The Eagles are in the place they need to be in order to make a playoff run. However, I have a lot of concern about the status of their defense. There were some questions in the secondary coming into the season and there’s even more questions now. The linebackers seemed to be set going into season, but that blew up quickly and has gotten worse ever since Stewart Bradley went down. The defensive line has been the only part of the defense with any consistency in it. All these things worry me as the Birds try to make a push late in the season.
The fiasco with the linebackers has been going on for what seems like forever without stopping. It seems as though there’s a new starting group every week. Will Witherspoon has played well and I think Chris Gocong and Akeem Jordan have played well when fully healthy as well. However, there are a group of other players that fit into that equation that have shown a lot of inconsistency. Many of these guys are young and really need to get more snaps under their belt. Waiting for this game experience to come doesn’t help a team who is looking to go deep into the playoffs. The learning curve has to be quick and those players who have underperformed so far need to step it up quickly. I believe there are a lot of cracks in these linebackers and I hope don’t get taken advantage of too bad.
More recently, the defensive woes have trickled into the secondary. Our top four cornerbacks are either gone or banged up, and the guys behind them are young and unproven. Sean Jones has filled into free safety spot and has been playing some solid football. The safety position isn’t what worries me. I am scared about our corners. Sheldon Brown played through obvious pain against the Bears and I appreciate his effort. However, there were a lot of instances where he seemed to be moving slow and you questioned if he was healthy enough to play. They got by with a win but it makes you wonder if they will be alright in the upcoming weeks. Only time will tell I guess.
Right now I think it is very important for Quintin Mikell to be the leader of this defense. He has got to keep the defense fired up and not let them get down if they give up big plays. Everyone knows the loss of Brian Dawkins was more than just losing a great player, they lost a great leader. Jeremiah Trotter brings leadership to the team but he’s not on the field as much as Mikell. Q is there on every play and needs to really step up his leadership down the stretch here. A lot of young guys are getting opportunities to play on defense now and are going to make mistakes. Mikell needs to make sure they put it behind them and maintain focus. He can make a big difference on this defense by doing more than just playing well on the field.