Eagles defense might have new ‘joker’ in Genard Avery
The edge rusher lined up as a pass-rushing linebacker three times against the Bears, and was productive in the small sample size he received.
Genard Avery might not be fully up on the Eagles’ terminology yet, but “joker” was probably a term he learned rather quickly.
Avery played only three snaps against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 3, a few days after the Cleveland Browns traded him to the Eagles for a 2021 fourth-round pick.
In those three snaps, he was a “joker,” or a designated pass rusher lined up as a linebacker. The Eagles used Joe Ostman in that role during training camp before a torn ACL ended his season. At 6-foot and 250 pounds, Avery has played both linebacker and defensive end in his career.
“You guys know we did a little bit of that with Joe in the preseason, and [Avery] physically fits that,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “He does have some linebacker skills. He’s a little bit of a hybrid player. We haven’t had a lot of those guys here. He can drop in coverage a little bit. He can play some linebacker. He can rush.”
Avery combined with safety Malcolm Jenkins for a sack on one of his three snaps against Chicago. He had 4.5 sacks last season with the Browns as an end-linebacker hybrid. But the Browns switched defensive coordinators, and Avery fell out of the pass-rushing rotation as the staff shifted to a more traditional 4-3 scheme.
Avery has had time to learn the rest of the defensive terminology during the bye week, but Schwartz wouldn’t commit to Avery’s continuing to come out as a “joker.”
“Week by week, we’ll see where it takes us,” Schwartz said. "Maybe it will be a little bit more; maybe it will be a little bit less. We’re excited to have him, and when he did go out there, he was productive for us.”