Mychal Kendricks enters his second year in Philadelphia with much of the Eagles fanbase keen to see what he can do in Chip’s new versatile Defense.
Many have commented on his size being an issue with Kelly preferring taller players at LB (in-particular SLB), in-fact Mychal himself was quoted as saying, "the only mismatch you can really say is me being the size I am. But I think I’ve proven worthy of any situation."
How much of an impact will Kendricks have in his second year is the question that Chip no doubt wants answered. 2012 as everyone knows was a pretty disastrous year for the Eagles on the whole, Kendricks generally speaking actually had quite a good year, not perfect by any stretch but there is no denying that he should definitely consider his rookie year to be a successful one.
I’ve got to look at him statistically speaking, I love me some stats and whilst a few numbers do leave some cause for concern again Mychal didn’t fair all that badly as an LB in the NFL.
His biggest issue is missed or broken tackles which PFF took a look at him and saw that he managed to miss 14 whilst making 65 solo tackles. He may have not had the most missed tackles overall on D, but as a Linebacker he did in fact have one of the highest figures in the NFL in terms of missed tackle percentage rate. Simply put a few other LB’s had a similar amount of missed tackles, but they made more solo tackles too hence why Kendricks tops the list.
As for the positives, he managed to finish third on the team when it came to tackles and second only to DeMeco on tackles for loss. I love a good tackle for loss, a sack is great, but there’s something about watching an LB or DB or anyone on the D for that matter smashing into an RB/WR three or four yards behind the LOS. I guess it brings back memories of Brown’s hit on Bush all those years ago, monumental doesn’t really cut it when you watch that play.
Looking back at the past five years of Tackles for Loss (TFL) or ‘Stuffs’ 2012 was one of our best seasons for it. Ryans managed more stuffs than the two best LB’s for TFL’s in 2011 combined, 2010 combined, 2009 combined and as you’re about to guess 2008 combined. 14 tackles for loss was a massive achievement for him. What about Kendricks? Whilst his figure stands at just 4 TFL’s he’s still in good company. In 2011 our two best TFL LB’s were Chaney who got 6 stuffs and Rolle who managed 4. 2010 saw Chaney again feature this time with 4 then Bradley with 4 also. Omar Gaither was our best TFL LB in 2009 and 2008 with Gocong coming in at second again in ’09 & ’08.
What about the magical missed tackles? Kendricks did have a good few, fourteen in total for all of 2012, that’s actually the highest figure of missed tackles from my sample period of 2012-2009 for any single player included in the graphs below. As ever stats don’t tell the whole story and whilst 14 missed tackles is a large figure it’s by no means the worst statistically speaking. Ryans quite comfortably leads the list with only 0.76% of snaps ending in him missing a tackle. Kendricks number is slightly inflated in fact it is nearly double that of Ryans at 1.47%. You can see where he sits in the graph below.
It may not make for overly-inspiring reading, but the more snaps you feature in the more tired you’re going to get over the year (Ryans just being a freak of nature not only topped the list but also featured in the most snaps of any LB’s in my sample period) and Kendricks had managed to play in a tiring 955 snaps. Witherspoon just ahead of Kendricks featured in less than half that amount of snaps, a total of 463 snaps I wonder how much higher that percentage would have been if Witherspoon played twice as much in 2009 like Kendricks did in 2012?
How about tackles that he did make? Again another graph below and another simple comparison adding the missed tackle figure and the total tackles and seeing what percentage of that total was purely missed tackles.
A little bit better, Rolle and Bradley clearly had issues with missed tackles at least Kendricks avoided the 20% barrier all be it by just 3%. One thing you cannot miss is DeMeco Ryans who once again storms ahead and despite having eight missed tackles last year, it pales in comparison to the amount of tackles he made and the amount of snaps he featured in (over 1000).
Delving deeper into Kendricks game by game I hear many talk about his production tailing off, just how much did it tail off? In terms of missed tackles if anything he improved on the year. In the first 8 games he missed a total of ten tackles (he actually only played seven of the first eight games), in the second stretch he only missed four tackles. His worst game coming against Pittsburgh, missing SIX tackles. In terms of tackles and Stops’, or tackles that resulted in no additional yardage after the point of contact, again Kendricks improved when comparing the first and second half of the season.
My final question for now is whether Kendricks was more dominant as a WLB or SLB? In terms of tackles successfully made, his best position was the strongside, whilst stats are not a true representation of this even on tape you can see that he was naturally a better player when he lined up on the strong side (despite many still thinking he would have been better at WLB). Many, to this day, still argue that the Eagles should utilise him at the WLB as his skillset (height) is not suitable for a generic SLB position and yet 2012 has proved that he is more than capable of sitting at SLB and making plays, granted he has blown some at the same time but everyone does and again bringing you back to the charts above he has been by no means horrendous in this aspect.
Kendricks is one of those players I started looking for early on last season, he made some big plays and he has the potential to be a star LB if utilised correctly. Reid got a lot from Kendricks and as a result he featured prominently in the Eagles D don’t expect Chip to change that. Kelly may move him to what many consider a more natural WLB fit, but I think leaving him at SLB despite the issue with height and general size is the better option either way I think Kendrick’s second season will surpass what we saw of him in year one.