The Philadelphia Eagles made sweeping changes in their secondary this offseason and thru 2 preseason contest those moves seem to be paying off. The additions of Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond, and coach Cory Undlin has already improved a unit drastically that was one of the leagues worst in 2014. In two preseason games so far the Eagles have allowed just 216 passing yards per game compared to last years unit which allowed 265 yards per game during the regular season. It remains to be seen if their early success can carry over into the regular season but they’ve shown promise so far, which is all you can ask for in the preseason.
The Eagles secondary has faced two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Andrew Luck and Joe Flacco and have had success against them thanks to the new guys. Byron Maxwell has been as advertised, looking like a #1 corner. Maxwell hasn’t allowed many completions because of the success he has jamming his man at the line of scrimmage. He’s also shown he’s a sure tackler, something the Eagles needed badly in their secondary.
His new teammate Walter Thurmond has also flashed and shown why Chip Kelly and company have confidence in him. Thurmond has looked comfortable in his transition to safety because of his cover skills and knack for being around the football. Both free agent acquisitions are making plays early on, each picking off Flacco in last nights game.
Not to be forgotten is how well of a job defensive backs coach Cory Undlin has done so far with his guys. Coach Undlin has emphasized technique and ball skills throughout training camp and its showing. Look no further than Thurmond’s interception on the Ravens first drive of the night. Nolan Carroll was running stride for stride with Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken in coverage. He got his head turned around, located the ball in the air and made a play on it tipping the ball up in the air and Thurmond capitalized. That’s a play last years secondary simply couldn’t make.
Gone are the days of defensive backs not getting their head turned around in coverage and not making a play on the ball in the air. However what’s most impressive is the job Undlin has done cutting down on the dreaded “x play”. That’s something he’s put a premium on and the Eagles first team unit hasn’t allowed one yet.
The trio of Maxwell, Thurmond, and Undlin are the main reason why we’ve seen this unit do a complete 180. The obvious addition of sound technique and ball skills has made a huge difference early on. If the Eagles secondary can continue their impressive play I personally think their defense has the ability to be one of the leagues best, which is something we haven’t had in Philadelphia for a long time.
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