Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Let's Talk About Akeem Jordan


Sorry for the late post. I had this ready earlier, but decided to come back and re-watch the 1st Quarter of the Pats game to make sure I didn't miss anything.

For some reason a lot of Eagles fans are nervous about Akeem Jordan going into the season as the staring WLB. He earned the job with his play in 2008. I have no problem with him at all as things currently stand. My only hedge...he is a young player. You do have to keep a close eye on those guys.

Young players have a funny habit of going up and down. Some guys get a taste of success and want no part of the bench or being a role player. Other guys get success and lose the edge that helped to get them the job. They get complacent. Predicting which players will go which way is tricky. It doesn't matter whether the player is a linebacker or running back...whether he went to Tennessee or Tennessee State...whether he's from a well-to-do family or is dirt poor. Handling success is tricky for all young players.

Jordan is a player the Eagles seem happy with. They did keep Omar Gaither behind him and I think that was done with the intent of making sure that Akeem didn't let up. Players are more likely to stay focused if they have serious competition for their job. Jordan knew that any slacking on his part would mean the job could be Gaither's.

As to Jordan and what he has done on the field...let's go back to last year. Jordan took over for Gaither at WLB in the middle of the Giants game. His first start came against the Ravens, 2 weeks later.

In 6 starts Jordan had 38 solo tackles, 6 assists. The defense allowed 68 points in those 6 starts. There were 4-non offensive TDs given up for a total of 96 points. The defense did not give up 300 yards in any of those games.

Jordan wasn't a playmaker. No one disputes that. However, he was a great fit for the defense. He was asked to stuff FBs on lead blocks. He did a great job of that. He also took over some TE coverage responsibilities. That was a problem area early in the year, but not down the stretch.

Jordan was credited with 3 TFLs. He didn't have a part in any turnovers and didn't sack the QB. Those are areas he must improve in. The WLB needs to be a playmaker. I think the Eagles expect that the plays will come with him being on the field as a full time starter.

For comparison's sake, let's look at Omar. He started 10 games at WLB. He had 46 solo stops and 8 assists. He had 2.5 sacks and 7 TFLs. He broke up or deflected 6 passes. He also had 1 FF. Omar was more of a playmaker than Jordan.

The flip side of that is that the defense gave up more than 300 yards in 5 of his 10 starts. The defense allowed 179 points in those 10 games. There were 2 non-offensive TDs scored. While Gaither made more plays, the defense was much stingier with Jordan on the field.

Jordan had an uneventful Training Camp. I heard that he looked good. Nothing earth-shattering, just good. He started in the Patriots game on Thursday, but didn't stand out. The starting defense wasn't on the field much. Jordan did allow a TD pass to TE Chris Baker. Akeem got beaten because he used sloppy technique and was flat-footed. Those are the kind of mistakes you can live with in the preseason opener. It has nothing to do with lack of talent or being out of shape. I'll get worried if Jordan is doing stuff like that against the Colts.

The Eagles like Akeem Jordan. They want to see if he is the future at WLB. The only way to do that is to play him. If Jordan does flat line and struggle the next 2 weeks then Gaither may get his WLB job back. Unfortunately Omar is hurt right now and won't be playing against the Colts. Akeem will have the whole 1st half to play.

We'll review the WLB situation again after the Colts game on Thursday. It does bear watching, but I really see this as Akeem's job to lose and I don't anticipate him playing so poorly that he ends up on the bench. We'll also talk about the future at WLB late in the season. At that point we should have a good feel for whether Jordan is the answer.


justrelax said...

Jordan plays a more physical game than Gaither. He takes shots at WRs and TEs as they cross the middle, takes on the FB in the hole. To some extent, he plays the weakside LB with a strongside style. This means making fewer plays but keeping more containment. The downside is what we saw last Thursday on that TD pass. He's not the quickest guy.

We don't flop our LBs, so you need some grit in the weakside LB for teams that line up strong left, but you want to get him out of there on passing downs.

He's only played, what, 10 games at the position(?) so he may well improve but if I'm an opposing OC, I'll be testing him in the flat. That NE TD was too easy and too obvious to ignore.

Cliff said...

Good to see a JMU guy get some success in the NFL. They've had a good program in 1-AA for a while now.

Cliff said...

justrelax, you said we don't flop our linebackers? Does that mean we don't literally line the SLB on the strong side each play? Is that common in the NFL? I've never paid that much attention.

justrelax said...

Right. Gocong plays the defensive left side and Jordan the right. Gocong has played some Joker, but in our base set, Gocong is always on the defensive left side, regardless of the offensive formation.

He may move up or back, in or out, but he won't flop.

justrelax said...

P.S. Most NFL teams do this. With all the formations and motion that teams run, if you follow people across the formation a lot, you can really mess yourself up. You will see defenses reset but normally they'll just rotate. If the TE lines up on the offensive left, the LB on that side will probably walk up, and the whole D line shift to their right, just to match strength vs. strength.

You may see DBs follow receivers across the formation. All that means in man coverage in the secondary on that guy.

izzylangfan said...

The Red Zone has been a problem for the Eagles going back probably 4 or 5 years it is not just the past two years. Lack of a solid TE has hurt since Celek emerged only recently. Lack of an experienced fullback has hurt but seems to be effectively addressed with Weaver. Further the offensive line has been addressed with tackles that should now be able to run block and the addition of Stacy Andrews at RG. The wildcat has some advantages at the goal line - namely an extra blocker and easier application of roll out type passes. However, football is a physical game and we need to establish the run up the middle on the goal line as a possibility to set up the pass. With the personnel we now have we should be able to run up the middle against anybody anyway to lets not pussy foot around to much. How about cracking some heads? We do that a few times and everything else opens up.

Stephen said...

We really need to get healthy on the OL more than anything, missing 4 out of 5 starters is not helping our cause.

I'm very worried about our overall injury situation, but frankly if we can't get some healthy starting OL on the field then we're looking at tough sledding. Guys like MJG and Nick Cole are decent, but they're not the dominant crew we were hoping we'd be fielding.