Philadelphia Eagles: A Look at the 2011 Linebacking Corps

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Philadelphia Eagles: A Look at the 2011 Linebacking Corps
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles have had the loudest offseason of all NFL teams.  Talk has gone on concerning the vastly improved secondary and the reinforced defensive line in Philadelphia. 

However, what has been glossed over has been the Eagles' corps of linebackers.

Between the three starting linebackers, a total of two and a half seasons of NFL experience has been racked up between them.

2009 seventh-round pick Moise Fokou is listed as the starting weak side linebacker.   The Maryland product is backed up by special teamer Akeem Jordan.  Fokou has bounced in and out of the starting lineup, but may have found a home on the weak side.

2010 seventh-round draft choice Jamar Chaney is the starting strong side linebacker.  Chaney started twice as a rookie at middle linebacker in the absence of Stewart Bradley late in the 2010 season.  Chaney is the most sure tackler of the current starting trio. 

Rookie Casey Matthews is currently listed as the starting middle linebacker.  Matthews has received praise from new defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo, who has pointed to Matthews' leadership abilities.

High praise for a rookie, who has been running with the starters for all of two weeks.  Matthews is the most intriguing player in this group, not only because of the legacy of his family and the prominence of his brother, Clay, but because he is a rookie who is entrusted with essentially quarterbacking the defense. 

Matthews will be given the benefit of the doubt if he cannot perform up to the standards set for him at this position because of his lack of experience.  However, with all the moves the Eagles have made over the course of this whirlwind offseason, why have they not addressed this glaring need? 

It is understandable in a way because the Eagles have become stronger in every other area of the defense that a certain portion had to suffer because of it.  However, it seems this team has never valued quality linebacker play the way other teams seem to do. 

That being said, the defense is solid enough to ride out any growing pains or transitional frustrations that may occur in this unit.  However, it remains to be seen how successful this rag tag bunch can do once the pressure is on.

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