Eagles Secondary Set for New Heights
The Philadelphia Eagles are enjoying their first offseason as Super Bowl champions. While it feels good to win one why stop there? With great talent on both sides of the ball and great coaching, the Eagles are set to win for years to come. The Eagles defensive line is regarded as one of the best in the NFL, however, the Eagles secondary could soon be regarded as one of the leagues best as well. With a secondary containing an abundance of young talent this unit could develop into one of the best groups, the Eagles have ever had.
For years the Eagles secondary was less than stellar. After guys like Brian Dawkins, Lito Sheppard, and Sheldon Brown left, what once was a strength turned into a weakness. We all remember guys like Nnamdi Asomugha, Nolan Carroll, and everyone’s favorite Bradley Fletcher.
Malcom Jenkins nd Bradley Fletcher still having nightmares pic.twitter.com/ADU8XFvjQd
— Zeke Best RB (@Zeke_Mvp21) August 8, 2016
While these were bad times the current day unit is turning into a strength. Last year there were some rough moments where the Eagles pass defense only allowed 227 passing yards per game. That was the fewest amount of yards per game the Eagles passing defense has allowed since the 2012 season.
Birds of Prey
When the 2018-19 season begins none of the Eagles cornerbacks on the roster will be older than 24 years old. The oldest starter in the secondary will be Malcolm Jenkins at 30 years old. With father time on their side, the Eagles secondary hasn’t approached their full potential. After only playing in one game during his rookie season due to an Achilles injury cornerback Sidney Jones will be returning at .100 percent. With his return, the Eagles hope to have a lockdown corner on one side of the field.
On the other side of the field lets not forget about Ronald Darby. Acquired last offseason from Buffalo Darby suffered an Ankle injury in week one and missed eight weeks but returned to make an impact. He would record three interceptions and although struggling at times in his return still made an impact. He earned a PFF grade of 84.2.
Ronald Darby with the pick and great runback! Maybe this is the spark the Eagles need. pic.twitter.com/vTsmX3Ky6P
— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) December 17, 2017
The other returning corners are Rasul Douglas and Jalen Mills. Douglas earned time early in the season starting four games following Darby’s injury and made the most of it. He recorded two interceptions in those starts. Entering this season Douglas will be in a battle for playing time but the West Virginia product has impressed early on. Standing at 6’2 Douglas has the size to match up with bigger receivers which could prove to be an asset down the road.
Rasual Douglas has responded well to early playing time. He plays this go-route perfectly and Brandon Marshall never has a chance. pic.twitter.com/b1aj7Jz2zq
— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 28, 2017
The Green Goblin
Mills has been one of the more criticized players in the Eagles secondary. The seventh-round pick out of LSU has certainly seen his ups and downs but came of age last season. While he did struggle against the double move the Eagles kept their faith in Mills and it paid off. In the divisional round against the Atlanta Falcons Mills saw a lot of Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu and held his own. The green goblin was targeted four times allowing just reception while Matt Ryan had just a 39.6 passer rating when throwing in his direction. On the season Mills allowed just 18.2% of targets of 20 yards or more downfield to be caught.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) January 16, 2018
The Saint that saved Philly
Since arriving from New Orleans Jenkins has done it all for the Eagles. His versatility with the ability to play the slot corner position and safety has allowed the defense to do so many things. He has provided that Dawkins like leadership that the Eagles have needed. Since arriving in 2014 Jenkins has totaled 337 tackles, 10 interceptions, and four touchdowns. Along with Jenkins safety Rodney Mcleod has also made his impact felt. Since coming over from the St. Louis Rams Mcleod has provided a physical presence that has made a key impact. Together the two have helped this secondary improve as they ranked 17th last year.
Malcolm Jenkins leveled Brandin Cooks and he’s still down.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) February 5, 2018
No Phly Zone
During the draft, the Eagles added to their secondary by selecting cornerback Avonte Maddox from the University of Pittsburgh. Maddox runs a 4.39 forty time and experts said if he was taller he would have been a first-round pick. Maddox appears to have the inside track on the starting nickel back position and will look to impress during the offseason.
The biggest factor favoring the Eagles along with youth is versatility. The Eagles have discussed moving both Mills and Douglas to the safety position. With one of the best defensive lines in the game in front of them if the Eagles are to celebrate a second super bowl look for this secondary to play a major role. With the return of Jones joining Mills, Darby, Douglas, Jenkins, and Mcleod this unit could give opposing quarterbacks nightmares for years to come.
all stats provided from profootballfocus.com and NFL.com
Featured image via flickr/ Keith Allison