T.J. Edwards has been defying all odds since day 1. Not being drafted despite being a college star, fighting every day to make the roster in what was a crowded LB room, and now, after impressing coaches and teammates, T.J. is set to play a significant role on Eagles’ defense.
After 6 weeks, a release of Zach Brown, an injury to Nigel Bradham, and lack of consistent play from Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry, T.J. is finding himself as a strong contender for a starting job. J
“All that kid has done when we put him in the game is make the plays that have come to him. He has been physical, he has been a sure tackler, and he has been assignment sound. Those are all three good things to be said about a linebacker. He has made steady progress through training camp to preseason, and then regular season in games that he was thrown out there due to injury. It is a tough situation when you go out there due to injury, particularly being a young player, because you have no practice reps, but he was up to the task. Just like any of our players, he is expected to be up to the task.”Jim Schwartz on the progression of Edwards
Make plays, make impressions
When he made the final 53, Doug Pederson spoke highly of his progress and obvious skill set that was too good to not keep around.
Now, Edwards has caught the eye of Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz at the right time, as he is coming off back to back games of standing out on limited snaps:
Not only has Schwartz been impressed by T.J., his teammates are also raving about him:
“T.J. is a smart player. He came in and immediately we all knew he was going to be special. You can just see with his instincts that he was going to fit in and he was going to make it.”Kamu Grugier-Hill on T.J. Edwards
Strengths of his game
T.J. is as ready as you will find a rookie LB. Being a 4-year starter at Wisconsin, he has already started 53 games, in which he has developed consistent traits:
- “Active eyes in zone”, meaning he turns his head naturally between looking at the QB and then at the WRs, identifying especially crossers to make a play on them or getting a head start in a footrace.
- A natural run defender. Has a natural instinct in sorting through traffic, diagnoses run concepts fast and shoots his gap. He hits with tremendous power in tight spaces and works his hands well to shed blocks in open field.
- Nasty blitzer. Run through RBs, can move offensive linemen when coming full speed from depth, but won’t stop moving after initial contact.
Honestly, Jim Schwartz put it best (and for him to say these things are huge for Edwards):
“He has been physical, he has been a sure tackler, and he has been assignment sound. Those are all three good things to be said about a linebacker.”Jim Schwartz on T.J. Edwards
So… Are you ready, Mr Edwards?
“I’m definitely ready… I’m light years ahead of where i was in camp”
T.J. has played all three spots on the defense, mostly playing outside as the WILL and SAM, but thrived in college at MIKE, which is his most natural position. Why is T.J. such a natural at playing MIKE? – because he knows exactly how the mental side is:
“I think communication and confidence, really… Making sure everyone is on the same page. It’s your job to connect the front end and the back end, so communication from that standpoint is the biggest thing”T.J. Edwards
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports