Per Twitter, et al, the Eagles are switching up the linebacker position.
Casey Matthews, who was named a starter in the middle from day one, is taking snaps on the weak side in practice today. Jamar Chaney, who had been on the strong side after excelling as a rookie in the middle last year, is moving back to his former spot. Moise Fokou, who played on the strong side last season but had been flip flopped this year, is now taking snaps back on the strong side.
The only surprise here is that the Eagles pulled the trigger already when it seemed like they were willing to let things play out. Unfortunately, Casey Matthews has been overmatched in the middle. He has taken poor angles and been out of position on a number of plays, and more concernedly, he’s been getting washed out regularly by an inability to shed and get off blocks.
It hasn’t helped that he’s a fourth-round rookie coming in with no offseason, but still.
The Eagles claim he’s in the 240-range with his weight, but that just doesn’t pass the eyeball test. At 6-1, he’s already undersized a bit for the middle, but when combined with the fact that he probably barely weighs more than 230 it becomes a real problem. He just isn’t physical enough. Combine that with just a lower talent level overall than someone like his brother Clay, and it means the Eagles had a major problem at one of the most important positions on the defense. A problem they chose to create.
Luckily, Jamar Chaney is now being given a chance to show again the flashes of serious potential he showed last year. He should be an immediate upgrade.
And Fokou is only average, but at least he has the experience from last season to draw on as he moves back to his old spot. He may not be a playmaker in any capacity but he works hard and really, it’s him or nothing right now as the Eagles have no other options. Reserves Brian Rolle and Keenan Clayton are just too small to play on the tight end’s side on a regular basis.
And now Matthews will have a chance to make some plays on the weak side, which was what he was projected to play anyway coming out of school. Actually, he was projected as a special teamer and reserve, but I digress…
His size won’t limit him as much on the weak side and he should be able to run around a bit and hopefully make some plays. But it’s no sure thing at this point. It’s very possible the Eagles will be rotating both Rolle and Clayton into the mix as well.
Either way, something had to give. And with a game against Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, and the rest of the Giants coming up, the Eagles feel they need to step up and stop the bleeding. Hopefully they get an early lead and play more nickel.
Then again, with the possibility of concussed quarterback Michael Vick sitting out and Vince Young dealing with a lingering hamstring injury, Mike Kafka is getting all the first team reps at practice, so the offense may not let that happen.
It’s looking like Sunday is going to be a long day.
UPDATE: Per Twitter again, Jamar Chaney has confirmed the news that he’s going back to the middle, Matthews is moving to the weak side, and Fokou is going back to the strong side.