Who Should Start At Inside Linebacker For The Philadelphia Eagles?


Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles officially have a log jam at the inside linebacker position, boasting some of the best depth in the NFL, but who deserves to start? The team suffered major injuries at the position last season and were left to play with below average backups. The team really put an emphasis on obtaining quality depth and to upgrade the position as a whole this offseason. Now that the dust has settled the team now has some serious competition for the two starting spots this summer.

The log jam began when head coach Chip Kelly made the controversial move to trade the franchise’s all time leading rusher in LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Kiko is a very productive player and played at Oregon with Chip Kelly. In his rookie season with the Bills, Alonso showed massive upside with his rare blend of athleticism and talent. In his second year, Kiko tore his ACL in training camp and missed all of 2014.

With Kiko now in the mix and reportedly healthy, many figured that Demeco Ryans, the teams mufasa and captain, would be on his way out. Ryans had suffered an Achilles injury during the season in November against the Houston Texans, and many thought that was his last game in a Philadelphia Eagles uniform. The aging linebacker was already in decline and had a bloated contract. Many assumed that Kiko would be paired with the young and talented Mychal Kendricks.

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As the offseason progressed and Chip Kelly’s madness began furthering, there were reports that Mychal Kendricks not Ryans, would be the one to leave. The team gave a one year extension to Demeco Ryans and the trade rumors began swirling and many thought Kendricks was all but gone (which still could be the case). As the draft came and went, Kendricks was surprisingly still on the roster and the team drafted another ILB in the third round in Jordan Hicks.

Now that the Philadelphia Eagles have entered OTAs, the question is who will be the starting inside linebackers? For now it has been Kendricks and Kiko lining up together at practice because of Ryans limited participation because of the rehab, but what happens when all three are totally healthy for training camp August 2nd? Chip Kelly seems to love Demeco and Kiko, but there’s questions with Mychal Kendricks because of his injury history missing a handful of games in the past two seasons, even though Kiko and Demeco have both missed entire seasons due to major injuries.

I believe Chip Kelly wants his inside linebackers to be Demeco Ryans and Kiko Alonso, but the truth is Mychal Kendricks should start over the declining Demeco. The duo of Kendricks and Alonso would instantly form the most athletic pair of linebackers in the entire NFL. Kendricks and Alonso are both young budding superstars that have pro bowl potential. Not to mention the age factor as well, Kiko and Mychal are only 24 years old, compared to Demeco (age 30). The best years are ahead of these players, with Ryans his best years are already a distant memory.

Kiko in his rookie year was a tackling machine and proved he could cover tight ends and running backs in the passing game. Kendricks seems to always be around the ball, whether it’s sacks, tackles for a loss, fumble recoveries, or interceptions, Kendricks is always in the mix. Demeco Ryans is still a solid player and a very good leader that can really move a locker room, but the talent and athleticism that Mychal and Kiko have is special. At this point it is really up to Chip Kelly if he realizes that talent or not.

I can tell you exactly who should start at inside linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso. What I can’t tell you is who will start. That much is up to Chip Kelly, and honestly it’s looking like he favors Demeco and Kiko over Mychal Kendricks for whatever reason. Is it Mychal’s lack of size? Or his injury history? Or maybe he doesn’t fit Chip’s culture? No one will really knows the answers to these questions, but what we do know is who deserves to start at inside linebacker and it isn’t Demeco Ryans.

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