Did the Eagles find a gem in Nicholas Morrow?

ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 20: Chicago Bears linebacker Nicholas Morrow (53) bobbles what would have been an interception during the Sunday afternoon NFL game between the Chicago Bears and the Atlanta Falcons on November 20, 2022 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles introduced Nicholas Morrow to the media on Wednesday. The veteran linebacker doesn’t yet know what kind of role he’ll have in new defensive coordinator Sean Desai’s system, but it should be a big one.

He has a legit crack at earning a starting spot with the Eagles following a mass exodus at the position. One that saw Kyzir White flee for Arizona and T.J. Edwards get handed a huge contract in Chicago.

A steal for the Eagles?

The possibilities are endless for Morrow, a guy who led the Bears in total tackles (116) last season. His Pro Football Focus grade (54.0) was underwhelming, but there is no denying his work ethic. He went from a virtual unknown with upside at Huntsville High School to Division III Greenville University to the NFL.

Morrow told reporters that first and foremost he’s a football player. Wherever they want him to line up, that’s where he’s going to dig his cleats in and go to work.

I’m versatile. I’ve played MIKE. I’ve played WILL. I’ve played SAM. I’ve played in the 4-3. I’ve played in landmark defenses. I’ve played in match defenses. I’ve played in man defenses. I’ve kind of played it all with the Raiders and with Chicago. I can’t wait to play football and play defense. I’m just comfortable playing football and being versatile, whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do.”

When asked what he showed people last season in Chicago, he offered a one-word answer: durability. He played in all 17 regular-season games in 2022, one year after missing the entire 2021 campaign due to a season-ending ankle injury suffered in training camp. 

Morrow said: “What do I think I showed? I think I showed I’m someone who is durable, right? That was a big question, can I finish a whole season? Can I be a three-down player? I was a three-down player so I’m excited about those things but also there’s things to work on but the biggest thing is getting in here and working as hard as I possibly can and showing I love the game of football.”

Nick Sirianni-Matt Eberflus Connection

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – OCTOBER 18: Indianapolis Colts Offensive Coordinator Nick Sirianni looks on in game action during a NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals on October 18, 2020, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire)

Morrow was seen as a steal in free agency by some in the know. There had to be a catch, right? The Eagles added a tackling machine who can hold his own in coverage on what amounts to a one-year, prove-it deal. Terms haven’t been disclosed. Either way, it’s a bargain for the Eagles.

Pro Football Focus hyped him up as a player the Bears couldn’t afford to lose.

Morrow logged a career-high 1,086 snaps and earned his second consecutive coverage grade above 60.0 this past season. He could be a nice depth piece with starting potential on a cheap deal for the Eagles, a familiar face on a roster that is about to have very few in two months’ time.

So, yes, the move seemed too good to be true until you start peeling back the layers. Nick Sirianni and Matt Eberflus were on the same coaching staff in Indianapolis – Sirianni was the offensive coordinator; Eberflus was the defensive coordinator – before they went on to accept head-coaching gigs. They remain close friends and talk often.

I have a lot of respect for ‘Flus and everything that he stands for,” Sirianni said, via The Inquirer in 2022. “I think he’s a phenomenal coach. We had a lot of talks, whether that’s ‘Hey, how are we getting ready for practice?’ or ‘How are we going to do this segment of practice?’”

No doubt that Eagles head coach, Nick Sirianni, blew up Eberflus’ phone when Morrow became available. Vice versa, Eberflus called him to check in on former Eagles LB T.J. Edwards. Both men gushed about their players, blah, blah, blah, and now here we are.

His résumé is the tape,” Eberflus said in 2022, via the Bears website. “Worker. Prepares. Very smart. You can see the athleticism on tape, his ability to cover in space. He can cover a lot of ground, cover tight ends, cover backs. So he’s an exciting piece to add.

Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire