Thursday, September 3, 2015

Analyzing the Gaither loss, LB situation

With today's news that linebacker Omar Gaither is likely done for the season, let's take a look at the Eagles' linebacker situation and where the team goes from here.

Analyzing the Gaither loss, LB situation

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Eagles linebacker Omar Gaither (96) is likely done for the season. (Michael S. Wirtz / Staff Photographer)
Eagles linebacker Omar Gaither (96) is likely done for the season. (Michael S. Wirtz / Staff Photographer)

With today's news that linebacker Omar Gaither is likely done for the season, let's take a look at the Eagles' linebacker situation and where the team goes from here.

The Birds currently have seven linebackers on their roster: Will Witherspoon, Chris Gocong, Akeem Jordan, Moise Fokou, Joe Mays, Jeremiah Trotter and Tracy White.

Here are some thoughts on how these guys' roles will play out:

** The starters seem set: Witherspoon in the middle, and Gocong and Jordan on the outside. They really don't have another choice in the middle. Trotter cannot be the guy, and they obviously do not have any confidence in Mays. We'll just have to see what kind of player Witherspoon can be in this system.

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** Jordan has had a solid season. Gocong had easily his most active game of the season against the Raiders, piling up 10 tackles after being credited with just 11 in the team's first four games. He had a sack the previous week against Tampa, although it came on a blitz where he was untouched.

** It will be interesting to see what the Eagles do in the nickel package. It seems safe to assume that Witherspoon will take Gaither's role and be on the field. But what about the other position? Going into the season, Jordan was the guy. But we have seen White replace him at times. Do they just go with one linebacker? As I pointed out yesterday, we saw them go with three safeties -- Quintin Mikell, Macho Harris and Sean Jones -- on one play Sunday. Jones was matched up with the tight end in coverage. He has also been used as a blitzer the last two games. Maybe Jones is a solution there.

** I'm not sure what Trotter's role will be going forward. If they believe he's just knocking off the rust and can contribute, it's worth keeping him around because, quite frankly, they don't have many other options. But he really hasn't shown anything in the first two games. Perhaps we'll see more of a role for him the next two weeks against Clinton Portis and Brandon Jacobs. It seems obvious that teams will try to take advantage of matchups and force him Trotter into coverage when he's on the field.

** The only guy I haven't mentioned is Fokou, who figures to have no more than a special teams role.

** The play of the linebackers is going to go a long way in determining this team's success. Check out the tight ends on the schedule the next seven weeks: Chris Cooley (twice), Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, Greg Olsen and Tony Gonzalez. The Giants' Kevin Boss is no slouch either.

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Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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