“With the 46th pick, in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select…Mychal Kendricks!”
These words proclaimed by the great Brian Westbrook, as he was the honorary announcer for the Eagles’ 2nd round pick. Glory and tradition aside, the selection made by Andy Reid and co. would somehow shape the course of the season for the 2012 defense.
So far, Mychal Kendricks, aka the Angry Bird, has been on a roller coaster ride through his first nine games.
Kendricks, drafted at age 21 out of Cal–the same school as DeSean Jackson–has excelled at times in these first nine games, both in coverage and in run defense. According to NFL.com, Kendricks has recorded 33 tackles, four pass deflections, and one sack. Said statistics seem minor, yet where the numbers write the novel is with opposing Tight Ends.
To this point, the Eagles have faced notable TEs Ed Dickson/Dennis Pitta(BAL), Martelus Bennett(NYG), Tony Gonzalez(ATL), Jimmy Graham(NO), and Jason Witten(DAL).
Against Baltimore, Kendricks and the Eagles’ Linebackers struggled against off the Tight End duo, as Dickson and Pitta combined for seven catches, 88 yards . However, when facing Eli Manning and the Super Bowl Champion Giants, Kendricks shined and had arguably his best game of the season. He played proactive, smart coverage, and Martellus Bennet sulked to one catch for two yards.
Even against the greatest Tight End in NFL history, Kendricks was no slouch. His unexpected sangfroid against Gonzalez was admirable, and in spite of Atlanta’s offensive dominance, he held Gonzo to three catches, 29 yards. In New Orleans, however, Kendricks was shot back down to Earth, as Jimmy Graham lit up the Eagles for eight catches, 72 yards, and one TD. Last week, Jason Witten had a less extreme encounter with Kendricks, going for eight catches, 47 yards.
Overall, these six TEs averaged five catches, 53 yards. Said averages are mediocre, in appearance. One must take into account the mix of overages from week-to-week, and Kendricks had help for some of these assignments, and was not designated to the opposing Tight End other weeks. The switch from Juan Castillo to Todd Bowles is also a factor, as tweaks in the scheme needed time to be adjusted to. He seems to have hit the “rookie wall” in recent weeks, and will have to navigate his way around it.
All in all, a judgement on Kendricks cannot be fairly determined, as there were various variables that affect any assessment of his play. So far, he appears promising, talented and athletic. It may take until sometime next season to properly evaluate whether this selection was a good one or not.
One thing is certain: he, along with DaMeco Ryans, has significantly increased the athleticism and leadership of the linebackers. They now have a fire about them and have significantly improved from 2011.
If only the line could wake up out of its coma. If only the secondary knew that you have to tackle the ballcarrier to en the play.