Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

LB breakdown: Trotter's role, Jordan's return

The Eagles' linebacker situation has been in focus all year.

LB breakdown: Trotter's role, Jordan's return

The Eagles' linebacker situation has been in focus all year.

From the loss of Stewart Bradley in the preseason to the trade for Will Witherspoon to the addition of Jeremiah Trotter, the Birds have tried combination after combination to get things right.

On Sunday, Akeem Jordan returned after missing four games. But he was eased in to the lineup.

I re-watched the defensive snaps and took note of how Sean McDermott used his linebackers against the Giants.

Here is how much eacy guy played:

Will Witherspoon - 69 plays
Jeremiah Trotter - 41
Chris Gocong - 30
Tracy White - 20
Akeem Jordan - 16

Some important things to note when looking at those numbers.

After the Eagles took a 45-31 lead, they went with Witherspoon and White as the nickel linebackers the rest of the game, a span of 14 plays during the final six minutes of the fourth quarter.

Trotter was not on the field during that stretch, but he played 41 of the first 59 defensive snaps (nearly 70 percent).

White was the opposite. He played just six of the first 59 snaps and was barely part of the gameplan for the first three and a half quarters, but he was in there on the final 14.

The only break Witherspoon got was a four-play stretch in the third quarter when the Giants had the ball near the goal line, eventually scoring on a fourth-down Brandon Jacobs run. McDermott went with Trotter and Jordan during that series.

Speaking of Jordan, he was on the field for 12 other snaps. Five were at middle linebacker, and seven were in the nickel package with Witherspoon

The Eagles had three linebackers on the field for 30 snaps, and two linebackers for 43 snaps.

They used six different combinations:

Witherspoon, Trotter and Gocong - 25 plays
Witherspoon and White - 20
Witherspoon and Trotter - 12
Witherspoon and Jordan - 6
Witherspoon, Jordan and Gocong - 5
Jordan and Trotter - 4

So what does this all mean?

Well, it's going to be interesting to see how McDermott mixes and matches his linebackers down the stretch. As I described in Man Up, Trotter was really the only linebacker who you could say played well Sunday against the Giants.

How long will it take for Jordan to get healthy? Will he be able to get back to the same level he was at before the injury?

Trotter is playing his best football of the season, but will his role diminish in the final three games and postseason?

As has been the case all season, the linebackers are an area to watch going forward. We'll try to provide a similar breakdown the rest of the way to see which direction McDermott chooses to go.

Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
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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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
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