If you’re a Philadelphia Eagles fan, you’re well aware of something, and you’ve known it for a while. Though every NFL defense employs linebackers, that isn’t a position grouping that the Birds have invested a ton of stock in.
To be honest, other than a Jeremiah Trotter and a Jordan Hicks here or a Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks there, this franchise rarely puts in real effort into addressing the position. In all honesty, it feels like there’s been a revolving door at this defense’s second level since Andy Reid manned the sidelines.
The Philadelphia Eagles linebacker corps gets a failing grade.
You’ve heard the stat so many times, but it bears repeating. The Philadelphia Eagles haven’t drafted a linebacker in the first round of any selection meeting since they took Jerry Robinson out of UCLA in 1979.
That might be why, in a recent ranking of linebacker units, one that was drawn up by Pro Football Focus, Philly landed at 29. Here’s what Sam Monson, the writer of this one had to say.
"The Eagles’ linebackers were historically bad last season, seemingly attacked and exposed in coverage on a weekly basis. Passes targeting Philadelphia linebackers generated a 113.9 passer rating and were open targets 66.1 percent of the time. Both (are) far from ideal figures. The team brought in Eric Wilson from the Vikings and returns T.J. Edwards, the best-graded member of the starters last year. This group could still use some help, but it likely won’t be coming until next offseason."
As a simple math equation will indicate, only three teams finished behind the Eagles: the Los Angeles Rams, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile, Philly’s rivals in the NFC East all ranked in the top 25. The Washington Football Team finished at 24. The New York Giants are 15th. The Dallas Cowboys finished in sixth place.
Currently, the Birds have eight linebackers on the depth chart as we near another training camp. That includes Shaun Bradley, T.J. Edwards, Patrick Johnson, Alex Singleton, Rashad Smith, JaCoby Stevens, Davion Taylor, and Eric Wilson. You also want to remember that, though he’s listed as a defensive end, Genard Avery is supposed to make the transition from playing with his hand in the dirt to contributing at the second level as well.
Maybe Philly keeps five of those guys. Maybe they keep six. Regardless of what they do, let’s hope these guys take Nick Sirianni’s advice about competition to heart and play out of their minds in 2021. Bulletin board material like this should be enough to motivate them to do so.