When a team with Super Bowl dreams starts 1-2, heads are gonna roll. The process usually starts with the most under-performing area(s), so it’s no surprise the Eagles have made changes at linebacker and safety.
Effective this Sunday against the 49ers, the Eagles are benching rookie fourth-round pick and starting weak side (and middle) linebacker Casey Matthews, replacing him with rookie sixth-round pick Brian Rolle. At free safety, second-year player Kurt Coleman is giving way to fellow second-year player Nate Allen.
It’s about time.
Matthews was installed as the starting middle linebacker from day one, but he struggled badly in the first two weeks of the season. He was constantly out of place and over running plays, or worse, was getting run over.
In Week 3, he was moved to the weak side, with last year’s starter at middle linebacker Jamar Chaney taking over. The change didn’t help as Matthews struggled again, highlighted by a terrible play where he bit on play action and allowed Brandon Jacobs to run free down the sideline and catch an easy touchdown pass.
We wish Matthews the best of luck in his new special teams career. It’s where he should have been from the jump.
As for Coleman, he got himself benched against the Giants Sunday for looking like he’d never made a tackle before. It’s disappointing since Coleman had previously looked like a nice success story, a big hitter taken in the seventh round last year who made his way to NFL starter.
He will now hand the reigns over to last year’s second-round pick in Nate Allen, who himself looked promising until he went down last year with a late season knee injury. The problem is, Allen has looked far from healthy and it’s hard to imagine he will be much of an improvement. Hopefully the knee will regain its form quickly and Allen can start to contribute.
The Eagles better hope these changes payoff quickly, because a strong test is coming as they prepare to host San Francisco. Between powerful running back Frank Gore and superbeasto tight end Vernon Davis, the 9ers could make it a very long day for the defense.
With a banged up quarterback in Mike Vick and a receiver in Jeremy Maclin hobbled by a gimpy hamstring, the Eagles are staring down the barrel of 1-3. Not exactly the record of a Dream Team.
If the playcalling, game management, and these defensive tweaks don’t work, things are going to get really ugly, really quickly.