Eagles’ neglect for linebacker is coming back to haunt them

LANDOVER, MD – DECEMBER 15: Washington Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) runs for a first down and is brought down by Philadelphia Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards (57) on December 15, 2019, at FedEx Field in Landover, MD. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)

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