Eagles’ neglect for linebacker is coming back to haunt them

The Eagles are 0-2 and somehow that isn’t the biggest worry anymore. In Sunday’s loss to the Rams, the entire team collapsed in on itself (outside of the offensive line) with seemingly no explanation. Regardless of what those reasons might be, all this serves to do is highlight some huge risks taken by Howie Roseman in recent years.

Perhaps the most alarming quote of all came from Rodney McLeod after losing to his former team. The Rams put up 191 yards on the ground yesterday in an offensive output that made the Birds’ look flightless. When asked about what he saw on the field, the veteran safety’s response was…interesting.

“No, it was identical to what we practiced. This was one of those games where you had to play fundamentally sound disciplined ball [and] trust in one another, whether that’s the D-line holding up there standing to us in the backend understanding how they are going to attack us in what areas and where we need to be. I feel like we started to chase plays rather than be in the moment and trust in one another consistently. We did battle back and put ourselves in good position but failed to finish the game in the fourth quarter.”

If it was exactly what the team were expecting, then why was it so easy for the Rams?

The position that struggled most on defense was arguably linebacker. Sean McVay schemed a lot of play action, forcing players like Nate Gerry to sink or swim. The entire group sunk. Massively.

After losing Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill this offseason, Roseman refused to address the position significantly. He drafted Davion Taylor in the third who was arguably the rawest prospect on the entire board. Two games in and fourth-round pick Akeem Davis-Gaither has more tackles than Taylor has snaps.

Shaun Bradley was drafted by the Eagles much later in the draft, but his 8 snaps in week one felt invisible and he didn’t see the field in week two.

Nate Gerry is the unit’s most experienced player and he was embarrassed by the Rams offense again and again. For a team that doesn’t value linebackers, this game has to have been a wake-up call. The Rams single-handedly took the team’s biggest weakness, and gave it a Game of Thrones style execution.

The team could’ve very easily invested in a linebacker during the second round of the NFL Draft, or even earlier. Patrick Queen, now a star in Baltimore, was in-play when the Eagles were on the clock in round 1. Talking of the Ravens, let’s not forget L.J Fort is now a bonafide stud after the Eagles cut him due to preferring….Nate Gerry.

In round 2, Willie Gay, Logan Wilson, Josh Uche, Terrell Lewis, were all names on the board. A quarterback was selected instead.

The Eagles opted to go with speed and athletic traits over production when it came to building their team this offseason and now every decision Roseman has made is beginning to work against him. This is just one example.

Linebacker is now the weakest position on the roster by a mile and the only saving grace is a former UDFA in the way of T.J Edwards, who is essentially carrying the unit on his back at this point.

Whether it’s a front office philosophy or a coaching one, something has to change. The Rams may be the first team to terrorize this unit in 2020, but they won’t be the last.

Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire

One thought on “Eagles’ neglect for linebacker is coming back to haunt them

  1. To see the mistakes being made by this team, leaves me thinking that this is going to be a very long year. Starting at the top, I think Jeff needs to bring in somebody who he can put under contract to stick around for more than a few years and not be hired away like Joe Douglas. Howie Roseman is a brilliant contract guy, but his player evaluation and drafting skils are god awful.

    Though it’s not all on him, if you go back to 2010, we had 13 draft picks, of which only 2 amounted to anything, Brandon Graham and Kurt Coleman. 2011, we had 11 picks and only Kelce and Dion Lewis (not for us) amounted to anything. 2012 we had 9 picks and actually hit on 5, Cox, Kendricks, Curry, Foles and Dennis Kelly, of which only Cox is still here. 2013 it was 8 picks and Lane and Zach were the only two from that year. 2014, there was Jordan Matthews, Beau Allen and Jaylen Watkins. Matthews and Watkins are looking for jobs and Allen is on IR for New England. 2015, we had 6 picks and only Jordan Hicks was any good. This was also the year we drafted Agholor. 2016 we had 8 picks. Of those 8, 5 guys have contributed in a fairly decent fashion…Wentz, Seomaulo, Smallwood, Vaitai and Mills. Smallwood and Big V are gone, Seo has potential, but not greatness, same for Mills and the Jury is still out on Wentz. After 5 years, with the skills he has, you would think he would be elite, though that is certainly not the case.

    2017 is worth mentioning all picks and you will see why…Barnett, Jones, Douglas, Hollins, Pumphrey, Gibson, Qualls, Gerry. Barnett has had a hard time staying on the field and in year 4 in basically nothing but serviceable…Sidney Jones….enough said, Rasul was not bad, but was very slow for a corner. Never understood why wasn’t converted to safety instead of Mills, the rest speak for themselves. 2018, actually turned out to be a decent year for picks…Goedert, Maddox, Sweat , Pryor and Mailata. Except for Mailata, who was a project from the start, all good or solid contributors. 2019 brought us Dillard, Sanders, Arcega-Whiteside, Miller and Thorson. Sanders is a bona fide star in the making, the other 4….not so much. 2020 we had 10 picks and they need time to prove themselves, and after 2 games, it would be unfair to highlight any deficiencies, however, it appears that Reagor has some pretty good upside and will hopefully become our #1 receiver.

    Moving down, Doug’s magic if not gone, seems to be waning, In 2017, when we won the SB, he had Frank Reich and John DeFillipo, 2 QB whisperers who got Wentz almost all the way there and Foles the rest of the way. Since then, although there have been brilliant moments, overall, Wentz has slowly regressed. This year, he is making mistakes that he just shouldn’t make. IMHO, Wentz has a mentality of thinking he has to do it all, all the time and DeFillipo and Reich were able to rein him in. Last year, Wentz had McCown, who obviously will be a great coach some day, that was able to keep him in check. I think it’s time to start working Hurts into the conversation…not to take over, but to see how he handles NFL play. Look at how many QB’s in the league can make plays with their legs and those who are pocket QB’s, get rid of the ball very quickly. Doug has Wentz passing way too much, and he still seems to have that throw first mentality. They talked all summer about how he throws so well on the run and that they were going to roll him out of the pocket way more, and they haven’t done it but for a handful of plays. We have to start Wentz for at least the next 2 seasons because of his contract, unless of course, you can see if Hurts has the goods, and maybe you can trade Wentz, even if it means paying part of his salary. That would lower the cap by at least half, and you would have Hurts on a rookie contract for 4 years. By then, you will know what you have. Unless you are able to put a concrete wall in front of Wentz, he never takes off and runs and he holds the ball too long. Yes, sometimes, he is able to extend a play and make something great happen, but that is only when he moves out of the pocket. If your line is suspect (which ours is) and your QB holds the ball too long, then ROLL HIM OUT and give him the extra few seconds to find somebody to throw to.

    The OL, WR, LB’s (especially), DL did not play well. It was embarrassing. I think it’s time to hire a true football talent, who can help evaluate the guys we have and keep what is good and get rid of what isn’t. I realize contracts, etc. means you can’t do it all at once, but I think it is time for a house cleaning. I think the Philly faithful will accept rebuilding if they see that Jeff is trying to bring them back to being a really competitive team.

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