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.
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Adam Caplan of FoxSports.com 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.