The LB Shuffle

Posted: September 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 50 Comments »

Wrote my SB Nation Philly column on the moves.  Check it out.

Fire off your questions and I’ll answer as best I can.

50 Comments on “The LB Shuffle”

  1. 1 Anonymous said at 12:31 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Does Rolle seem like a middle LB or weak/strong LB? At this point, I am up for trying anything. The LB play really could not get all that much worse right now.

  2. 2 Anonymous said at 1:47 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Rolle can play WLB in the NFL. MLB is more of a mystery. I think it is possible, but there is a reason not many small guys make it at MLB. That’s tough.

  3. 3 Anonymous said at 2:37 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Maybe he hasn’t been playing w/ reckless abandon bc he’s thinking too much out there. Taking him away from calling plays, might take a load off him and maybe we’ll see him flying around.

  4. 4 Anonymous said at 3:07 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    sorry just saw someone else said this about casey.

  5. 5 Mike Perrie said at 12:37 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Tommy, You say the eagles know LB needs help. But the fans have known this for years, It has always been over looked under AR.

  6. 6 Christopher Miller said at 1:26 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I don’t think it is overlooked, but rather it is rarely our top priority. Who was the stud LB last year that was worth more to this team than an upgrade at O Line. The fact that Danny has not contributed yet is a whole separate issue, but I think most would agree O Line and CB were a much higher priority.

    A year before that we grabbed a DE and FS high…both seemed like a higher priority than LB with us getting Stew back and Fokou looking promising at the end of the prior year. CB should have been a higher priority than LB too and ultimately proved to be our achilles heel.

  7. 7 Anonymous said at 1:56 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    The Eagles have made a ton of moves at LB over the years. They’ve invested picks. They’ve made trades. They’ve signed free agents. Nothing to this point has really worked as hoped. There is no lack of effort.

    Let’s see how Roseman/Castillo work on this situation. The focus this year was on CB and DL. Next offseason will be different.

  8. 8 Anonymous said at 2:42 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I think what frustrates people so much is that a lot of fans wanted this to be the line up (or bringing in someone to start over Matthews + Chaney at MLB and Fokou at WLB) since the draft. I guess it still remains to be seen whether this reshuffling will work out or not.

    I do like the fact that Matthews will be out in space a bit more. From what I have seen, he seemed timid in traffic and got caught up too often in garbage. Out in space, I think he will have a chance to play more aggressively. My one concern is, after spending all tc, ps, and the first two games at mike, how hard will the adjustment to WLB be for him?

    All that being said, I think the one thing we should be able to say is this: comparing position to position, I think the debate over if our LBs are better this year as compared to last year is easier to make. Matthews should be better than Sims, Fokou has a year more experience, and Chaney should be better than Bradley from last year.

  9. 9 Anonymous said at 2:48 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Let’s be honest though, as far as the draft in the last 10 years the Eagles haven’t done too much to invest in high picks. They’ve drafted 1 guy in 10 drafts in the first 2 rounds and a total of 3 guys higher than the 4th round. They were McCoy (2nd) , Gocong (3rd) & Stew (3rd). So they’ve never really gone for a blue chip LB in the draft. I can’t recall off the top of my head them ever going for blue chip guys in FA or trades. It’s been your Dhani’s, Simoneau’s, Nate Wayne, etc, for the most part. The biggest name was Takeo & he was already 31 & coming off an injury.

    I know teams have to prioritize certain positions, but we haven’t had any consistent playmakers at LB for a while and it’s a position that has burned us.

  10. 10 Anonymous said at 2:55 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Wait, my bad, I’m a jerk. We did nab Jason Short as a FA. He was a stud.

  11. 11 Mac said at 3:53 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Far from an expert opinion, but just tossing this in the mix. LB and RB in my mind have a similar kind of build (body type) players have to have an unusual amount of muscle:size ratio. I’m not saying that it can never be true at other positions, but it really seems to stand out to me at LB and RB. The other thing that stands out in my mind is how frequently these positions suffer season ending injuries or have shortened careers compared with other positions.

    I have no statistics to back these claims up… it’s just a “gut feeling” kind of thing. Anyway, I think that kind of means that it’s better to roll the dice on a mixed back of late picks rather than attempting to get one “stud” since that stud is (in my mind) more likely to have an artificially shortened career compared to other positions on the team.

    Alternately, I think you look at what the Eagles focus on (DL and CB) and they just can’t have awesomeness everywhere. I am hopeful that the Safety play improves and those crazy long runs transform into 15 yd runs instead of 60…

  12. 12 Anonymous said at 12:38 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Chaney was originally put at SAM for his coverage abilities (lining up on the TE). Does that responsibility now fall on Fokou, or do we try to protect him a little? Do the safety positions now flip back to normal?

  13. 13 John said at 1:05 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    An Eagles beat reporter informed me that the Safety position change this year was simply nomenclature in the new defensive system. Page really is a FS and Coleman SS, they just switched titles, not playing responsibilities.

  14. 14 Anonymous said at 1:58 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I don’t know what will happen with covering TEs. That’s something we’ll find out starting on Sunday.

  15. 15 Gary said at 12:43 AM on September 22nd, 2011:


    You mentioned Chaney had a very good game last year against the Giants but then was the MLB in the losses to Minnesota and Green Bay where we kinda got run all over. I hate to be negative, but going forward why should we expect him to play like he did in the Giants game and not like the other two?

  16. 16 Anonymous said at 2:00 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    The hope is that he’ll learn from the mistakes in the MIN/GB games. He clearly showed he’s got the ability to be a good LB in the NYG game. He can do that again if he’s able to correct the issues from the games when the defense struggled.

  17. 17 the guy said at 2:44 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I’d be more worried if we were playing MIN or GB this week. As Tommy said, at least he knows the Giants.

  18. 18 ike said at 12:51 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Tommy —

    One of the first moves that Tom Modrak made when he came to the Eagles was to sign SLB Carlos Emmons away from the Steelers. [Not hard, as the Steelers seem to be able to draft LBs in their sleep.]

    Emmons — the best cover-LB the Eagles have had in the Reid era, per Jim Johnson — perfectly complimented Jeremiah Trotter, whom the Reid/Modrak regime inherited from Ray Rhodes.

    The Eagles let Emmonds and Trotter leave before the 2004 season. Since then, the LBs have never been a consistent weak spot, most especially because they’ve never found a LB who can cover TEs. [Except Bradley for the better part of 2008.]

    I’m curious. Why are the Steelers so good at drafting LBs? And the Eagles not so good?

    Is it the 3-4 scheme? Are there just a dearth of 4-3 LBs coming out of college every year?

  19. 19 Christopher Miller said at 1:38 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I am not Tommy, but I am sure it does not hurt to have decade long consistency at the DC and you know the exact type of personnel he wants. Add to that the Steelers ability to develop players which has been quite good. It does not hurt to have arguably the best DC in the league either.

  20. 20 Anonymous said at 2:02 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Drafting for the 3-4 is easier. You’re looking for pass rushers on the outside and run stuffers on the inside. 4-3 LBs must be more complete.

    Now, the Steelers considered Emmons a disappointment. He wasn’t a good enough pass rusher for them. Mike Vrabel was a flop for the Steelers before going to the Pats and becoming a star.

  21. 21 Dinesh said at 1:16 AM on September 22nd, 2011:


    Do you see fatigue being an issue with this LB group? Does there need to be more of a rotation with Rolle, Clayton, & Jordan getting some more snaps?

  22. 22 Anonymous said at 2:03 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I don’t think fatigue is an issue. Few teams rotate LBs.

  23. 23 Anonymous said at 1:18 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Not calling the plays should help Casey as well.

    Tommy how do you think the nickel roles will be now? Still Casey as MLB or will that be Chaney? If the latter who will be the OLB?

  24. 24 Anonymous said at 2:04 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Good question. This is something to look for on Sunday. I’m curious to see if Casey plays in the Nickel.

  25. 25 Anonymous said at 1:35 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    If you’re going to make this move, go all the way and put Akeem Jordan in on the weak side. Chaney and Fokou are still young and we could use a veteran presence.

    Keeping Matthews as a starter seems like a face saving move more than the best move for the team. Training camp is over. Will Matthews ever become a solid starter? Who knows? Maybe. He isn’t right now and regular season games are too important for more tryouts.

  26. 26 the guy said at 2:41 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Just noticed something about the schedule thanks to what you said in the article.

    Eagles are playing a lot of run-heavy offenses this year, either because that’s what they historically do or because of injuries or the capability of the various positions. ATL tends to be conservative even though it has talent at WR, NYG are banged up at WR and Eli keeps giving the ball away, BUF is the top rushing team by yards, etc. Even some of the teams that *can* theoretically throw the ball (SF, NYJ, CHI) have their top receivers as RBs and TEs, not WRs. A lot of the teams are also more of a power running style than speed.

    Except for games against DAL/NE/ARI and possibly the playoffs, it might have been a bad year to weaken the run D.

  27. 27 Anonymous said at 2:44 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Am I the only one praying that unless one of these three turns into a stud and at least one of the other two reaches slightly above JAG status Howie pulls a power play come April? I know it would hurt Andy to draft an LB so high but with Vontaze, Kuchely, and posibly Teo all coming out plus quite a few talented OLB’s. Tommy who would be the best fit? I know you think Teo may be going on his Mormon mission but schematically who works best?

    Personally I hope we use AZ’s pick to move up in the first and get Burfict, then use our second rounder on a DE and third rounder on a DT

  28. 28 hazelnutpark said at 2:58 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Do you think the change was influenced by how good the DEs are at run stopping? I think Babin is weak against the run.

  29. 29 Anonymous said at 3:45 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I was puzzled from the moment they moved Chaney and Fukou from last years’ positions to this announcement. If the Eagles get good performances from a LB don’t rock the boat. As for Matthews, the good news is that two fields goals and Ernie Sims would have been enough to beat the Packers.

    I still have confidence in Castillo, but Spagnuolo getting balled out by his owner might make certain defensive coordinators nervous about a new competitor.

  30. 30 Anonymous said at 4:32 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I’d love to hire Spags in 2012…in some capacity. I’d love to have him as the HC in waiting. I don’t see Marty or Juan being that guy.

    Who knows. Maybe Joe Paterno will finally want to try his hand in the NFL.

  31. 31 Steve H said at 4:34 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I’m not impressed, this seems like the umptillionth time we’ve tried shuffling or changing our linebackers over the last 5 years. Its never worked before, I doubt it will work now, but what can we do? No free agency or draft so we’re pretty much stuck rearranging what we’ve got and hoping they can piece together some decent play.

  32. 32 Anonymous said at 11:29 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Tommy – what did you think about the MNF InjuryGate where Deon Grant and Jacquian Williams flopped.
    (Video for those who haven’t seen it.)

    If nothing else, I think we’d better go no huddle against this D a lot more than we usually do. (Speaking of which, why is it that our offense almost never has time getting set up before the snap? It feels like Vick sets with about 3 seconds on the playclock while just about every other QB I see manages to get set with 10 seconds to spare. Getting the playcalls in earlier means you give Vick more time to survey the D and maybe even make better blitz calls.)

  33. 33 Anonymous said at 4:30 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I don’t like that stuff. Get beat honestly.

    I do agree that going no-huddle should happen. Let’s test ’em.

  34. 34 Morton said at 11:47 AM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Tommy, is there any chance we’ll see more Phillip Hunt at LDE? I haven’t been impressed by Jason Babin (penalties, plays sloppy) this year, and Profootballfocus rates him poorly thus far in their DE rankings.

    Also, what’s the earliest we can expect to see Brandon Graham back, if at all this year? Is there any chance of Graham contributing to the DE rotation this year?

  35. 35 Mark Sitko said at 12:25 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    NOT IMPRESSED WITH BABIN? – are you joking? maybe he is too aggressive, yes, but he has 3 SACKS already…only Ware has more sacks in the ENTIRE LEAGUE.
    If he keeps that pace up he will break the sack record with 24…I will take 3 sacks and a few penalties after 2 games on a new team…

    Come on – give Babin some love…that dude is a beast and he will weed out his mistakes over time…

    I have not looked at the Problahblahblah ratings, but from what I have seen by watching the games tells me that benching Babs makes no sense whatsoever!


  36. 36 Anonymous said at 4:55 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Willfully ignoring intelligent, objective analysis is hardly something to be proud of. That’s like a President saying, “Well I haven’t looked at the economic forecasts, but I’m confident that my gut is right about this policy I’m proposing.”

    Feel free to take a look at the PFF ratings. You might see something that interests you. How else to know?

  37. 37 Anonymous said at 4:29 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Babin has been fine so far. Hunt will play more this week, assuming Parker is out.

    Graham can’t join the team until the 7th game. We’ll see how his knee looks at that point. If he can go and looks good, maybe he joins the roster. Eagles have 3 weeks to figure out what they want to do at that point.

  38. 38 Morton said at 12:07 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Here’s another question:

    Why didn’t the Eagles try to sign Stephen Tulloch to a one-year deal? The Lions got him for one year at $3.25 million. If I’m not mistaken, the Eagles spent nearly that much on renting Steve Smith for a year, and he was recovering from a microfracture surgery as well. They clearly had enough money and cap space to sign Tulloch here on a one year deal, at the minimum.

    Stephen Tulloch has been excellent against both the run and the pass in Detroit thus far. Wouldn’t he have been a better option at MLB this year than attempting to start a 4th round pick who is in over his head?

  39. 39 Nick said at 3:54 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I have to agree with Morton here. Plus Tulloch proved he could play behind Washburn’s wide-9 D-Line in Tennessee. Would have been a far wiser move than renting a 4th WR.

  40. 40 Anonymous said at 4:27 PM on September 22nd, 2011:


    The Eagles had no interest in Tulloch. You can disagree with them for having that mindset, but this wasn’t a case of the Eagles being lazy or cheap. They didn’t want him. Don’t have details for you on why.

  41. 41 Morton said at 6:16 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    That seems incredibly bull-headed and short-sighted.

    I mean, MLB is arguably one of the most likely positions to torpedo the effectiveness of the defense this season, and yet Tulloch was a stud MLB freely available on the market, and they had “no interest”?

    Incredibly foolish.

  42. 42 Anonymous said at 4:57 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Tulloch, Barnett, Posluszny… there were options.

  43. 43 Mark Sitko said at 12:12 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    Great Article Tommy – total side comment, but did you see DJax response to Rolle saying he has covered DJax in the past and can do it again?

    “Good job, we got the victory”

    love it!


  44. 44 Anonymous said at 4:26 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I’m really enjoying the 2011 version of DeSean. Give that little dude a big pile of cash. Or give it to me and I’ll share some with him.

  45. 45 Anonymous said at 12:25 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    off topic, but good piece on awe-some Asomugha from the NYTimes:

  46. 46 Anonymous said at 2:20 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    @Tommy – do you read anything into Asante’s unhappiness – what’s the over and under him getting traded before the trading deadline? (for a LB and a pick ??) – I would strongly believe this will be his last year in a Eagles uniform

  47. 47 Anonymous said at 3:18 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I wasn’t aware he was uphappy? Did you read some article recently?

  48. 48 Anonymous said at 4:03 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

  49. 49 Mac said at 5:42 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I agree with Tommy… sounds like it was taken out of context. Asante just shooting from the hip.

  50. 50 Anonymous said at 4:25 PM on September 22nd, 2011:

    I don’t know what to make of the comments. Is Asante genuinely unhappy? He was asked if he could see himself playing for a rival and then gave the answer. Asante wasn’t trying to start something. He was reacting to a question. And I didn’t know how to take his answer. Was that a dig at the Eagles or him talking about how wild things have gotten around the NFL in terms of players/moves?