After seeing limited action to begin the season, the workload of TJ Edwards has increased substantially after the injury to Nigel Bradham and the release of now free-agent Zach Brown.
After playing in only 2 snaps in weeks 1-5, Edwards played in 10, 21, 14, and 16 in weeks 6-9, respectively. Although still a rotational piece, Edwards has been impressive.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, however. The UDFA is a two-time All-Big 10 honoree, and a four-year starter at Wisconsin, with 367 tackles, 37.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 10 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and an All-American title to his name.
Over the course of 3 preseason games for the Eagles this season, Edwards ranked as the 10th best rookie, per PFF. He might be athletically limited, but he delivers secure tackling and a very high football IQ, which may be why the Eagles paid him so handsomely.
Edwards tallied 10 tackles and one for a loss in the preseason finale against the Jets, setting the bar to raise. Now, nine weeks into the regular season, he’s doing exactly that.
Coach is taking notice
It’s interesting to see how Schwartz evaluates the undrafted free agent at this stage in his development. The linebacker group is still light on depth and his exposure to defensive snaps may only increase as a result.
“TJ has done a good job, obviously he hasn’t played a ton. He is a physical tackler. Every week he gets a little better. That’s what you want from new guys. The game doesn’t feel too big for him”Jim Schwartz on TJ Edwards
A PFF darling
Highlighted by an insane 95.0 grade against the Bills, which ranked #1 among all defenders that week regardless of snap count, he has consistently ranked in the ‘good-to-very-good’ zone.
Overall, Edwards is graded as the 2nd best LB per PFF, carried by a tremendous elite 90.6 run defense grade, but backed up by a good 68.5 coverage grade.
Tale of the tape
Against the Vikings, Edwards kickstarted a trend of physical and punishing play style against the run started.
It carried over to the Cowboys, where he does a tremendous job of blowing up the FB and make a tackle on Zeke.
Against the Bills, he showed rare disciplined movement from an Eagles LB in pursuit of ballcarriers.
Against the Bears he showed great flow when playing the run.
Time for a bigger role?
TJ has been the team’s most efficient linebacker this season, in my opinion. The snap-quick reaction to the play, disciplined movement, and brute physicality against blockers is standing out on a weekly basis, as evidenced in the tape-breakdown above.
In zone coverage, he is about the only LB that actually keeps his head on a swivel, transitioning well from looking at WRs and at the QB, which prevents receivers to run behind him without adjusting.
One thing is for sure: TJ will only become better with playing time and the ceiling is extremely high.
Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports