Wake-Up Call: A Unique Partnership At Corner
Cary Williams spent a good portion of his Sunday barking at Dallas receivers. Mostly Dez Bryant. The two stood facemask to facemask several times. There was a steady dose of jostling and trash talking throughout the day. Miles Austin was greeted in a similar fashion when he wandered over to the right side of the defense.
This is how Williams conducts his business. Bradley Fletcher couldn’t be any different. He is quiet and soft-spoken and far from an agitator on the field.
Together Williams and Fletcher make up a cornerback duo that is playing a notch above expectations.
“It’s been pretty good,” said Williams of his partnership with Bradley. “I think we have two different ways of playing. He’s more of a guy that likes to play a lot more off or drifting-type man.
“He’s a cool dude. I think our relationship has gotten better over the last couple months. We didn’t know each other but now that the season is here we’ve continued to develop both together in this system. I think we’ve got a lot better chemistry than what people anticipate or might have thought of. We kind of think on the same level. We think on the same wavelengths at times. We look at wide receivers and talk about splits, what routes we can expect in a particular formation. We’re always willing to give the other information if we know it. It’s about bonding and developing and building friendships. When you build a friendship off the field then on the field it’s much easier to go out there and communicate with a guy.”
Fletcher is quietly compiling some good stats. His 11 pass break-ups leads the team, is second-best in the NFL and ties a career high for a season. Quarterbacks are completing only 50 percent of their throws in his direction, per Pro Football Focus. Williams’ number in that department is significantly higher (67 percent completion rate) but he is fourth among corners in tackles with 32, per PFF. He has a pair of interceptions on the year compared with one for Bradley.
The Eagles allowed one touchdown through the air against Tony Romo and a potent aerial attack. Williams and Fletcher were put in a healthy amount of one-on-one situations in that game.
“I think the corners had a nice game,” said Chip Kelly. “They took turns, both the corners going up against [Bryant].”
Added Billy Davis: “I thought the secondary did a nice job of stepping up to the challenge. There are a lot of weapons on that team. And their passing attack is the strength with [Demarco] Murray being out. So we had a couple different versions of how we were going to get different people help. Every time you get one person help, one of the other weapons is one‑on‑one. I think the guys that were on the one‑on‑one part of it really stepped up and played well.”
The Eagles signed both corners in free agency this offseason. They were interested in part because of the size of both Williams (6-1, 190) and Fletcher (6-0, 200). Kelly adhered to his “big people beat up little people” mantra here. The level of physical play at cornerback has taken a noticeable step forward.
The corners’ approach is similar in some ways, different in others. Williams likes to go all-out bully by digging into his opponent. Bradley is far more reserved.
“That’s not his game. I wouldn’t expect him to change and be somebody different,” said Williams. “I expect him to just go out there and have fun and play the game with enthusiasm, which he does. We’ve seen him make some great plays in this defense and we look forward to him making some more plays. I just don’t think that’s part of his game and I wouldn’t change him for the world.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Sheil breaks out the All-22 to see what exactly went wrong with Nick Foles.
Michael Vick is in line to start against the Giants.
The latest Twitter Mailbag discusses everything from Andy Reid‘s moves to DeSean Jackson‘s slumped shoulders.
Kelly is seeing some progress on defense.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Andrew Sharp of Grantland is none too impressed with Kelly.
You know the story before I’ve even written a word. The hotshot college coach who thought he could outsmart pro football. Teach the experts a thing or two. Save his quarterback’s career. Spread out his receivers and conquer the big leagues. Press conferences full of hype all summer, then fall arrives, and … crickets. The coach came, he saw, he got conquered. He promised to reinvent the wheel, he left with the engine on fire.
You could throw 15 names into that story over the last 25 years, but this week it’s the Eagles mastermind we’re talking about. I’ve started calling him Chump Kelly.
Tommy Lawlor says that you don’t need to tank it to find a good quarterback in the draft.
Here are the QBs for NFC playoff teams if the season ended today.
1) Seahawks – Russell Wilson (75th pick)
2) Saints – Drew Brees (32nd pick)
3) Packers – Aaron Rodgers (24th pick)
4) Cowboys – Tony Romo (Undrafted)
5) 49ers – Colin Kaepernick (36th pick)
6) Lions – Matthew Stafford (1st pick)
No one is advocating that you look for the next Tom Brady in the 6th round or that you count on finding the next Russell Wilson in the 3rd round. The point is that you don’t need a Top 10 pick to find the right guy.
The Eagles throw the pads on for today’s practice. We’ll see what Vick can do.