Five Big-Picture Takeaways From Eagles Preseason Game Two

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Aug 22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin (98) loses his helmet as he and defensive end Fletcher Cox (91), defensive end Vinny Curry (75) and inside linebacker Emmanuel Acho (51) tackles Baltimore Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (34) during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Sticking on the defensive side of the ball, one cannot help but get excited about what the team’s full repertoire of inside linebackers is capable of behind the Eagles line. Even with a battered offensive line, the Ravens excel in the run game thanks in large part to a mastery of a zone-blocking scheme that maximizes the abilities of one-cut runners such as Justin Forsett. Baltimore did move the ball on the ground more successfully than Indianapolis did the week before, but that should not diminish how well the trio of Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, and Cedric Thornton handle its responsibilities.

A week after making Emmanuel Acho and Brad Jones look like Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, the line could not make up for all the shortcomings of its starting inside linebackers. That’s not to say that their performance was unnerving. All things considering, the Eagles should walk away from the preseason schedule with considerably more depth at the position than last year. All that aside, the Eagles defense should be an entirely different beast once Kiko Alonso, DeMeco Ryans, and Mychal Kendricks take the field.

Each of the three aforementioned linebackers has proven, to varying extents throughout his career, to have a nose for the ball and a well-calculated pursuit. All have played and excelled behind strong defensive lines and have capitalized on the opportunities provided by them having unblocked lanes to attack. Though Jeff McLane’s report of Mychal Kendricks dealing with some hamstring issues is a bit unsettling, that doesn’t take away from the fact that a fully-stocked cupboard of inside linebackers could improve what was already one of the stronger front-sevens in the NFL.