The “Ok the corners can’t tackle, but everyone else can!” scenario
It’s no secret that the Eagles corners seem allergic to tackling. Well, the same could be said about some of the linebackers, but the corners have routinely thrown their shoulders into receivers and backs only to bounce off and allow a 20 yard gain. In this scenario, the Eagles prioritize ball skills and hope everyone else can learn to tackle better.
Eagles defensive returns: S Rodney McLeod, DT Hassan Ridgeway
The Eagles stay away from KGH in this scenario and look to rebuild the linebackers through free agency and trust T.J. Edwards, Nate Gerry, and Alex Singleton to make leaps in 2020.
Free-agent defensive signings: LB Joe Schobert, LB Nick Kwiatkoski
Do I really need to retell my desire for Schobert?
Kwiatkoski made a pretty good name for himself in 2019. Filling in for Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith, he’s a physical linebacker who excels at run defense and is also pretty good in coverage. He could be the 2020 version of L.J. Fort, except he stays on the team.
No Darby? No Mills? Deal. Diggs can cover and he can do it exceptionally. He may not be the best choice for zone but if Schwartz allows him to play press-man, good luck getting open. He has the speed to stay with receivers on deep routes and he can find his way to the ball. He just can’t tackle. Diggs can form a nice, young secondary with Maddox, LeBlanc, Jones, and Douglas.
Winfield Jr, the son of former NFL cornerback Antoine Winfield, is a playmaker. He can wrap up tackles and make plays in the air. He might not be the fastest out there, but he’ll find the ball. His big red flag is his size and durability, which is concerning for this Eagles medical staff. But to add Winfield as a third safety and have him and McLeod over the top while Jenkins patrols the line, it will be something great to behold. Check out more about him here.
The “Nnamdi isn’t here anymore” coupled with “we haven’t done this in a long time, did we do it right?” scenarios
In this scenario, the ghost of Nnamdi is beaten and the Eagles do something they haven’t done since 1979.
Eagles defensive returns: LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, DT Hassan Ridgeway
The Eagles decide to go bargain hunting on their own free agent list and bring back a core depth player and a linebacker looking to reestablish his value for 2021. Rodney McLeod finds a new team on a much larger contract than what the Eagles want to give and they let Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby find new zip codes as well.
Free-agent defensive signings: S Jimmie Ward, CB Byron Jones, LB Nick Kwiatkoski
The Eagles go all-in on the defensive side in free agency and get one of the best safeties in the NFL and one of the best corners in the NFL. Jimmie Ward has made a name for himself as a stud safety at the back end of a dominant defense. His experience in the 49ers defense could prove helpful in a young secondary looking for intensity.
Byron Jones allowed 53.1% of completions thrown his way in 2019. He doesn’t get interceptions, but he’ll contest every pass and can deflect them away with the best of them. His ability to line up with tight ends would allow the Eagles to further invest in the secondary in the draft.
Nick Kwiatkoski provides a great depth piece behind KGH, Gerry, Edwards, Singleton, and the streak breaker below.
1979. That was the last time the Eagles took a linebacker in the first round. Marcus Smith was listed as a linebacker, but he played defensive end for the Eagles.
Kenneth Murray is that type of talent to break the streak. He has sideline to sideline speed and is excellent at run defense. He has the ability to drop into zone coverage and can provide the type of impact the Eagles haven’t had since Jeremiah Trotter. Here’s some more.
Gladney again. Look at this secondary:
Depth: LeBlanc, Jones, Douglas
Safeties: Jenkins, Ward, FA signing, Epps
No Phly Zone
Of course, these are just offensive and defensive scenarios, realistically it will come down to a scenario where the Eagles signed some offensive players and defensive players and they will weigh the impact of both sides and see where they need to go. For my ideal* scenario, check out the next page.
*ideals can change like the wind and tomorrow I could have a different ideal scenario. Oh well.
Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports