Philadelphia Eagles: Time For Marcus Smith To Prove Himself


The catastrophe which has been the Philadelphia Eagles first two games has innumerable offenders at whom to point the finger.

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The good news is there’s at least one player who can’t be blamed for his performance on the field.

The bad news is that it’s because he hasn’t been on the field yet. That could change on Sunday.

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A year-and-a-half after the Eagles shocked most football pundits by reaching to select Marcus Smith 14th overall – and two weeks into a season where he’s remained on the sidelines as a healthy scratch – the moment may have arrived to at least suit up and prove himself against the Jets.

Not by merit, but by default, after the team lost both starting inside linebackers (Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso) against the Cowboys. Yet it’s an opportunity nonetheless.

Depending on the results (plus how quickly the aforementioned heal), his first real chance could also be his last. Already on a short leash as it is, Smith had better hope that his extra time immersed in the playbook and as a sideline observer translates to production where it counts.

However, head coach Chip Kelly seems to be doing his version of filibustering, which speaks volumes for his apparent lack of confidence in Smith. Instead of simply sliding him in using the “next man up” mantra, Kelly re-signed Najee Goode – yet another in a long list of current Birds who missed all of last season to injury – off the scrap heap and moved veteran special teamer Brad Jones back inside.

The flip-flopping will apply for Smith, too, per Matt Lombardo at, as he reverts over to the outside again after being switched to the inside himself during his limited time on the field last year. This can’t be all that helpful for a young player already under the microscope whose confidence is likely shaken as he works to figure out his place on the roster. Consistent reps are key.

With Connor Barwin a three-down guy and  Brandon Graham (himself a former first round redemption project) being paid like one, it begs the question whether even the absences of Kendricks and Alonso will be enough to give Smith an extended look.

To his credit, he did show flashes the last time he suited up back in the Eagles’ first preseason matchup against the Colts nearly six weeks ago, including good mobility and a pass deflection. However, any positive momentum was thwarted when he subsequently hurt his hamstring. He hasn’t played another snap since.

All of this leads to a potential indictment of Kelly and others on the Eagles’ brass, as arguably just one selection of out 13 – Jordan Matthews – can be considered a home run so far over the past two drafts. Considering how the season has played out to date, the last thing Kelly needs is yet another personnel decision second guessed right now.

With a relatively small sample size, only time will tell if that’s a warranted rant to explore down the road. A productive showing by one Great Unknown on Sunday, though, could go a long way in redeeming both the player and the man who drafted him.

But first, the player simply needs a chance.

Next: 5 Biggest Problems With Eagles Offense

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