Edwards, Singleton Stabilizing LB Corps – For Now
It took eight weeks, but the Eagles have finally found an acceptable linebacker pair.
Ironically, it was injuries that led to the unearthing of Alex Singleton, who represents one-half of the new-look tandem. Singleton, heralded for his special teams prowess, has emerged over the past month to stabilize a largely flawed unit.
Since becoming a mainstay on defense in Week 4, Singleton has registered 30 tackles, an interception, and a touchdown. He’s averaged nearly 49 defensive snaps a game over the past four weeks, providing toughness, tenacity, and instincts to the second level.
Although linebacker T.J. Edwards was reinserted into the starting lineup Sunday night, the Eagles couldn’t afford to take Singleton off the field. With Nate Gerry sidelined for the foreseeable future by a foot/ankle injury, the Eagles got an extensive look at their new combination.
As active as Singleton has been, Edwards was exceptional upon return. The second-year linebacker logged 12 tackles (1.0 for loss) and a fourth-quarter strip-sack that ultimately led to a 53-yard return for a touchdown from Rodney McLeod.
It wasn’t just fresh legs that Edwards provided, but also a physical, downhill presence at the second level, a swarming to the football and energizing of the defense. Edwards and Singleton each played 62 snaps against the Cowboys to lead the unit.
“Yeah, I mean we knew they ran a lot of 12 personnel, so I figured it would be a good amount of base snaps,” Edwards said after the game. “Towards the end, the game got moved to nickel and just got ahead of, you know, comfortable feel for the game at that time. "So, you always have to be ready for whatever the coaches think and I’m just glad that my rehab went well and everything like that, so I was able to perform well tonight.”
Edwards, who returned from a hamstring injury that had prompted a three-week absence, was decidedly the most dominant player on either team Sunday. Primarily known for his run defense, Edwards’ presence was paramount to slowing a limited Cowboys offense that was expected to feature a heavy dose of running back Ezekiel Elliott.
While Edwards’ performance was the best in recent memory through eight weeks, his coverage limitations put restrictions on his upside as a three-down linebacker. However, despite a position group perennially marred by inefficiency, the team appears to have two players capable of fielding a functional second level – for now.
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com. Listen to the latest "Inside The Birds" podcast with Adam Caplan and Geoff Mosher here: