5 Players Who Are the Future of Philadelphia Eagles’ Defense
Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Players Who Are the Future of the Defense
One of the biggest surprises of Monday night’s game was the performance of the defense. Things changed in the second half when Billy Davis dropped into a prevent zone, but for the first half, they played as an inspired unit. This is a group looking for an identity, and they may have found it under Davis’ guidance. They were never the same after Jim Johnson’s passing, and if Davis can keep them playing together and applying the pressure, this will be a better season than we thought after the four preseason games.
The defensive side of the ball has some veteran players who are making contributions. Trent Cole looked inspired in his first game as an outside linebacker. Cary Williams was solid the entire night in coverage. Bradley Fletcher played well and ended up with a concussion that he will hopefully recover from in time for this week’s game. DeMeco Ryans is still the leader from his inside linebacker position, but the more exciting part of the defense is the young nucleus primed for dominance.
The Philadelphia Eagles must take every positive this season and build on it for the future. Billy Davis inherited a mess from the Todd Bowles/Sean McDermott experiment. He has implemented his scheme influenced from his days with the Pittsburgh Steelers and shaped through his career progression. The players have obviously bought into the scheme with a new attitude and speed. Chip Kelly must be satisfied with this side of the ball. It is amazing to think that, finally, the Eagles' defensive identity has returned to form. Let’s take a look at five young players who will be the foundation of the defense of the future.
Kendricks is, by far, the strongest linebacker on the team. He is a dangerous mix of speed and power, covering the entire field and tackling with authority. Kendricks can blitz and cover tight ends with ease. He reads plays and reacts with success. Do not be surprised if he ends up with his first Pro Bowl appearance this season. He must also benefit greatly from having DeMeco Ryans playing at his shoulder and leading his development as a linebacker.
Knott has been a surprise this entire preseason. He was signed from being undrafted and put on a clinic in each preseason game. He is a quality backup linebacker and, like Kendricks, has the speed to cover and ability to hit and tackle with authority. His recovery of the onside kick this week sealed the win for the Eagles. Knott has shown a valuable instinct and should turn into a great player with a huge upside for the defense.
Cox is the most skilled defensive lineman on the team. He has handled the end in both the traditional front of last season and the hybrid look of this year. He is a solid talent with a huge upside. He has applied pressure from his position and can defend the pass or run. He was the only lineman who never had his position threatened this training camp. Don’t be surprised if he ends up in the Pro Bowl with Kendricks this season.
Boykin has performed far larger than his stature. He plays a solid slot corner, matching up with skilled receivers and tight ends. He has shown off his vertical jump and speed on blitzes. Look for him to get his number called more often for pressure packages as the season progresses. This week, with Fletcher’s concussion, Boykin may get his first start at outside cornerback. He shouldn’t have to worry because, though Philip Rivers will take his shots, the defense should have no problem hitting him with various blitzes and pressures.
Logan has anchored the second team defensive line and showed why he was a quality draft pick. He has achieved pressure and broken up plays in the backfield. He handles the nose tackle position, and it will not be long until he takes it over after Isaac Sopoaga’s three year deal is expired. Logan should see more playing time as the season progresses. Look for him to make an impact this week after facing another week defensive line.
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