August 18, 2017
It's no secret that Mychal Kendricks doesn't want to be in Philadelphia as a member of the Eagles, since, you know, he said so himself in an honest moment a few weeks ago during training camp. The Eagles, meanwhile, would be more than happy to grant Kendricks that wish if a half-decent offer came along.
The problem for both sides is that Kendricks, while intriguingly athletic, has not lived up to his potential on the football field over the last few years. In 2013, his second year in the NFL, Kendricks had 106 tackles, 4 sacks 2 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, and 3 interceptions. He looked like a budding star in the making. Over the next three years, however, Kendricks' numbers declined each year, as his play on the field was erratic, at best.
During the preseason this year, Kendricks has been playing like a man looking to make an impression on the rest of the teams around the league.
"(Putting good performances on tape) is a résumé, man," he said. "We're all just renting space. Like I said to you guys a couple weeks ago, this is a résumé. But it is preseason. It's not going to go in the books for the Pro Bowl, you feel me? So it doesn't count, but everything matters."
Kendricks is having an excellent preseason through two games. He has two interceptions, a sack, and has put a number of other impressive plays on tape, such as a screen he blew up Thursday night against the Bills, and a quarterback pressure that led to an ill-advised throw, ending up as a Ronald Darby interception.
In Jim Schwartz's scheme, linebackers are expected to be able to do everything, but a crucial skill set he requires is coverage ability. While certainly athletic enough to keep up with opposing running backs and tight ends in the passing game, Kendricks' coverage skills are not where they should be. Instead, he is at his most effective when he is able to attack the football. Unfortunately for Kendricks, he was only sent on blitzes nine times in 2016.
In another scheme where he can line up and attack, Kendricks can be a productive, playmaking linebacker. In this one, where he is asked to be reactive to what the offense is doing, he is not as good.
This preseason, the Eagles have allowed Kendricks to attack, and he has shown his value.
"He's been a pro's pro," said Doug Pederson. "He's a guy that's come in every day and it's his second year in the system, so he's really making a lot of strides right there. He's put himself in great positions. He's had a couple turnovers now in these first two games, or some takeaways. It's exciting to see. You know, he's a guy that's very athletic. You can see his athleticism on some of the tackles he makes in the open field. Obviously, you know, Jim used him in a little bit of a blitz package tonight. He can definitely put some pressure on the quarterback. It’s exciting to see where he's at. I’m very comfortable with that, and we've just got to keep them coming."
So Schwartz blitzed Kendricks nine times all last season, and now he's dialing up blitzes left and right for him in the preseason? I wonder why that could be.
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