All-22: What the Tape Tells Us About Nnamdi

Any drops of good will gathered by Nnamdi Asomugha for his performance against Calvin Johnson and the Lions spilled onto Lincoln Financial Field Sunday. The critics are back in full throat and more fed up than ever at their $60 million cornerback. Asomugha, like the rest of his defensive teammates, was largely ineffective in a 30-17 loss to the Falcons.

The tape confirms what many have contended: that the 31-year-old does not possess the kind of recovery speed necessary to be a shutdown corner. Not anymore. But there is more to the story. The blame does not rest solely on Asomugha’s shoulders.

Let’s start with the 63-yard touchdown from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones that gave Atlanta a 21-7 lead.

Asomugha is lined up over Jones on the outside. Kurt Coleman is in the box to help with tight end Tony Gonzalez, leaving Nate Allen as the lone deep safety. Asomugha offers Jones free release, which in hindsight was a regrettable move.


“Yeah, probably [should have jammed]. You can’t go backwards on it, but yeah, probably I would have changed it up,” said Asomugha.

Asomugha could have executed better, no question. However, Jones — boasting 4.3 speed — is a difficult matchup for anyone, and Asomugha  receives no help on this play. As the next still shot illustrates, three Eagles defenders are protecting the middle. Meanwhile, three Falcons receivers are releasing downfield. Allen is stuck in no-man’s land.

All that’s left is for Jones to win the foot race and for Ryan to execute the throw. No problem on either account.

Asomugha was left one-on-one with Jones and the Eagles only rushed four on the play. Doesn’t seem right.

Next up is a 14-yard pickup by Roddy White on a cross. The Eagles are playing man. Todd Bowles will send both Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans on a blitz, leaving the middle of the field wide open.

The Falcons could not have asked for more. The other three receivers pull the rest of the secondary deep, leaving nothing but green for White.

The last play we’ll examine is a wide receiver screen to Jones in the third quarter that went for 37 yards. The cornerbacks did not bump much at the line in this one, and that’s the case on this play. Asomugha gives Jones a little bit of a cushion at the onset. White, lined up to the inside of Jones, will run a pick.

Jones starts out as if heading downfield, then peels back. Asomugha tries to adjust but White is closing in and is in perfect position to wipe him out. (The refs initially threw a flag on White before determining that the block came within the extended neutral zone.)

Mission accomplished. Asomugha ends up on the ground, and Jones ends up with a caravan of blockers paving the way towards a big gain.

“It’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing to come out and for us to put that out there,” said Asomugha. “We’re a better team than what we showed today.”

On all three plays, you can find fault in the corner. But credit also has to go to the Falcons for play-calling and execution. And Bowles has to take some of the heat for leaving his players in vulnerable positions.

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  • Kimbafuzz

    The All-22s on both offense and defense are depressing as hell. :(

  • morgan c

    NA is just not good at the sport of football. Tim McManus wants to keep shifting the blame and claims that NA is quality, but just has “a few bad plays.” Dude is bad. Straight up. Look at the evidence, look at the facts. He is slow and can’t make plays on the ball. Worst of all, he’s a BAD teammate, scapegoats others, and doesn’t really accept responsibility. Dude is a overpaid mercenary. Oh yeah, and if you want to claim “he gets a lot more flak because he’s paid 12 mil a year,” well, ya, DUH! OF COURSE THAT IS PART OF IT!

    Whatever, dude will be cut after the season, when Reid is fired. Vick, Babin, Jenkins, NA, DJax should all be cut. Let’s start over with guys who bring it every play, no matter what.

    • Kei

      Overreactadelphia fan at his best. He’s just bad and doesn’t bring it every play! If you had ever PLAYED football you’d be able to look at the EVIDENCE u claim and see 2 safeties who bite on every play action and leave both our corners hung out to dry. Do some real research b4 you make ignorant statements and then we all wouldn’t have to click dislike on ur ridiculous statement.

      • HogansHero

        I have to agree here. The Eagles have a safety problem. Coleman is awful. Allen is average, maybe.

        • absecon

          Safteys bite because of wide-9. Anyone’d be paranoid of running plays in that scheme…

          • brownshadow17

            Could’ve sworn that’s why we picked up Ryans and Kendricks. I don’t remember us complaining about safety run support last year as much as how bad our LBs.

          • The Guru

            Do you remember all our safeties getting benched at one point or another last season? They are both atrocious

      • morgan c

        I do look at the evidence. I have looked at all the All-22 defense posts this season. In 4 of them (4/7 games = over half / most), the evidence has shown very poor play by NA. Specifically, since you questioned my research, I’m pointing to the Baltimore game, the Arizona game, the Giants game (final drive), and the Atlanta game. In all 4 games, he was exposed for big plays, badly.

        Now, you tell me, if your 12 million a year CB makes egregious mistakes in over half his games, what would you say? Maybe I overreacted a bit, but this is just so frustrating. The dude makes a ton of money, and isn’t close to it in terms of production so it’s hard not to be frustrated. Again, if he didn’t make that money, it would be okay. But he can only be compared to what he is paid as, which is the HIGHEST in the league. He gets paid to be the best.

        I’d take top5 production, but he is an avg corner this year. DRC is outstanding (except for last game), thus our corners overall look solid. NA is playing at replacement level average. Point to examples other than the Lions game that show otherwise and I’ll be happy to hear it. And don’t get me started on his subversive blame of Castillo and the scheme ALL last year, and his comments this year that contributed to his firing (despite what Reid says).

  • scrapple sports

    Castillo’s defense was predictable. You know who else’s defense is predictable? Chicago. Talent is not there and that is the problem. I think the Wide 9 and Washburn’s $ack$ only mentatlity has hurt the unit. On the first play Roddy White was also open.

  • barry_nic

    Well, they don’t look like they know what they are doing out there, period. Nnamdi looked like a great signing when it happened, mainly because of the press he received by “never being targeted by opposing teams”. Well now we know how well is when he does get targeted, not very. So live and learn. I blame the abysmal coaching these guys are getting more than the obvious lack of talent. Say what you want about Juan, but he had this group as high as 11th in the league. But the “Originator” of the wide nine plain and simple can’t counter the protections that have cropped up against his scheme. So the DB’s and LB’s are left hanging. Jim Johnson was the real deal, because he’d adapt and change his schemes when something stopped working. The quote I remember most was “The offense didn’t know what was coming” and he had the personnel that could deliver on that. Also, most blitzes come off of successful stunts off the DL. You can’t stunt in the wide nine, the ends are too far out. It’s too easy for the blitzers to be picked up and two man blitzes leave the middle wide open for the offense.

    All scheme and coaching. Last year they moved the ends in because the LB’s were so bad, and that worked well. But this year they aren’t doing this and the front seven is toast. This team is a mess and the only stable guy on it(If you could say that) was let go.

    That’s my two cents,

    PS, DJAX is playing well, the QB is constantly late and the play calling is atrocious.

    • Tejas

      Great breakdown Tim. Quick question, what’s the status of DE Vinny Curry? He played well in the pre-season, has solid size, and is a skilled pass rusher. When can we expect him to take snaps from incumbents Tapp, Cole, Babin, and Graham? Curry is a second round pick, and with the line producing marginally (being kind), it’s time for Curry to suite up.

      • Tim McManus

        Would imagine you would see him soon, especially with Hunt’s role being reduced.

    • brownshadow17

      Obvious or not, there is no reason why our blitzes should not be effective. Even if the blitzers are picked up, it leaves our ends in one on one match ups. Before this season began I would’ve taken Babin or Cole against almost any O lineman one on one

  • eagles2zc

    Wide 9 is making the whole D look bad. A safety is forced to play the run first, leaving just one to play deep. No pressure from the front 4 in the wide 9 and the entire scheme breaks down

  • BlindChow

    How would Nnamdi do as a safety? Seems like that would fill a need, put him up against Tight Ends (which he did well last year), and allow him some room to make plays (his interceptions last year came when he was in zone schemes). He’d have to take a pay cut, though, I imagine…

    • xlGmanlx

      I like this idea, restructure his deal, move him to safety.

    • Wilbert M.

      The problem with making Nnamdi a safety is his suspect tackling ability. He did play some safety in college though.

    • JofreyRice

      He was a S/CB coming out of Cal, and got moved to full=time CB in the NFL. He’s lost in the sauce in zone coverage, is a suspect tackler in the open field, and isn’t very good at blitzing.

  • UncleCarm

    I can’t get the word mercenaries out of my head. We need to take a page from Bill Walsh and pay attention to a guys attitude and personallity to see if it will fit here in Philly, not just look at their stat sheet and athletic abilities. Give me a team full of blue collar guys instead of these thoroughbreds.

  • Andrew Hope

    Question for Tim: on that last play, it seemed pretty clear that NA got blocked in the back. The refs said that’s a legal play if it happens in the extended neutral zone. That doesn’t seem like it can be the rule–a block in the back is a block in the back, regardless of where it takes place, right?

    • bentheimmigrant

      There are exceptions to the block in the back rule to do with what direction people are going in and who has the ball. It’s probably more complicated than necessary.

  • Ryan

    Look, Asomugha followed up arguably his best game in green with quite possibly his worst. Everything about that Jones TD was horrible and unacceptable, but I still think its ridiculous that people and the media have been blasting him all week as if he’s having a bad season. Quite the contrary, and coming into this game his metrics and stats were very, very good. In fact, they still are good even after the poor showing. And, yes, I realize that people want the all-pro that we signed from Oakland, but just because he’s not playing like the game’s best all-around corner doesn’t mean that he warrants criticism. Overall, right now our starting CB’s are this franchise’s biggest strength other than its half-back. The media pundits should be focusing there attention elsewhere because this team clearly has a plethora of problems.

  • Absecon

    NIce job Tim! I think the safties look bad and get caught out of position because of what they are asked to do, and it starts with the wide-9. I don’t think it’s their “lack of ability” in most cases. They are both still relatively young players and are miscast in their roles. Coleman should be a true strong safety and Allen should be a true free safety. They are hurt by this Castillo scheme of interchangeable safties….

  • Mike J

    I think it’s telling that Nnamdi says it’s “…embarassing for US…” No Nnamdi, high time you take some responsibility for your own week play while you’re cashing those checks.

  • NYCEagles

    What I’m struck by here is not problems with our defense (though they are apparent), but the way the Falcons offense designs plays to put our players in vulnerable positions, clear the field for catch-and-runs, etc. We seem to be lacking that sort of engineering.

    • Wilbert M.

      You nailed it. Marty/Andy (Mandy?) don’t seem to have the ability to call plays according to what the defense is giving them. The only game where there was anything resembling an “adjustment” was the Giants game.

  • JB

    Stop making excuses for Nnamdi he can’t jam he can’t run with the elite wrs he was paid to cover he absolutely can not play zone he can somewhat tackle he was over hyped coming to town and def not a shut down cnr

  • Cambro

    The key for stopping QBs and getting quick sacks is removing the first option or look from the QB at least momentarily. Defenses must force good QBs into their second and third progressions or they will be beat every time. The wide-9, however, has the Eagles safeties creeping up to the line of scrimmage for run support and the corners typically in man on the outside with the linebackers running underneath zones or man coverage on the tight ends and backs. That means if the initial and primary target of a play comes open (like the Jones 63 yarder) the QB knows where he is going with it and he can flick it there. The secondary does not slow down the play and the pass rush has no chance. Teams playing against the Eagles are chipping the ends with backs and tight ends to slow them down by a split second and by the time they have a chance to change the play 2 seconds are over. The plays that are run against the Eagles, if the first option is open, only takes 2-3 seconds. The defense isn’t meshing, leaving the passing game to get absolutely shredded. The key isn’t blitzing, it is confusing the QB so he doesn’t know if his first and second reads will be open. This will fix the pass rush.

  • eagles2zc

    I’m interested to know how many seconds did Ryans have in the pocket on that Jones TD catch. Dline got to hit QBs a couple of time and get in their heads