How a change in system gives the Eagles a hidden weapon at Linebacker


Fans were elated when news broke that Jim Schwartz would be the Eagles new Defensive Coordinator. The imminent change to an attacking 4-3 not only compliments the skill sets of some of the most dominant Defensive players on the team, but could well lift the Eagles to an era of Defensive dominance that fans have been longing for.

With Connor Barwin changing position, Kiko Alonso being traded to Miami and the signing of Nigel Bradham, many are expecting the Eagles to add more depth at Linebacker during the offseason whether that be through Free Agency or a draft pick. But there’s one man who would be a perfect fit for Schwartz’s system, and he’s perhaps one of the most overlooked and underrated players on the team.

That man is Bryan Braman. Out of 443 snaps last season, just 15 were on Defense. This is largely due to his dominant Special Teams role, but when you look at what he’s done in those 15 snaps, it’s clear to see just how valuable Braman can be.

Six tackles, a sack on Drew Brees and a fumble recovery. In comparison, Marcus Smith had 7 tackles in 127 Defensive snaps.

Let’s not forget just how impressive his efforts are on special teams too..

He may not be as effective as Hicks or have as much Defensive experience as Goode but he was almost completely overlooked by Chip Kelly. If there’s one system in the NFL Braman could develop into an explosive linebacker under as opposed to a situational player, it’s Jim Schwartz’s 4-3.

Braman is big, powerful and agile. A 40 yard dash time of 4.74 seconds isn’t incredible..but it’s just .6 seconds than Jordan Hicks for comparison. It’s not his speed that would see him add another level of explosiveness to an increasingly aggressive Linebacker core,  it’s the sheer ruthlessness that the Eagles need coming off the edge for this system to be successful.

It’s an area they have struggled in massively during 2015 but under Schwartz it’s imperative that they’re able to hurry the Quarterback and bring urgency and aggression to every play. Braman ticks all the boxes and with his contract ending in 2017, he will already be out to prove himself worthy of an extension.

Braman is tenacious, there’s no other word for it. With DeMeco Ryans also released after a year in which he wasn’t quite as dominant and declining in form due to age, the physicality of Braman would be a breath of fresh air to a Linebacker core that’s growing ever younger and ever more aggressive.

It’s a new system, a new Defensive Coordinator and some new blood. Braman has a real shot to make an impact on the Eagles Defense this year if given the opportunity. If it’s aggression and execution that Schwartz seeks, Braman has it in abundance. It’s time for the world to stop sleeping on one of the most dominant special teams players in Philadelphia and see what he can do in a new era.


photo credit: USA-Today