Philadelphia Eagles: Why Akeem Jordan over Brian Rolle?
It was somewhat surprising to hear Andy Reid state Sunday (via CSN Philly's Reuben Frank) that Akeem Jordan would be the Philadelphia Eagles' starting weak-side linebacker for Week 1 against Cleveland.
Jordan hadn't really stood out this month, and many assumed that the competition for the final starting spot next to Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans was a two-horse race between Brian Rolle and Jamar Chaney.
Jordan hadn't even been taking snaps on the weak side, but Rolle is having a slew of problems in his second preseason and Chaney has been hampered by a hamstring injury throughout the summer.
I think Reid really wanted Rolle or Chaney to emerge this year. The undersized Rolle had a promising rookie season, posting 54 tackles along with a sack and a forced fumble in 13 starts on the weak side. But he was out of position often in the preseason opener against Pittsburgh and played poorly Friday in Cleveland.
The assumption was that the versatile Chaney would take over. The 24-year-old had 92 tackles to go with three interceptions and a sack last year, but he re-injured that hammy in his first game back.
Reid simply got fed up and handed the job to a man he's been able to rely on often over the last four or five years. Jordan's been in and out of the starting lineup often since 2008, and in the process, he's proven to be Reid's safe school.
You don't hear Jordan's name getting called very often during Eagles games. He rarely stands out, for good or bad. And while the team would obviously love to get big plays out of every position, it is taking a better-safe-than-sorry approach here.
Who will play the most in 2012?
Jordan is the third-longest-tenured defender on the team for a reason. He's reliable and doesn't put his teammates in bad spots. He's quiet, but not everyone has to play loud. The Eagles make their money up front with Jim Washburn's wide-nine defensive line. Those guys have to make plays.
The linebackers have to merely execute on fundamentals and stay healthy. This preseason, Jordan's been better at those things than Rolle and Chaney.
"I'm not going to tell you there's anything fancy about him," Reid said. "He's tough, and he knows his assignments."
A few other interesting tidbits from Frank:
Since opening day 2009, Reid has used 19 different starting linebacker combinations. Since Reid got here in 1999, he's used 49 different starting combinations, if you include this year's projected opening-day trio of rookie Mychal Kendricks, Ryans and Jordan. The Eagles haven't gone through a regular season without at least one linebacker getting benched since 2001.
So we should probably expect to see Rolle or Chaney starting at some point this year. After all, as consistent as he's been, Jordan has failed to hold down that starting job on multiple occasions. Since 2008, the 27-year-old former undrafted free agent out of James Madison has always started at least three games but never more than 10 games per season.
It looks as though he'll make at least one start in 2012. Beyond that, though, it's anyone's guess.
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