Philadelphia Eagles should be encouraged by Alex Singleton’s emergence

Alex Singleton (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Alex Singleton (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Alex Singleton remains a bright spot for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Linebacker play was a serious concern for the Philadelphia Eagles heading into this season. While linebackers coach Ken Flajole has proven time and time again that he can develop players at the position, this is the most inexperienced group he’s had to coach in quite some time. General manager Howie Roseman didn’t give him much to work with as the front office is still underperforming, but that’s an issue we’ll discuss another day.

Despite the poor performances each week from Nathan Gerry and Duke Riley, Philly’s defensive coordinator continued to put them out on the field. In fact, Gerry was one of the signal-callers for reasons this fanbase will never understand, and losing Malcolm Jenkins as one of the leaders of the defense was a big blow. Roseman didn’t capitalize on the opportunity to draft a versatile safety in the draft when he passed on Jeremy Chinn in the second round.

With the linebackers that this team has on the roster, Flajole has still done an impressive job. Each week, his group is showing improvement. Things aren’t perfect but they’re about as good as you can expect them to be. Alex Singleton has been a bright spot for this Eagles team, finishing with a sack, 12 total tackles (eight were solo), and one fumble recovery versus the Cleveland Browns in Week 12. He was everywhere on the field.

After quieting the Browns’ run game for most of the afternoon, Philly’s run defense began to fall apart towards the end of the game. Then again, with Cleveland’s stacked offensive line, superb run blocking from their tight ends, and with a potent duo like Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, it was bound to happen at some point.

The Philadelphia Eagles find another silver lining in a dark cloud.

While we never wish injury upon anyone, if it wasn’t for Gerry’s absence, Singleton might have never played a snap. Schwartz’s reluctance to take Gerry or Riley off the field has hurt this team tremendously on more than one occasion. On both sides of the ball for the past few years with this Eagles team, practice squad players and backups have outperformed their veteran counterparts who own the massive contracts. Thankfully, Singleton got his shot and took advantage of it.

Over the course of the past five games, Singleton has racked up 51 total tackles (31 were solo), two tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, one interception, and one fumble recovery. This guy is always around the ball chasing down ball carriers to prevent big plays. He’s missed just six tackles all year, something that has been a problem for this defense for a while.

Singleton’s performance goes beyond numbers. From the film, it’s clear that he knows his gap assignments and shoots the gaps well. Based on what the offense does, he adjusts on the fly and still makes plays. Plus, he’s been a huge help on special teams this year especially on punt coverage.

The next steps in his development will be pass coverage and getting off of blocks. If he can continue to work in those two areas, he’ll be just fine. He plays with a lot of emotion which is what these Philly fans love to see. In a year where it’s been hard to find good linebacker play, it’s been refreshing to see Singleton and T.J. Edwards showing small improvements each week.

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Don’t be surprised if Gerry comes back and Schwartz replaces Singleton. It’s not the right move at all but it’s a move Schwartz likely could make, one that will further aggravate this fanbase. For now, Singleton is the guy. With how disappointing this season has been and how difficult the rest of the schedule is, Singleton will be a player to watch. He continues to be one of the few bright spots for this team when on the field.