Cutting Nate Gerry won’t fix the Philadelphia Eagles.
Five weeks into the new NFL season, and the Philadelphia Eagles fanbase has collectively found their new favorite scapegoat. Starting MLB Nate Gerry was showered with criticism and hatred after his abysmal Week 1 performance against Washington, and it’s only gotten worse since then. The college safety-turned-linebacker has been subsequently exposed in every single game this season, and the box score shows as such.
Gerry has been targeted in coverage 21 times thus far, and he’s allowed a whopping 20 receptions. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 147.7 when throwing his direction, and the third-year LB has already allowed three(!) touchdowns. Gerry’s woeful play the last few games was topped off during the team’s Week 5 loss to Pittsburgh, as he was responsible for Chase Claypool’s game-winning touchdown.
Don’t get it twisted, Gerry has been absolutely abysmal here in 2020, and he’s quite literally the worst staring middle linebacker in all of football at the moment. However, with that understood, cutting him doesn’t just magically solve all of Philly’s problems.
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For starters, Gerry hasn’t always played this poorly. He spent the first two seasons of his career primarily on special teams, learning the position of linebacker as he made the transition from his natural safety fit in college. By the time he was given a more solidified starting role in 2019, he actually did.. okay?
He had the second most tackles on the team last year, and actually outperformed fellow LBs Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill in terms of allowed completion percentage. When looking at opponent passer rating when targeted, Gerry actually ranked second best on the entire team (10+ targets or more). That’s right, Gerry was statistically better in coverage than guys like Rodney McLeod, Malcolm Jenkins, and even Cre’Von LeBlanc.
To clarify, Gerry was asked to do very little in terms of responsibility on the 2019 Philadelphia Eagles defense. Jenkins, McLeod, and Bradham did a majority of the heavy lifting in terms of coverage assignments, and it allowed someone like Gerry to simply focus on his role as a rotational outside linebacker.
That’s the point though, Gerry has always been nothing more than a rotational outside LB. He was a late-round pick who was tasked with switching positions upon entering the NFL, and his ceiling was only ever so high due to his limited athleticism. Asking him to take over as the team’s every-down starting MLB here in 2020 was a ludicrous request, and it set Gerry up for failure from the moment he took the field against Washington in Week 1.
The Philadelphia Eagles could cut Gerry, and turn things over to the likes of Alex Singleton, Duke Riley, or even Shaun Bradley, but they’ll get similar results. The team simply doesn’t have a starting-caliber MLB on the roster, and Gerry is the one being forced to take the fall for it.
Had the team simply drafted a NFL-ready linebacker in the third round (instead of Davion Taylor), or signed a single interior linebacker during the offseason (Jatavis Brown also played OLB!), these specific issues likely never would have surfaced with Gerry.