Eagles

Have the Eagles done enough at cornerback?

Have the Eagles done enough at cornerback?

Good luck, Marquand Manuel.

The Eagles’ new secondary coach has his hands full as he tries to find some stability at a cornerback position where the Eagles have had none.

Have the Eagles done enough at corner? On paper, they should be much better than they have been.

But we’ve said that before.

Let’s take a look at what Manuel inherits as he begins his first year with the Eagles.

Just over the last two years, the Eagles have used nine different starting cornerbacks, and the last Eagle corner to start 10 games in consecutive years was Nolan Carroll in 2015 and 2016.

Once again, the position has been overhauled, and once again the Eagles are starting from scratch.

How did the Eagles get to this point?

It’s a long and complicated story, but essentially the Eagles have spent the last few years using Band-Aids at corner. And in some cases those Band-Aids stuck — Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills played well enough the second half of 2017 to help the Eagles win a Super Bowl.

But for the most part it’s been one week after another of guys getting hurt, guys giving up big plays, guys getting benched, guys getting promoted from the practice squad and guys getting cut only to be re-signed out of desperation.

The Eagles have used 10 different starting outside cornerback combinations just since opening day 2018 — and that doesn’t even take into account the revolving nickel corners.

In both the 2018 and 2019 playoff seasons, they finished the season with a completely different set of outside corners than they began it with.

Manuel replaces Cory Undlin as secondary coach, and he takes over a position once again in total upheaval: 

—> Mills, who has played the most snaps of any Eagles corner under Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz, is now a safety.

—> Darby, who has played the 2nd-most snaps since 2016, is now with the Redskins.

—> Douglas, who’s played the 3rd-most snaps, is now on the outside looking in when it comes to just making the team.

—> Maddox, who’s played the 4th-most snap during the Pederson-Schwartz Era, has, has moved from the slot to projected starter at outside corner.

—> Sidney Jones, who’s played the 7th-most snaps, is fighting for his Eagles career in his fourth season.

—> Darius Slay is CB1 after coming over from the Lions

—> Nickell Robey-Coleman is now the nickel favorite after signing as a free agent

—> Cre’Von LeBlanc is now the likely backup nickel.

Mills was very good in 2017, but let’s be honest — the Eagles haven’t gotten Pro Bowl play out of a cornerback since Asante Samuel in 2010.

Of course the cornerback position is closely tied to how Mills (or perhaps Will Parks) manages at safety with Malcolm Jenkins gone and how much pressure the Eagles can get from injury-plagued Derek Barnett and 32-year-old Brandon Graham.

But if Slay can continue his Pro Bowl level of play, if the talented Maddox can hold up for a full season at outside corner at 5-9 and the combination of Robey-Coleman and LeBlanc can hold down the slot, then maybe the unthinkable can actually occur, and for the first time in a long time cornerback can be a strength of this team.

Eagles' cornerback activity since 2018

Sept. 2, 2018: Signed De’Vante Bausby to the practice squad
Sept. 2, 2018: Signed Chandon Sullivan to the practice squad
Sept. 11, 2018: Released De’Vante Bausby from the practice squad 
Oct. 11, 2018: Sidney Jones left Giants game with hamstring injury
Oct. 16, 2018: Signed Dexter McDougle
Oct. 25, 2018: Promoted Chandon Sullivan to the 53-man roster
Oct. 28, 2018: Jalen Mills left Jaguars game with shin injury
Nov. 5, 2018: Claimed Cre’Von LeBlanc off waivers from the Lions
Nov. 5, 2018: Released Dexter McDougle
Nov. 5, 2018:  Signed De’Vante Bausby to the practice squad
Nov. 17, 2018:  Promoted De’Vante Bausby to the active roster
Nov. 17, 2018:  Placed Ronald Darby on Injured Reserve (knee)
Nov. 18, 2018:  Ronald Darby left Saints game with knee injury 
Nov. 18, 2018:  Sidney Jones left Saints game with knee injury
Nov. 18, 2018:  Avonte Maddox left Saints game with knee injury
Nov. 20, 2018:  Signed Jeremiah McKinnon to the practice squad
Dec. 8, 2018:  Placed Jalen Mills on Injured Reserve (foot)
Dec. 9, 2018:  Sidney Jones left Cowboys game with hamstring injury
Dec. 11, 2018:  Signed Josh Hawkins to the practice squad
Dec. 24, 2018:  Promoted Josh Hawkins to the active roster
Dec. 24, 2018:  Released De’Vante Bausby
Dec. 24, 2018:  Released Chandon Sullivan
Dec. 26, 2018:  Signed Chandon Sullivan to the practice squad
Jan. 14, 2019: Signed Jeremiah McKinnon to future contract
Jan. 14, 2019: Signed Chandon Sullivan to future contract
March 15, 2019: Signed Ronald Darby 
May 1, 2019: Waived Chandon Sullivan
May 10, 2019: Signed Jay Liggins
July 26, 2019: Claimed Alex Brown off waivers
July 27, 2019: Signed Orlando Scandrick
Aug. 4, 2019: Signed Ajene Harris
Aug. 16, 2019: Released Jay Liggins
Aug. 31, 2019: Placed Jalen Mills on PUP
Sept. 2, 2019: Signed Cre’Von LeBlanc
Sept. 2, 2019: Placed Cre’Von LeBlanc on Injured Reserve (foot)
Sept. 2, 2019: Signed Craig James to the practice squad
Sept. 11, 2019: Promoted Craig James to the 53-man roster
Sept. 12, 2019: Signed Ajene Harris to the practice squad
Sept. 17, 2019: Released Craig James
Sept. 18, 2019: Signed Craig James to the practice squad
Sept. 22, 2019: Ronald Darby left Lions game with hamstring injury
Sept. 24, 2019: Promoted Craig James to the active roster
Sept. 26, 2019: Sidney Jones left Packers game with hamstring injury
Sept. 26, 2019: Avonte Maddox left Packers game with concussion and neck injury
Sept. 27, 2019: Signed Orlando Scandrick 
Sept. 30, 2019: Signed D.J. White to the practice squad 
Oct. 1, 2019: Signed Ryan Lewis to the practice squad
Oct. 1, 2019: Released Ajene Harris from the practice squad
Oct. 4, 2019: Signed Ryan Lewis  
Oct. 8, 2019: Signed Ajene Harris to the practice squad
Oct. 14, 2019: Released Ryan Lewis from the practice squad
Oct. 15, 2019: Activated 21-day practice window for Jalen Mills
Oct. 19, 2019: Activated Jalen Mills from PUP list
Oct. 21, 2019: Released Orlando Scandrick
Oct. 29, 2019: Released Ajene Harris from the practice squad
Nov. 26, 2019: Activated 21-day practice window for Cre’Von LeBlanc
Nov. 30, 2019: Activated Cre’Von LeBlanc from practice squad
Dec. 4, 2019: Signed Tremon Smith to practice squad
Dec. 9, 2019: Jalen Mills left Giants game with elbow injury
Dec. 22, 2019: Ronald Darby left Cowboys game with hip flexor 
Dec. 24, 2019: Placed Ronald Darby on Injured Reserve 
Dec. 29, 2019: Jalen Mills missed Giants game with ankle injury
March 19, 2020: Acquired Darius Slay from Lions
March 25, 2020: Signed Nickell Robey-Coleman

Outside CB starting combinations since 2018

16 … Darby / Mills
5 … Douglas / Maddox  
5 … Douglas / Jones  
2 … Darby / Douglas 
2 … Darby / Jones
1 … Bausby / Sullivan 
1 … Douglas / James 
1 … Douglas / Mills
1 … LeBlanc / Maddox 
1 … Maddox / Mills 

Current cornerback roster

Rasul Douglas
Michael Jacquet III
Craig James
Sidney Jones
Cre’Von LeBlanc
Avonte Maddox
Nickell Robey-Coleman
Darius Slay
Prince Smith Jr.
Tremon Smith
Trevor Williams

Cornerback snaps played since 2016

3037 … Jalen Mills                  
1849 … Ronald Darby            
1673 … Rasul Douglas            
1260 … Avonte Maddox                   
910 … Nolan Carroll               
998 … Patrick Robinson                   
650 … Sidney Jones                
587 … Leodis McKelvin
485 … Cre’von LeBlanc                    
235 … Ron Brooks                  
161 … Dexter McDougle                  
147 … De’Vante Bausby                  
87 … Chandon Sullivan           
84 … Orlando Scandrick                  
69 … Craig James         
21 … Josh Hawkins        
1 … C.J. Smith     
0 … Deiondre’ Hall        
0 … Ryan Lewis   
0 … Aaron Grymes        
0 … Dwayne Gratz

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Eagle Eye podcast: Appreciating Fletcher Cox’s prime

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Eagle Eye podcast: Appreciating Fletcher Cox’s prime

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro get together after the NFL’s opt-out period is over. 

The Eagles had just one player opt out of the 2020 season. Exploring more questions about having a season and Doug Pederson’s role as a virtual coach. 

Is it really a good year to be an undrafted free agent? Plus, takeaways from interviews with Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills and Fletcher Cox. 

  • (0:29) — Deadline passes with only 1 Eagle known to be opting out.
  • (12:23) — Doug Pederson is still leading the team... virtually.
  • (18:06) — Good year for undrafted free agents?
  • (25:31) — Takeaways from zoom interviews with Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod, and Fletcher Cox.
  • (42:48) — Shady signs with Tampa Bay.

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More on the Eagles

 

Deadline passes with only 1 Eagle known to be opting out

Deadline passes with only 1 Eagle known to be opting out

The NFL’s opt-out deadline passed Thursday afternoon with no word of any additional Eagles electing to skip the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns.

As of 4 p.m. EST, only wide receiver Marquis Goodwin had announced he’s opting out. 

The Eagles acquired Goodwin in a draft-day trade with the 49ers, and while he wasn’t expected to be a starter his 140 career receptions are second-most among the Eagles’ healthy receivers.

League-wide, it appears 66 players opted out. 

With most teams carrying 80 players on the roster, that represents about 2 1/2 percent of NFL players.

In the NFC East, the Giants and Cowboys lost three apiece and Washington lost two. 

Teams losing the most players are the Patriots [8], Browns [5] and the Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Giants, Jaguars, Jets, Lions and Raiders [3 each].

Three teams appear to have no opt-outs: The Chargers, Falcons and Steelers. The Eagles are among nine teams to lose one player. Ten teams had two opt-outs.

Players who opt out who have been determined by the NFL to be at risk because of a specific pre-existing condition receive a $350,000 stipend from the league and receive a year of pension credit toward free agency and benefits. 

Those who are considered not at risk receive $150,000 that is essentially an advance on their 2021 salary and they do not accrue a year of pension credit. If players in this category don’t make a roster next year, they must return the money.

Goodwin, who is considered not at risk, had 962 yards for the 49ers in 2017 but has just 35 catches for 581 yards the last two years. 

Several Eagles starters who were made available to the Philly media over the past week said they talked about opting out with family members before electing not to.

I think everyone in the back of their mind was wondering, ‘What does this look like for me safety-wise, what does this look like for my family safety-wise?’ Carson Wentz said. “And I was no different. I think, definitely, the health and safety of my family definitely is different than I think a lot of guys that are maybe single and don’t have wives or kids and those things, and you definitely have to take all those factors in. You never know how this is going to fully unfold, but I feel safe here and it was something that my wife and I talked a lot about and prayed a lot about, and we feel good with our decision but at the same time completely respect the guys that did decide to opt out for personal reasons, family reasons, health reasons. Like Marquis Goodwin, I fully respect his decision. Obviously I’m bummed I’m not going to be able to play with him but fully respect those guys’ decisions.

Rodney McLeod echoed Wentz: “It was a conversation I had with my wife, but I think looking at all the protocols that were put into place here we felt confident that this is probably one of the safer environments you could be in between these walls. Marquis Goodwin had to do what was best for his family and I understand that and we support him fully for that decision.”

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More on the Eagles