• January 22, 2022

The Eagles Are Lacking Depth At Outside Linebacker

Jul 26, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin (98) walks off the field after practice at training camp at the Novacare Complex in Philadelphia PA. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 26, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin (98) walks off the field after practice at training camp at the Novacare Complex in Philadelphia PA. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 26, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin (98) walks off the field after practice at training camp at the Novacare Complex in Philadelphia PA. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The outside linebackers were working out on Thursday and I’m concerned about the Eagles situation at the position.  We’ve got Pro Bowler Connor Barwin on one side, and on the other we have Brandon Graham coming into his own, but there are nothing but questions behind them.

Barwin, the tall, long-armed veteran backer is the prototype of outside linebackers that Chip Kelly is looking for.  He’s one of the leaders of the defense and they need him to make big plays.  In fact, both starting outside linebackers in this 3/4 defense will need to get to the quarterback.

Of course it wouldn’t hurt to have Barwin put up big sacks numbers for another season like he did in 2014.  The former Houston Texans registered 14.5 sacks to lead the team and the NFC.  He’s an all around player with good pass coverage skills, as well doing a very good job versus the run.  Offenses are going to know where he is on every play this year.

Graham is a short and powerful pass rusher with good straight ahead speed, but doesn’t have the change of direction needed to be a good pass coverage linebacker.  He’s a starter this year, but the former first-round draft pick has never started for a season in the NFL.  He’s been a back up, since he’s been in the league, but now the Birds need more out of him.

There’s an accountability factor which is a part of reliable starters.  It means the team needs him to stay healthy and learn to play through pain and discomfort.  Graham must reliable from game to game and he needs to be productive as a pass rusher, since he’ll probably get more chances to rush the passer than Barwin.

Teams usually line their tight ends up to the right side more than the left side.  3/4 defenses usually pass rush the outside linebacker away from the tight end because he can get generate better speed pass rushing off of an open corner since the tight end is to the other side.

The Eagles are probably more comfortable with Barwin in pass coverage than they would be with Graham.  They can deal with Graham’s mediocre pass coverage as long as he is getting to the quarterback.   Graham must get sacks and pressures on consistent basis.  He contributed 5.5. sacks last year in part time duty, which is outstanding. It would be great to see him register double digits sacks.

Backing up these two in the practice on Thursday was Bryan Braman and Travis Long.  Braman is as Special Teams guy with the Barwin look, tall with long arms.  He’s big and he can run, but doesn’t seem to have the instincts.  The Eagles like Long, but he’s try to come back from an ACL tear. He’s another question mark.  They’re hoping that he can be a capable backup.

The top backup at the outside linebacker position is last year’s number one draft pick, Marcus Smith.  That’s reason for concern.

Smit, who has put on 15 pounds of muscle, missed practice yesterday because of a leg pull, which is a joke.  Here you have a second-year player, who was a major disappointment a year ago, now he isn’t able to practice during the OTA’s.  This guy needs to start showing the toughness you want from your linebackers.

On Thursday,  Chip Kelly barely acknowledged Smith’s injury because the youngster hasn’t done anything for this football team since he was drafted and you can’t even depend on him to be healthy enough to practice.

I wouldn’t be able to sleep on the night before a game, if I was a defensive coordinator depending on Smith to come through for me.

I think one or two of the Birds inside linebackers will spend some time at outside linebacker this season.  Don’t be surprised to see Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks or Brad Jones lining up at the outside linebacker position.  Alonso is good enough athlete to do it.  Kendricks has the speed and he’s a good blitzer.

My favorite for the move is Alonso because he’s got the size and smarts to do it.

On another note, they may be able to work out a way in which they can get pass rushing defensive end Vinny Curry on the field more and let him get after the passer.  This is something they must make happen because they are definitely lacking depth at OLB.

GCOBB

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26 Comments

  • I think they are ok at OLB barring any injury to C Barwin
    Kiko Alonso will play almost as many snaps as Brandon Graham,who I still believe was a panic signing by Chip Kelly after Frank Gore reneged on his deal with the Eagles…
    I think Graham will play in obvious passing downs and rush the passer only and get 8-10 Sacks playing 35-40 Snaps a Game…
    Also Kendricks & Brad Jones can fill in for Graham as well
    The key is another big & healthy hSeason by Connor Barwin for if he goes down with any major injury, then thry are in trouble…

  • Paulman why do you think there is a relation between Gore and the Graham signing?

    • D.time he makes shit up

    • With the Trades of McCoy & Foles and early whispers that Maclin was bolting followed with the early announced Frank Gore Signing which he then took back reflected a shaky perception around the NFL and Free-Agency that maybe just the Eagles were in a full rebuild mode which could have hurt their chances of bringing in other quality Players…
      Eagles overpaid for Graham but with the departure of Trent Cole and the lack of development of MS2, the Eagles probably felt they needed to retain Bradon Graham though they have the younger, cheaper Vinny Curry to basically do the same thing which is rush the passer on passing downs..

  • Hey paulman I agree graham was a panic move not cause of gore though because of the steelers Olb thar retired all of sudden…..chip was then stuck do I sign injury prone brian orapoak or do I resign the guy that knows my system already or take a chance in the draft…. he did the smart thing go with the devil you know over the injury prone one..

  • Fucking people make shit up

  • OLB Jerry Hughes of Buffalo should have been the Target in Free-Agency who ended up resigning with the Jets….
    Vinny Curry gives the same Production as Brandon Graham who is strictly a situational Pass-Rusher…hopefully he builds on his 5.5 Sack of last Season and needs double-digits Sacks

    • You’re dreaming again Paul….

      Graham stinks. How long do you continue to make room for wishful thinking. He’s not a starter in this league…..period

      • I am not a big Fan of Brandon Graham and would not have re-signed him as the Eagles did.. I’ve stated this numerous times…
        Are you talking about Jerry Hughes?
        I like his Game and as I stated, he’s gotten better and better every season
        And is a better all around player than Brandon Graham

    • Hilarious to hear you talk about Jerry Hughes now Paulman….when I brought him up going into the off season you wanted no parts of him….

      Now you are doing the “I said before……”

      SMH

  • I be leave Hughes wasn’t a target due to people thinking he was a product of Mario Williams and co….. before he got with super Mario he was a bust with the colts why do you think nobody else took a chance on him either they knew who he was a avg player on his great with great players around him he’s a follower not a leader….

    • Paula extensive study of the bills coaches tape … He studiedc Hughes and some guard out of Tuscaloosa state… He watched and researched every snap from center…. Call bull shit

      • I’ve liked LB Jerry Hughes since he came out of Collegea few back
        Was injured his Rookie Season with Colts who then switched to a 3-4 Scheme
        Which it took him awhile to adjust too…
        He’s been a solid players who has gotten better and better every Season
        and with the Billsand new HC Rex Ryan, I’m sure he will used in various ways to advantage of his speed & explosion from the edges…

    • he was a product of Mario Williams and co…..

      As was Connor Barwin

      • Which would explain why Barwin has been a successful ProBowler with a different team. Strictly a product of Williams and Company….right. Hate is a funny thing, it pushes you to make statements that fly in the face of facts.

        • No Greeny, it would explain that, like when playing with Williams, the Offensive coaching staff focused on someone else because Barwin doesn’t put a scare into anyone, he was able to benefit….

          I can’t hate on an average player brother Green fan. However, I can give evidence of average players making the pro bowl from Philadelphia – I’ll keep referencing Jason Babin 18 sacks, pro bowl selection, below average player who benefited from the defensive system…….2 sacks next season, cut, and no more ass kissing from the blind faithful fans…

          – If Barwin was to have a season below the expectations of most, – except GMCliff – the only FACT would be that GMCliff had a point.

          • No doubt Babin was product of the wide 9, and basically a one trick pony.

            Barwin’s play in Houston and with the Eagles has been at a high level, a ProBowl level. You have been consistent with your negative evaluation of Barwin from the original signing. I do not agree with your assessment. At some point his play will drop off, if for no other reason than age, and I am sure that we will see comments on how this was predicted and rewrite history and say that he was never any good. Not sure why, but a pretty safe bet going forward.

            Barwin has been a good OLB on this defense. He fits with the other veteran leaders on the defense, and provides good coverage and rush along with disrupting the passing lanes. I don’t get all of the anti-Barwin posts, but there are plenty of things that I don’t get in this world, just add this to the list. We can disagree on this player Cliff, and I am sure that they may be some others we disagree about, but that is just part of being a fan. No problem.

            • I agree Greeny.

              You, and I are for the most part on the same page; I know I’m not talking to an asshole. I know you as one of the most intelligent posters on here.

              But obviously on this we respectfully agree to disagree.

      • Cliff it is a team game… Clyde wasn’t helped by Reggie and Reggie wasn’t helped by clyde? Montana and Rice didn’t reap benefits from playing together? The Iron Curtain was a group of good players all helping one another become hall of famers… Purple people eaters etc… TEAM

        • Bad analogy Ciggy. Those guys complimented each other on that Defense, There were like 8 pro bowlers on that Defense..

          We’re talking about teams with one or two superstars, that play on a Defense with several average to above average players today. What happened the following year with his stats in Houston??? – because his season was an aberration – Guess what will happen this year???

          When Offensive Coaches, prepare a game plan specifically for a player, by focusing on them exclusively – That player generally comes back to earth, unless they truly are something special……that’s not Barwin..

          I guarantee you, I will not hear any more exaggerated talk about the abilities of Connor Barwin after this season.

          • cliff you do understand (probably not) that sometimes players roles change and they are asked to do one thing or another based on team needs?

            • I hear you Ciggy, and sometimes players are exposed as not being what we thought they were…..

              Like De’Angelo Russell – Now……Let the firestorm commence….LOL!!

  • also, cliff– while there were 8 probowlers even you have to acknowledge that some of those were helped to the probowl by having superstars oppositite them.

    • helped to the probowl by having superstars oppositite them??? Let’s see…

      Jerome Brown – stands on his own
      Clyde Simmons – stands on his own
      Reggie White – stands on his own
      Seth Joyner – stands on his own
      Eric Allen – stands on his own
      Wes Hopkins – stands on his own
      William Thomas – made Pro Bowls when the others were gone….

      AHHHHH…No….don’t agree

      • Conor Barwin… Stands on his own… just saying.

        Do you believe trent cole who had a really good career and made some pro bowls have benefited from having reggie white play the opposite end? don’t answer that because I believe it will be your non-sense.

        • He doesn’t stand on his own. Average players need their teammates to open things up for them. You’re exaggerating with him. …Trent Cole is irrelevant. Cox, amd Kendricks are players on Defense. No one is scared by Barwin.

          That’s why he was basically invisible in big games. He isn’t impact game in game out.

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