Let’s face it: There haven’t been a ton of positives during this miserable Eagles season.
Alex Singleton is one of them.
The former CFL All-Star had to wait his turn to get significant playing time in the NFL, but Singleton has made the most of it during the 2020 season.
“He's always been a good football player,” Jim Schwartz said. “He's still learning. I'm going to quote Bill Parcells: ‘Let's not put him in the Hall of Fame just yet.’ And I say that with a lot of respect for Alex.
“He plays tough and really brings some things to our defense. But he's not 100 percent clean in his game. He'd probably be the first person to tell you that and there's still things that he's developing through and he's still working at. But just knowing him and his character, he's going to work at it to get it right.”
After starting last season on the practice squad, Singleton made the Eagles’ roster in 2020 but it still took him a while to find the field.
Has he done enough to prove he’s a legitimate starter in the NFL?
“I hope so,” Singleton said. “Every week as long as I get to do it, I’m hopefully going to continue to progress, get better and be able to show that I deserve to play more.”
Singleton, 26, made his first NFL start on Oct. 18 against Baltimore and since Nathan Gerry has been on Injured Reserve, he has become the Eagles’ top linebacker. In the two games since the bye week, Singleton hasn’t left the field, playing all 138 snaps in addition to his heavy workload on special teams, where he’s played 50.
So right now, the former CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player is playing more snaps than any other Eagle.
“I don’t think a lot of people know his journey and know just kind of the path he took to get here,” said fellow linebacker T.J. Edwards. “So it’s really you have nothing but respect, and nothing but joy for what he’s doing. He’s up in the competitions in the room and up in the tempo.
“I think him just going out there and flying around and making plays is something we’re all trying to do. As of late you just see him flying around making plays and he’s doing a great job. And that guy deserves 100 percent everything that’s he’s gotten up to this point. He’s a big part of our defense.”
Of course, Singleton’s story is one that began as an undrafted free agent out of Montana State in 2015. He spent some time with the Seahawks, Patriots and Vikings in 2015 and 2016 but never latched on. From there, he was drafted in the CFL and became a star with the Calgary Stampeders. He was the CFL version of the Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and was a Grey Cup champion in 2018.
But Singleton always wanted to make it in the NFL so he signed with the Eagles in 2019. He didn’t make the team last year and had a tough decision to make: Stick around on the practice squad or head back to Canada, where he was already a star.
Singleton decided to stay in Philly. He worked hard and eventually earned a roster spot and this year has earned a starting gig. That comes from hard work.
“It's all about preparation,” Jalen Mill said. “You can tell that he was a guy that in his mind, if he was to get a chance to get in that starting lineup, he wasn't gonna miss that opportunity, and like I said, he's been flourishing.”
In his five starts this season, Singleton has 51 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFLs, 4 QB hits and 1 FR. And a couple games before he began starting, Singleton had that huge pick-6 against the 49ers.
The Eagles have neglected the linebacker position for too long but it looks like they finally found a cheap option who can play. Will he be in their long-term plans at the position? Hard to say. But he’s certainly earned the right to play right now. And even when Gerry returns from IR, Singleton shouldn’t lose his job.
It doesn’t sound like much, but at least Singleton is a positive in a season of misery.
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast: