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Here’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles linebackers performed Sunday against the Browns, after having re-watched the game. Click here to find all of the game reviews.
Throughout the course of the week, we’ll be providing position-by-position previews of the entire Eagles roster. Click here to get to all of them. Today, we cover the linebackers.
Since the Eagles returned to the Novacare Complex 10 days ago, Akeem Jordan hasn’t had much company at his locker.
The sixth-year linebacker has gone largely unnoticed. Many (present company included) figured he was battling for a roster spot with Keenan Clayton, looking to continue his strong play on special teams.
But things changed today. The last question for Andy Reid during his media session, which lasted about 15 minutes, was about Brian Rolle, and whether the second-year player was still the team’s starting WILL linebacker.
“Right now, no,” Reid said. “Akeem is going to work in there as a starter.”
Here’s my player-by-player look at the Eagles linebackers after having re-watched their game against the Steelers.
If you were expecting Mychal Kendricks to look like a Pro Bowler in his first game action in the NFL, you were disappointed. If you wanted to see him show flashes of the player the Birds hope he eventually becomes, well, you got that.
As I mentioned in a previous post, linebacker Casey Matthews had a bizarre rookie season, beginning the season as a starter, getting benched and then eventually finding a role in the nickel package.
In the final four games, he played about 61 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. And according to linebackers coach Mike Caldwell, that’s when Matthews got his confidence back.
“The thing about Casey was he never sulked about it,” Caldwell said. “He understood, he continued to work hard and that hard work paid off. He played well on special teams, then he ended up getting his role in the third-down package, and he did a good job in that package, so now that confidence is back and he can build on that coming in this year.”
DeMeco Ryans arrives with high expectations after the Eagles have continually failed in recent years to find an adequate middle linebacker. Barring injury, he is a lock to start in the middle when the Eagles open the season against the Browns. But can he be good enough in coverage to stay on the field for all three downs?
The Eagles were in nickel about 46 percent of the time last year, according to Football Outsiders (you’re going to see me cite that stat quite a bit). In Houston, Ryans earned the reputation of being a great leader and a great teammate. But it’ll be hard to lead if he’s replaced in sub packages and on the sidelines nearly half the time.