Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

29 Sep 2009

Eagles Sign Jeremiah Trotter Again

Two years ago, Jeremiah Trotter was waived so that the team could play Omar Gaither in the middle.

Today, the team re-signed Trotter, likely to replace or at least support Gaither in the middle.

No word on the corresponding roster move yet, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Jeff Garcia waived.

UPDATE: Adam Schefter confirms that Garcia was waived.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 29 Sep 2009

24 comments, Last at 12 Oct 2009, 9:43am by chemical burn

Comments

1
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:39pm

What, Bednarik wouldn't agree to a contract unless he could come back and also play center again?

2
by chemical burn :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:43pm

This move I don't get - the Eagles linebackers have been, at very least, fine. The one area that they look shaky is pass coverage and I can't imagine any scenario in which Trotter could help out with that. Gaither, Jordan and Gocong (with Tracey White subbing in on the nickel package) has been average-to-good thus far and Trotter had nothing left in the tank when they waived him two years ago...

puzzling.

3
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:09pm

Trotter's problem two years ago was his mobility - his knees were shot. He's hard surgery since then, and a year off entirely (he was with Tampa Bay practicing, though not playing). It's not inconceivable that his mobility has improved, and based on the fact that they signed him and everyone *says* his mobility is way better, it's probably likely.

Will his mobility hold up for a full season? I doubt it. But if they can judiciously use him while he is still mobile, it could be a really good thing.

"The one area that they look shaky is pass coverage and I can't imagine any scenario in which Trotter could help out with that."

Trotter's always been a liability in pass coverage, but he's so good at run support that it does free up the outside linebackers such that they can play the pass a little harder. He's even better when the defensive line in front of him is good, especially the interior, and that's probably the strength of the team, so...

I'm not really excited about the move - more "curious." I mean, it's not completely inconceivable that Trotter basically should've had surgery in the 2006 offseason (or during the season!) and put on IR for a year, but he was just too stubborn to admit exactly much he was limited.

6
by bubqr :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 4:17pm

Gaither is not a physical MLB. I guess they brought Trotter for run downs, leadership, and maybe some ST.

18
by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 11:29am

The only real problem I see with this logic is that Gocong is also pretty terrible in pass coverage - if the idea is to free up the outside linebackers for pass protection, they're just asking Gocong to concentrate on an area of weakness. Also, their run defense hasn't been so bad these past few games to warrant a major change. Really , their defense has been pretty darn good in all phases (the New Orleans meltdown had more to do with horrific starting field position than anything else - and once I see a team stifle NO, I'll fault the Eagles more for their failings in that game), so I'm not sure what you get with Trotter. Their special teams even rank 7th in VOA, so it's not like that area is hurting. Trotter runs the real risk of being a liability - Gaither is ok, which is exactly the ceiling for Trotter at this point (and his basement is "complete disaster")

19
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 3:11pm

"The only real problem I see with this logic is that Gocong is also pretty terrible in pass coverage - if the idea is to free up the outside linebackers for pass protection, they're just asking Gocong to concentrate on an area of weakness."

No, it makes things easier for Gocong. If he has to focus on covering receivers and not biting on play action but still watching for a run, it's much harder than just covering receivers. I don't think Gocong's "fundamentally limited" in his ability to cover receivers - I think he's just still learning.

I don't necessarily think they're trying to improve the 'base performance' of the defense. I think they're trying to increase the flexibility of it. It's clearly a different defensive style with Gaither in there than with either Bradley or Trotter - for one thing, I haven't seen nearly as many safety or corner blitzes as I would expect.

and once I see a team stifle NO, I'll fault the Eagles more for their failings in that game

Why? Just because they're really good doesn't mean that the Eagles won't have to stop them eventually. They are in the same conference, after all.

20
by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 5:53pm

I disagree completely on Gocong - his problem in coverage is the exact same one that Trotter had: a naturally downhill, attacking style and limited/awkward lateral movement from his hips and footwork. He'll just never be very good in coverage. Anytime Gocong ends up in man coverage, that's a huge mismatch in the offense's favor. And he's not much more useful in zone coverage.

Also, I'm not sure that subbing Trotter and Gaither in and out constitutes flexibility, just the ability to switch up weaknesses - and, again, it's not like the defense is playing bad now or Gaither has been some huge liability. To my mind, the biggest weakness in their defense is Macho Harris, who always seems to be in the wrong place and pretty poor in coverage. I'm not sure how adding a MLB who could only be reasonably counted on for run D helps with that situation. If anything, it seems like Gaither's coverage skills become more valuable in light of Harris' early struggles.

And you're being a little nitpicky on my language there in regards to the Saints - of course I'll "fault" them if they lose to them again in the playoffs, but I obviously just meant that until I see someone shut them down, a defense getting outdone by the Saints is par for the course and not necessarily evidence of some huge overall weakness. I think if they Eagles manage to put themselves in a position where they can play them again and then beat them, it will be by keeping it close, avoiding turnovers (especially inside their own 20) and putting a lot of points on the board - not shutting the Saints offense down.

22
by bubqr :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 11:03am

I watch the games at least twice, and I'd like to know which are the plays where you saw Macho Harris being "completely out of position". We haven't seen much of him, which is quite a good thing for a safety. However we have been allowing too many long runs to my liking (Gaither related IMO), and are, like every year, quite poor at covering short areas.
Gocong vs the pass last year (from FOA 2009) : 28 Targets, 63% Success Rate, Ranked 7 among LBs. How can say that he is a liability in pass coverage ? He looked real stiff 2 years ago, but he is improving a lot. I think that he is our best LB (better than Bradley IMO).
Apparently, coaching/medical staff has been really impressed by Trotter's workout, and word is that he looks better than in 05 and 06.
I don't like Gaither taking on Dallas and NY OL in the incoming games. At all. So the Trotter signing might be an upgrade in that sense, and we released Jeff Garcia to make room for him, it's not like we dropped a promising/key player.

24
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/12/2009 - 9:43am

I know no one will ever return to this thread in a million years... but hey, wasn't that fun to watch Gocong get victimized over and over and over again in coverage on Sunday versus the Bucs? And, hey, look it's Macho Harris also getting beaten by Kellen Winslow several times!

I'm just saying: this week's terrible performance in coverage by Gocong was exactly what I was worried about. As a matter of fact, to the extent that the Bucs were in the game at all, it was because Gocong was so very, very bad at playing the pass. But, I guess they shut down Cadillac Williams...

4
by bingo762 :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:17pm

He can also supply much needed help to their special teams. This move can only make them better (marginally), it can't make them worse

5
by JasonK :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:54pm

Garcia has got to be disappointed-- he was so looking forward to wearing those pink cleats...

7
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 4:18pm

I think it's actually probably better for Garcia to be released. The Eagles have a bye week next week, and they aren't practicing, so even if McNabb's iffy now, it's better for Garcia to see if he can get some interest from another team, and if Trotter falls apart at practice, and McNabb's still iffy, if Garcia doesn't have interest they can drop Trotter and pick up Garcia next week.

11
by J.D. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 8:42pm

I don't know what you're insinuating, Terrell.

8
by Red Hedgehog :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 5:46pm

I imagine Gaither was brought in for special teams, goal line stands, and obvious run downs. I don't think the Eagles have had a big problem with those so far, but their backup to Gaither, White, doesn't seem to have any real strengths.

9
by Red Hedgehog :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 5:58pm

I mean Mays, not White. 2nd string LBs are tough for me to keep track of.

17
by bubqr :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 4:38am

ST improved a lot after T.White signing last year.

Plus, he's starting to play as a Nickel LB. The Eagles do like him a bit.

Once again, Trotter has been signed for run stopping purposes, which might be useful when playing the NFC East teams. Gaither is soft.

10
by DavidL :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 6:55pm

I expected this to be a story about Trotter being brought in as a member of the coaching staff, like they did with Pinkston. It never crossed my mind that he'd still be in football as a player.

12
by tonic889 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 9:39pm

Todd Pinkston is a coach now? Good Lord, no wonder Reggie Brown is so awful.

13
by The Human Spider :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 10:06pm

Yet DeSean Jackson is an absolute monster. At least, when he knows where the endzone is...

14
by CathyW :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 10:14pm

Pinkston is a coach? Really?

15
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 10:50pm

Not really. He was a coaching intern during training camp. Not there anymore.

16
by ChiTown11111 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 11:20pm

How can Garcia not get a starting job in a league with Kyle Orton, Shawn Hill, and Kerry Collins starting week-in-week-out?

23
by tuluse :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 12:47pm

39 years old

21
by Xeynon (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 8:30pm

Why? Just because they're really good doesn't mean that the Eagles won't have to stop them eventually. They are in the same conference, after all.

If any team stops the Saints in the playoffs this year, it's going to be by getting homefield advantage and forcing them to play in bad weather on the road in January. In a dome or in good weather conditions they are going to be pretty much unbeatable barring injuries - put them in Lambeau or Giants Stadium or Soldier Field on a 20 degree day with 15 MPH winds, and it's going to be pretty much impossible for them to beat anybody. Their passing game is amazing, but arm strength is not Brees' strong point, and if he can't throw the ball accurately his effectiveness is going to be greatly diminished. Without the passing game, their running game is just average, particularly with Jammal Brown out for the year, and I'm not sold on a defense that's basically had to do nothing so far this year but play soft coverage and go after opposing passers because they've been playing with big leads for most of the year. The Saints really remind me of the '07 Patriots, and it would surprise me to see their effectiveness decline down the stretch the same way that team's did.

Back on topic, I'm not sure how to feel about the addition of Trotter. I don't see how he adds much, as replacing a guy who's a liability against the power rush with a guy who's a liability against the pass just swaps weaknesses as CB says. I suppose it gives McDermott the ability to switch up personnel against a team like the Giants and Cowboys who use different backs in running and passing situations (Trotter against the likes of Jacobs and Barber, Gaither against Bradshaw and Jones) but it's nothing that a smart offensive coordinator or a team with running backs who can do both won't be able to get around fairly easily.

Really, the Eagles' best defensive hope this year is the "Colts strategy" - score a lot of points early and force their opponents to play from behind against their pass rush.