Two snaps into the Eagles’ Week 9 matchup against the Green Bay Packers, Najee Goode got the call.
Mychal Kendricks went down with a knee injury at Lambeau Field, and Goode was chosen to replace him alongside DeMeco Ryans at inside linebacker. He played the rest of that game and then started the following week against the Redskins.
"There was a lot of positive feedback, stuff I gotta work on, but a lot of positive feedback," Goode said. "Getting in there, not necessarily messing up, doing some good things, showing a lot of good signs and flashes of being a good, consistent player. Making some pass break-ups. Green Bay, was able to disrupt the run a lot different than what they thought they were gonna get. It was a confidence booster for me and to also see what I’ve gotta work on."
In the two-game span, Goode notched 11 tackles, a sack and a pair of pass break-ups.
Earlier this spring when Kendricks was temporarily sidelined again, Goode stepped in with the ones. And there's a good chance that if Ryans or Kendricks gets injured during the season, he will again be the first man up.
"The playing time was kind of unexpected, but it’s something that you want all the time," he said. "That’s what I was pretty much waiting for. I’m gonna get out there and do it again once my number’s called."
A fifth-round pick by the Bucs in 2012, Goode was claimed off waivers by the Eagles prior to last season. He served primarily as a backup and contributed on special teams (eight tackles). While the defense rotated bodies along the defensive line and at outside linebacker, the starting inside 'backers - Ryans and Kendricks - rarely came off the field. As we've noted on several occasions, Ryans played more snaps than any other inside linebacker in the NFL.
Defensive coordinator Billy Davis has vowed to give Ryans more rest going forward, but the Eagles didn't make any significant moves at inside linebacker during the offseason. That means the door is open for Goode to earn more snaps in his third season.
"He's ahead just because we've had a chance to spend an offseason with him," said Chip Kelly. "Real smart football player. I know I say that a lot with a lot of our guys, but it's true. Got a very good understanding of both linebacker positions inside. Played really, really well for us on special teams, actually scored for us against the Giants on special teams. Fast. He's got kind of an extra gear that I think some of our backers don't have. Explosive, can really run."
If one of the Eagles' defensive backs steps up in the summer, Davis could turn to more dime (six DBs). But more likely, someone like Goode or veteran Jason Phillips will come in to spell Ryans in certain sub packages.
Goode played in a 3-3-5 at West Virginia and said he's used to setting up behind two-gapping defensive linemen. He's hoping to build off last year's performance and give Davis some more flexibility on defense.
"Learning from a guy like DeMeco is huge, and it brings us together," Goode said. "And when he does sub out, I’m gonna be ready to come in. And if I need to start, I’m gonna be ready to start."
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WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Jason Avant made some interesting comments about Kelly to the Charlotte Observer:
Avant was not a fan of Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly, however. Kelly’s first season in Philadelphia in 2013 turned out to be Avant’s last as an Eagle. Avant ranked sixth on the team in receiving yardage and, in his words, “mostly ran clear-out routes.”
Said Avant of Kelly: “When it came to certain things, we butted heads sometimes – route running and route technique. So I knew I didn’t fit his system.”
As for his release in March, Avant said it didn’t surprise him because he wasn’t the burner Kelly wanted as a wide receiver.
“I knew that was coming maybe four games into last season,” Avant said. “When they stop calling your number and guys start running some of the routes that you run – I knew from the beginning that I didn’t fit his style of offense, in that I’m a crafty guy that gets open in an atypical way.”
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz writes about the Eagles' special teams:
I think Chris Maragos and Darren Sproles could be huge additions for him. Maragos seems like a natural STs leader. He knows he’s not Brian Dawkins, but Maragos is confident in who and what he is. He gets the big picture and is very professional in the way he approaches his job. He’s not afraid to speak up when needed. Sproles is a veteran RS who can help teach the other returners, but also work with the blockers. The return game has been an issue for several years.
Training camp is merely a month away.