After a really impressive training camp, Kamu Grugier-Hill looked set to finally take the next step in his career and start for the Eagles. A grade 3 MCL sprain in his knee derailed that plan. However, after missing three games, he looks set to return against Green Bay on Thursday. After practice yesterday, he was optimistic, yet realistic:
“Definitely playing, just trying to get worked into some things and let my body get right. I know I’m not going to be out there playing the whole game, but the times I do get just try to get back in the swing of things. I’m excited”Kamu Grugier-Hill on playing Thursday
Jim Schwartz echoed that same sentiment:
Yeah, we’ll just see when it gets to Thursday — anybody that is available will help our defense. We have confidence that anybody that’s active can fill a role for us. We’ll just cross that bridge if it comes.
Even if KGH doesn’t return right away, he’s a special teams ace that the team have missed. He’s led the team in special teams tackles for two years in a row now and has gradually pushed for a bigger defensive role, where he’s flashed elite sideline-to-sideline speed.
For now, the primary LBs on the field have been Nigel Bradham, who is returning from offseason surgery, Zach Brown, and Nate Gerry. So the question is – who takes the fall?
In the offseason, Bradham had surgery for a toe injury that almost caused missed time in the regular season. He did manage to return, but his play has been underwhelming.
In three games he has made 9 tackles, missed 5, and has recorded a tackle grade of a disappointing 27.4, and a run defense grade of 34.9.
Against the Lions on Sunday, Bradham looked off. In the run game, he was consistently late in recognizing run blocking schemes, didn’t react to pulling guards, and single-handedly handed a touchdown drive to the Lions in the first half:
In the second half, the trend against the run continued, while he looked lost in pass coverage, giving up enough space for Marvin Jones Jr. over the middle to potentially give the game away:
Bradham is expensive though, and a familiar face on the defense. Last offseason he signed a $40 million contract and has been a consistent piece on defense for three years.
An offseason acquisition, Brown has been terrific in his first three games. His workload has expanded from 28 snaps in week one to 50 snaps in week three
With that came good production and consistent play. Brown has recorded 14 tackles, 8 defensive stops, 0 missed tackles, a tackle grade of an elite 86.0, and a run defense grade of 66.4.
His best game so far came against the Lions, where he looked like the dominating player against the run that he was in Washington last year:
Brown is cheap, coming in at a 3 million $ price tag on the year. He is new to the system but the workload is increasing. Most importantly, he is healthy.
The final option is Nate Gerry, who has played in 46 snaps this season and has had plenty of ups and downs. From an interception and an elite call at the goal-line against Atlanta, to some slow reaction times and errors, Gerry’s development is worth noting. KGH may simply take a percentage of snaps away from Gerry, but it all depends on how the Eagles shape up their defense and where the team intends to play Gerry and Kamu respectively.
Who does KGH take snaps from?
Speaking from an on-the-field perspective, Brown had outperformed Bradham in every single way. He is consistent against the run, he looks comfortable with the blitz schemes, and is not a liability in the passing game.
From a front office and familiarity standpoint, Bradham has been recognized as the captain of the defense, is expensive, and it would be controversial to sit him – unless there is injury involved.
Would Ibe happy if Brown is the victim of the return of KGH instead of Bradham?
– Definitely not. Brown is the better player
Will I be surprised if Bradham starts over Brown?
– Again, not at all. Jalen Mills started because he was a favorite of Schwartz…and that counts for a lot more than you may think.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports