So McDermott is finding Fokou to be less than that?
"Absolutely not, absolutely not," he said. "Moise still has a lot of good football in front of him. We're talking about a very young football player in the NFL right now. He's done some good things, he's very physical, and his best football is ahead of him . . . [demoting and promoting] really goes with the territory. If you've been around sports long enough, this happens all the time. At the same time, it's a challenge for Moise or the player in question to rise up and respond to the challenge."
This is a season of change for the team overall and the defense in particular, but the new paint is probably a bit stickier on McDermott's linebacking project than anywhere else. Weakside starter Ernie Sims arrived in the offseason from Detroit. Bradley missed last season with an ACL tear. Fokou was a seventh-round rookie last year who started out as a reserve in the middle and ended up starting four games at SAM. Jordan, the WIL starter when last season began, lost that spot to since-departed Will Witherspoon. Although he hasn't played much on the strongside, Jordan does have 37 games of Eagles experience, more than Bradley, Sims or Fokou.
Then there are the rookies, Keenan Clayton (fourth round) and Jamar Chaney (seventh round). Oh, and Tracy White is back - the linebacker and special-teams ace, who was allowed to walk into free agency, walked back into Lehigh over the weekend, the Eagles signing him after trading Joe Mays to Denver.
How is McDermott going to keep all these moving part sorted? How are decisions made on the moves up and down?
"We evaluate every rep, practices and games included," he said. "How you play when the lights are on is the bottom line. It all factors into the overall equation of us making the decision, and coach Reid making the final decision here. I want to see guys come out each and every day and take each and every rep and play our brand of football."
Jordan said the switch in sides was no big adjustment.
"SAM and WIL are pretty much the same," he said. "If you know the SAM, you pretty much know the WIL. It's just different run fits."
You'd think the SAM would be lining up over the tight end more; Jordan said that's true, but that in some Eagles looks, the WIL also can be over the tight end. Does Jordan like playing SAM as much as he did WIL?
"I like playing," he said.
This is an excellent point, given that Sims is very solidly entrenched at WIL right now.
"It doesn't matter if I love the position," Jordan said. "They put me at d-end, wherever, you're just trying to compete."
Getting switched around "is a challenge," he conceded, "because you've got to pay attention to every spot . . . you've got to leave all the distractions outside. You've got to focus in on every detail that they say to each position."
Does it seem a bit chaotic right now?
"In camp, you really don't know where you stand, until the season," he said. "And still then, you don't know where you stand [from week to week]. It's all about production, making plays, doing all the necessary stuff to help win."
Fokou didn't seem shocked or taken aback.
"First day, they told us the competition here was going to be very high, come in here and give it your all, and we're going to find out what happens," he said. "Like I said in the OTAs, 'I'm the starter for now, on paper.' In camp, things can happen, and we're going to see what happens at the end of camp.
"We have a lot of talent out there; we just got Tracy White back. [McDermott is doing] a little bit of shuffling around and trying to see what works best right now."
McDermott was asked why he thought SAM was a good fit for Jordan, listed at 6-1, 230 to Fokou's 6-1, 236. (Yet, in person, Fokou is noticeably taller and slimmer.)
"He's played there some in the spring, and early on in his career he may have touched the spot once or twice when I was his linebacker coach," said McDermott, who took over the defense a year ago. "Really, he's been a MIKE or a WIL, mostly a WIL up to this point. He's got a good feel for the game and instincts to go along with it, and that's what we're banking on, that he can make the transition. Really, he's been taking the mental reps at that position even before physically we made the move at this time."
Neither Jordan nor Fokou excelled in pass coverage last season. McDermott is hoping a healthy Bradley in the middle will help change that equation, though; Bradley is 6-4, 258 and seemingly more fluid running with receivers.
"Look, he's a guy that I would think offenses have to game-plan against," McDermott said. "If not now, then they will in the future. He's tough to throw the ball over, he's got sideline-to-sideline range, and he's tough to block because he's 250, 255 pounds."