Last year, for the first time in a long time, the Eagles' pass defense was in the bottom half of the league. Granted, not by much (at 17th), but it's troubling nonetheless.
As was the case with the rest of the defense, injuries took a toll on the guys in the secondary. Even Sheldon Brown, who has never missed a game, came very close to missing time with a few compounding injuries, including a pulled hamstring.
Asante Samuel had an awful stinger at one point, Ellis Hobbs was forced to miss the latter portion of the season due to a neck injury, and Joselio Hanson was indisposed due to a four-week suspension for testing positive for a banned substance—more specifically, a banned diuretic.
Quintin Demps hurt himself during the offseason, opening the door for Macho Harris who was very unimpressive at his new position. Sean Jones also got his shot, but after several unspectacular weeks he was allowed to walk in the offseason and is now in Tampa Bay.
Quintin Mikell was a bit nicked up, but most of his issues came from attempting to play two positions at one time; Trying to make up for the short-comings of the guy next to him significantly hurt his play.
And through all that, the only addition to the secondary was former cornerback/free safety for the Indianapolis Colts, Marlin Jackson. The move is not a splash maker like the Eagles have had in the past, but it's a solid signing of a guy who should be a serviceable starter.
But with no moves at cornerback and no big-name free safety, what exactly do the Eagles think will improve this unit that was so lack-luster in 2009?
Quite obviously, the guys will be healthier. That should, of course, lead to better play. All of these guys have the talent, so that surely won't be the problem. Also, head coach Andy Reid and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott are looking heavily at improving the pass-rush, which should make the secondary look much better than in '09.
But I believe the biggest thing the Eagles are banking on is the addition of new secondary coach, Dick Jauron. Jauron is replacing Brian Stewart who jumped ship to become the University of Houston's defensive coordinator.
Jauron was a successful secondary coach and defensive coordinator before a couple of failed stints as a head coach, so Reid is hoping that he is still be able to effectively teach these veterans something they don't already know.
Jackson will be Jauron's biggest project, as he hasn't played free safety in a couple seasons, but this is why he was brought in. Reid knew that a big-name safety was most likely out of the question, and brought Jauron in to help the transition as smooth as possible and put it all in his hands.
Hopefully said hands are able to work a castle out of a ball of clay.
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