The mystery of what the Eagles' defense will look like in 2011 with former offensive line coach Juan Castillo as its new coordinator is beginning to unravel. Castillo spoke to reporters at Lehigh on Friday after the Eagles' first practice and talked linebackers, among other things.
Rookie Casey Matthews was the starting middle linebacker for the Eagles' first training-camp practice, with Jamar Chaney playing on the strong side. And it seems as if the strong side is where Castillo wants Chaney to stay. From the Philadelphia Daily News' Eagles blog:
But the way Castillo envisions the Eagles' D, the strongside 'backer is going to need to be a very physical presence, which Chaney is.
"We're going to attack and get up the field," Castillo said.
The team has reportedly decided not to bring back oft-injured middle linebacker Stewart Bradley, who is said to be talking to the Cardinals. But instead of handing that job off to Chaney, who manned the middle in Bradley's absence last season, the Eagles are going to keep Chaney on the outside and ... do something else in the middle. Castillo talked up Matthews, and hey, you never know. But no draft analysis I saw ever had Matthews projected as a 2011 starter. So if we read between the lines here, it looks as though the Eagles will pursue a free-agent middle linebacker to start in between Chaney and, I guess, Moise Fokou.
Options? Well, the top middle linebacker on the market is Tennessee's Stephen Tulloch, but Reuben Frank's got a source telling him the Eagles have no interest in Tulloch and not much in Nick Barnett, who was just cut by the Packers. Other highly regarded names on the market include Barrett Ruud, Kirk Morrison, Kevin Burnett and Stephen Cooper. Fair number of options for the Eagles to consider, but for now it appears, from reading the tea leaves, they'll be looking for someone for the middle.