2019 Eagles vs Super Bowl 52 Championship Eagles: Defensive Edition

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Eagles
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /


Following up the secondary is the next level of defense: the linebackers. 2017’s core group consisted of Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, and Jordan Hicks.

During 2017’s regular season, Bradham played and started in15 games, batting down eight passes, securing one sack, snatching up a fumble for a touchdown, and recording 88 combined tackles, 61 made without help. In the postseason, Bradham did what was needed, recording one sack, 11 solo tackles, and two QB hits in the three do or die games.

Kendricks, in 2017 played in15 games with 13 starts, while defending six pass attempts, two sacks, five QB hits, and 73 combined tackles. Although he didn’t get to the quarterback as much in 2017, postseason Kendricks did tally up 12 solo tackles in the three games, the most of which came against Minnesota with six.

For Hicks, 2017 wasn’t so good, starting in all of his games but only playing in seven due to a ruptured Achilles. Still, in those seven games, Hicks recovered a fumble, hit the QB twice, and brought down the ball carrier 28 times – with19 of them being unaccompanied.

With this injury, the Eagles needed players to fill in Hicks spot, one of which being Najee Goode who played in 16 games with three starts in 2017. In these games, Goode would get himself 12 solo tackles and 15 tackles with assistance. Goode also played in the postseason for the Birds, doing minimal work while recording only one tackle a game.

Another player to fill in was Kamu Gruiger-Hill, who played in all 16 games although starting none. Nonetheless, Gruiger-Hill forced a fumble, secure eight solo tackles, as well as one QB hit and a tackle for a loss.

In 2019, the linebacking corps looks a little differently with Bradham being one of the two only returning players from 2017. Bradham is coming off of 2018 campaign where he played and started in 15 games recovering one fumble, sacking the QB twice, and combined for 97 tackles, 67 of which done head-to-head. Bradham also showed up in the 2018 playoffs having 12 solo tackles through two games. Philadelphia is surely excited to continue to have Bradham leading the LB’s in 2019.

The other returning player from 2017 is Kamu Gruiger-Hill, who is coming off an impressive improvement from that year. Last season, Gruiger-Hill played in all16 games, snatching a ball out the air for 24 yards, knocking a ball to the ground, forcing a fumble, recording a sack, and combined for 45 tackles, 33 solo. With Gruiger-Hill improving from 2017, the Eagles have to be eager to see what else he can provide for the team as he continues to grow.

After losing Kendricks and Hicks, fans started to worry about the linebackers lacking in talent until Philadelphia surprised their fans by signing veteran player, ex-Titan, Bill, and RedskinZach Brown to a one-year deal.

Brown in 2018, played in16 games for the Redskins but only started in 12. Brown showed frustration with this during the season being quoted saying “I was surprised, but the coaches made a decision I guess,” after being benched for a rookie in a December game versus the Giants. The Redskins’ coach Jay Gruden put the reasoning of the benching on Brown missing practice the week coming up to the game. However, Brown missed practice due to illness, which understandably frustrated the talented linebacker when he found out that was the reason.

Still, in these 12 starts and 16 games, Brown batted down a pass, recovered two fumbles, recorded a sack, a combined 96 tackles, including 69 solo efforts. Unfortunately for Brown, being in Tennessee, Buffalo, and Washington has limited his success, never getting a taste of postseason football.

One linebacker fans may forget about is Paul Worrilow, who was carted off the field with a knee injury in the first team practice of 2018. Worrilow spent most of his career with Atlanta before spending the 2017 season in Detroit. For the Lions, he would play 13 games defending one pass, recovering a fumble, recording 20 solo tackles, with 10 joint takedowns.  Worrilow has been a solid linebacker throughout his career but following a very early injury last year, his performance this season is covered in mystery.

Going into the 2019 season with Nigel Bradham, Zach Brown, Paul Worrilow, and Kamu Gruiger-Hill taking up the starting roles at linebacker the Eagles can be a bit complacent. Bradham and Brown, without a doubt, should be a dominant duo in the middle of the defense. Accompany those two with a reliable player in Worrilow and a young player with room for growth in Gruiger-Hill as well as a most likely special teamer and viable back-up L.J. Fort, Philly may just be better off at linebacker then they were in 2017.