They have a new safety, two new starting cornerbacks, a new slot corner and a rookie safety. And a new coach.
They all just met. Opening day is 33 days away.
Let’s go play football!
This truncated offseason isn’t ideal for anybody, but for the Eagles’ rebuilt secondary the absence of spring practices and preseason games combined with a curtailed training camp is a particularly daunting challenge just because this unit has undergone such a transformation.
Malcolm Jenkins is gone. Jalen Mills has moved from corner to safety. Avonte Maddox moves outside to CB2. Newcomer Nickell Robey-Coleman seems to be the front-runner for the slot. And Marquand Manuel has replaced Cory Undlin as secondary coach.
It’s an incredible amount of change in a position group where chemistry and cohesion are so important.
It’s a challenge, but it’s a process that’s got to be expedited,” Robey-Coleman said Monday. “But that’s why you have seasoned veterans who can come in and adjust to the climate of an organization or a situation that’s going on outside of football, just speaking on this pandemic. Me, Slay, Rod, Mills, guys like that that have been to the playoffs, that have been deep in the playoffs, that have won Super Bowls. We know how to adjust to things like this. We’re not lost in the sauce, like we forgot how to play football.
Can a secondary come together on Zoom calls?
Can a secondary develop chemistry when the players are social distancing in the locker room?
Can a secondary learn to play together without spring workouts?
Can a secondary learn what its new coach is looking for when they just met him a few weeks before opening day?
This is what this group is trying to accomplish.
“Just knowing that, ‘Hey, man we’re all in this thing together, we all gotta do this thing together,’” Robey-Coleman said. “We are stronger together, that’s been our motto the whole offseason, and coach (Doug) Pederson has been harping on that with us. So we just always have the mindset of doing everything together. No man is left behind. Iron sharpens iron. We’re all out here trying to get each other better. We’re all out here just trying to get a full understanding of each other, knowing that there’s new guys, new additions on the team and on the defense. So just being on the same page, talking to each other, communicating. ‘Hey, do you like to press? What do you like to do?’ Just knowing each others’ personalities and knowing how we could formulate the defense and make it easier for everyone to work better and work smarter.”
Robey-Coleman, who signed with the Eagles after four years with the Bills and three with the Rams, said finding ways to accelerate that growth process has been a constant point of emphasis since this shortened training camp began.
“Some guys might have done it like this in the past, but now we do it like this,” NRC said. “So it’s just little small nuances of the defenses that we just have to have down pat in order to be understood all the way across the board from every level of the defense, from the secondary to the linebackers to the d-line. So if we can get all of that to come together in a cool amount of time I feel like we’ll be OK for week one, and from there we’ll just make small adjustments from there going on throughout the season.”
This secondary has a lot of questions to answer and not a lot of time to answer them.
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