We don’t get to talk to Eagles linebacker coach Ken Flajole very often, so Tuesday morning was a good opportunity to pick his brain about Nate Gerry, the Eagles’ much-maligned fourth-year linebacker.
Flajole spoke about how important Gerry is pre-snap. How quickly he’s able to grasp how opposing offenses are attacking. How consistently he gets the defense into the right call.
The astute reader will note here that while Flajole raved about how intelligent Gerry is, he never actually said Gerry is playing well.
But he did speak at length about why the coaches feel so strongly about Gerry.
“I think there’s a lot of people that paint Nate in a different light (than the coaches),” said Flajole, now in his 23rd year as an NFL defensive coach. “I’m going to stand up for the guy because he helps us in a lot of different ways that aren’t shown necessarily on game day.”
Just going to interrupt here and point out that game day is kind of important when you’re a linebacker.
But anyway, here’s the rest of what Flajole said:
“His ability to manage the game -- I don’t think you guys realize how much mentally we put on our MIKE linebacker in terms of getting us into the right call,” he said. “When you’re a defensive coordinator in this league, and I’ve been one, so I think I speak with a little bit of experience to this, you know the score, you know the personnel group, you know the time, the field position. But there’s a lot of time you make the call as a coordinator based on those things and an offense comes out and gives you a bit of a different look. And it falls on the MIKE linebacker or somebody on defense that’s out there on the field to amend the call to get us into the right call. And Nate has been really good about that. He gets us into the right call. He thinks ahead of the problem. He can get us out of a bad down a lot of times by adjusting the front or getting us into a check that makes it a little bit easier for us to manage that down.”
Gerry, a 5th-round pick out of Nebraska in 2017, was one of the Eagles’ best special teamers for two years and became a full-time starter last year.
He’s currently on Injured Reserve with an Achilles injury. He’s not eligible to return until the Seahawks game on Nov. 30. He's got a team-high 57 tackles, one sack, four tackles for loss and two QB hurries.
In Gerry's absence, Alex Singleton has played well, and T.J. Edwards, who returned for the Cowboys game after a five-game layoff of his own, has been solid.
“I like Nate,” Flajole said. “I know he’s caught some criticism, but you’re not going to hear it from me, guys. I really think the guy’s been valuable for us and more ways than what has been shown out on the field. It’s unnoticed production by him, but again from the coaching staff we understand what his role is and he’s done a nice job.”
Maybe. But it will be interesting to see what happens when Gerry gets back because Edwards and Singleton have been productive, and the Eagles rarely have more than two linebackers on the field at the same time.
Guess it comes down to whether you prefer noticed production or unnoticed production. The Eagles need to go with the type of production that doesn’t miss tackles or blow coverages.