Zach Brown joined the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason, and the hope is he can provide an upgrade to the linebacker corps, but is he elite?
Count them. 90 men sit on the Philadelphia Eagles roster. Nine of them are linebackers. The excitement surrounding Philly’s draft picks and great showings by veterans at camp sometimes pushes other team transactions out of our consciousness, but that doesn’t figure to be the case for very long in one area. Think back to the Eagles addition of Zach Brown on May 3rd.
‘Birds’ fans should know Brown very well. 20 of his 96 total tackles in 2018 came in the two games Philly played against their divisional rivals, the Washington Redskins. Three professional stops in his NFL journey with the Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills and Redskins has already produced 633 tackles, 17.5 sacks, seven interceptions, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
He’s even notched two defensive touchdowns.
The conclusion of the 2016 season resulted in a Pro Bowl nod. For several seasons, we sat and we watched Jordan Hicks force fumbles, snag interceptions and even deliver knock out blows to Tony Romo, but the one thing Eagles fans could never completely count on from Hicks was a clean bill of health.
For that reason, when it was time to extend him, they chose, instead, to let him walk. Brown figures to be his most logical replacement, and with the help of Nigel Bradham and, most likely, Kamu Grugier-Hill (he played somewhere around 30 percent of the defensive snaps in 2018), Philly could have something special at the second level.
Here’s what we know. The bulk of the responsibility will lie on Brown’s shoulders, and that means Philly is in good hands. The question is whether or not he can be elite. One NFL expert thinks he can be. Check out some of what Doug Farrar said in a recent story on his list of the game’s 11 best linebackers.
He ranks Brown as the sixth-best in the game.
"The Eagles lost star linebacker Jordan Hicks to the Cardinals in free agency in the offseason, but typical of Howie Roseman and his staff, there was a plan in place. That plan was to add Brown… Coverage was an issue with Brown in previous years, but he really put that skill together last year, and that will serve him well in an Eagles defense requiring its linebackers to cover a ton of ground…"
Farrar also compliments Brown on his ability to remain correct in his assignment and run ‘sideline to sideline’ while keeping his body under control to make tackles.
This may be one of those one-year deals that leads to a longer extension ladies and gentlemen. Philly’s had a nice run with those recently, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which this experiment fails. Recently, we’ve ignored Brown to talk about topics that are more sexy, bur here’s something to keep in mind. That won’t be the case when training camp starts. You should be thankful that this guy’s on our side now.