Asante Samuel, what's not to be said about this man who was brought into the Eagles way of life as the top 2008 free agent and gave the Eagles had a beautiful situation with three of the best cornerbacks in the league at their disposal.
However, Samuel isn't always a team player. He tends to stear clear of defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's play calling and his tackling last season is far from desirable.
This 5'10", 185 lb ball hawking cornerback offsets his lack of tackling by making plays in other ways such as registering a total of nine interceptions in 2009 (29 career), which paved the way for his third Pro Bowl appearence.
He's an NFL veteran of eight years who knows how to disrupt the pass once it's in the air. But if he needs to tackle in a one on one situation—I'm placing my money on the other guy more times than not.
I'm not here to down Asante Samuel, the man is an absolute beast at cornerback and makes big plays at the right moment, but 2009 was a very bad season in regards to tackling for him.
Since his style of play is to ease off the receiver and then make a move once the ball is in the air, he often finds himself as open as the receiver himself and tends to hurt the Eagles if he does get exposed.
Back in April, Chris McPherson of the Philadelphia Eagles website team did one on one interview with Asante and questioned whether Samuel was aware of the fans perspective of him.
"That's for you guys to figure out, maybe I'll drop too many interceptions or something (this year)," said McPherson.
I think it is safe to say he doesn't necessarily care about what the fans think of his lack of tackling. He believes that as long as he can produce interceptions and Pro Bowl berths that he should not be questioned on anything else.
So who's right?
Are the fans who say he needs to get that part of his game right correct, does Asante Samuel need to focus more on his tackling in training camp more than being an outright disruptive player against the pass or does his production in other areas offset the tackling?
An even more pressing question is should the Philadelphia Eagles part ways with Samuel as I've seen some fans plead for on other sites. I don't think the Eagles are in any position to even consider such a thing—or are they?
If the Eagles did decide for some crazy reason to part ways with Asante, that would leave the following players (not including any rookies) to man both cornerback positions:
- Ellis Hobbs: 6th year
- Joselio Hanson: 6th year
- Victor "Macho" Harris: 2nd year
- Dimitri Patterson: 5th year
- Geoff Pope: 3rd year
Looking at the list of players there, keeping in mind I didn't include any rookies, the Eagles actually could part ways with Asante if they choose to do so. Ellis Hobbs would then become an obvious starter and I would assume Joselio Hanson and Macho Harris would compete for the other starting spot at cornerback.
Then the Eagles have those unmentioned rookies who are capable of opening enough eyes in training such to be seen fit enough to see additional or extended playing time in 2010 such as fourth round pick Trevard Lindley and undrafted free agents David Pender and Devin Ross.
It would then be up to the front office to determine if with everyone else on the roster at CB, would they be able to survive a full season in the NFC Beast without a proven leader in the secondary.
I'm all for the youth movement this team is partaking in but there needs to be some sort of established veteran leadership among the team and Samuel fits that bill.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out but my guess is Samuel is staying put, he is a happy camper for the most part other than a few differences between himself and Coach McDermott so I expect there to be only one starting cornerback position open for anyones' taking in training camp.
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