Four Corners: Will the Philadelphia Eagles' Lack of Size Hurt the Secondary?
With all the talk these days in Philadelphia about quarterbacks, safeties and defensive ends, it is easy to forget about some of the other positions that need some attention.
For me, one of the most pressing would be the cornerback position.
Despite playing only four teams with winning records last season, the Eagles still only ranked 17th in the league in pass defense, giving up nearly 217 yards per game.
It is not that the defense was not playing well. They were tied for third in the league with 44 sacks and fourth for interceptions with 25.
But when Philadelphia had to play teams with any kind of offense or who had records better than .500, they suffered.
I know that having another dominant defensive end would help to ease the problems in the secondary, as would a safety over the top who could provide good coverage with the deep ball.
But even if the Eagles were able to obtain these position players this off-season, would it help them against teams like Dallas or New Orleans?
How many more sacks and interceptions does a team need before it realizes that it's corners are overmatched against some of the more dominant wide receivers in the game?
I know one thing, if the Eagles go into 2010 with the same corners they have right now against the opponents and wide receivers they are going to face, they will not be any better than a .500 ball club themselves.
I don't have to remind anyone about the types of offenses these teams wielded in 2009. They will only get better.
Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Joselio Hanson, and possibly Ellis Hobbs are way out of their league here. It will look like the Pro Bowl when wide receivers like Andre Johnson, Sidney Rice, Roddy White or any Colt receiver comes to play.
The actual Pro Bowl was all I needed to see. Schaub and Johnson alone making Samuel look like a rookie was embarrassing as an Eagles fan.
I know the Pro Bowl is just for fun, but we all know that the corners are allowed to cover the wide receivers.
So if the Eagles want to go after Julius Peppers and draft Taylor Mays then they should.
But maybe someone should remind them that some of these offenses are going to force the one-on-one issue.
The Eagles are going to need corners that can actually stop a pass from reaching a receiver once in a while.
Another big problem is going to be the size of the Eagles corners.
Miles Austin pushed the Eagles corners around last season, doing just about anything he wanted.
Marques Colston and Roddy White also just pushed them right off the line.
So how do the Eagles corners compensate for this weakness? By playing off the line.
How does the receiver respond? By hitting them with a quick slant to catch and run for some extra yards.
Samuel is considered one of the best. Despite his problems with pump fakes from the quarterback and double moves by the receivers, he continues to be what the team hoped he would be when they signed him in free agency two years ago.
However, he stands at only 5'10", 185lbs.
On the other side, Brown stands 5'10", 200 lbs. He makes up for his lacks of size and jumping ability with aggressive play and good instincts.
He does not have the speed to recover when a receiver gets behind him, which allows bigger and faster receivers to take full advantage of him.
How many times did Eagles fans watch Plaxico Burress just walk right over Brown for a catch or a touchdown?
Hanson and Hobbs, who are both good corners in their own right, check in at 5'9" and under 190 lbs.
It is crazy.
When Philadelphia had Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent on the team, they were able to mix it up by putting some size out there with some speed.
Taylor was one of the few people I ever saw who was able to get physical and cover Michael Irvin with any kind of success.
If the Eagles continue to take these small quick corners, they are just shooting themselves in the foot.
You need to have a mixture of size to go with your quicker corners and allow them to move across the field to make favorable match-ups.
Darrelle Revis, Nnamdi Asomugha, Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all check in at 6'1" or taller and can be extremely physical with receivers.
These guys are some of the best in the league.
Now you have the Chargers looking to trade Antonio Cromartie.
Note to Eagles front office: Cromartie 6'2" 203 lbs, 41 passes defended and 15 interceptions through four seasons.
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