"That's how we measure ourselves, by sacks and tackles," defensive end Jason Babin said. "It's obviously frustrating. But when a team decides to make that conscious decision - not to drop back and to use max [protection] - look at what the scores have been.
"We haven't had sacks, but they're low numbers. They're picking their poison by not trying to open it up."
Through five games, the Eagles have given up 99 points - an average of 19.8 points per game, a number that should give your team a chance to win most weeks. They are 3-2 after Sunday's last-second loss to the Steelers.
The Eagles have also given up 40 points as a result of nine turnovers - which cannot and should not be pinned against the defense. If you were to even cut that number in half - which should be a reasonable ideal through five contests - and the Eagles' points-per-game drops to an average of 15.8.
The problem is that the Eagles offense has averaged just 16 points-per-game.
On Sunday, Ben Roethlisberger stayed on his feet - something Big Ben does better than the average NFL quarterback does anyway - by utilizing quick drops to get rid of the ball. He threw for just 207 yards (21-for-37) and no touchdowns after racking up 659 yards and six touchdowns over his last two games.
The Eagles were able to hit him a total of eight times. Most were just a split second too late to bring him down.
Pittsburgh's offensive line was scrambling a bit on Sunday, whistled for five separate offensive holding calls.
"They're a great defense," Roethlisberger said. "They get after it. [Our offensive line] line] did a great job against a great pass rush. They rotate nine guys and they're fresh and our guys are tired."
The quick-drop theory is one that Kevin Kolb utilized so well against the Eagles in Arizona, something Eli Manning tried to replicate a week ago. It really is the only key to minimizing the Eagles' thunderous push - other than protecting Roethlisberger with six linemen in the "max protection" scheme.
"Especially late in the game, they started going to max protection and throwing the ball fast," Cullen Jenkins said. "It's frustrating up front because we were rushing our tails off, getting some pressure, getting some hits. But we weren't fast enough.
"I think [Roethlisberger] did a good job avoiding the rush. They went to a lot more check-downs, a lot more screens, max protections. That stuff makes it tough."
The Birds are 75-24-1 under Andy Reid in games when posting three or more sacks. That hasn't exactly translated this season, since the Eagles are 0-1 (Arizona) in the only game this season in which they've hit that plateau. That doesn't mean Reid was pleased that the Eagles did not sack Roethlisberger.
"For the most part, he had pressure," Reid said. "He had to move in the pocket and make his throws where he extended plays. You have to get him down once you get your hands on him. That's been an issue with every team that's played him. When you're that close, you have to get him down. He's good at it. He's very good at that."
Last season, the Eagles tied for the league lead with 50 sacks - an average of 3.125 per game - with 46 of them coming from their front four. Babin alone posted 16 1/2 sacks, buying him a ticket to his second Pro Bowl. This season is about a third of the way over - and the Eagles would need to average four sacks per week to hit that mark again.
Last season, the Eagles had 16 sacks - nine more than this year - through five games. Their record was 2-3. This year, they are 3-2, having held three dynamic offenses (Pittsburgh, Baltimore and New York) to an average of 18.7 points.
It is clear that the pressure, skill and hunger has not changed; the Eagles had 73 hurries through the first four games this season. If that pressure has resulted in less tangible sacks but an entire change in scheme to combat it, that is where the success should be judged.
"It's called respect," Trent Cole said. "When they use the max protect, that means they're going against the [expletive] best D-line in the league. They don't do it against any other teams, but everyone does it against us, because they're worried about going against our D-line. That's real talk. That's just commonsense, it's right there in front of your face."
Contact Frank Seravalli at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DNFlyers.