When looking at the Eagles linebacker corps, it would be hard to deny it contains elite potential. Despite losing Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks combine to make one of the most lethal linebacking combinations in Football. In 2016, a year in which both linebackers played all 16 games, the duo ranked 1st and 2nd in team tackles with 187, also combining for 4 sacks, 16 passes defensed and 6 interceptions. The two built quite a bond during that year, but the problem for both players has been staying on the field.
Whether it’s the injury-plagued heartbreak that follows Jordan Hicks or the history of suspensions and injuries that creep up on Nigel Bradham, it seems that the world is doing everything possible to stop this tandem from being one of the best in Football. As of right now, Jordan Hicks is returning from another season-ending injury and Nigel Bradham is facing a one-game suspension. Despite this, the two look meaner and more dangerous than ever.
“I think it goes beyond chemistry.” Jim Schwartz told reporters on Friday. “I think chemistry is part of it. The only way you have chemistry is if both guys are so confident in their ability to know what to do, and then they have confidence in the other player’s ability to know what to do.
They’re both really good communicators, and I think that breeds that chemistry that they’re talking about. I think both of those guys have the ability. It’s interesting, Jordan sometimes can calm our defense down and Nigel can sometimes get us revved up.”
“Got a little bit of fire and ice, I guess. I can’t think of a good … you guys come up with your own Batman and Robin. I don’t know what simile is good there.
But they both bring a little bit something different to the party, I guess you could say.”
When Jordan Hicks took over the linebacking corps from DeMeco Ryans, it didn’t take long for Simba to find his feet. When he was joined by former Buffalo Bill, Nigel Bradham, the two were always bound to wreak havoc. Hicks was rapidly becoming one of the most exciting coverage linebackers in the NFL and Bradham delivered the hard punch where Hicks provided the soft hands. In 2017, Bradham led the team in tackles again, putting the defense on his back and going under-the-radar as one of the league’s best, if not the best linebacker. It was something that played on his mind and gave him that chip on his shoulder. As we enter 2018, the prospect of Hicks and Bradham reuniting in week 2 and beyond is scarier than ever.
For Hicks, it’s an all-or-nothing season. As he enters his contract year, Hicks has only played one full 16 game season. When healthy, he is easily among the league’s most proficient linebackers. The word ‘when’ is key here though. If Hicks were to suffer yet another injury, it may leave the Eagles in a very difficult position. Cap-strapped as it is, do they invest heavily into a linebacker who has struggled with durability throughout his career, especially in a starting role where leadership is vital. Lining guys up and running the defense, Hicks was the heartbeat of the team when on the field. With so much motivation to secure a long-term future in Philadelphia, there’s no reason why he couldn’t post a career year if healthy.
As for Bradham, it’s all about proving people wrong once again. He finally put people on notice last year, shutting down offenses and putting in a year that would be hard to argue was not worthy of Pro-Bowl recognition. This year, it’s about making a very, very firm statement. Bradham isn’t just out to prove he’s ‘one of the best’, but the very best…and that’s why the Eagles rewarded his play by giving him a long-term contract, a move that many deem to be the best move of the offseason.
All things considered, the sky is the limit for this tandem and if it really is (heartbreakingly) their third and final year together, it may be their most explosive yet.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports