Much attention surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason has focused on new head coach Chip Kelly and his implementation of an uptempo offense that he brings with him from the Oregon Ducks. As a result, the defensive makeover that the Birds are undergoing has been largely overlooked, but if the team wants to see more wins on Sundays that defense will have to see some marked improvement as well.
Mychael Kendricks will be a key piece to seeing that defensive progress as the Eagles are looking for under new defensive coordinator Billy Davis in year one. Davis is installing a system which will incorporate elements of the 3-4 which should really benefit Kendricks who played in a similar defense during his collegiate days at California. He is much more effective when he doesn’t have to take on blockers and is free to flow to the football which should be the case in this new defensive look.
There were flashes of potential shown by Kendricks even in the dismal season that was experienced in Philly last season. As a rookie in 2012 he still managed 75 tackles, seeing serious playing time from the first snap of the season. Coach Kelly has already been very high on Kendricks’ ability as he told CSN Philly:
“I think Mychal’s an athletic, real physical linebacker, but I think his biggest attribute is his athleticism. He’s a three down linebacker, he doesn’t have to come off the field in third down. He excels in pass coverage, but he’s physical enough to play on first and second down. He’s one of the more athletic linebackers in this league, so really excited about his future and what he can do. He can do everything we’ve asked him to do.”
Clearly the Eagles don’t plan on taking the second-year man off of the field much if they can help it as DeMeco Ryans figures to be the other starter in the 3-4 alignment alongside him. Guys like Jamar Chaney, Emmanuel Acho, Jason Phillips, and Casey Matthews will provide depth at the position, but there really won’t be much competition in training camp for a starting gig.
Camp will be all about learning defensive assignments and getting acclimated to the new system that DC Davis plans to run with the Eagles. Kendricks clearly showed some serious potential as a rookie with the Eagles in 2012, and there is plenty of reason to believe 2013 could be his coming out party with Pro Bowl ability at the inside linebacker position.