The Philadelphia Eagles traded for DeMeco Ryans and drafted Mychal Kendricks with the idea that each of them would not only be starters, but 3-down players as well.
At the least, Ryans was thought to be that guy.
However, Jeff McLane over at Philly.com reported that it seems the linebacker shuffling is back in full force as Week 1 approaches. Per McLane:
Kendricks said Thursday after practice that the coaches had each of the Eagles’ six linebackers practicing in various permutations in several packages on defense.
He then went on to quote Kendricks as saying:
“I would expect for all of us to be playing because that’s what we’re game planning with,” said Kendricks, who is expected to start at strong-side. He added: “It depends on what they feel and what they want because we’re all playing every package. … They’re intertwining us with each other.”
All I can say is W. T. F!
Sorry, but I get a little emotional when the topic of Eagles linebackers comes up.
I can’t help it though. I’m just sick and tired of inferior play at this position for the better part of the Andy Reid era. Anymore, the linebacker position is like a festering wound that keeps getting poked with a rusty wire hanger, year in and year out.
When the Eagles traded for Ryans and drafted Kendricks, I thought for sure that, finally, we have linebackers who can play all three downs.
Ryans, in particular, was certainly billed as such a player after they acquired him. He is a natural leader and was a pro bowl player before his Achilles injury in 2010.
Why is having 3-down linebackers so important to me?
Well, for one, it would show that we have more than just a bunch of one-trick ponies. And for two, it would significantly help with the leadership on the field as well as cohesion and continuity amongst the defense.
In a 4-3 defense, the middle linebacker should be the leader of the unit. In essence, he is the QB of the defense and a guy that is out there in every situation.
With defensive linemen rotating in and out as well as nickel and dime packages with the defensive backs, the middle linebacker could be the one guy everyone can look to for leadership and communication.
However, that can’t be the case if there isn’t one guy that’s out there in every situation.
It’s no wonder that the Eagles defense appears confused at times and has miscommunications. They have too many friggin packages with all types of players coming in and out.
Don’t get me wrong, every NFL defense has certain packages they deploy for certain situations. But, Juan Castillo and the Eagles go above and beyond normal to me.
The question I have now, is, if they plan on rotating the linebackers this year the same way they did last year, what the hell is the problem?
Is Castillo just trying to be ingenious by switching guys in and out as he tries to play to their strengths? Or is he just clueless?
Are the linebackers still not good enough so Castillo has to shuffle guys because each one is only good in certain situations? None of them are suitable to be 3-down guys?
Ryans was asked if he was still a 3-down player, to which he answered “I am.”
So that does mean you’ll be out there for all three downs on Sunday?
“That’s the coach’s decision,” Ryans said. “I don’t decide who goes out on the field.”
I’m the first one to admit that there has been nothing about Ryans that I’ve seen in training camp or the preseason to make me think he is what we all thought he was after trading for him.
However, I’d still give him every chance to be that 3-down guy — QB of the defense — until he proved he wasn’t up to par during the regular season.
At this point, I’d have to say the onus is on Juan Castillo. If he rotates his linebackers and still gets the same result as last year, then the problem is him.
We can all sit here and say that this linebacker is better in pass coverage than that linebacker, or that linebacker is better than this one in stopping the run. But, it doesn’t matter until we find guys that can play both the run and the pass.
That’s what we need. That’s what we thought we were getting in Ryans and Kendricks.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out. I just hope Castillo isn’t the one screwing this up because, after all, the jury is still out on him as far as being a competent defensive coordinator.
Different year, different players, same results? The problem is definitely Castillo.
Different year, different players, better results? The problem was the players (last year).
Which one will it be? (Or is it which Juan will it be?)