Philadelphia Eagles young secondary faces impossible situation

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 15: K'Von Wallace #42 and Rudy Ford #36 of the Philadelphia Eagles react during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 15: K'Von Wallace #42 and Rudy Ford #36 of the Philadelphia Eagles react during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The odds are stacked against this Philadelphia Eagles defense.

Okay, let’s do a quick roll call. Earlier this week, the Philadelphia Eagles learned Rodney McLeod‘s season was over. In addition to that, Darius Slay was in the NFL’s concussion protocol. On Friday, there was optimism that he could suit up. By the time Saturday rolled around, he was ruled out and didn’t travel with the team. Avonte Maddox is done for the year. Rookie defensive back Grayland Arnold is out in Week 15.

It feels like the 2018 season all over again. The Birds were down to Chandon Sullivan, De’Vante Bausby, and Cre’Von LeBlanc versus the New York Giants in Week 12. As crazy as it sounds, the Eagles actually won that game by a 25-22 margin despite having to face Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard.

Cre’Von LeBlanc ended up being a diamond in the rough and was the top-rated cornerback by Pro Football Focus in the NFL Playoffs that year. Chandon Sullivan would go on to find a spot in the Green Bay Packers’ secondary. In 2020, he has played 70 percent of defensive snaps.

De’Vante Bausby is with the Denver Broncos. Last week, he was forced into action versus the Carolina Panthers. He played 100 percent of the defensive snaps, and on a game-deciding fourth-and-eight attempt, he wound up making the game-winning tackle.

With that being said, maybe the Eagles’ next diamond in the rough will reveal himself in Week 15. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz played Nathan Gerry over Shaun Bradley and Alex Singleton until Gerry got hurt of course. There’s a chance that some of these defensive backs could shine as well.

This Sunday will be a massive test versus the Arizona Cardinals spread offense with DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and Larry Fitzgerald. Considering that the Cardinals run a ton of 10 personnel (four wideouts), expectations for the Eagles secondary should be minimal.

Who’s left to suit up in this Philadelphia Eagles secondary?

The staff here at ITI has been hoping to see Michael Jacquet get more playing time for a while. In the few snaps that he’s been given, he has flashed some potential. Most notably, he had a near interception versus the Dallas Cowboys. He also jammed Michael Gallup at the line on another play before making a tackle on Amari Cooper. He has the physical measurables but also needs to work on the fundamentals. He’ll have a chance to show what he can do on Sunday.

Cornerbacks Jameson Houston and Blake Countess have been elevated to the active roster as of Saturday. Countess was drafted by the Eagles in 2016 but didn’t make the active roster. He bounced around the league and even returned to the Eagles in the 2019 offseason but was cut again. On Sunday, Countess will finally suit up for his first regular-season game as a member of the Birds.

Nickell Robey-Coleman used to play against the Cardinals twice a year. He’ll line up in the slot against a familiar face in Larry Fitzgerald. ‘NRC’ had a few nice plays last week. On the first play of the game, he recognized a screen pass and prevented a big play. Unfortunately, he still had his share of costly mistakes. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to trust him.

Here’s more of what you can expect if you’re a Philadelphia Eagles fan.

Kevon Seymour might occupy one of the starting outside corner spots. Last week, he had too much outside leverage and allowed a big touchdown on a post route to Emmanuel Sanders. In 2016 and 2017, he played significant snaps with the Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers.

Maybe he needed a week to get his feet under him. If it’s not him on the outside, Jalen Mills will probably slide down there. While that often hasn’t gone well since he entered the NFL, he’s probably the best option.

If Mills doesn’t play at safety, we will see more of the young guys. Marcus Epps will probably take over the single-high role that McLeod played. If Schwartz is smart, K’Von Wallace will play in the box. Wallace was a versatile guy at Clemson who often played close to the line. He’s not meant to play McLeod’s role. The Cardinals run 12 personnel (two tight ends) more often than anyone else in the league. These safeties could struggle in the red zone against tight end Dan Arnold.

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Eliah Riley could see snaps at safety more after getting promoted this week. He’s played just two snaps on defense this year. Rudy Ford is back from injury this week. While he’s mostly just a special teamer, he has the speed this Eagles defense will need against Arizona. This one could get ugly, but hopefully, Jalen Hurts and this offense can just chew the clock and keep this great Cardinals offense off of the field.