You have to blame the Eagles linebackers primarily for the days that rookie running back Jahvid Best and tight end Brandon Pettigrew had for the Lions on Sunday. Best had 78 yards rushing with two touchdowns on 17 carries and another 154 yards receiving on 8 catches and another touchdown. Pettigrew had 108 yards receiving on 8 catches. That’s much too much.
The Lions could have beaten the Eagles on Sunday if they had looked up Best on their last offensive play and thrown the ball to him because he was being covered by Birds outside linebacker Ernie Sims. Best could have beaten Sims inside on that play, if the Lions had been smart enough to get the ball in his hands. I think Sims is a tremendous athlete and he plays hard but the young man is out of position all the time.
Every NFL linebacker who has played the game for a short period of time, knows that you have to stay inside of a running back, if you’re covering him man-to-man. Sims let Best beat him inside and it hurt the Birds. He gets himself out of position too often, both on passing and running plays.
Also at the Will linebacker position in the Eagles defense is supposed to be the guy making a lot of tackles. In fact he should not only be making tackles, he should knocking ball carriers out. Sims overruns too many plays. There’s a reason the Lions traded him to the Eagles and they knew how to take advantage of his weaknesses, but again Detroit made the mistake of not getting the ball to Best on their last offensive play or they may have won that game.
With a guy like Best you’ve got to clamp him in all situations. The clamp technique in coverage means you’re close enough to the receiver to touch him with both hands. You want to dissuade the quarterback from throwing him the ball because he can make something happen if he gets his hands on the football.
I knew middle linebaker Omar Gaither wasn’t a burner but I never realized how much he lacked speed, until he and Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew were running down the sidelines. Gaither was chasing Pettigrew and it seemed like they were running for hours. It took forever for them to run 30 yards and Gaither didn’t close one inch on Pettigrew, who isn’t the fastest of tight ends.
Gaither is also not a physical player. Too many times, he’s getting hit rather than taking the fight to the offensive blocker or ball carrier. Gaither made 11 tackles but too many of them were five, six, seven yards or more downfield. A number of times he was able to get into the backfield on run plays because he’s got good instincts.
Sims has the speed without the instincts, while Gaither has the instincts without the speed.
I think you can win with Gaither, but you’ve got to have people playing well around him. Too many times, Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson were being handled in front of him and that allowed the Lions to gain big yardage early on the ground against the Eagles. Teams are going to run the ball versus the Eagles.
I thought defensive coordinator Sean McDermott put the Birds defense in some run blitzes to get them playing more aggressively. Sunday surely wasn’t one of Patterson’s better games.
Akeem Jordan is a decent linebacker, but he’s not exceptional. He’s a good athlete but he’s not really a Sam linebacker. They have him playing there because they don’t have anybody who is better.
All I can say is Stewart Bradley hurry back.