Why Rodney McLeod is more valuable than most realize

The Philadelphia Eagles made headline parting ways with one of their most valuable players over the past six years. Malcolm Jenkins was an Iron Man for the Eagles playing every single snap over the past two seasons. Malcolm was invaluable for this team but the thing is, he was a part of an incredibly talented tandem.

Rodney McLeod, the team’s other safety, has been a quality player for the Eagles since joining in 2016. He has given this team his all both whether he’s in the game or otherwise. McLeod has been a key player both on and off the field during his tenure in Philly, especially during the Super Bowl run.

While McLeod may not appear on a list of the top Safeties in the NFL, he certainly makes his presence known. He has shown to be a quality center field option for the Birds. In a suspect secondary, the Eagles can’t afford question marks going forward so retaining McLeod was key.

It’s easy to forget just how important he’s been while Malcolm Jenkins was in the picture. McLeod is an above average safety, was an Iron Man in his own right last season, and is a knowledgeable leader for a defense that will need it.

The Numbers

The numbers are there to show McLeod has been a In his four years as an Eagles, McLeod was able to put up the following stats:

Rodney McLeod 2016-2019Stats
Total Tackles:219
Interceptions:8
Passes Defended:23
Forced Fumbles:4

Keep in mind, McLeod missed 13 games in 2018 after tearing his MCL in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts. McLeod has been an important defensive cog for this Eagles defense and at six million dollars per season, he’s a steal. Take a look at his stats from last year, he may not be Earl Thomas but McLeod is effective.

Rodney McLeod 2019 SeasonStats
Total Tackles:76
Interceptions:2
Passes Defended:6
Forced Fumbles:2

McLeod allowed a passer rating of 81.6 during the season, something the team would love to see improve. Thing is, keeping in mind the stat of the Eagles corners last season, that number should lower with the addition of Darius Slay, the hopeful addition of another corner in free agency or the draft, and also the growth of corners like Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas.

Health

Rodney McLeod has suffered only two injuries that caused him to miss time since joining the Eagles. He suffered from a quadriceps injury in 2017 but was able to recover after two games and contribute en route to the Super Bowl, and a torn MCL. While McLeod did miss 13 games in 2018 with due to his torn MCL he rebounded with a quality season in 2019.

During that season, out of 1020 total snaps, McLeod played 1012, missing only a mere eight snaps on defense. While not the perfect record Malcolm Jenkins showed it’s still incredible especially considering he was coming off of a torn MCL. McLeod has seemingly no more chance of suffering injury than anyone else and proved himself to be very durable last season.

Leadership

McLeod has also been a leader for this team. McLeod seems to pick up when needed for the other leaders especially those in the secondary. He has been the tactician to the younger players when they need the extra coaching. He’s been the hype dog for the team when Jalen Mills is unavailable like he was against the Bears in the 2018 playoffs. He’s able to fill in for Malcolm as the lead by example vet. That’s not him though, McLeod isn’t that type of leader but will do what he needs to for the team. McLeod is the first to take himself out of his comfort zone if it’s what the team needs. That is real leadership.

Rasul Douglas, who has had McLeod as a teammate since he was drafted, said this on McLeod filling in for Mills and Jenkins.Rod is just an assassin. He just does the work that is not out in the public eye, he keeps everyone together, keeps everyone on one page and communicates with the whole defense. That’s Rod’s job.”

With the Eagles retaining Mills, they still have their “rah-rah” guy in the secondary. Darius Slay is likely to add to that and be more like the Malcolm Jenkins type leader. A highly respected vet who’s first in line to fight for the team. McLeod will go right back to his role as the “assassin”, working behind the scenes to lead this team to victory. He doesn’t have to be Malcolm Jenkins, Jalen Mills or Fletcher Cox, he is an important leader for this team in his own right.

McLeod returning to the Eagles is a big deal, especially with Malcolm Jenkins leaving. A trio of McLeod, Mills, and Slay will thrive together and the offseason isn’t over yet, the team may still add to the secondary. A talented secondary is able to feed off one another. The fact that Darius Slay can live on an island against the other team’s number one receiver, it lends McLeod time to help the weaker areas of the secondary.

As a player and as a leader, McLeod will help this defense thrive this season, next, and as long as he is an Eagle.

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