Are the Eagles finally putting an emphasis on linebacker?
It seems like the tides are finally shifting in Philadelphia. For the longest time, linebackers have never been valued by the Eagles. It has been over a decade since they have a Pro Bowl linebacker and a whopping 43 years since one was selected in the first round.
Yesterday the Eagles made a splash acquiring Haason Reddick. This move still didn’t indicate Philly was looking to mix things up. Reddick is an elite pass rusher who can decently cover and is expected to move where Derek Barnett played last season.
However, following the announcement that the Eagles wouldn’t tender Alex Singleton, their defensive outlook seems a lot different than before. Since Singleton was going to be a restricted free agent, it seemed almost certain they would retain their captain and starting linebacker for cheap.
Now, Singleton is on his way out, clearing the way for likely Davion Taylor to take over at middle linebacker. Eagles fans have always pointed to Howie Roseman for their lack of a star linebacker, but he finally seems to be a bit more hands-off with choosing what players are important to their defense.
“I think when you look at our defense and the role of the linebackers, coach Schwartz, who obviously was a phenomenal defensive coach for us, there were three off-the-ball linebackers.
The definition of what our linebackers are doing has changed with coach Gannon. And, again, we have to find players that fit our coaches’ scheme. That’s the most important thing that we’re finding players that fit what we’re trying to do offensively, defensively, and on special teams.“
Most fans didn’t take Roseman’s word for it, and rightfully so, but it seems different this time. Roseman could’ve easily justified bringing back Singleton, but instead, they move on in search of a better option.
I don’t expect a complete turnaround at linebacker in one off-season. Drafting someone like Devin Lloyd or Nakobe Dean would be phenomenal, but it’s likely a much smaller step. With limited cap space and a need at safety and wide receiver, the next step is likely promoting Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley.
Davion Taylor played extremely well for the lack of experience that he has. If he takes another step this season, Philadelphia could host the best linebacker core they’ve had since the days of Jeremiah Trotter.
The bar is on the floor at this point, and being better than Singleton and Nate Gerry isn’t saying much. Philadelphia has a solid secondary and an elite defensive line. If they finally get things together at linebacker, this could be one of the best defenses in the league.
Free agency is just getting started, so it’ll be interesting to see what the Eagles have in store next.
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