Gocong Doubtful, Moise Fokou to Get First Start

Written By Bob Cunningham On Friday, November 06, 2009

The rookie must be at his best against the Cowboys.

With starting SAM linebacker Chris Gocong doubtful for this week's divisional showdown with the Cowboys, rookie and former seventh-round pick Moise Fokou is in line to get the first start of his NFL career.

Gocong is probably the most under-appreciated player on the Eagles' defense. He doesn't have the flashy plays -- the sacks, the interceptions, or the 15-tackle games -- but until Witherspoon arrived via trade a couple weeks ago, Gocong was was the only three-down linebacker this team had.

It may not sound like a whole lot on the surface, but having a guy who can play all three downs are invaluable. The ability to play the run and pass is something the Eagles linebacking corps was lacking, and Gocong was the closest thing they had.

He may get beat by the premier tight ends every once in a while, but he's a smart football player and is very rarely ever out of position because of it. His intelligence has been a great asset to the defense, but now they're losing that for a very important game this week.

The rookie Fokou has much more raw talent than Gocong, but he does not have the football intelligence that Gocong possesses. It's something that a player acquires throughout their career, and Fokou just does not have the experience.

He's been very good as a special teams player, but even during the rout of the Giants Fokou was responsible for giving up the touchdown to Kevin Boss before halftime. If he can't cover Boss, he will have no chance against Jason Witten, who may be the very best tight end in the league. Because of that, Sean McDermott is going to have to devote a safety to covering Witten.

It's not the ideal situation by any stretch, but this defense is good enough to make it work while the rookie goes through some growing pains.

Hopefully Gocong will be back soon, but until then McDermott will have to find a way to put the rookie in the best position to succeed without asking too much from him. He will not be able to do the same things that Gocong did, but he's on this team because they have confidence in him in this situation.

Cross your fingers and hope we've got something in the rookie, or it could be a very long day for the defense.

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