Philadelphia Eagles: Why I'm Not Yet Sold on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
You're welcome, Philadelphia Eagles fans.
Pat Shurmur and Brad Childress listened, I guess, because no Philadelphia defender was targeted more than Rodgers-Cromartie, according to Pro Football Focus.
The problem for Cleveland—in addition to the fact that rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden was utterly ineffective—was that DRC rose to the occasion in the first game of what is supposed to be a new chapter for him as Philly's No. 2 corner opposite Nnamdi Asomugha.
As per usual, the stellar Asomugha was barely thrown at, leaving Weeden to look Rodgers-Cromartie's way seven times during the game. And on only one of those occasions did he walk away with a completion.
That's why he's PFF's top-ranked corner in the league through one week. But a careful look at what went down on the seven plays in which he was targeted is causing me to temper my enthusiasm.
It's the fourth play from scrimmage all season, and DRC is up against Mohamed Massaquoi. Anticipating a post pattern, he breaks in, biting on a subtle Massaquoi move. He's caught flat-footed as Massaquoi continues on a go-route.
Cromartie is lined up man-to-man on rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin. It's a 3rd-and-9 on what is the first offensive series of both Benjamin's and Weeden's careers.
This is the only pass Cromartie officially gets beat on all day. Again, it's Benjamin running a slant.
Later in the second quarter, Cromartie shows off perfect cover skills and combines that with his ability to make big plays. Again lined up against Benjamin in single coverage.
Five yards downfield...
Déjà vu in the third quarter, with Weeden again taking a shot at Benjamin despite perfect coverage. Again, Cromartie stays right with Benjamin on a stop'n'go pattern.
Later in the third quarter, it's once again Benjamin on the bottom of your screen. The pass rush is strong, and Weeden has no chance to go through progressions, throwing it by default to Benjamin, early on a drag route.
Final offensive play of the game for Cleveland, and DRC is on Massaquoi again. This play would result in a game-ending interception from Kurt Coleman, but you'll see that the coverage from Rodgers-Cromartie isn't that great.
So here's the big question: How much would Rodgers-Cromartie have been beaten by a half-decent quarterback in Week 1? What about a great quarterback?
Joe Flacco is the reigning AFC offensive player of the week. Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin are a little more skilled and dangerous than Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin. That's who DRC will be facing in Week 2. Two weeks later, it's Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. And so on and so on.
I like the job he did on Benjamin, but Rodgers-Cromartie definitely benefited a few times Sunday from the fact that he was facing a pathetic offense running cookie-cutter routes.
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