Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz likes Alex Singleton’s linebacker versatility

Alex Singleton. Photo courtesy: Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is a proven guru on his side of the football.

The veteran coach watched former CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player Alex Singleton work his way onto the active roster and provide a major game-changing play for Philly in the team’s Week 4 win on Sunday Night Football.

“I don’t think his interception was his best play on defence. It was great play, it was a great thing for our team, and a great thing for him, but he made a couple plays in the run game I thought that were probably better plays for him,” Schwartz said in a video conference.

Singleton intercepted San Francisco quarterback Nick Mullens for a pick-six to put the Eagles up 25-14 in the fourth quarter and it helped close out a 25-20 victory. It was Philadelphia’s first win of the season and Singleton’s first defensive reps in the NFL. He played 15 snaps, earning a solid 71.3 grade from Pro Football Focus, which tracks and compiles advanced metrics used by a number of franchises in the league.

“Took advantage of the time that he had. He does have some flexibility as a player, he can play outside, can also play inside,” Schwartz said.

“He’s a young player for us. He has good instincts. He was on our practice squad, got promoted, played special teams, had a chance to play a little defence.”

Schwartz believes Singleton can play multiple positions on defence and that could lead to increased playing time. Starting middle linebacker T.J. Edwards has been dealing with a hamstring injury and head coach Doug Pederson said he’s going to miss time. If he’s out of the lineup, that might provide Singleton with a chance to start. Although, missing Singleton on special teams would takeaway a key player from Philly’s units.

“He’s fought through it and waited for his time to come and get an opportunity. All he has ever done with opportunity is make the most of it,” special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said in a video conference.

“He’s been cut by four or five teams in this league. The bottom line is he’s been up and down. He ended up going to Canada and playing up there and then finally got a shot with us.”

The Montana State University product spent the 2015 season bouncing between practice squads with Seattle, New England and Minnesota. He was selected by Calgary in the first round, sixth overall of the 2016 CFL draft. The six-foot-two, 240-pound defender quickly displayed his playmaking prowess, earning two CFL all-star nods and claimed the MODP award in 2017.

“He’s always been a really good football player, really productive. He got a chance to play for us last year on special teams, played really well and helped us out. He’s continued to do that this year, and then he got a chance to go in there on defence, and he went in there and made plays,” Fipp said.

“He’s a great guy, works really hard, he’s passionate about the game of football. He’s fun to be around, he has an energy for it, he just loves playing and it really doesn’t matter what he’s doing. He helped us win that game, which was huge and the most important thing.”

Singleton’s stock is surging in the city of brotherly love.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.