Steady, If Unspectacular
2023 Season Preview Series: Edmunds, Morrow Step Into Major Roles
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth story in a series by Inside The Birds’ Geoff Mosher and Andrew DiCecco previewing the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles season. In Part 5, they name their most significant defensive free-agent addition for 2023).
Andrew DiCecco: Nic Morrow
Admittedly, this category was a tossup between Morrow and safety Terrell Edmunds.
Edmunds, of course, brings with him the former first-round pedigree, has logged 75 career starts, and joins the ranks of a razor-thin position group where snap distribution will seemingly be determined based on summer performance.
Sure, Edmunds meets the criteria, but it’s worth mentioning that he needs to have stave off ascending second-year pro Reed Blankenship and/or intriguing third-rounder Sydney Brown to assume a full workload just to eliminate the possibility of melding into a three-person rotation.
Morrow, however, becomes the most logical choice – if not only for his unimpeded path to significant snaps.
Morrow, 27, not only logged the most defensive snaps (1,086) for the Bears last season but led the entire team in that category, establishing himself as an indispensable component capable of withstanding the rigors of a full 17-game slate.
He also supplies the flexibility of playing the MIKE or WILL spots, adding to his appeal and magnifying his utility.
And for what it’s worth, Morrow inherited the responsibility of donning the green dot on his helmet following the trade of Roquan Smith, so he has experience communicating and orchestrating a defense, though that won’t be his role in Philadelphia barring injury.
Undersized at 6-foot, 225 pounds, the concern here is that the run defense will suffer with Morrow and second-year pro Nakobe Dean, also of slight build, helming the newly configured second-level.
Working in Morrow’s favor and potentially enhancing the likelihood of a noticeable impact, however, is the fact that the Eagles simply lack for talent and experience beyond the aforementioned tandem, so it’s difficult to envision Morrow or Dean leaving the field for a sustained period.
Geoff Mosher: Terrell Edmunds
We typically find someone in this category who’s expected to be a game-changer, the way last year’s most impactful defensive free-agent – Haason Reddick – brought 16 sacks and five forced fumbles to the Eagles’ defense.
But the Eagles spent more of their limited funds this offseason on modest free-agent contracts, mainly in the form of one-year deals as they rebuilt the interior of their defense economically.
This year’s most impactful free agent, safety Terrell Edmunds, is one of those cost-efficient additions who’s more of a place-holder than statistical performer.
For five years, the 2018 first-round pick roamed Pittsburgh’s secondary, serving as a steady and reliable – albeit unspectacular – contributor to an above-average Steelers defense. He started 75 games and averaged about 80 tackles per season, used mostly as a box defender.
As for playmaking, Edmunds didn’t showcase much in that department with just five career interceptions, no forced fumbles and about two quarterback hits per season.
Dependability and consistency, however, are what the Eagles need as they enter a defensive crossroads, with new coordinator Sean Desai taking over a depleted unit that lost a Pro Bowl defensive tackle to free agency, along with both starting off-ball linebackers and both starting safeties.
There will probably be some frustration with Edmunds during the season – especially since he’s been asked to help replace C.J. Gardner-Johnson, whose six picks in 12 games last year were more than Edmunds’ entire five-year career. History suggests he’ll be more noticed when he screws up than when he makes an impressive stop, the nature of his position.
But Edmunds will be the stabilizing force the Eagles need for a safety group sure to have fluidity throughout the season, as the coaches determine whether rookie third-rounder Sydney Brown, free-agent pickup Justin Evans or upstart second-year pro Reed Blankenship deserve more playing time.
For this group, being stable is being impactful.
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffpmosher) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and Senior staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com. Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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