Perhaps there will come a day when Philadelphia Eagles' rookie defensive end Vinny Curry plunders through NFL offensive linemen with an array of swim moves, bull rushes and speed stunts to rack up sacks. NFL quarterbacks may one day have nightmares about Curry that have nothing to do with Indian food. He could prove to be worth every bit of the second round draft pick the Birds spent on him this offseason.
To this point, five games into the season, he's yet to sniff the field. I'm wondering why.
I understand that the Eagles are rich with depth on the defensive line. I also know that it was their plan to build such depth. I understand that the defensive end tandem of Jason Babin and Trent Cole are going to play most bona fide passing downs, and it's becoming more apparent each week that the Eagles are going to send only their front four after the passer most downs. I don't understand why the Eagles needed to keep 11 defensive linemen if one was going to sit each week for the sake of depth when most teams would tell you eight defensive linemen you can trust more than equals depth.
The Eagles are carrying DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Jamar Chaney, Akeem Jordan, Casey Matthews and a gentleman named Jason Williams (not either of the basketball players), who just signed today, at linebacker. The last couple of weeks, Chaney has replaced Jordan, who has been out with an injury.
The Eagles' kick coverage special teams' unit has been loathsome. No one has hit the home run off them yet, but return men keep slamming doubles off the wall (sorry watching the MLB playoffs as I write). Most young linebackers that aren't first round picks and three-down LBs cut their teeth being maniacs on special teams. The Eagles could use one or two more of them who can cover kicks. They cut Keenan Clayton, who was a serviceable special teams player. They kept Phillip Hunt, Darryl Tapp and the project, Brandon Graham. They also drafted Curry. Early.
If their intention was to keep all of those veteran defensive linemen and they spent their first round pick on defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, was it necessary to use one of their second round picks on a defensive end that was never going to see the field in a season you consider yourself a contender?
Were there not more immediate needs in the second round that may have been filled with players worth a spot on the active roster and able to help their special teams? I understand they drafted Kendricks at LB in the second round, but what about a safety that could have helped both on defense and special teams? Was head coach Andy Reid too stubborn to admit that 2011 second round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett, another safety, was a bust? Was he too humiliated to tip his cap to the mistake and take another crack at it? Or was the safety depth in the draft lacking (which is a distinct possibility)?
Ryans and Kendricks were powerful additions to the Eagles' linebacking corps, even if Kendricks is going to go through some growing pains. But the rest of the unit is still weak. Weak depth at linebacker will often lead to weak special teams coverage units.
I'm excited for the day Vinny Curry gets his shot. I hope he's the beast he was at Marshall University when he tallied 26.5 sacks and staked his reputation as a pass rushing specialist.
But for where he is right now, I'd rather have a maniac who can smell a football out on special teams.
Pete Lieber is a freelance writer and a Philadelphia sports enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter at @Lieber14.
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