What Cary Williams Does and Doesn't Bring to the Philadelphia Eagles

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMarch 22, 2013

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 12:  Cary Williams #29 of the Baltimore Ravens lines up on defense against Eric Decker #87 of the Denver Broncos during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 12, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Ravens won 38-35 in 2 overtimes.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

On Tuesday, we took an in-depth look at new Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher to determine how the former St. Louis Ram would fit in with the Eagles. Now, let's analyze fellow newbie corner Cary Williams to draw some conclusions in regard to what he will and won't bring to Philly. 

What he brings...

Big-game experience

Williams started and played a huge role in the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers. He was too slow to get over in zone coverage and missed a tackle on Michael Crabtree's 31-yard second-half touchdown...

But he did a really solid job against Randy Moss and others throughout the rest of that game. 

All in all, he's started six playoff games the last two years, giving up only that sole touchdown to Crabtree while recording a pair of interceptions. He rarely stood out in coverage in those games, but he was never a goat. 

Play-making ability

The Eagles need some guys who can come in and force turnovers. They had only 13 takeaways last season, which was the second-lowest 16-game total in NFL history. And while Williams came into the 2012 season with only three forced fumbles and zero interceptions in 39 career games, he developed a knack for taking the ball away in his second full season as a starter.

Williams had six interceptions in total, with two of them coming in the playoffs. He would have led the Eagles in picks and takeaways. 

He seemed to be in the right place at the right time a lot, particularly on bad passes from Matt Cassel and Tony Romo, but he still possessed good hands and completed the picks. Plus, being in the right place at the right time can require good anticipation skills. 

A great example of that came when he jumped this Travis Benjamin route against the Cleveland Browns for a pick-six...

Same applies to his interception on Andrew Luck late in their wild-card game with Denver. Williams is in the right spot, but he was breaking for that ball before it was deflected by Corey Graham...

Both of his playoff picks essentially wrapped up games. Williams had a lot of trouble with Tom Brady and Brandon Lloyd this season (more on that in a moment), but he had the last laugh with an interception in front of Lloyd in the end zone to essentially send the Ravens to the Super Bowl...

And while the picks he made against Kansas City and Dallas came relatively easy, he still had to make a great, athletic dive to intercept this Brandon Weeden pass, which Jordan Cameron wasn't even looking for...

He also nearly had an interception deep downfield against Darrius Heyward-Bey...

And did an exceptional job deflecting this pass away from Rueben Randle and toward a waiting Ed Reed...

The ability to make tackles and play aggressively 

This is also something the Eagles desperately need from their defensive backs. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha weren't physical enough, but Williams missed only three tackles in 2012 while recording 72.

That made him the league's second-most efficient tackler at the cornerback position, according to Pro Football Focus. In that same category, Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie ranked 41st and 64th, respectively, out of 71 qualifying corners. 

From Baltimore's regular-season matchup with Denver, here's a good example of how instinctual and aggressive Williams can be. Look at the way he breaks on the run and pursues Knowshon Moreno in the backfield for a one-yard loss...

He doesn't shy away from tackles and doesn't back down from receivers. Not many guys have the balls to jam Mike Wallace with this much gusto, especially when they were beaten deep by Wallace earlier in the game...

New head coach Chip Kelly has spoken about wanting this defense to be bigger and stronger. Williams is big, strong and aggressive. 


That video clip from Williams' introductory press conference in Philadelphia reveals the kind of intense, fiery guy he is. He has a chip on his shoulder, a short temper and he likes to jaw. He'll take some personal fouls, but there isn't much you can do about that mean streak. 

Expect to see a lot of this...

In fact, Williams probably should have been ejected from Super Bowl for shoving an official in the second quarter...

What he doesn't bring...

Quality coverage on a consistent basis

Sorry, Eagles fans, but Williams is not a shutdown corner.

In back-to-back weeks in October this past season, Andre Johnson and Dez Bryant combined to catch 10 passes on 10 targets against him. Against those two top weapons and DeSean Jackson, Brandon Lloyd, Eric Decker, Greg Little and Pierre Garcon, he surrendered 34 catches on only 39 throws. For opposing quarterbacks, that's an 87 percent completion clip.

Only four corners gave up more receptions than Williams did during the 2013 regular season, and only three corners surrendered more yards in coverage. Granted, he was targeted a lot, but that's a problem in and of itself. 

After watching tape from the entire 2012 season, I noticed Williams was beat all year long on comeback routes and ins and outs, while often holding his own on slants, posts and flies. That's unusual for a guy who's known for his aggressiveness. 

Brady and Lloyd picked on him in two separate games this past season, but they never got him deep. They just chipped away...

We saw the same thing from Dwayne Bowe, who ate him alive on four separate, eerily similar, medium-length routes in Week 5. All too often, guys were making catches with Williams behind them, like this...

I'm certain that beats the alternative, but he's not breaking back in on routes at a quick enough rate.

He also struggled with Eric Decker and Peyton Manning. His worst play of the season came against the Broncos in Week 15, when Decker crushed him on a double move before Williams seemed to give up on the play altogether...

I did mention that he was relatively good at keeping up with receivers on deep routes, so let's conclude this breakdown with two very nice plays in coverage. The first came when he took Demaryius Thomas into the end zone before outfighting him and knocking it away...

And the second came later in that game, when he did the exact same thing to Decker on a deep ball...

So we're talking about a very capable, confident and instinctive corner who can stick with almost anyone, but gets beat a lot on intermediate routes. It's tough to tell if Williams will provide an upgrade over DRC or Asomugha, but at least it's fresh, fairly young blood. And at least the guy isn't afraid to throw his body around to make plays. 


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