The Eagles were brought back down to Earth in their first divisional clash of the year, falling to the Washington Redskins 20-27. In a game where a lack of execution haunted every position on the field..one man stood out from the crowd, just as he has all season.
Eagles Safety Rodney McLeod led the Eagles in tackles with a total of 14, his best statistical performance of the year so far. The former Ram signed an extensive deal with the Eagles during the offseason and was projected, alongside Malcolm Jenkins, to have a thunderous year under Jim Schwartz.
McLeod’s performances have often gone under the radar due to the rise of Carson Wentz and other stories that snatch the spotlight..but it’s safe to say that without McLeod against the Redskins, the deficit would have been much greater.
The Safety is widely considered the “Last line of Defense” and that saying could not have been more accurate on Sunday. An inefficient pass rush, missed tackles from linebackers and cornerbacks being burned consistently meant that McLeod was often the only thing stopping a big play turning into six points..and for the most part he held is own. In fact, of the 14 tackles he made..only 2 were assisted.
Some big hits on running backs that had burst through the trenches, and great help over the top to aid a struggling Jalen Mills against the explosive DeSean Jackson saw McLeod become a one man band at times when the Eagles needed a surge in momentum.
The Redskins were still able to put up 27 points at FedExField..but Cousins only threw for two touchdowns..none of which came at the expense of the former Ram. McLeod’s tough tackling has proved to be exemplary for the Eagles Seconday this season and wrapping up tough backs such as Matt Jones and Robert Kelley when they’re at full speed is by no means an easy task. However McLeod’s technique ensured that it was rare to see someone get by him.
The only instance besides a penalty (which when considering the team had double digit penalties yet again, isn’t exactly an individual problem) where McLeod perhaps made a detrimental error, was on a huge run by Kelley. Mychal Kendricks missed a pivotal tackle and McLeod was left unexpectedly running side-by-side as opposed to ensuring the tackle was complete. Expecting a cut and switching to the outside was the wrong decision as Kelley turned up the heat and got some running room..but the dedication of McLeod saw the Safety charge straight back after him and bring the runner down.
McLeod was playing extremely deep on Sunday, which isn’t unusual..but drew some surprising criticism. But when the cornerbacks are consistently giving up separation and big plays, it becomes a last resort and one the Eagles heavily relied upon.
After five games, McLeod leads the Eagles in tackles and interceptions..but the narrative will instead likely focus on the balloon being burst, the struggles on the Offensive line and what happened to the Eagles pass rush.
McLeod’s physical style of play has gone under the radar all season..but in a game where the Eagles seemed to crumble until the latter stages, it was the consistency of McLeod’s play that largely kept the Eagles within reaching distance by ensuring that the Redskins were unable to convert an unexpected big play into a touchdown.
McLeod has not only surpassed expectations in becoming an integral part of the Eagles Secondary, but the entire Jim Schwartz Defense.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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