Wake-Up Call: Trotter Evaluates the LBs

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This morning we yield the floor to Jeremiah Trotter. 

We asked the Axe Man to give his take on the Eagles’ linebacker play through six games, and he obliged. Pretty simple exercise: we fired a player’s name at Trotter, and he shot back with some analysis. This is how he sees it.


DeMeco Ryans: "This last game he got beat on a little shake route and came back on the next play and tried to kill the running back [laughs]...I would say at times he could play a little bit more downhill. But he's playing good. He's the leader out there. He's the elder statesman and the guys are playing better, and I think that's in direct relation to his leadership.

"Obviously he's not the same guy he was in Houston. He was young back then. He can't go back in time and get those fresh legs back but he still is a guy that you can depend on to make big plays.

"DeMeco is a football player. It doesn't really matter what type of system you put him in, eventually he is going to adjust."

Trent Cole: "He doesn't look like he's comfortable. He came out in the Redskins game and dominated like the old Trent Cole and I was thinking, 'Wow, he picked this up a lot faster than I thought.' Then he had some games where you kind of didn't hear his name called, so that goes to show that he is still trying to get adjusted. He has to get to where he is not thinking so much and can just go out and play football. When Trent Cole can just go out and let it loose, that's when he is at his best, when he is reckless and can just go out there and have fun and just not even think about what's going on. Right now I think he's just trying to get adjusted, and it's going to take some time."

Mychal Kendricks: "He is the best linebacker right now. He's the most active linebacker I can see.

"He's explosive. He has a great nose for the ball. He's making a lot of plays for them. You see him around the ball a lot. He just has to continue to grow...When he's facing veteran receivers or veteran tight ends they kind of get the best of him because he doesn't really understand coverages as much as he should, covering a guy one-on-one like that, and they kind of take advantage of his aggressiveness. And that's going to happen when you're young, it's going to happen. You just have to continue to play through it and continue to learn from it."

Connor Barwin: "He is a little more consistent because he has played in a 3-4 before so he is used to being in space, used to being in that up position.

"He's a pretty consistent guy. He's not a guy that is going to go out and just take over a game but he is a solid player. He tries to go out and do what you ask him to do. You can tell he's a little more comfortable at stand-up linebacker position then Trent is. He came up with a huge sack against Tampa. He goes out, plays solid, and you know what you have with him."

Brandon Graham: "He's going through what Trent Cole's going through. He's always been in a 4-3, always had his hand in the dirt. People don't understand that going from a three-point and a two-point is like night and day. Both of those guys are athletic enough to get the job done, it's just going to take a little bit of time to get accustomed to it. We're only six games into the season. It seems like it's been longer but it really hasn't been that long. Hopefully around eight or nine games into the season you should start seeing those guys get a little more comfortable each and every week. They might never adjust to it, but they're athletic enough, they're hard workers, and I think they'll get adjusted to it."

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil provides a detailed review of the offense's performance in Tampa.

Chip Kelly says there has been no dropoff in the offense since Nick Foles replaced Michael Vick.

Zach Ertz's playing time continues to rise. More in Kapadia's weekly snap-count analysis.

A breakdown of where things really stand when it comes to these quarterbacks.

DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper get loose in Tampa. 

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

John Gonzalez interrupts this QB debate to provide a little bright side.

There are the Michael Vick people and there are the Nick Foles people and there is nobody in between. The quarterback fervor is in full froth –- less a reasoned conversation than a screaming match between opposing camps who are utterly convinced that the other side is populated by slow-witted rubes unable to see the obvious truth. Both groups are so certain, so sure. The irony there is lost on almost everyone...

What we’ve missed so far, or ignored, or had drowned out by all the recalcitrant shouting, is the happy reality: The Eagles are in a good spot. They have two quarterbacks who have performed well this season. Even in this town, that ought to be cause for celebration rather than divisiveness.

The Cowboys are expected to be without two of their key players. From ESPN.

DeMarcus Ware has not missed a game since entering the NFL in 2005, but that streak could be in question because of an injury he suffered Sunday night.

Ware suffered a pulled quadriceps during the team's 31-16 win against the Washington Redskins. A source told ESPN Dallas that Ware is not likely to play this week but the team would not rule him out yet, either.

Running back DeMarco Murray was injured against Washington as well and likely will be unable to play Sunday against Philadelphia, a source said. Murray suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

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COMING UP

We'll hear from the coordinators in the morning, and Vick and Foles in the afternoon.

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  • nicksaenz1

    Trotter must be missing all of the missed tackles from Kendricks. I would have thought he’d have jumped all over that issue. Maybe that’ll come with time, too. Who knows?

    • RIP illa

      I think that goes along the lines of, ‘if you’re going to make a mistake, make it at 100 mph’. The missed tackles are certainly disconcerting, but Kendricks is at least in the right spot, all over the field, on plays. He’s not failing to get off blocks, playing too cautious, and/or missing his assignments. All of which can lead to being out of position and just overall bad play. It would be a bit different if he was the last line of defense or had nobody behind him, such as DBs.

      Yes we all want him to be a sure tackler, and as you eluded to, it can come w/ time. But he’s as athletic and aggressive as he should be and as needed and is always around the ball to mix it up. When his missed tackles start killing us, which I haven’t seem too many of them do, then it’s time to start looking for a replacement. Once again he needs to improve a lot on that front!!! But he still is playing pretty well overall. And I think that gets lost on people. Kind of like when we played the Skins and he had 10 or more tackles and a fumble recovery but still got a negative grade according to PFF!

      • Token

        Eh, id argue that hes not always in the right spot. If you cant tackle as a ILB, you wont be on the field long. The system is supposed to allow the ILB to be free to make the tackle. If they cant do that then you find someone else. As I thought at the start of the season, the Eagles will likely need two new starting ILBs going forward, at least one. Ryans wont be here next year at $6.8 mil.

        • RIP illa

          Had this debate w/ someone else on here before over Nate Allen. Being in the right spot is different from making the play.

          Agreed that if he doesn’t improve his role will be diminished and they will start looking for a replacement.

          Thought that Ryans time is coming to an end, and before the draft, I too didn’t think he would be here next year or, at the most, two yrs from now. But our all great and poweful GM didn’t see fit to draft a replacement to let him learn under Ryans and gain experience. My 3 ILBs of choice and the only one’s I thought were worth a damn, were Kiko, Bostic, and Vance Williams. Anyone of those 3 would have been able to come in and learn quickly behind Ryans and/or push or take Kendricks job.

          However since we didn’t who would we replace Ryans w/??? Our ST maven who we acquired this past offseason and who sucks as a ILB and blew out his knee??? Perhaps Casey Matthews, cause we all know how good he is!!! Maybe Goode, who’s not even good enough to see the field??? Oh wait…Knott??? such great instincts from him, yet he still cant play the position well! FA prospects don’t inspire too much confidence as the good ones are all old. Maybe we can try to court Dan Conner again!!! SMH. Or now do we have to look to the draft once again and allocate picks from another need to that need that would be created if Ryans is gone next year???

          It’s not as simple as just go find another guy, and certainly gets way more complicated dealing w/ that position. Getting a 3 down MLB that’s better than the two we currently have, on a whim…yeah, so easy.

          Most likely scenarios are that Ryans stays or we get another stop gap, which stop gaps suck. Least favorable scenario would be that they go w/ a rookie or some crappy FA pick up to give the impression that they are actually addressing the problem, like they did w/ most of the D this year.

          This is mainly the reason why I was upset about Acho. Development should have been a priority for a this team and players that flash and then some, regardless of preseason or regular season. Especially when were talking in relation, to a solid but overpaid MLB like Ryans. We kept Iggy and Matthews, and one is gone and the other might as well not be here!!!

      • nicksaenz1

        Certainly didn’t mean to imply that I think he’s stinking up the joint, but missed tackles are always costly to some degree. Getting those tackles when he has the opportunity are the difference between getting the D off the field on 3rd down and keeping the opposing offense’s drive alive, or creating a 2nd and 8 vs. 2nd and 3. Little things. I think they’re always costly, but as long as it’s not costing games, you’re right. But he’s only got so much more time to sure that aspect up before the coaches start wondering if they need to reconsider. Otherwise, I agree he’s played well. The coverage will come. He’s gotta just slow down in his mind and not be so over-aggressive. That’s my opinion at least.

        • BlindChow

          Seeing as how we lost a couple close games, and missed tackles on 3rd down were part of the problem, it’s actually possible he has cost us games…

          • RIP illa

            Beg to differ. Missed tackles are not the issue for us on 3rd downs. Or at least not as much of an issue as the soft zones called by Davis, cause he doesn’t want to get beat over the top, and the in ability of our players in coverage. We haven’t been giving up 3rds that killed us due to the ground game. It’s been the passing game. And yes, some of those 3rds given up were because of YAC. However, the YAC has mostly been due to the inability of our defenders in coverage to catch the receiver before he reaches the marker, ie, the SD game. This is different from a missed tackle. A missed tackle is when a defender is in position to make the tackle, engages in the act of tackling, and lets the opposing player escape and/or fails to bring him down. On some occasion, it is also being that the defender is in position and completely whiffs. Kendricks problem has been the former way more than the latter, if the latter at all. Plus it’s mostly slot WRs that kill us on 3rds which aren’t necessarily his assignment. He’s been more so asked to cover TEs and sometimes backs. He still struggles in missed tackles but he has not cost us games cause of it. The one game that he played a major part in us loosing was cause he couldn’t cover Gates. He was shaken and beat, resulting in him not even being close enough to attempt tackles after the catches.

        • Richard Colton

          I read a lot of projecting in Trotter’s comment on Kendricks – almost like he was asked to describe himself in his first few years in the league – nose for the ball, overly aggressive, sometimes out of position. If Kendricks develops into Trotter, I’ll take it.

        • RIP illa

          Totally agree w/ you. Thought about the tackles relative to the down and distance but didn’t go into it. Yeah it can be really important. Yet I still haven’t seen Kendricks miss enough if any at all of crucial game changing downs. Still though, I too wish he improves.

  • Eagles4Life

    Thank you, John Gonzalez.

    • Richard Colton

      agreed. Although on here, and even in the comments section, I’ve seen very good, reasoned arguments from people who want Vick the rest of the way as well as people who want to see Foles. I think the screaming matches are happening on WIP.

  • Soybot

    I generally don’t even read “Gonzo’s” articles because he does too much trolling. But I must say, he got it right on this one.

  • GEAGLE

    Trotter is soooo right. A WR shaked Meco out of his jock strap! and that play seemed to flip the switch for Meco….after that play! he started unleashing punishing hits on RBs for the rest of the game…That was the hardest I I seen a LB hit since trot

    • 1972

      He definitely made up for his lack of cover skills after giving up that big third down. Unfortunately I still think an up gradeis in order. Ryans or Cole cant cover. and for some strange reason kendricks all of a sudden cant tackle. That was my break out guy this year, damn he’s taken a step back

    • theycallmerob

      that WR was Demps, if I’m not mistaken. You know- the olympic gold medalist. I think it is fair to accept Ryans losing that particular 1on1

      • BlindChow

        It was Vincent Jackson.

  • knighn

    I miss Trot. If we had a young Trot here, would Billy Davis find a way for him to play? Who would he unseat (DeMeco Ryans or Mychal Kendricks)? Or would Billy D simply say: “Sorry, Trot is more of a 4-3 MLB and we’re playing 3-4″?

    • Richard Colton

      He would play him at Nose and have him drop into coverage

  • Andy

    Interesting dichotomy re Kendricks and Ryans. One is at the peak of his physical abilities but relatively inexperienced and his over-aggressiveness has been a limiting factor. The other is just past his peak but has the awareness and experience to be an effective playmaker in the middle. Reminds me of the immortal words of The Faces in the song Ooh La La (from the final scene of the movie Rushmore): “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger.”

    • JofreyRice

      great song! great movie!

    • Maggie

      Don’t we all. Wish we could get a do-over.

  • BlindChow

    There are the Michael Vick people and there are the Nick Foles people and there is nobody in between.

    This just isn’t true. There are people who just want the team to win. Maybe the Vick and the Foles people are the loudest, and those at the extreme ends of the spectrum will always dominate the conversation, but it’s just incorrect to assert there aren’t people who can see the advantages of both.

    I’ve seen these “neutral” people posting here and other places (Tommy Lawlor is one, I would suggest); these comments don’t draw much attention (“I’ll let the coach decide who he wants” isn’t controversial enough to raise people’s ire, I guess), so perhaps they go unnoticed. I also imagine people are so entrenched in the Vick-vs.-Foles debate that they are unable to see the nuance without first processing it through the us-vs.-them filter (Lawlor, for instance, has been accused of being both Anti-Vick AND Anti-Foles).

    • G_WallyHunter

      Ya, I scoffed at that too, because I am in between lol… Don’t care who’s under center as long as they get Shady and Djax the ball… I can grab a waiver wire QB if I really need to, or even get Foles if he keeps playing like that.. second paragraph that’s TRUTH

    • theycallmerob

      I wholeheartedly agree with your analysis.
      I see myself more as pro-future than anything else. I accepted the Kelly hire as a true rebuild- new coaches and schemes across the board, new science, new condiments, new training, and many new players.

      I accepted Vick winning the QB comp in preseason. And truth be told, he hasn’t been bad (but let’s not act like he’s been great, either). Kelly’s scheme puts so much pressure on opposing safeties that everyone is benefiting- the QB, DJax, and most of all McCoy. Had Vick made it through 16 games, great.
      But, unsurprisingly, he did not. And Foles came in, and the offense didn’t skip a beat. All the comments I’ve made in support of Foles starting are simple:

      Vick does not provide such an extreme advantage to significantly change our W/L record this year. Defense still stinks no matter who plays QB, and the division also stinks (you guessed it) regardless of our QB.
      Vick is gone next year. Play the kid. Best case- future starter. Worst case- adequate starter that some team is guaranteed to take off our hands.

      I don’t see how this is even debatable, unless fans are firmly entrenched in one camp or another. From an organizational perspective, it just seems simple.

      • usmcnole

        I think kelly ultimately wants a mobil qb which there are several in this year’s draft. I say trade foles for draft pick(s) Keep vick 1 or 2 more years. So this season showcase foles but put vick back in when he is fully healthy

    • jabostick

      Yep I agree. They’re such different quarterbacks with a different set of pros/cons that the comparison is futile anyway. I’ve generally leaned towards Vick (in part because he’s fun to watch and because I think he busts his ass) but I’ve come around more on Foles. In
      some of his earlier starts (in pre-season and also in the Reid era), I thought
      Foles was way too conservative and wondered if the deep ball just wasn’t really
      in his repertoire. Maybe it was just scheme or rookie jitters, etc but he’s
      taken enough deep shots now that the offense doesn’t feel limited when he’s in
      there

      So, yeah, I put myself in the neutral corner and will gladly cheer either guy. Whatever it takes to beat Dallas

    • Andy124

      Just asked the enemy (Dallas fan) who he’d rather they face next week. His opinion was, “Doesn’t matter. They’re about the same.”
      /perspective

  • Will

    I personally do not care who starts at QB for the Eagles. I just want a win against Dallas!

  • JofreyRice

    Interesting perspective from the Axe man. For someone just watching the games, I really can’t say I’ve seen much good from Kendricks. Trotter talks about him getting beaten by vet TE’s (assuming he’s referring to when Kendricks was taken to school by Gates), but the UDFA TE was beating him pretty badly in this Tampa game. I guess Kendricks has been in the right place at the right time, to pick up fumbles caused by other people, or to intercept that pass when Eli’s arm hit his lineman. I was a huge fan of Kendricks coming out, I just thought I’d have seen more positive plays out of him over the course of 20+ games as a starter.

    Comparing Kendricks to guys like Karlos Dansby, playing for Billy Davis, or the prototype playmaking ILB for the Steelers, Lawrence Timmons, it’s really tough for me to see Kendricks anywhere near their level so far–or even really hinting at that kind of play.

    For as mediocre as he’s been, I’d have to put Barwin as the top LB. I agree with Trotter’s assessment, that he’s solid at best.

    I think the team really needs a top passrusher OLB to make the system work. Barwin’s not it, and I’m not so confident that Cole and Graham can adapt athletically to what they’re being asked to do. All the passrush can’t come from the 3-4 DE that’s two-gapping on 2 downs, that’s bound to fail.

    • theycallmerob

      I don’t see Cole sticking past this season (frees up $), and I hate to say it but they should try and get something of value for Graham. If I had to choose between keeping him or Curry, I’d stick with Curry at this point. And yes, a good rush OLB would improve the DL, Barwin, and the secondary all at once. Big time playmaker is needed at that position. Heck, if it came to it, I’d almost draft one of those before a S. But that’s with the disclaimer that Wolff continues to grow into a starter

      • nicksaenz1

        Think Cole may be too much dead $ to cut him. I like the idea of getting something for Graham. Would like to see Curry get back down to 260 and play that rush OLB and see what he can do from that spot.

        • theycallmerob

          Dunno, I like his speed off the line, and he would pry be abused in coverage

          • nicksaenz1

            True, but hopefully that would be limited to less than 10% of the time.

    • James Hathaway

      One thing i’d caution you with is that Timmons was considered a bust for a number of years prior to it finally clicking in his 3rd-4th year. He’s nowhere even close to the best ILB in the league, either. Give him some time… he definitely has all the tools, just a matter of getting his head wrapped around the scheme and the speed of the game.

      • JofreyRice

        I thought Timmons was a pretty big contributor to their SB team in 2008, his second year. I know he had a tough time seeing the field in his rookie season because they still had Foote and Farrior playing well at those spots. I’m not from Pittsburgh, so I’m not really aware of what the local media was saying about him at the time. Being that he had proven vets starting ahead of him that he couldn’t displace, they may have very well thought he was a bust.

        He hasn’t played as a top 5 ILB this year, but he was up there with the best ILBs in the league not too long ago. He’s extremely athletic for a man of his size. Great movement skills, and at one point, could cover WRs from the ILB position, as well as blitz and play the run. I’d love for Kendricks to develop into something like that.

        • James Hathaway

          Oh yeah, I mean I’m not saying that I wouldn’t take Timmons over Kendricks at this point, I’m really just saying be patient. Kendricks has shown more in a shorter period of time.

          I’m cautiously optimistic that if given the chance to be in the same scheme for a few years with the same coordinator (long shot), Kendricks will flourish.

  • Ig_l

    Who wrote the survey? No age choice above 33?