Roster Analysis: Sizing Up the Eagles’ Defense

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles made cuts today, trimming the roster down to 53 players in advance of the 4 p.m. deadline. Here’s a position-by-position look at what the squad looks like on defense. If you missed the post on the offense, click here.

Defensive line (7): Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, Brandon Bair, Taylor Hart.




If you would have told me a month ago that Bair was going to make the roster, I would have vehemently disagreed. But his preseason performance made keeping him seem like a no-brainer.

Bair and Curry will back up Cox and Thornton at the end spots. It'll be interesting to see how the Eagles split time between Logan and Allen at nose tackle. Allen has performed well all summer, and Logan is coming back from a hamstring injury.

Hart seems like the most likely candidate to be inactive to start the season.

Outside linebackers (5): Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith II, Bryan Braman.

The change here stems from Travis Long tearing his ACL. Graham will back Cole up at the Predator spot.

I'm not sure what the Eagles will do with Smith on gamedays. If they're comfortable with Braman backing Barwin up, Smith could be inactive. Otherwise, both could dress.

Inside linebackers (4): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Casey Matthews.

Matthews sticks around for another year. Had Long not gotten hurt, he would have served as the fourth inside LB option, and Matthews likely would have been gone.

The Eagles very well could sign an inside linebacker who gets waived by another team and still part ways with Matthews.

Ryans and Kendricks will start. Expect Goode to be more than just a backup. He figures to be a rotational LB who plays every week even if Ryans and Kendricks are healthy.

Cornerbacks (5): Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll II, Jaylen Watkins.

This was the easiest position to project. Williams will start on one side. Carroll is pushing Fletcher for the other starting job.

Boykin will be the nickel, and Watkins could be inactive on gamedays to start the season.

Safeties (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Chris Maragos.

I thought rookie Ed Reynolds had a good chance of sticking, but in the end, there wasn't room for him. The fifth-round pick missed much of the spring because he attended Stanford and NCAA rules prohibited him from participating in OTAs. That was obviously a factor in his development.

Jenkins and Allen will be the starters to begin the season. Wolff and Maragos will be the backups.

Specialists (3): Cody Parkey, Jon Dorenbos, Donnie Jones.

With makes from 53 and 54 yards in the final preseason game, Parkey beat out Alex Henery for the kicking job. It was a great showing by Parkey, but this position is still a question mark going into the season.

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  • Jeff Asay

    The talent at CB really takes a leap forward this season.

    • Jeff Asay

      But pass rush on 3rd down is where the D needs the most improvement.

      • OregonDucker

        Having coverage increases the probability of a sack or FB.

        • Brian Zee

          True but it’s usually the other way around.

    • pjcostello

      Only when you get to the 4th and 5th corners. The top three are the same, and three is the max you’ll normally put on the field. Dime defense? Only against a 4-wide or 5-wide offensive set, not something you see too much.

      • Jeff Asay

        Sooo, you didn’t see the games where our good buddy Roc Carmichael took to the field in place of an injured starter last season? Now we have a guy in Carroll who reportedly can play a little bit, and a rookie who at the very least still can wear the label of potential. Now if a CB goes down you might see competent play. Carmichael never figured out that you have to turn your head and look for the ball in order to make a play or at least avoid a flag. Marsh was just abysmal. Depth matters.

        • pjcostello

          As I said… the talent level goes up when you get to the 4th and 5th corners on the roster. Was there something I said in hieroglyphs…? Carroll and Watkins are better than Marsh and Carmichael, but barring injury we won’t SEE MUCH OF THEM on the field. Maybe I should try saying this to the potted plant…

  • Kleptolia

    OF COURSE CHIP KEPT HIS OREGON GUYS ON THE D-LINE AND CASEY IDIOTHEWS!! HE CAN’T LET GO!!
    HE’S LIVIN IN THE PAST WITH PHIL KNIGHT AND A BOTTLE OF JACK!!!!
    NEXT THING YOU KNOW HE’LL BE TRYIN’ TO RESURRECT PRE TO PLAY WIDEOUT BECAUSE HE’S FAST AND WENT TO OREGON!!!

    PRE’S DEAD, CHIP!!! GET OVER IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • wee2424

      Dude….Mathews prolly wouldnt still be here if long.didnt shredd his leg and if Knott didnt get suspended. Relax

      • jmkrav

        Wonder if they re sign Knott and drop Matthews after wk 4

        • wee2424

          Was wondering tht also

          • HokiEagle07

            It would make sense if Knott is a better backup LB & STer.

        • Andy Six Score and Four

          Knott has to be on the roster for the suspended games to tick off, and he’s not.

          • Robert Perri

            Heard before that since he was on the roster when he was suspended, he doesn’t need to be on a roster for the four weeks to tick off

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            Heard the opposite. But my source is just other commenters in a football blog, so they certainly could be wrong.

          • Mr. Wu

            are you saying that everything i read here may not be true?

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            Well, not everything. I think you can pretty much take Token’s posts as fact.

          • Robert Perri

            You may be right, I thought I saw the question answered somewhere here, but can’t find it. Did find on IgglesBlitz where they mention he needs to be on a roster before he can start serving the suspension.

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            I’ll bet an imaginary dollar that’s the conversation that I got my information from.

          • Warhound KnowsHstryWarts&All

            No. Is LJ on the 53?

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            He’s on the roster, but not counted against the 53. Under contract.

          • Warhound KnowsHstryWarts&All

            oh – OK…

      • Kleptolia

        I’LL RELAX WHEN KELLY-BELLY STARTS MAKING CHOICES TO HELP THE TEAM WIN!
        I AM SICK AND TIRED OF WATCHING FUTURE STARS LIKE ACHO GET CUT TO MAKE WAY FOR SCRUBS LIKE MORONHEWS!!!!!! JUST BECAUSE HE WENT TO OREGON!
        KELLY CAN EITHER CHAPE UP OR CHIP OUT!!!!!!!!!!

        • wee2424

          Do you remember the 2 seasons before this last one? I think he did alot of things to help the team win. Really man? Lol

          • Kleptolia

            I SAW HIM PLAY CHUNG LAST SEASON!!! THAT WAS ALL I NEEDED TO SEE!!!!
            CHUNG SHOULD HAVE BEEN GONE AFTER GAME ONE!!!
            IF CHIP SMELLY HAD FOUND A BETTER SAFETY INSTEAD OF JUST AN OLD, HITS HIS OWN PLAYERS, OREGON SCRUB, EAGLES WOULD HAVE WON A SUPER BOWL!!!!
            WELCOME TO THE BIG TIME, CHIP!! TIME TO PLAY LIKE IT!!!!!!!!

          • John J. King

            Hyperbole anyone? Get a grip sparkey.

          • Soybot

            Don’t feed the trolls.

          • Kleptolia

            Man. I was winning that game. You just ruined it.

        • Wiztopher

          Can’t hear you over the caps

          • Kleptolia

            YOU THINK THAT’S FUNNY?!?!?!

            MY DAD IS HARD OF HEARING!!!!!!!

            THATS WHY I TYPE LIKE THIS!!!!!!

          • Chuck Dougherty

            Im deaf and even this is too loud for me..

          • Kleptolia

            I think it would be too loud for my dad, too.

          • Eaglehaslanded

            lol

        • HokiEagle07

          I am in no way a fan of Mathews, and I was banking on Long ending CM’s dreaded tenure here, but PLEASE, show me the evidence that Acho’s a future star? He’s a better LB than CM, but he’ll never see the field as a LB, so that means STs…so I believe Chip thinks CM’s a better teamer than Acho. Either way, it’s a flukey move cuz of Long being hurt. Can’t be butthurt about it. The rest of the squad is solid.

          • Kleptolia

            DID YOU SEE ACHO IN PRESEASON?!?!?!?
            HE VASTLY OUTPLAYED MATTHEWS!!!
            HE WAS FASTER, STRONGER, AND DIDN’T WHIFF ON SIDELINE TACKLES ON NATIONAL TV!!!!
            ACHO WAS JUST ONE MORE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH THAT CHUMP SILLY REFUSED TO ACKNOWLEDGE!!!!!!!!!!
            I BET ACHO COMES BACK WITH ANOTHER TEAM (49ERS) AND CLEANS OUR CLOCK THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • John J. King

          10-6? Is that not winning. Wanna play GM? Get your own team.

        • MagatBrackendale

          Please, no more! All the snickering is hurting my nose!

          • Kleptolia

            Yeah, it’s over.

        • OregonDucker

          Beer exploding through one’s nose is painful!

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            You’re just displaying your Oregon bias.

          • OregonDucker

            True, I have a real bias for Oregon craft beers….

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            That’s so cool. I have a real bias for beer. Speaking of which…

          • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

            mmmm Rogue….

      • Warhound KnowsHstryWarts&All

        Klep in all-caps is joking.

    • leorautins

      Any post, sarcastic or not, that references “pre” is ok by me.

  • Johnny Domino

    If your top draft pick is going to start the year inactive on gamedays, you better hope he progresses right quick as the season goes on.

    • Andy Six Score and Four

      Definitely hoping that.

  • Andy Six Score and Four

    Clearly, the only reason Chip kept Parkey is because he coached against him, and Chip’s Oregon bias extends to Oregon opponents (Ertz, Barkley, Foles etc).

    • A Roy

      +1 for sarcasm.

    • Kleptolia

      Heh.

    • Kleptolia

      ….and I’m sorry.

      I ignored your instructions and,….um,

      …I went full Token.

      And then some.

    • Jason

      Hey Andy, I’m watching the Eagles-Jets replay on NFL network. Think I can convince Chip not to play Long in the 4th quarter?

      • Andy Six Score and Four

        I think you’d be silly not to try.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        Hahaha! You made me switch channels just in time to catch Parkey’s 53 yarder & also see Henery’s reaction live. He saw the writing on the wall. That shot looked easy to Parkey!

        • Jason

          I had to pause it and call my wife in, just so someone else could appreciate it with me.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            You were not alone brother. I was there with you in spirit…lol.

    • GoBirds1

      Last time I checked, Foles was here before Chip. Or are one of those that thinks Vick should be our QB…

      • Andy Six Score and Four

        Lol. Classic. How can anyone read what I wrote and take it seriously? Thanks for the chuckle though.

        • GoBirds1

          Your Oregon bias is accurate, just citing Foles doesn’t fit. Chuckle this though.

          • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

            i will!

        • Kleptolia

          That’s one point for you, sir.

  • Glenn

    I see significant improvement in defense this year. Secondary is much improved. It is a shame Acho got cut, and Long tore his ACL. Not a Casey Matthews fan. Maybe Knott is signed after week 4.

  • Kevin.Rosenberger

    Najee Goode is still around. He follows me on Twitter, I approve.

  • Andy Six Score and Four

    Parkey gives us something Henery hasn’t offered in two years… hope.

  • MagatBrackendale

    Let’s see. Bair showed enough in a few preseason games to keep on the roster. Watkins ditto. But Josey didn’t show enough in a few preseason games? Or Reynolds must be cut because he needed to follow NCAA rules and possibly even graduate? More things that make you go …hmmm. Wonder if either will end up on the Eagles PS or some other team’s?

    • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

      you’re not very good at this correlation thing.
      see, Bair played very well. to the point that he could probably walk into a game if a DE was injured, and at least hold his own. maybe even play “well”. Watkins, as a high 4th rd pick, also actually played pretty well.

      Josey ran well. He does not play ST well. Nor does he pass block well. And maybe, if he doesn’t have such a dominant OL, he doesn’t beat up on mostly lesser defensive players so well. Plus, at best, he’s 4th RB, playing left bench.

      Reynolds, a late 5th rounder (a full 61 picks after Jaylen, so not at all close) did not play well. Again, at best, he was playing for 4th safety. Did not play ST as well as Maragos. Also, was not signed as a FA for higher price tag, which is more likely to make team than a late 5th rounder. Sure Stanford rules didn’t help, but it didn’t hurt much.

      neither decision really makes a pragmatic and holistic observer say “hmmmm”

      can’t believe I just wasted 5 min saying this to you

      • MagatBrackendale

        Neither can I. However,
        from Sabinesblog.com Gifts & the Power of Giving
        “I didn’t want it; I said it was not necessary. But it was insisted that I accept.”

  • Kevin.Rosenberger

    Pick up Michael Sam. Do it.

    • Andy Six Score and Four

      I’m told he can’t play OLB in the 3-4. And he damn sure can’t play DE in the 3-4. We don’t really need another Graham and Curry.

      • OldDuckMcDoc

        Hope he catches on somewhere, but agree he doesn’t fit a 3-4.

        • Andy Six Score and Four

          Absolutely. Figure he’s got a good shot with his good showing this PS.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Where are you guys seeing him as a 4-3DE? I’m asking, not criticizing. Every time I watched Ealy, I was drawn to Sam making plays standing up. Maybe I’m wrong. I honestly didn’t study him at all though.

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            I’m just regurgitating what I’ve read around draft time. I can’t say I remember the exact sources.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Sam looked like a 4-3 OLB to me that could blitz, but again I honestly didn’t study him.

          • pjcostello

            He was a DE in college, and he’s too small for that position in the NFL; against non-PS tackles, he’ll get pancaked. His natural pass-rush position at this level is 3-4 OLB, which he’s never played — he’d be a project, nothing more, teaching him how to cover and play the run. That’s why he dropped to the 7th round to begin with.

    • Will, Always Shady in CA

      I like Sam, but we don’t need to turn any more 4-3 Ends into 3-4 OLBs

      • Kevin.Rosenberger

        Yeah I know. Just like the guy.

        • Will, Always Shady in CA

          I wish they would have cut him after the Eagle/Jets replay. I’m missing half the game with interviews from the Rams. I think some 4-3 team will pick him up. ATL, Dallas. Jerry might get Sam just to be in the spotlight.

          • MagatBrackendale

            Drove me crazy trying to watch the game.

  • PaoliBulldog

    The Chargers cut Joe Kruger.

    • Will, Always Shady in CA

      Didn’t they just pick him up?

      • Andy Six Score and Four

        Yup. Didn’t take long for them to figure out why we cut him I guess.

        • OldDuckMcDoc

          Oregon bias?!?!

          • Kleptolia

            They signed Barner instead.

          • OldDuckMcDoc

            Barner’s coming back. Chip’s got Howie working on a way to cut LeSean without taking a cap hit as we speak.

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            Thank goodness. So sick of LeSean leaving yards on the field while he dances in the backfield and refuses to just hit the hole and follow the design of the play.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            You guys may think I’m crazy, but if he did do more of that he’d be even more unstoppable. He dances more now than he did his first 2yrs in league. He’ll need to adjust as he gets older, away from that.

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            It’s a balancing act, and I have no complaints about the balance he’s struck.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I personally love it when he decleats a LB/S just after he breaks through the line.

          • Kleptolia

            I know, right?

            I felt the same way about Barry Sanders.

          • Will, Always Shady in CA

            In Sanders’ defense, he had guys in the backfield before he got back to the LOS sometimes. If Barry had the Eagles OL…. boom! But yeah, Shady just needs to make one cut and go up field.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I can see it when it’s necessary. But otherwise, if he did less dancing he would be able to tell AP to kiss his behind as he would already have the Eagles rushing record and higher up on the all time list.

          • MagatBrackendale

            Please please don’t compare Shady to Sanders. Barry has 10 ringless fingers! Never mind right now what his feet were capable of doing. Never mind he was playing in Detroit. I want to see a couple of big honking heavy rings on McCoy’s hand.

          • http://www.damokleez.com EaglefaninAZ

            Really? Seriously…. really? We really do need a sarcasm font, dangit.

      • PaoliBulldog

        Hard to show much in a short time.

  • Tautalatasi Jr.

    Someone needs to find the video of Casey Matthews tripping Travis Long on the way to the showers. Resulting in that ACL tear

    • Mikeq

      ESPN has it. Along with a full report of where Michael Sam was when it happened.

      • MagatBrackendale

        Sure it wasn’t NFL Network?

      • shady25

        Awesome…

  • Tom w

    Skins cut fourth rounder philip thomas safety i liked last yr. fat andy cuts fourth rounder nico johnson ilb he said he wanted instead of matt barkley. Rontez miles, deandre coleman stephen hill vincent brown lasche seastrunk and evan royster too. Some teams are holding out names. Such bs. Niners and hawks will have some studs.

  • Eagles1018…Please no more du

    I’m glad Parkey stuck. I wish Henery the best elsewhere. He’ll flourish on a dome team somewhere. Pass rush was a big issue for us last year. We honestly didn’t do enough to help it going forward. I hope Cole gets off to a quicker start this season. I saw some posters say better CBs will help the rush (coverage sacks). But the same starters are on the field as last year. I just hope we don’t get into a lot of shoot outs

  • Andy Six Score and Four

    Alabama loves giving up touchdowns on kick returns…

    • Jerry Pomroy

      They also love RBs…lol.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      Unfortunately I’ve got Cal vs NW locally.

      • Andy Six Score and Four

        They’re on different channels for me. NW on espn2 and Bama on abc

        • Jerry Pomroy

          Found it. TY.

  • Will, Always Shady in CA

    Anybody see any cuts from other teams that might be worth taking a look at? I think WR Stephen Hill is a project and Duke Ihenacho from Denver is interesting at SS. He even plays special teams.

    • pjcostello

      I like Duke, but we just waived a safety because there’s no room on the roster for a fifth one, so I think no go.

      • Will, Always Shady in CA

        True about a having a 5th Safety, although I think he would fit in well.

        • pjcostello

          I’d love to have him, but no go.

  • Max Lightfoot

    Casey Matthews is the Leonard Zelig of the Philadelphia Eagles.

    • http://www.damokleez.com EaglefaninAZ

      No idea what this means, but I upvoted anyway.

      • Max Lightfoot

        Well, thank you!

        Zelig is a 1983 “mockumentary” film by Woody Allen, which shows the career of a guy named Leonard Zelig (played by Woody Allen), an otherwise obscure fellow who keeps popping up in early 1900s American history. He’s something like the Observers in the TV series Fringe, where they keep appearing at important times in humankind’s history. No one’s sure what Zelig does, but he’s just … there. Like Casey Matthews.

        Hope this helps!

  • Ascher Levy

    Eagles should pick up Shaye Skov, inside LB cut by 49ers. Stanford guy so smart, Good replacement for Matthews.

    • Will, Always Shady in CA

      I was thinking the same thing

      • Andy Six Score and Four

        Sounds like Ed Reynolds. :)

        • Will, Always Shady in CA

          That’s too bad he had to go

    • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

      i caught some of them in PS. he’s not the same LB he was pre-injury. shame, because he was a tremendous prospect back then.

      • NickS, Combine Warrior

        Sports science.

        • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

          didn’t do anything for Jason Philips.

          [edit] I was a HUGE skov fan, caught a lot of his tape. Heck, in some cut-ups we’d show our kids, the front 7 coach even threw in a few Skov plays. But just not the same guy. Cerebral as all hell, but went from Cyprien athletic ability to Kurt Coleman athletic ability.

          • NickS, Combine Warrior

            I was being sarcastic.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Isn’t that better than Casey Matthews?

    • http://www.damokleez.com EaglefaninAZ

      A piece of wet driftwood would also suffice.

      • MagatBrackendale

        To apply upside CM’s head?

      • Jerry Pomroy

        The only thing is, driftwood travels with the flow of water. It’s nomadic. Unlike Casey boy.

    • Dan

      “Stanford guy so smart” HA! I was recruited DI to a few Ivys. Different sport and schools but likely similar experience. they told you “here are the classes you will take” then brought the professors and tutors to you…

  • http://www.damokleez.com EaglefaninAZ

    Just home from a 5 hour rehearsal/band meeting, so I couldn’t keep up
    all day, but I’m happy with today’s cuts. Would have been awesome if’n
    that one younger brother guy could have been on the list, but there has
    to be some signings that may take care of that. One can hope. He’s kinda
    like Henery with real cleats.

  • http://www.damokleez.com EaglefaninAZ

    Do they do spider charts for kickers? I’ma bet Henery’s looks less like a bullseye than Casey Matthew’s.

  • Gussyboy

    Marcus:

    So the #1 pick may not dress? Nice work, there