Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
After the Philadelphia Eagles gut-wrenching loss to the Arizona Cardinals, it may be time to make a change in the defensive backfield. The biggest weakness on defense is the inability to shut down the big play in the passing game. Starting cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher have continually struggled over the last year and half on one of the worst units in football.
In 2013, the Philadelphia Eagles finished with the worst pass defense in the entire NFL. Many people blamed the lack of a pass rush and the change in scheme. But with more pieces in place the 3-4 front, that has not been the issue this season. Outside linebackers Connor Barwin and Trent Cole have been a constant threat in the offensive backfield. While defensive lineman Vinny Curry and Fletcher Cox have disrupted quarterbacks from the interior of the line.
There has also much more production from the over the top in 2014. Philadelphia Eagles safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen are in the midst of career years. Both have played well in coverage, while forcing turnovers in both the passing and running games. The safety position has seen a major upgrade since 2013.
Yet the Philadelphia Eagles pass defense has been underwhelming for most of the season. The one constant has the inconsistency of both starting cornerbacks. Williams and Fletcher have been on the wrong end of too many big plays through out the team’s first seven games.
Opposing wide receivers have torched the Philadelphia Eagles with regularity. In Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, rookie undrafted free agent Allen Hurns tallied 144 yards and two touchdowns on only four catches. Against the division rival Week 3, both Washington starting wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson found the end zone and had over 100 yards receiving. The St. Louis Rams had three passing touchdowns in Philadelphia in their Week 5 match up, which were by the likes of wide receivers Brian Quick and Kenny Britt.
That brings us to the game in Arizona, where the Eagles found a way to snatch defeat away from a victory. Take away the two different 80 yard touchdown receptions by wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown and the outlook of that game completely changes. Both Williams and Fletcher were burnt down field and played a major role in the over 400 yards passing for Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer.
With the litany of issues for the Philadelphia Eagles defense, it may be time to shake things up. They have three different cornerbacks in Nolan Carroll, Brandon Boykin and rookie Jaylen Watkins patiently waiting their turn for more playing time. And with the coverage problems on opposing wide receivers, it is time to give them a chance.
Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher statistically have been the worst cornerback tandem in the NFL since joining the Philadelphia Eagles last season. A change in the rotation could give a confidence boost to the rest of the team. It certainly cannot get any worse then what we have seen through 24 games now under Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.