Linebacker Watch: ‘Change Can Be Good’

Philadelphia Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans.Mychal Kendricks may be a rookie, but he has dealt with a coordinator switch before. Following his sophomore year at Cal, Clancy Pendergst came from the NFL ranks and replaced Bob Gregory as defensive coordinator.

The result?

“We balled out,” said Kendricks. “I think we were first in the Pac 12 as far as defense. We were first in sacks, and might have been second or third in picks.

“Change can be good.”

That seems to be the sentiment in the Eagles’ locker room overall, and within the linebacker corps in particular. There remains a sense that this defense will not be overhauled now that Todd Bowles has replaced Juan Castillo, but there will definitely be some differences. Jamar Chaney echoed what Casey Matthews said a couple days ago: that Bowles believes this ‘D’ had become far too predictable. Expect some more exotic looks and yes, some more blitzing.

“He is going to bring it all,” said Chaney. “The main thing is he doesn’t want the offense to know exactly what we’re going to do. If they make plays, he doesn’t want it to be because they know what we’re doing. He wants it to be so when it’s fourth quarter time, the Eagles still have a lot of stuff they can still throw at you so you still don’t know what we’re doing.

“It’s hard to beat teams, especially the Steelers — they’ve got Ben Roethlisberger — and the Falcons with Matt Ryan, you can’t beat quarterbacks like that if they know what you’re doing. This is a quarterback-driven league and you have to change it up on those guys. The good defenses do a good job of disguising things, and that’s something that we have to do better on defense.”

The model will also be tweaked to ensure each individual’s strengths are being properly utilized, according to DeMeco Ryans.

“That’s what you do: As a coach, you put your players in the best position to make plays,” said Ryans. “With Todd taking over, I can see his mindset and what he’s doing, that’s the approach he’s taking. And I feel like that will be a good approach for us.”

Bowles is laid-back by all accounts so you won’t see, for instance, him head-butting one of his linebackers like Castillo did. But that doesn’t mean he won’t challenge the players.

“He’ll tell you, ‘You can either be satisfied just being paid, or you can go out here and try and win a Super Bowl. It’s up to you. I’m not going to get up here and try to motivate you to do that. That’s something you’ve got to do”” said Chaney. “That’s the kind of guy he is.”