joseph and Suh) played really well. It was exciting to see that, and felt like all the plays that we felt were splash or play-of-the-game type caliber plays had something to do with the defensive line.

“…look forward to continuing to get them in and mixing them into an already really outstanding defensive line that I think a lot of teams in this league would be salivating to have.”

This is a city that loves defense, so what's not to love about this one?

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.