After a second consecutive poor defensive performance, the Eagles have decided to shake up their defense with some new blood. Kurt Coleman and Casey Matthews have been benched with Brian Rolle and Nate Allen replacing them in the starting lineup. In the case of Allen, the Eagles second round pick from 2010, it was always fairly likely that he would crack the starting lineup once he got healthy enough. Allen had a strong start to his rookie year last season, before injuries slowed him and eventually ended his year prematurely.
As for the linebackers, Rolle played well in limited snaps last week, but this is a case of them replacing one smallish rookie fourth round pick with another smallish rookie sixth round pick. That said, despite his size Rolle is more athletic and stronger than Matthews. He had the fourth most bench press reps among LBs in the 2011 draft class. Rolle also flashed some impressive coverage ability breaking up a pass last week while matched up one on one against the Giants TE.
Jamar Chaney was asked today what about Brian Rolle has impressed the coaches?
"Just getting to the ball," he said. "When you're a linebacker and you go out there, no matter how many opportunities that you get and no matter how you're doing it, as long as you're getting to the ball and making plays, that's what you need to be doing."
Oh and he does know how to get off a block as well...
So while the Eagles are replacing youth and inexperience with more youth and inexperience... it is good to see them at least acknowledging that changes need to be made. And in the case of Nate Allen, we at least have a player with a good pedigree who has some real upside.