Zach Brown

Posted: June 20th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Zach Brown

The Eagles have one outstanding LB in Nigel Bradham. They have a player on the rise in Kamu Grugier-Hill, who is coming off a breakout season in 2018 and a strong showing in the recent OTAs. After that, things are wide open.

The team signed Zach Brown to give them a healthy, proven veteran to add to the mix. I thought Brown was a smart signing, but that does need some context. Brown will turn 30 in October. Despite a productive 2018 season, the Skins cut Brown. He missed part of the OTAs and then didn’t exactly light it up in the minicamp.

Is Brown a starter? Is he even a lock to make the roster?

One of the mysteries with Brown is where the Eagles would use him. Bradham is generally listed as the SAM. KGH is the WLB. That would push Brown to the middle.

LBs coach Ken Flajole recently talked about Bradham playing the middle. Okay. Do you move Brown over to SAM? That’s not a natural fit for him. He’s been at his best in the past when playing WLB.  Do you move KGH over to SAM? He doesn’t have the bulk you prefer, but could be interesting to use against TEs in coverage.

Brown is a talented player and I’m sure the Eagles have a plan. Football analyst Doug Farrar has been doing a breakdown of the most talented players at each position. He was very high on Brown, ranking him as the #6 LB in the NFL.

The Eagles lost star linebacker Jordan Hicks to the Cardinals in free agency in the offseason, but typical of Howie Roseman and his staff, there was a plan in place. That plan was to add Brown, the former Redskins standout who was signed to a one-year deal after Washington released him in a salary cap move. Bad news for the Redskins, who will certainly miss a guy who amassed nine pressures, 74 tackles, 17 assists and 35 catches allowed on 48 targets for 160 yards and no touchdowns. Coverage was an issue with Brown in previous years, but he really put that skill together last year, and that will serve him well in an Eagles defense requiring its linebackers to cover a ton of ground.

One of the most assignment-correct linebackers in the NFL, Brown has a great ability to tear off to either sideline and still keep his body under control to make the tackle. There are few wasted steps and movements in anything he’s doing, whether he’s blitzing up the middle or taking a receiver down in slant/flat coverage.

Farrar studies tape and does his homework. This isn’t opinion isn’t made lightly. Still, I was blown away when I saw that ranking.

Here is an interesting video from 2016, showing you just how versatile Brown is.

Even Fran Duffy said nice things about him from a couple of years ago.

If Brown gets comfortable in the scheme and plays to his potential, the Eagles could suddenly be a lot better at LB. That was an inconsistent position last year. They need improved play this season.

I still think Bradham is the key LB. He knows the scheme inside-out and can play any of the positions. If only he could catch the ball…

I was happy when the Eagles signed Brown. Seemed like a no-brainer move. After a less than inspiring spring, I’m taking a more cautious approach. Brown didn’t suddenly lose his talent, but age does catch up to players at different times. I think the new team and new scheme were bigger issues than Father Time, but this situation bears watching. As we saw with Corey Nelson last year, free agent LBs don’t always work out. Brown is more of a proven veteran and has played well for three teams in his career so he’s not the wild card Nelson was.

It will be interesting to see what the Eagles plan is. How are they going to use these LBs? And what are they going to do with Nate Gerry, L.J. Fort and Paul Worrilow? The Eagles lack definitive answers, but they do have some interesting pieces.

The more physical nature of Training Camp should help bring out the best in Brown. He seems to enjoy contact.


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