• January 17, 2022

Has The Eagles’ Secondary Really Improved At All?

CaryWilliams21In 2012, the Eagles fielded one of the worst secondaries in franchise history.

Nnamdi Asomugha cemented his status as one of the most disappointing free-agent signings in franchise history. Dominique Rodger-Cromartie played completely disinterested and proved to be nothing but wasted potential. Nate Allen was a massive liability who ended the season on the bench in favor of Colt Anderson. Kurt Coleman was the only starter who played hard, but he just isn’t cut out to be an every down starter.

This area of the team was one of many that required a massive overhaul in the off-season, the Eagles brought in plenty of fresh faces, signing Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Patrick Chung, and Kenny Phillips in free agency, and spending late-round draft picks on Earl Wolff and Jordan Poyer.

There are a lot of new names amongst the corners and safeties, but is the talent level good enough to make a difference?

Cary Williams has the right attitude, but he’s not a shutdown corner. He knows how to play hard, and he’ll bring a toughness to this defense that Nnamdi and DRC never had, but he’s also going to give up some big plays and will also draw some pretty dumb penalties.

Bradley Fletcher hasn’t shown much in the preseason. He’s been picked on regularly by both Tom Brady and Cam Newton. Before Training Camp began, I wrote that it was a mistake for this team to come to camp without a viable Plan B to compete with Fletcher for the job. If the former Ram doesn’t pan out, the Eagles are in serious trouble. They don’t have another legitimate starting option on this roster.

Brandon Boykin has looked very good so far, but he’s a nickel cornerback. His skillset is best suited for playing guys inside, and he’s not going to survive if the team is forced to put him on the outside. Taller, physical, elite receivers are going to push him around and abuse him. He’s got to stick to working against guys in the slot to succeed.

What other cornerbacks on this roster have shown any remote promise? Brandon Hughes is a fringe player who shouldn’t be counted on for anything more than special teams duty. Curtis Marsh, a 2010 third-rounder, is about enter his fourth year in the league and he hasn’t shown a thing. Jordan Poyer, a seventh-rounder from this year’s draft, was a guy who a lot of people believed could be a steal, but he doesn’t look like he’s anywhere near ready to step into a starting lineup.

At safety, the picture doesn’t look much brighter. Patrick Chung looks like he’s got one of the starting jobs wrapped up, and he’s been the one guy in this group that I can say I’ve been a little impressed with. Chung has made some nice plays so far, he’s around the ball, he’s broken up some plays, and he looks like a decent tackler. That being said, I’m far from sold on him.

Kenny Phillips, a guy who a lot of people got excited about, might not even make this team. Even back when the Eagles signed him, all along I’ve been skeptical about this signing. And the point I’ve always made is that there’s a reason that Phillips couldn’t command anything better than a one-year deal from the Eagles on the open market last winter. His knee is a major concern. It has caused him to miss significant chunks of practice time, and he’s been almost completely invisible in the preseason.

Phillips’ inability to get on the field is going to force the Eagles to go back to Allen as one of their starters. And sure enough, the former second-round pick has shown no evidence to make anyone believe that this is going to be the year that he figures things out. Nate Allen looks like the same Nate Allen we’ve seen for three years. He’s a cover safety that doesn’t make plays, he’s the definition of soft and can’t tackle, and I’m sure that somewhere down the line this year we’ll hear something about how his knee still isn’t right from the injury he suffered in 2010. In both 2011 and 2012, at some point in those respective years we’ve had to listen to the excuse that Allen isn’t performing well because his knee still isn’t 100%. It’s as simple as this: healthy or not healthy, Nate Allen doesn’t get the job done.

Earl Wolff is the only other safety on the roster that might have a chance to be a player, but he’s not ready right now. He needs some time to develop. Kurt Coleman is what he is. He’s a decent backup, and a good team might be able to get away with hiding him in their lineup. Whether or not he makes the team depends on if the team thinks Kenny Phillips has anything to offer them. Colt Anderson will probably stick around for his abilities on special teams, but he shouldn’t be a factor on defense.

Collectively, when you look at this secondary, the outlook isn’t very good. As refreshing as it will be to no longer watch Nnamdi get torched in coverage and then point the finger at his safeties, or watch DRC give a half-hearted effort week to week, we’re looking at a group that is made up of really mediocre talent. There’s not a name in this group that you can look at and expect to still be starting on this team three years from now. This is a group of guys who bring with them more questions than answers, and I believe that any improvement that we see will be marginal.

Denny Basens is the editor of GCobb.com. Email him at dbasens@ycp.edu, or follow him on Twitter.

Denny Basens

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23 Comments

  • If they can manage to not give up big plays and continue to tackle I will say its improved. Every corner gives up catches even the top notch guys. Our corners just need to make the offense earn the points they get. If a team can consistently put together 14 play 80yard drives then that’s what they are going to have to do nothing easy. Make the opposing qb continue to have to make the right read over and over and give our defense more chances to make a play. Im more concerned about run defense honestly bc that opens everything up if you can’t stop the run.

  • In the first 2 Games, at least in the first half, at least I didn’t see many yards after the catch and sound tackling once a catch was made which is an improvement from last year, but obviously not good enough to actually shut down any high octane NFL Passing offense..
    The run support looked better last week versus the Panthers..
    This Eagke Secondary will be a work in progress, no doubt and the Strength of this 2013 Defense will need to come from their front 7 which was abused Bly the Patriots but played much better versus the Panthers
    Fletcher has looked decent, not great, but not poor either
    Cary Williams just saw his first action last week
    Boykin has been arounmd the ball but has not been able to deal the deal and should had 2 Int’s last week..
    Poyer missed OTA Time due to late Graduation
    At Oregon so he’s probably just now getting comfortable in the System and Marsh/Hughes have brought very little to the table
    Eagles will need to go out and get a veteran CB

    At Safety, Chung has been active and making some Pkays as has Wolffe,
    The others are not NFL Starter Types
    Kenny aphilliod will be another Atogwe from Last year, and just not healthy to practice and play the way he used to..
    Say this about the Giants, they know when to let Pkayers leave due to injuries
    WR Steve Smith comes to mind, RB A Bradshaw is another
    DE Umenyuri another one..
    They seem to know medically when a player is washed up or damaged goods and cut the chord with them..
    I believe a Safety and a CB will be picked up come Waiver Wire Time
    To help Bolster the Eagkes Secondary but the reality is that it will take 1-2 Drafts with high picks (1st thru 3rd Rounders) to get real quality Pjayer on the back end..

    • well put

    • good stuff Paulman…YAC is very good thing to keep an eye on.

      Its too early to say if the secondary is better…However, I will say in preseason the Eagles have had a few sacks which means the pass coverage was pretty good on those plays. How many weeks did the Eagles go consecutively last season without a sack? One thing with Asante long gone, DRC, gone, there’s no corner that I see being a threat for a big play instinctively…possibly Boykins…right place right time INT will happen at some point this season..Secondary doesn’t necessarily have to “lock down” opposing offenses….Can’t expect these corners to cover for 2+ seconds. Gotta use the front 7, send some blitzes…give any QB time against this secondary, its going to be a long game!

  • Waiting for final cuts. Need a least one corner and one safety. Could get ugly, not Bambi and Don’t Really Care ugly but still ugly

  • Yeah one thing about Namdi and DRC very rarely did the opposing #1 set us on fire. They were good cover guys I think the hype that seeps into a star players head makes they try to do too much and make bad plays worse. Think about the last two years. Roddy White and Julio didn’t kill us, Dez? not really, Cruz had his break out game but other than that no Nicks no it was always some 3rd or 4th wide out coming to break our backs. Add poor tackling and that is what our secondary was. I think now #1’s will have great games but at the same time teams will earn their points rather than having these toss up nobody there blown coverage plays.

  • We will need a massive pass-rush for our secondary to have a chance…no pass rush and we are done….however, I do think our defense will improve as the year goes on…we will need the offensive to come up big with Mike Vick and Shady carrying the load!

  • They improved nothing, in the secodary.

    • *secondary*

  • Anything is better than Nnamdi “pussy ass” Asomugha. That guy was a complete joke. And so was Cromartie. I like how Williams got into Steve Smith’s face when we played the Panthers. I will take toughness over arm tackling and finger pointing all day long

  • Nope

  • Nope

  • I have to say I agree with this analysis. I am pissed that we didn’t go in on the Dashon Goldson pursuit. This team needs a safety in the worst way. I don’t know what the class of 2014 looks like but I think right now safety has to be our first round pick if there is a good one available. I would go safety over corner in a tie. I definitely don’t think you draft a WR in the first round next year. Maclin will be decent on a one year prove it deal and you let D Jack go and go get a cheaper FA. He will pout and not give effort if he has to take the pay cut.

  • Of course I would keep D Jack if the numbers are there this year. But I still see him disappearing in games. 60-65 catches is all he will give you if he plays at least 14 games. And if he is not averaging 18+ per catch and putting it in the paint ten times, he is not going to get 10+ million from the Birds next year.

  • Jbird, the only problem with your argument is that Maclin has yet to stay healthy. Unfortunately you can’t depend or project how he will be able to perform when he comes back. Will he be able to mentally make the cuts and breaks because if he is concerned about getting hurt he will not go all out.

    As far as DeSean, why should he take a pay cut when he performs within the offense he is asked to. DeSean will have an all pro year in this system in my opinion. And let me ask you, if you were asked to take a pay cut at yourjob would you be happy about it? I wouldn’t be.

  • DMAN- I could not have said it better!!!

  • I think D-Jax will be fine and in for a strong Season and Future remains solid with the EAgles… Maclin will leave via free-agency and unfortunately coming off a torn ACL in his 4th Year that has seen various injuries and ailments will not be in any position to command a large contract.. Eagles may be able to re-sign him next year on a 1 Year – Performance based Contract.. but I feel that Maclin will move on and sign a short -term Deal with the Rams,Chiefs, Titans, or VIkings and play closer to home .. (St Louis), he’s never been quite enamored with Philly /East Coast per folks close to him..

  • Marquise Lee WR from USC will probably come out for the 2014 draft. He’s a possibilty.
    Never to early to look at draft prospects.
    Anthony Barr OLB from UCLA
    Jake Mathews OT from Texas A&M
    Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville
    Marcus Mariota QB Oregon
    I love Jadeveon Clowney but he will go first over all.

  • A Couple of Moves around the NFL for Teams not happy with Current Rosters

    49ers and Chiefs trade former 1st Round Selections WR
    49ers send WR AJ Jenkins to the Chiefs for WR J Baldwin
    Both Players have disappointed and have not been able to make much of a contribution since being Drafted.. Maybe a chance a scenery for both with bode them well, but 49ers get the big target they were looking for and the Ciefs get a down the field threat that Coach AR was looking for…

    NO Saints released 3 Veterans – WR’s S Breaston & P Crayton along with
    Veteran Back-Up QB Seneca Wallace

    I wish the Eagles would go ahead and cut the chord already on some Veterans that are just not cutting it or good fits for the new Schemes the Eagles are runing.. Be decisive with how your Roster Currently looks nad start making moves to updgrade or release the obvisous Players that are no longer fits with your Program & new Schemes…

    RB Felix Jones, DT Antonio Dixon, LB J Cheney, Safety Nate Allen
    O/L Danny Watkins to begin with
    All these Players are doing is taking reps away from another Player (s) who may have a better fit for what the Eagles are doing moving forward..and by cutting the chord now, these Players may have a better chance of latching on with another Team ..

  • Yes…I would say at this point it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a GREAT secondary, but I don’t think I’m going to see Eagles defenders escorting ball carriers up the field “waiting for the opportune time strike” (which may be in the end zone. lol) Hopefully the front 7 will create enough chaos to make it a moot point. (yeah, I’m optimistic)

  • So here is my Fantasy Football Draft Critique tell me what you think.

    Arian Foster RB Houston
    AJ Green WR Bengals
    T. SMith WR Ravens
    S. Ridley RB NE
    T. Romo QB. Dallas
    D. Richardson RB St. louis Rams
    J. Cook TE Rams
    TY. Hilton WR Indy
    C. Palmer QB Cards
    J. Jones WR/PR Ravens
    S. Moss WR Skins
    J. Edelman WR/RB NE
    J. Tamme TE Denv
    C. Patterson WR MIn
    Seattles Defense
    Seattles Kicker.

    Likes dislikes. i still have one more league but that isnt until sept 1st 10pm.

  • The secondary is getting paid less this year right? So that is a plus.

    • haha…well the expectations most definitely aren’t as high with the CB’s we have now…Which I think is good for this team…No expectations = less pressure…When you consider contract I guess you’d have to side with this current Eagles secondary.

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