Philadelphia Eagles: Breaking Down the New-Look Secondary in 2013
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphia Eagles' secondary was an impenetrable force. It provided a blanket with a coverage radius fortified from sideline to sideline.
Even with questions marks in the fold, that was the thought process this time two years ago after the acquisition of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie.
Let's, once again, reflect on how that panned out...
But only take a moment, because even though the failure of the 2011 project will remain etched in Eagles fans' minds for a long time, the team's secondary has entered a new era.
Out with Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie, in with names like Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips.
These players obviously don't bring the star power and accolades that Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie did.
Prior to signing in Philadelphia, the two combined for four Pro Bowl appearances and 24 interceptions in their careers (however, the duo didn't produce a Pro Bowl-caliber season in their two years with the Eagles).
Between the aforementioned newcomers, they arrive in Philadelphia with zero Pro Bowl selections.
Point is, these guys aren't players who bring much noise with them (except for Williams).
But what they lack in recognition and hoopla, this group of corners and safeties makes up with gritty determination.
Williams is a proven corner who went from a seventh-round pick in the 2008 draft out of Washburn University to a key player in the Ravens' Super Bowl run last season.
And despite his comments and absences from OTAs, Williams has said he'll be ready to succeed in the Eagles' secondary, and his track record should lead us to believe him.
A defensive back who will compete to start opposite Williams, Fletcher is an in-your-face, press-coverage corner.
Fletcher was somewhat overshadowed by the likes of Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins in St. Louis, so he is viewed as an underrated signing by the Eagles (two years, $5.25 million).
However, it's a deal that could pay dividends if Fletcher proves to be a reliable starting presence both in the slot and on the outside.
And by the way, OTAs aren't really Fletcher's favorite. Instead, he's looking forward to hitting during upcoming training camp.
Also at cornerback, expect 2013 seventh-round selection Jordan Poyer to make some noise with his play.
A consensus All-American at Oregon State, Poyer was drafted low primarily because of off-the-field issues and mediocre measurables.
However, this is a guy with a knack for the football (seven interceptions in 2012) and one who could snag an exclusive role at nickel.
In the case of safety, this has been a position that's caused much angst for the Eagles since the team let Brian Dawkins walk after the 2008 season.
Since then, Philadelphia has been missing a sure tackling, physical safety to help against the run. For example, last year the team's starters were Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen, who aren't the most hard-hitting safeties out there, especially the latter.
But now, Chung and Phillips bring a bevy of NFL experience and bigger bodies to the table.
Chung started for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI and has 15 pounds on Coleman. Phillips, despite serious knee injuries that allowed him to play just seven games last year, is a vet who is good when healthy, so he's worth the one-year contract.
And like Poyer, former N.C. State safety Earl Wolff is a rookie looking to get some significant playing time with the Eagles.
Who will make the biggest difference in 2013?
A fifth-round selection in April's draft, Wolff has reportedly made in-roads on starting time, and his hard-hitting nature and sizeable frame (209 lbs) are something Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Billy Davis have to be fond of.
When it comes down to it, Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie will always be remembered in Philadelphia as hyped signings and an example of the "dream team" mantra of 2011.
But with new faces in the Eagles' secondary comes new hope, and it'll certainly be intriguing how things pan out in the secondary in 2013.
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