Desperately needing help at linebacker, the Philadelphia Eagles added a projected starter to the position by signing Kyzir White.
In order to learn more about Philly’s new defender, I thought it’d benefit Bleeding Green Nation readers to get some insider insight on him. And so I contacted Michael Peterson of Bolts From The Blue. Here’s what the representative from SB Nation’s Los Angeles Chargers blog had to say.
1 – How would you recap White’s time with the Chargers?
White came to the Chargers as a converted safety, the position he played for several seasons at West Virginia. He put on 15-20 pounds prior to the 2018 regular season and won a starting job that he kept for roughly three games before going down with a season-ending surgery.
After struggling to stay on the field consistently during the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, White finally saw the breakout season we all knew he was capable of in his first season within Brandon Staley’s new 3-4 defense. He was a bonafide leader on the defense, even with superstars Derwin James and Joey Bosa playing on the same team. His passion and energy was infectious and his play truly kept the Chargers hanging around some games they maybe had no business being in.
2 – How do Chargers fans feel about the team not re-signing him? Right move to let him go?
Chargers fans, including me, are quite dumbfounded that the team did not re-sign White, especially after seeing him sign for a very manageable $5 million. Without White, the Chargers’ linebacker room is extremely shallow and almost devoid of any really impactful talent. As it stands, you’re looking at Kenneth Murray, Drue Tranquill, Nick Niemann, and Amen Ogbongbemiga. That’s an issue.
While the team has made a handful of very smart moves to reinforce the unit ahead of this upcoming season, it just seems so questionable that they are completely ignoring an entire position on the field. If you believe in the old saying, “You’re only as good as your weakest player,” then the Chargers aren’t doing themselves any favors by moving on from White.
3 – I saw you praised White as the Chargers’ biggest pleasant surprise from the 2021 season on BFTB. Why do you think it took him time to emerge and do you view him as an ascending talent?
As I mentioned above, White started for the Chargers immediately as a rookie. He snagged his first career interception against the Bills in week three of that season just minutes before he succumbed to a season-ending injury. That knee injury plagued him for two more years before he was given the chance to lead the defense once again in 2021. Now over three years removed from the initial injury, White looked revitalized and locked in all season long. Whether it was the time passed or simply the new defense he was playing in, White looked much more comfortable and that comfort allowed him to play in another gear we had yet to see from him up to this point.
4 – What are his strengths?
White’s athleticism really shined this past season as a former collegiate safety. He’s been a hard-hitter since his days at West Virginia and while he’s not laying the boom as often these days, he’s really come into his own as a run-and-chase linebacker at the professional level. I think the biggest thing that White improved on this past season was simply being a reliable and consistent player every time he’s on the field. Blatant mistakes were few and far in between and he became the type of player where if he didn’t make at least one splash play to amp up the defense, it was considered an “off” day for White.
5 – What are his weaknesses?
Despite improving quite a bit in the area in 2021, White struggled mightily in coverage in 2020. He was among the top-10 of linebackers in terms of yards allowed in coverage throughout that campaign which didn’t pair well with Kenneth Murray – a rookie at the time – who also was amongst that same top 10. So this may be a stretch to touch on, but I would just be wary that his improvement in 2021 could just have been a one-year thing.
If I had to name something else, I’d say White could still improve on taking on blockers at the point of attack. Weight-wise, he’s still floating around 230 pounds and he’s never been someone to seek out contact between the tackles. He makes his best plays when he’s able to scrape over the top and beat blockers to the spot with his speed and athleticism.
6 – Anything to know about him off the field?
I don’t have much to say for this one, which in the NFL is usually a good thing. White is a model player off the field. He’s active on social media and truly loves his fans. He’s never been in trouble with the league and has consistently been one of the most fun players to talk to when he’s at the podium. Eagles fans are going to love this guy.
BLG’s take: Signs point to White being a savvy addition. He’s coming off a career year as he only recently turned 26 years old. He seems to be an ascending talent. That Chargers fans are annoyed with losing him is another positive indicator. Howie Roseman’s dubious track record of free agent linebacker signings understandably tempers excitement for the White signing. But with a contract reportedly worth up to $5 million, the Eagles are spending more than they typically do at this position. The one-year nature of this deal mitigates the risk if White flops. If White plays well, the Eagles can re-sign him to make him a long-term fixture or allow him to walk in free agency to help their compensatory pick formula next offseason. All told, it’s hard to dislike this move. The Eagles are making a good bet on a player who can potentially be a nice starter for them.