The Man In The Middle

Posted: June 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , | 19 Comments »
Stew scares some Texans

Disco Stew celebrates after lightin' up some suckas. "I own the middle. You're just tourists and the price of admission is - pain!!!"


I’ve written quite a bit this spring/summer about what will happen at LB.  I stand by my contention that the starting LB corps will be Moise Fokou, Stewart Bradley, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Keenan Clayton, and Chad Greenway.  Obviously someone needs to tell Juan Castillo that 4-3 means only 3 LBs.  Don’t blame him.  The guy has been an O-line coach for 15 years.  What the heck does he know?

Okay, joking aside, I have speculated about LB quite a bit, but that’s all it is…speculation.  The police chief in Miller’s Crossing has a great line that sums up my thoughts on LB, “I was just speculatin’ about a hypothesis. I know I don’t know nothin.”

There isn’t one thing set for the 2011 LBs.  We think Fokou will be the SAM and Chaney the WIL, but even those spots aren’t set in stone.  The Eagles want Rashad Jeanty to push Fokou.  Chaney could be in the middle or outside.  He will have competition at either spot and the Eagles want him to win his job, not just get it by default.

MLB really is the spot of uncertainty.  We don’t know the rules of free agency for sure, but it certainly sounds like he’ll be on the market.  Will the Eagles bring him back?

Time for more speculatin’.  I think the Eagles want to bring Stew back for 2011 on a 1-year deal.  They want him to battle Casey Matthews for the MLB spot.  The idea is that Stew will win the job (bigger, faster, more experienced) and then have the 2011 season to show what he can do.

Back in 2008 Stew looked like a star in the making.  He was perfect for the scheme at that time.  He was able to attack downhill and blow up OL.  He was strong enough to shed blocks when OL got out to the 2nd level.  Stew runs very well for a 255-pound LB.  His cover skills improved quite a bit during the season.  He posted good numbers:

108 total tackles (86 solo) – both figures led the team

1 sack, 1 INT, 9 TFLs, 6 Passes Defensed, 1 FF, 1 FR

The defense finished very high across the board.  Life was good.  We had our successor to the Byron Evans – Jeremiah Trotter legacy of stud MLBs.  And then Stew tore his ACL in the 2009 preseason.

I hoped he’d be close to 100% in 2010 because he had a full 13 months to heal from the injury to the start of the ’10 season.  Oops.  I was only off by a tad…let’s say 1 astronomical unit for argument’s sake.  Stew wasn’t anything close to 100%.  He was a major disappointment.

He is 100% healthy now.  He’s also got new coaches and an adjusted scheme to deal with.  Stew isn’t ideal for this system.  That fact and the fear that he’ll never get back to where he was has to make the Eagles hesitant to sign him long term.  At the same time, the NFL isn’t full of guys with his size and speed.  Plus, Stew is a high character guy and natural leader.  He’s the kind of person you want in the middle of your defense and running the show.

Stew knows he stunk up the joint in 2010.  I can’t see any team offering him a huge deal.  He’s in a tough spot as to what’s best for him.  He can go elsewhere and get a long term contract, but not at the money he wants.  Or, he can sign in Philly for a year and roll the dice that he’ll bounce back and be a hot commodity in 2012.

There are a couple of risks with that plan.  What if he gets hurt again?  What if Matthews turns out to be a perfect fit for the new scheme and wins the MLB job?

Stew has some tough speculatin’ to do on his own.  He’s got to balance risk and reward.  He’s got to figure out if he can play well enough in the new system to make it worth his while to stay here for a year.  Stew may think he’d be right at home in a read ‘n react system.  Or he may think he’d be lost.

I haven’t even mentioned a potential move to SAM.  He was drafted with the idea that SAM would be his primary position.  That is still possible, but I don’t see it as all that likely.

My guess is that Stew signs a 1-year deal and stays at MLB.  As for the future…who the heck knows.

* * * * *

Adam Caplan of listed his Top 15 Defensive Free Agents.  Most of the players he lists us with made sense.  He did say the Eagles would, according to sources, show “strong interest” in Ike Taylor.  Good.  That meshes well with what I wrote yesterday.  I think Taylor would be a good addition for the Eagles.

Caplan did catch me off guard with one comment.  First, I was surprised that MLB Kirk Morrison made the list of top 15 defensive FAs.  Then Caplan listed the Eagles as a possible suitor.  Interesting.

I would dismiss this if it weren’t Caplan.  He’s well connected with the Eagles.  I don’t know if he has heard from a good source that the team has interest in Morrison or if this is just speculation on his part.  Either way, it is interesting.

Here’s my problem with it.  I think Juan Castillo wants Casey Matthews to be the MLB of the future.  Would you commit to Morrison for 2 or 3 years and have Casey sit?  I don’t think Morrison would have any interest in a 1-year deal.  Wouldn’t make sense for a guy who is 29, unless he thinks playing for a legit contender would be a wise short term move.

Morrison has plenty of starting experience, but he’s been on some mediocre units.  I’m not sure exactly what Kirk would bring to the table at this point.  I think of him as an adequate starter, but nothing more.

19 Comments on “The Man In The Middle”

  1. 1 Snoopy said at 1:26 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    Stew’s injuries…

    torn ACL in college
    torn ACL in pros
    dislocated elbow

    Some people are obviously injury prone and unfortunately, it appears Stew may fall into that category. The concussion bothers me the most since he was visibly wobbly. Beyond Buck, I really can’t remember somebody on the eagles who actually got healthier with age.

    I agree with the 1 year plan but beyond that, Stew’s injuries scare me.

  2. 2 Zack said at 1:36 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    I wish these idiots would hurry up and get a deal done. I hate reading about the guys “the Eagles are interested in”….these reports make me think we’re going to have another off season of the Eagles outsmarting their competition…

    As for MIKE – I feel we should pass on Stu, unless we get him dirt cheap. He’s had bad injuries and only really has 1 good season to his name. You can’t pay a guy like that. Chaney should man the middle this year if you ask me.

    and as I should in all my comment….Vote Nnamdi

  3. 3 Name said at 1:52 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    say keep stew as long as it is a 1 year deal for not too much $$. i hope he can make it back cuz i was a huge stew fan, but he just seems like he is very injury prone.

    Zack, i get the feeling if its not Nnamdi, you will be very upset with whatever happens. U might be setting ur self up for disapointment. Dont get me wrong i am in love with the idea of him here but there are 30 other teams out there and there are other moves we could make that could get us over the hump. i think we get someone like hayneworth and he performs at a high level and we get someone like ike, i would be more than happy

  4. 4 CVD said at 1:57 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    Zack and on the last post from below. i get what u r saying when u said instead of paying some guys 30mill, why not pay 50 mill to a stud, and i agree especially since signing someone like nnamdi seems like you know for sure he will be a stud and the other guys u arent sure how they will work out. but he may not want to come here or someone might blow him away with $$.

    i belive in the organization and i know that is not common in philly. i really belive in andy and i know that is also not common. i really dont get why there is so much hatred in philly towards the eagles. outside of philly the eagles and reid get the credit they deserve but not in philly. i feel like the talk show hosts brain washed eagles fans.

    if we had brady and pats had dmac, who do u think would have won all those superbowls? i like dmac but iv always felt reid made him better than he seemed.

  5. 5 CVD said at 2:02 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    on my above comment

    thats why i love this site and BGN. they arent like the other negative sites, and they are not overly positive like the has to be, although i like fandemonium on the site

  6. 6 Thunderlips said at 2:35 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    Fandemonium??? That guy is a hack…

  7. 7 Tommy Lawlor said at 3:31 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    Hack is putting it mildly.

    You’d get better writing if you puked in a fountain pen and mailed it off to the monkey house.

  8. 8 OZ said at 3:48 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    I wanted the Eagles to trade for Morrison last year, don’t know about him in the new system though…

  9. 9 Mike said at 4:20 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    Tommy… What are your thoughts on Adam Caplan’s report about Darryl Washington being a potential trade target in a Kevin Kolb deal with Arizona?

    I remember reading a lot about him before the 2010 draft. Scouts seemed to be really high on the guy, many mocks had him has a late first round pick. I was hoping to Eagle would draft him in 2010.

    Washington at WILL and Chaney at MIKE could make for a good young LB combo for years to come.

  10. 10 Jeppe said at 6:33 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    Is it possible to set this page up in a way in which we log in, so that we don’t have to always type in our name, mail etc. when we want to make a comment?

    How would you like it if we traded Kolb straight up for DRC and Washington? That would leave us with only LDE and possibly DT as questionmarks for the season. Is that too little compensation for a starting QB??

    I just bought a brandnew computer, and want to watch some of last seasons games on full HD. Is it possible to buy some sort of Eagles 2010 gamepass on How do you watch all of your film, Tommy?

  11. 11 DB said at 6:55 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    Could Stew possibly be used as a rush end in our new defense?

  12. 12 Mike said at 8:14 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    @Jeppe… If it happened I would love it but I doubt the Cardinals make that move. They aren’t going to give up 2 starting defenders. At best I think we can hope for a starting defender + pick or 1st round pick + another pick.

    I may actually like the idea of trading for Washington better than trading for DRC given that there are a couple of different options at corner in free agency and not great options at LB outside of Tulloch.

    I’m interested to hear Tommy’s thoughts on Washington based on his 2010 draft scouting.

  13. 13 Cliff said at 9:36 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    @ Jeppe

    As far as I know, the only way to legally watch NFL games on your computer is to buy NFL Sunday Ticket.

  14. 14 Cliff said at 9:39 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    I like watching Jon Gruden make these rookie QB’s feel uncomfortable (currently watching Gruden QB Camp), but I think he’s just off his rocker. I know his mission is to make these guys squirm, but some of his questions are just pointless. Half these questions he’s asking Pryor have nothing to do with Pryor. Haha. Gruden is going to be absolutely senile in a couple decades.

  15. 15 ATG said at 10:04 PM on June 30th, 2011:

    I don’t know about Stew. I want the old Stew back. On the other hand, if he was on another team, would I want us to pick him up? Probably not. Since we are changing systems and since we don’t have any preseason workouts on which to base a decision, our situation seems similar to deciding on a guy from another team. It i kind of sad, but I don’t think we should put a lot of chips on 55.

    Maybe, but senile and fiery should make for good viewing.

  16. 16 mcud said at 7:16 AM on July 1st, 2011:


    You and I have disagreed (somewhat) on Stewart for awhile now, probably going back to when he was drafted. I’ve never been terribly impressed with Stew at the MIKE, even going back to ’08. No doubt, the Eagles’ defense was rockin that year, and I was fine with Stew in the middle, but I’ve always thought he was perfectly suited for SAM. People wanted the next Trotter, and I don’t blame them. I just always thought Stew would have been better off trying to be the next Carlos Emmons for us.

    Overall, Stew has okay tools for everything we ask of our MIKE. Perhaps even “pretty good”. He covers very well for a guy his size, but that’s not the same as covering “very well.”. I guess it would be different for me if he was a true impact hitter. He’s not. Never has been. To me, when watching him, Stew exceeds my expectations in coverage for a man his size, but is disappointing when it comes to being a real impact tackler and hitter. With the way McD had our DTs taking up blockers, Stew should get some real kill shots. He really doesn’t, right?

    No. If it were up to me, I’d move him to SAM, where he (again, arguably) should have been all along. Put Chaney at the MIKE, with Casey on deck.

    Just my opinion.

  17. 17 SadPeguin said at 9:21 AM on July 1st, 2011:

    @mcud….I couldn’t agree more. Personally, I really like Stew, at SAM. He’s a capable MIKE LB, but I think he would make for a great SAM if he could lay off the injuries.

    I really want to see Chaney at MIKE. I don’t want the job handed to him, but the way that 7th rd rookie came in and played last season in crunch time shows me he has potential to be something special. He’s fast, smart, communicates well pre-snap, and is always around the ball…I’m in.

    Still not sure where Casey fits in though. Is he better suited at MIKE or WILL?

  18. 18 T_S_O_P said at 11:09 AM on July 1st, 2011:

    Wouldn’t the Browns be a team that might offer Stew an equally attractive 1 year deal?

  19. 19 Greg said at 4:25 PM on July 6th, 2011:

    That’s interesting that you think we are going to get Chad Greenway. I didn’t think the Eagles have any inclination do sign a new LB, since we got 3 in the last draft. But your point makes the most sense – sign Stew to a 1-year deal and groom Casey Matthews to be the next Clay.
    I honestly thought Stew Bradley was going to be the next Clay Matthews last year. The idea of letting him go this year hurts. I think he deserves one more shot, considering he has so much upside. With so much on the line for this year, I see Stew emerging as a stud again, and reclaiming the MIKE spot.