Could the Eagles' Best Run Defense Be "Trot"-ting Beneath Their Nose?
If Jeremiah Trotter is even anything remotely close to the linebacker he was two years ago, then the answer to my headline is "yes."
If you haven’t heard, apparently the Eagles brought Jeremiah Trotter in for a workout this week. Much like with Jon Runyan already this fall, it seems to be more of a case of “let’s see what you can do,” rather than “we need you on the roster right now."
But, hey, if Trotter can go, why not bring him back?
It’d be easy to question what Trotter has left. While he’s only 32—hardly old by NFL standards but ancient by Eagles’ ones—there must have been a reason he was released during the 2007 preseason.
And coming off a season in which he didn’t play at all (and one season removed from an unremarkable 2007 campaign in Tampa), it’s not like he’d be a “hot” signing, like, say, a Derrick Brooks.
But even if he’s not as good as he once was, Trotter brings dimensions that others might not be able to—for one, he knows the system.
It’s the reason the Eagles signed Jeff Garcia and “worked out” Runyan, and it’s the best reason Trotter would fit over a Derrick Brooks or someone else.
Even though two years have passed and there’s a new coordinator, not much has changed on the Eagles defense. Sure, the MIKE linebacker is now a little bit more responsible in run coverage, but that was the best facet of Jeremiah’s game; it was a damn good facet, as Trotter almost single-handedly turned the Eagles’ run defense from terrible to respectable in his second stint.
These days, Eagles run coverage usually calls for the SAM (Chris Gocong) to go after the lead blocker, the WILL (Akeem Jordan) to stay out wide and the MIKE (Omar Gaither) to make the tackle in the hole.
In case you haven’t noticed, as good and versatile as Gaither is, that’s not exactly his best trait.
Even if he was a two-down (or even a one-down) linebacker, he can simply fill a role like a specialty lefty pitcher in baseball—come in, make one play, and head to the bench.
And even that one play off could have a big effect on keeping the backers fresh. Last week against New Orleans, the trio of Gocong, Gaither, and Jordan looked a little tired at times. And that’s understandable; their backups are a rookie (Moise Fokou), an injury risk (Joe Mays), and a special-teams maven (Tracy White). Not exactly the 1986 Giants back there, so they’re playing almost every play.
Should Trotter come in to play the MIKE on first or even second down, it would give one of the latter two a momentary breather. He’d ostensibly replace Gaither, but Omar could also move back to WILL and give Jordan a play off.
If he can do it well, why not try it?
Most importantly, though, he’d bring a level-headed veteran presence to the defense—one they’re clearly missing without Brian Dawkins.
The Eagles are used to young MIKEs quarterbacking the defense; both Gaither and Stewart Bradley are in their mid-20s and have been filling that role since Trotter was released.
But they always had Dawkins to be the heart, soul, and mouthpiece of that defense. Even if it’s just for one year, Trotter has enough Philly cred to come in and do that—even as a backup.
Now, of course, someone would have to be released to make room for him. Based on injury and inconsistency, it could be Mays.
But who would you rather have on the field?
Maybe the third time will be the charm. After all, there had to be a reason Andy Reid texted Trotter out of the blue to come in for a workout, right?
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