Eagles Wake-Up Call: Linebacker Outlook

DeMeco Ryans and Jordan Hicks. (Jeff Fusco)

DeMeco Ryans and Jordan Hicks. (Jeff Fusco)

We’ll wrap up our position-by-position look at where the Eagles stand going into the offseason this week. In the first seven installments, we covered the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen, defensive linemen and safeties. Now, it’s on to the linebackers.

STATE OF THE ROSTER

The Eagles’ linebacking corps was one the team’s most disappointing position groups in 2015. Despite Jordan Hick’s impressive — albeit short — rookie season, Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks both fell short of expectations. Read more »

Joyner: Linebacker Is My Greatest Concern

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Back in the summer of 2011, a group of Eagles linebackers were gathered together on the sideline of a New Jersey community football field. With Jeremy Maclin‘s annual summer camp taking place a stone’s throw away, the trio enthusiastically discussed the ‘Wide 9’ attack that was on its way to Philly as they looked on.

There was excitement over what promised to be an aggressive, pin-your-ears back style of defense that allowed players — and the defensive linemen in particular — to just let it rip. But the celebration was short-lived. As they processed the thought, a potential design flaw struck one of the members of the group, who vocalized his concerns.

“If they’re living in the backfield, though, that means a lot of room between us and them, and a lot more linemen in our face,” one said. Read more »

Eagles Sign Najee Goode To One-Year Deal

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles announced Wednesday the signing of linebacker Najee Goode to a one-year deal.

Details of the deal were not disclosed.

After missing the 2014 season with a pectoral injury, Goode was a special teams contributor during the 2015 season, including scoring a 24-yard touchdown on the Chris Maragos-blocked punt in the Eagles’ 35-28 win over the Patriots. It was the second-longest punt return touchdown in team history.

Read more »

Eagles Roster Analysis: Defense

Fletcher Cox. (Jeff Fusco)

Fletcher Cox. (Jeff Fusco)

As the Eagles begin their search for a new head coach, candidates will care about the franchise’s new power structure, what kind of owner Jeffrey Lurie is, and what the city of Philadelphia is like. But what they’ll really want to know about is the talent on the roster and the salary cap situation.

Adam broke down the offense, and I’m taking a look at the defense. The position guys play could change based off the scheme the new head coach implements, but we’ll categorize players by where they fit in Billy Davis’s 3-4.

(All contract information is via Spotrac, including the 2016 dead cap numbers.) Read more »

Eagles-Cardinals, The Day After

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Billy Davis counted five from his perch up in the coaches box.

He didn’t point them out one by one, but the replay shows it all. There was Walter Thurmond at the point of attack; Jaylen Watkins and Malcolm Jenkins simultaneously bouncing off the ball-carrier a few yards upfield; Ed Reynolds along the sideline; and the final line of defense, E.J. Biggers, getting hit with a stiff arm before falling off the rookie and out of bounds.

“It was awful,” said Davis of the mishaps along the way during David Johnson‘s 47-yard touchdown scamper.
Read more »

Kendricks: ‘The Redskins Got Something Coming’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Trey Burton and Mychal Kendricks. (Jeff Fusco)

It was an ugly Sunday night in South Philadelphia for Billy Davis’ defense. The Eagles were shredded for an eye-popping 230 rushing yards in Sunday’s 40-17 loss to the Cardinals.

With the loss, the Eagles have to win Saturday’s matchup against Washington to win the NFC East and advance to the playoffs. Despite the dire straights, Mychal Kendricks was vocal and confident in his team despite the blowout loss to Arizona.

“Keep working. It’s that cliche, cookie-cutter answer, but that’s the truth,” Kendricks said. “We’ve got to just keep working. If I know this team, and I know myself, and I know the guys in here, the Redskins got something coming to them. For real. That’s real shit. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: ‘Backer Breakdowns

Mychal Kendricks and Theo Riddick. (USA Today Sports)

Mychal Kendricks and Theo Riddick. (USA Today Sports)

After the Eagles allowed 45 points and five passing touchdowns in two consecutive weeks, Billy Davis stood stunned and speechless on Thanksgiving.

“That was a disaster,” Davis said. “There’s no excuses. There’s no explanations for that.”

However, because the Eagles played three days earlier than they normally do, Chip Kelly watched the game tape a couple of more times than he typically does. In that additional film review, he singled out one reason Detroit dominated en route to a 45-14 win. Read more »

Eagles All-22 Wake-Up Call: Secondary Concerns

Nolan Carroll and Dez Bryant. (USA Today Sports)

Nolan Carroll and Dez Bryant. (USA Today Sports)

Despite the Eagles’ win Sunday night, their pass defense had one of its worst games of the season. They gave up season-highs in opponent passer rating (105) and touchdowns through the air (three), and Matt Cassel had his best game as a Cowboy.

Both Cole Beasley and Dez Bryant surpassed 100 receiving yards while reaching the end zone, and their quarterback averaged 7.9 passing yards per attempt.

“[Beasley] is a tough matchup for a lot of people because he’s so good at getting in and out of breaks,” Chip Kelly said. “The tough matchup is that is that they also have [Jason] Witten and they also have Dez at full speed, so who are you going to double?

“You can’t double three of them; if you do, you don’t have enough guys. Sometimes they caught us when we were doubling Witten or Dez, and now Beasley is in a one-on-one. That’s what happens when you have three really good weapons in their offense.”

The Eagles did have their bright spots in coverage, however, including Jordan Hicks’ pick-six. Byron Maxwell also continued his improvement and turned in another good performance, while the pass rush disrupted Cassel or brought him down several times.

But between Philadelphia’s struggles on Sunday and Hicks’ season-ending injury, how much concern should there be about the Eagles’ defense going forward? We turned to the tape to find out. Read more »

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