Singleton thinks he's made for Eagles' new defense


Alex Singleton clawed his way into the NFL.

Over the last two seasons with the Eagles, Singleton went from a roster long shot to a practice squad player to a special teams contributor and finally to a starter who led the team in tackles.

The problem: The entire defensive coaching staff that watched his progression and success is gone, so you’d understand if Singleton were a little nervous about this transition.

He’s not.

“I don’t know if it was nervous,” Singleton said this week. “Just excited for another opportunity just to see what it is.”

The good news for Singleton is that he thinks this new defense, led by coordinator Jonathan Gannon, suits him. At least that’s been his impression so far.

While Gannon didn’t offer up many specifics about his defensive scheme last week, he did explain his HITS principle:



Take aways


“They want fast, physical guys who get the ball,” Singleton said. “That’s something I’ve always prided myself on, is no matter where the play is, I want to be on the tackle, I want to be on the hit, not just on the screen. That’s something that the principles of our defense are playing fast, being around the ball, getting to the ball, causing turnovers. Those are things that play well within the way I play. So just being able to improve those with these coaches and the fundamentals, just continue to grow my game that way.”


It took a couple injuries for Singleton to finally see his role increase on defense last season but once the 27-year-old became a starter, he was fantastic. Singleton started just 12 games and still led the Eagles with 120 combined tackles.

In those 12 starts last year, Singleton had an incredible 111 tackles, a pace of 9.25 tackles per game. If he were to keep that pace going for a 17-game season, he’d end up with 157 tackles, demolishing the Eagles’ single-season record and breaking the NFL record.

Tackles are a somewhat subjective stat and aren’t generally monitored too closely, but you get the idea. Singleton was really good for 12 games last year and if he’s anywhere near as good going forward, the Eagles might have found themselves a player.

In 2021, Singleton will likely be a starter along with newcomer Eric Wilson, who has played under Gannon and linebackers coach Nick Rallis before in Minnesota. After that, the Eagles have T.J. Edwards, Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley and some newcomers from the draft.

After he failed to make the Eagles’ initial roster in 2019, Singleton could have easily returned to the CFL, where he was already a star. But he stuck with it and it paid off for him in a big way last year.

But entering this season, Singleton knows he won’t take anyone by surprise.

“More pressure, I think,” he said. “The last 3, 2 1/2 years here, it’s just been kind of just grind and no one’s watching. Now, all you guys are watching and you gotta continue to grind and continue to be better. Having a new staff, new everything, the competition level is even. Everyone is in the same spot. It’s not the same coaches we had last year that put you in and liked you as a player. It’s a whole new staff. Just gotta keep that same hunger, grind, do what I do.”

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