Despite a defense that rated 32nd in passing yards allowed in 2013, the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t make any major attempts to upgrade this unit. They passed on Pro Bowlers like Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward in the open market, and didn't address the secondary until the fourth round.
General manager Howie Roseman brought in veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins to take over for free-agent bust Patrick Chung. Cornerback Nolan Carroll was added for depth, and the NFL draft yielded role players in cornerback/safety Jaylen Watkins (fourth round) and safety Ed Reynolds (fifth round).
That means defensive coordinator Billy Davis will again need to coax his secondary to overachieve, as many of the players did a year ago. The unit did finish last in passing yards allowed, but the Eagles also saw more passing attempts than any other team. They finished 14th-best in passing touchdowns allowed, and the team actually cracked the top 10 in interceptions.
On multiple occasions, the Eagles made a game-saving play in the final minutes. Brandon Boykin was frequently the hero, leading the club with six interceptions and coming up with the winners against the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.
The team will be putting forth roughly the same secondary in ’14 that it did in ’13. Last year, the team won the division, so an argument could be made that it was good enough to get Philly to 10 wins and a home playoff game. But the Eagles were exposed in the playoffs, particularly when dime cornerback Roc Carmichael had to fill in for Cary Williams for a play.
Here’s a look at what can be expected from Philadelphia’s secondary in 2014, beginning with a look at the projected starters at cornerback and then safety.