On Monday the Eagles received the news that rookie LB Jordan Hicks would miss the rest of the season after being placed on IR for a left pectoral tendon tear. Hicks apparently suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Birds 33-27 overtime win against the Dallas Cowboys.
Taken in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Hicks has been a solid playmaker for the Eagles on defense after seeing his playing time jump due to injuries to the rest of the inside-linebacker corps. In eight games Hicks has 50 tackles, one forced fumble, a sack and two interceptions, including the one he had in the 4th quarter of the Eagles win against the Cowboys that he took into the end zone.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) November 9, 2015
In light of Hicks’ injury, the Eagles will have to rely on Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans, the three-man LB rotation they had originally planned on using before the season began, to get the job done.
Which means of those three, Alonso is the one who is going to have to step up and show what he can do.
When Alonso came to Philadelphia in the LeSean McCoy trade with the Buffalo Bills, it was with much fanfare from head coach Chip Kelly and a move many saw as an solid upgrade for the LB corps. Despite missing the entire 2014 season with an ACL tear, he showed a great deal of promise during his rookie campaign, where he had 159 tackles, one forced fumble, a sack and 4 interceptions.
Unfortunately, Alonso has seen little action this season since he was hurt in Week 2 and only returned to the field this Sunday against the Cowboys, and even then in a limited role. In the three games he has played in, Alonso has eight tackles, no forced fumbles and one interception.
Yes, that one interception was a spectacular catch in the Eagles season opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football, but other than that, much like the rest of the rebuilt roster, Alonso has been average at best.
Needless to say, that isn’t going to cut it in the Eagles want to have any hope of winning the still wide-open NFC East.
The loss of Hicks is a huge blow to the Eagles defense, that cannot be understated. The numbers he was putting up and the way he left everything on the field had many thinking Hicks was a definite possibility for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
That kind of production or presence is not going to be easy to replace.
So it will fall to Alonso to show that Kelly trading for him was the right thing to do and that he deserves his place in the inside linebacker rotation. There can’t be any excuses or honeymoon period with the linebacker corps so thin. Alonso will need to step up now and show what he can do starting next week when the Eagles face the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in South Philly.
Everyone is already aware of what Kendricks and Ryans can do and how good they can be when they are 100 percent. Both have more than proven they have what it takes to win games and make the big plays. Right now, Alonso is still the x-factor.
So it’s time to put up or shut up for Kiko Alonso.