Post Season Review… Secondary
- Updated: January 4, 2015
The past defense, the last three seasons have been abysmal and must be addressed. In 2012, the Eagles gave up a league leading 33 touchdowns and had the second lowest takeaway total in NFL history. In 2013, the Eagles pass defense gave up 4,633 yards and 25 interceptions which was good enough to finish the season ranked 32nd in the NFL. In the off season the Eagles brought in veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins hoping to stop the bleeding but the blood continued to flow. In 2014, the pass defense gave up 30 touchdowns, 4,238 and finished ranked 31st in the NFL. This season the pass defense even saw a decline in interceptions from 19 in 2013 to 12 this season.
Malcolm Jenkins (S)
In his 6th season, the versatile veteran was brought in during the off season to provide leadership and bring an identity which was lacking. To start the season, Jenkins did just that as he recorded an interception in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th game (image 1). Then it all went down hill the rest of the season as Jenkins not only failed to bring leadership but was a liability in coverage as well. When Jenkins was in position to make the play on the ball he dropped it. Veteran leaders capitalize on these type of plays, not let them slip through their hands. In the second play below, Jenkins get’s caught out of position as he is responsible for the tight end (image 2) who beats him for a big play (image 3). The Saints let Jenkins go because of his struggles in coverage and in his first season in Philadelphia we saw the struggles up close.
Jenkins will be back at least for one more year as he has two years left on his contract but don’t count on anything past that. Billy Davis must find a way to play to Jenkins’ strengths and use him in variations in the box and try to limit him in space.
Nate Allen (S)
Nate Allen to the surprise of many got better this season. Things couldn’t have gotten much worse for Allen than in 2013 as he couldn’t seem to do anything right and was responsible for a great deal of big plays. Allen still had his moments where he makes an mental error that results in a big play like in Arizona. In the play below, the Arizona Cardinals are in the last drive of the game and the only responsibility Nate Allen has is to give up all underneath passes and not allow anything deep. Image 1 shows Nate Allen biting on a head move by the Cardinals receiver to give up the game winning touchdown (image 2).
However, these type of mental errors were not seen as often as in 2013. Allen did a much better job of finding the ball this season as he finished with 4 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries.
Philadelphia has seen the last of Nate Allen in Kelly green, who is an unrestricted free agent.
Cary Williams (CB)
Cary Williams is nothing more than an average cornerback. He is never going to completely shut don any receiver and is always vulnerable of the big play due to his lack of speed and lack of ball skills. Cary has never been a ball hawk and is nothing more than a one interception a year guy which is what he had in 2014. Not only did he give up his share of big plays but his aggressiveness led to him being a penalty magnet this season. Williams almost doubled his penalties (7) from the previous year where he only had four.
Lack of speed and ball skills…
Kelvin Benjamin runs a “go” route against Williams who is in press coverage at the line of scrimmage (image 1), whom at this point is in good position. Then image 2 shows Williams lack of speed as he falls behind Benjamin. Williams second mistake is that Benjamin is looking back for the ball but Williams doesn’t see his eyes and is unable to locate the ball. Image 3 shows Benjamin catching the ball in the end zone while Williams fails to locate the ball resulting in a 40 yard touchdown.
It is not realistic to think the Eagles are going to be able to replace everyone in the secondary this off season and with Williams having another year left on his contract he is the best bet to be back. The one thing Cary must improve on his not to allow his aggressiveness hurt him and the defense.
Bradley Fletcher (CB)
For the second consecutive season, Bradley Fletcher has shown he has too many weaknesses to continue to be a starter in the NFL. Teams attacked Fletcher from the beginning of the season and he was never able to rebound. However, Billy Davis continued to leave Fletcher on an island against opposing offenses and they attacked Fletcher as expected. Fletcher fails to get a hand on the receiver in press coverage which caused him always fall behind. He also doesn’t have smooth transition out of his breaks when playing off coverage which prevents him to break on the ball, and lastly, with his lack of spend and instincts to find the ball makes it almost impossible for Fletcher to be successful.
Bad press coverage…
Fletcher is in press coverage but fails to get a hand on Jackson as Jackson gave him a double move at the line of scrimmage (image 1). Image 2 shows Fletcher beat at this point as he trails behind Jackson by one yard which was enough for Jackson to secure the 51 yard reception in image 3.
BAD OFF COVERAGE…
Fletcher is playing off technique in image 4. Image 5 shows Jackson blowing by Fletcher showing his lack of speed and makes it easy for the opposing quarterback and receiver to play pitch and catch (image 6).
FLETCHER IS GONE
Brandon Boykin (N)
In 2013, Boykin was the lone bright spot in the secondary as he led the team with 6 interceptions. He did a great job of competing and challenging the receiver every play which put him in position to make plays. However, As the saying goes, “what have you done for me lately” and in 2014 Boykin was a disappointment as he didn’t give the Eagles defense much. Boykin continued to play in the Nickel unit and not only did he only secure one interception but he was beat often when targeted.
The below play is an example of how Boykin did not re-route the receiver how he did in 2013. Image 1 shows, Boykin opening up the door at the snap of the ball, allowing the receiver to have the whole field to work with. Image 2 shows the receiver securing a 20 plus yard reception with Boykin trailing behind.
Boykin will be back in the Nickel but expect the Eagles to bring someone in to push him in training camp. If Boykin doesn’t bounce back in 2015, it will be his last season in green.