Prince Amukamara and the Worst Defenders in the NFC East
The NFC East is known around the football-following world as an inveterate cage for competition. Year after year, this division produces steely rivalries, fierce matchups, and oftentimes, teams that run deep into the NFL postseason.
But no team is without its weak links, and the powerhouses of the NFC East are without exception. Though the Giants, Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins vary with success on the defensive side of the ball, each team has a handful of bad defenders.
Let's count off the weakest defensive starters and role players in the division.
Brandon Merriweather, SS, Washington
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Perhaps it's both unjust and surprising to place Merriweather on this list. It's unjust to denigrate the former Bear because he's just that—a free agent transfer who has yet to play a single game in the East; it's surprising to see a former first-round pick and a notably hard hitter.
But Merriweather has been bouncing from team to team of late, his reported attitude problem and locker room negativity coinciding with his disappointing play. Still, he is slated to start for the 'Skins in 2012.
In nine games in Chicago last year, Merriweather's success count—a statistic used to tally positive impact plays—was a paltry two. He's built a reputation for struggling in coverage and has a penchant for personal fouls.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Philadelphia
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Like most of Philadelphia's 2011 season, Rodgers-Cromartie failed to meet massive expectations.
The touted corner was traded to the Eagles for then-coveted quarterback Kevin Kolb, but in his first season in the East, he struggled mightily.
Out of the nickel spot, Rodgers-Cromartie failed to record a single interception, gave up plenty of long receptions, and finished with a disappointing 26 percent win probability.
Rodgers-Cromartie is undoubtedly talented and may improve in 2012, but for now, he's in the East's doghouse.
Kenyon Coleman, DE, Dallas
Despite appearing in all 16 games for Big D, 2012 starter Kenyon Coleman recorded just one sack last year.
Coleman failed to force a fumble and notched just two quarterback hits. In a system that is so successful in pressuring the QB, he appears to be slacking.
Mike Jenkins, CB, Dallas
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Jenkins appears to be a microcosm of everything that is the Dallas defense: loose-lipped and extremely ineffective in the vertical pass defense.
Jenkins struggled big time against the East's best wideouts, and the Cowboys' secondary was horrid in 2011.
Jenkins has since been relegated to fourth-string corner, sitting behind rookie Morris Claiborne. He had just one interception last year.
Brodney Pool, SS, Dallas
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Seen largely as a short-term stopgap for the Cowboys' secondary woes, Pool has debilitatingly limited upside and was immediately placed on this list.
Pool had a lowly 37 percent win probability in 2011 with the Jets, and Pro Football Focus actually gave Pool a negative rating for the season. In the past three seasons, Pool's "penalty ranking" on PFF adds up to minus-1.5.
Orlando Scandrick, CB, Dallas
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Like Jenkins, Scandrick seems to have lost playing time for next year as a result of 2011's poor output.
In 2010, Scandrick's catch percentage per coverage snaps came in at 17.16 percent, good for bottom 20 in the entire league.
2011 was not much better, as Scandrick came away with just one interception in 13 games. He was notably dominated by Victor Cruz in the Week 17 loss that crowned the Giants as division champions.
Finding so many members of the Cowboys secondary on this list is a true testament to their pass coverage futility in 2011.
Prince Amukamara, CB, New York Giants
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Even world champions have their weaknesses.
Amukamara was a 2011 first-round selection from Nebraska, but has thus far failed to live up to expectations. In his rookie season, Prince's win probability stood at just 10 percent, and he had just three pass deflections and one interception in limited appearances.
Prince was often targeted covering the slot, allowing a whole bunch of long passing plays.
Fortunately, he has plenty of time to improve upon a lackluster debut.