Jason Phillips is out. He had played okay through 2 games, but my guess is that the Eagles saw he no longer had the agility or athleticism to play in the NFL. He could attack downhill, but that’s just not enough in the NFL. ILBs must be able to cover a lot of space. They must be able to tackle athletes in tough one-on-one situations. That requires agility and body control.
The starting ILBs look just fine. That’s the good news.
Behind them is a bit of a mystery. Najee Goode is the #3 ILB. He played well last year. He played well in camp. But he has yet to stand out during the games. That’s not really a concern, but it would make you feel better if he had one game where you could go “Yep, that’s exactly what we wanted to see.”
After Goode, things are wide open. Jake Knott is the player the team hoped would have the #4 spot. Things are very complicated with him. Knott is suspended for the first 4 games of the year. Just as bad, he’s been hurt part of the summer. Knott hasn’t played yet in the preseason. The team would really love to get a feel for where he is. They need him to play in a game.
Emmanuel Acho looked like a combination of Byron Evans, Jeremiah Trotter and Chuck Bednarik last summer. He made a ton of plays in the preseaon. This year he’s been okay, but hasn’t stood out at all. He could be the #4 ILB for now, but that’s hardly written in stone.
Believe it or not, Casey Matthews can still make this team. He can be a good STer and he can play ILB or OLB. Chip Kelly loves versatility. Josh Kaddu is the forgotten man at ILB. He’s last into the games. Kaddu is the longest of long shots. Reportedly, Travis Long will get crosstrained. The Eagles like him as an OLB, but will also get him snaps at ILB.
You can bet the Eagles will be scanning the waiver wire to see who gets cut. Keep in mind, they don’t need a starter. They don’t need a veteran. The Eagles are looking for depth. There could be some player from recent drafts that gets cut who the Eagles had interest in. They don’t have to make a move, but if the right guy is available, they certainly could.
* * * * *
More on the RB situation.
Someone posed the question that “shouldn’t the Eagles have just kept Bryce Brown?”. No. The Eagles got really good value for him. And remember that Darren Sproles has taken his spot as the primary backup. Also, the Eagles want help in the return game. Brown got mixed in there a bit, but it wasn’t an area where he was much help. Barner has a track record of success from college. We’ll have to see how that translates to the NFL.
Should we be annoyed at adding another Oregon player? I’m not. Chip can add as many Oregon players as he wants, as long as they can fill the required role. If Chip names Barner the starting RB over Shady, I’ve got a problem. If he says Barner is here to compete for a spot in the RB rotation, I’m fine with that.
Chip isn’t over-drafting Oregon players. He’s not handing them deals that are out of line. He’s not giving them starting jobs for no reason. As of now, all of them are backups and role players.
Some of the guys are camp bodies. You have a 90-man roster. There aren’t always 90 guys available that you have a high grade on or think can definitely play in the league. Josh Kaddu and Will Murphy are camp bodies. They have virtually no chance of ever becoming NFL players. How many people remember WR McKay Jacobson or MLB Terence Thomas? They were camp bodies from late in the Reid era. I have no problem with Chip choosing some camp bodies from Oregon. Practice is critical for Kelly. He needs things done a certain way. If the 89th and 90th guys on the team already know how to practice, that saves the coaches having to spend time teaching guys that have no chance. Isn’t that actually a good thing?
SI did a nice little feature on Barner where he talks about his rookie year and beyond: http://t.co/byYPsg7SnS
— Patrick Wall (@ByPatrickWall) August 20, 2014