Perhaps the biggest weakness for the Philadelphia Eagles over the last few seasons has been their secondary.
Since signing Malcolm Jenkins, the Philadelphia Eagles have not had a dominate player to pair along side with him. However, that all changed this off-season when the team broke the bank to sign safety Rodney McLeod.
The Eagles signed McLeod to a five-year, $37 million deal this past March, making him one of the highest paid safeties in the league. The move to sign McLeod gives the Eagles an outstanding tandem in the defensive backfield, which is something fans have not seen in quite some time.
Last season, Jenkins and McLeod combined for 191 tackles, 6 forced fumbles, and 3 interceptions. Clearly, the Eagles safeties will create problems for opposing offenses, but the questions to ask is, are they the best duo in the NFC East?
Let’s take a look at the other teams in the NFC East to see how they stack up.
The Dallas Cowboys starting safeties last season were J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church. Church, the obvious better player recorded 117 tackles last season, which is more than Jenkins. On the opposite side, Wilcox had just 53 tackles and one interception.
Looking at the Cowboys, it is obvious that they do not have a better pair than the Eagles. While Church may be a solid safety, he did not force any fumbles last season or have an interception. The Cowboys secondary has been an issue for them for a few seasons now, and they certainly didn’t do much to help themselves in the draft.
New York Giants
The New York Giants have a questionable safety pairing to say the least. The team will likely be going with Cooper Taylor and Landon Collins. Collins was a rookie last season out of Alabama, and he had an up and down season. He was extremely inconsistent in coverage, but did rack up 112 tackles to go along with a pick and a forced fumble.
Starting opposite of Collins will be Cooper Taylor. The SS position could have a battle in training camp, but either way, it is a glaring hole for the Giants. Taylor had just 11 tackles in limited playing time last season. With the inconsistencies of Collins, and the questions at SS, there is no way the Giants have better safeties than the Eagles.
The winners of the division last season face a similar issue with the Giants and Cowboys. They will be rolling out one solid safety and one question mark. The Washington Redskins top safety is DeAngelo Hall, but he had a disappointing campaign in 2015. Although he missed a few games due to injury, he failed to record 50 tackles.
Starting at the other safety position will more than likely be second-round draft pick Su’a Cravens out of USC. Cravens is a mix between a linebacker and a safety, and should eventually be a nice piece for the Redskins. However, with his inexperience, and the aging Hall, there is also no way to say the Skins have better starting safeties.
After carefully looking over each team and their safeties, it appears safe to say the Eagles have the best two in the division. The rest of the teams just don’t have that second player to help match-up with the Eagles, and they should have long-term success at the position since both players are still in their twenties.
The SS position has been a major hole for the Eagles for years now, and they finally did a good job of filling it. Jenkins and McLeod are key pieces to the Eagles defense as they offer hard hits, great coverage, and leadership. Although the Eagles may not be the favorites to win the East this season, they definitely have an advantage over opposing teams at an important position.