Season Predictions: Is the Secondary Good Enough?

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

As we count down to the start of the regular season, Tim and Sheil try to answer some of the big questions facing the Eagles. On Sunday, they discussed life without DeSean Jackson. On Monday, they predicted what’s next for Nick Foles. Yesterday was a look at the offensive line, which faces an early challenge as Lane Johnson serves his four-game suspension. And today, they check in on the secondary.

BIG QUESTION: Did the Eagles do enough in the offseason to bolster their secondary?




Kapadia: Probably not, although I think this unit will perform better than it did a year ago.

I can understand the thinking behind not going after a high-priced safety, but I need to see more from Malcolm Jenkins before labeling him a massive upgrade. Jenkins has been sold as the DeMeco Ryans of the back end - a smart, mentally tough player capable of leading those around him, even if he does has some limitations. I liked what I saw out of Jenkins in the preseason, but am still in "wait and see" mode.

Nate Allen is in line to start opposite Jenkins, and there's been little indication that Earl Wolff is really pushing him for that job.

At cornerback, Nolan Carroll II has been impressive, and we could see more dime looks from the Eagles on third down. But overall, the talent here is mediocre.

McManus: I think they are in much better shape than they were a year ago.

The coaching staff raves about what Jenkins brings to the back end. From the short time I have watched him up close he looks quick, decisive and has more edge to his game than I was anticipating. Allen will never blow you away but has benefitted from the system change under Billy Davis and seems like a pretty solid safety at this point.

One of the biggest problems on this team last year was lack of depth at corner. Not only did the wheels come off when one of the starting corners went down, it prevented Davis from rolling out different subpackages because they didn't have the talent to make them work. The addition of Carroll should alleviate those problems. Jaylen Watkins might not be quite ready, but I don't think he's as far away as many think.

I'm having trouble answering whether it's enough because of how interconnected the whole operation is. If the men up front can generate a pass rush, then probably. If they're asked to carry a heavy burden, then the answer is no.

OVER/UNDER: 17, the Eagles' rank in points allowed.

Kapadia: That's where they finished last season, giving up 23.9 points per game.

I'll take the under, although I'm not sure it'll be by much. The run defense should be really good, and while the continuity argument has probably been overstated, I think it counts for something.

McManus: I'll take the under as well. At the same time, I'll predict that the defense will yield more than the 23.9 points per game. I think the way the NFL is enforcing the illegal contact rule will lead to a significant scoring increase league-wide.

One thing to watch is whether it adversely affects physical press corners more than other defensive backs. If so, that would not be great news for the Eagles.

BOLD PREDICTION

Kapadia: Carroll will start ahead of Bradley Fletcher at some point, and it won't be due to injury.

Fletcher played better than expected last year, but he has not had a great summer. Of all the Eagles defensive players, he is the most likely to be affected by the new rule emphasis on illegal contact downfield. Fletcher was whistled twice for that in the third preseason game.

Carroll has played well, constantly getting his hands on the football and challenging opposing receivers. He also provides some versatility with the ability to play inside or outside. At some point, I think he gets bumped to the starting lineup.

McManus: I agree with you on the Carroll prediction. But since you stole that one, Kapadia...I'll say Brandon Boykin makes his way onto the Pro Bowl roster. Not an easy task as a slot corner, granted, but I think he's creeping onto the national radar. If he finishes among the league leaders in interceptions again, why not give him the nod?

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  • BlockingBack

    How about a prediction of sacks recorded by our DB’s Expecting some occasional blitzing!

    • macadood

      Was just playing my buddy in Madden last night and Fletcher recorded 3 interceptions and 2 tackles guarding Calvin Johnson the whole game. Couple beauts but still gave up like 145 yards. Maybe madden knows something we don’t…

      Also Malcolm Jenkins brought the BOOM.

      • Corey Dawson

        Or maybe whomever was playing the Lions sucks at Madden.

    • southy

      Hopefully despite the demise of Brandon Boykin, OLB

  • http://www.damokleez.com EaglefaninAZ

    Definitely an improvement over last year, so I’m just gonna be happy with that. Heck, just moving Chung outta town was an uptick on that scale.

  • Token

    Sheil, Tim…. its time to step up to the plate and do the Bird 24/7 fantasy league.

    • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

      I can ensure they’re in opposite divisions, so they can aim to square off in the 3rd place game (at best)

    • Say No to Marc Mo From Easton

      We need 100 up votes for this! Come on Sheil and Tim, it’ll be grrrrrrreat!

      • Andrew Bruno

        Not only would it be “great”, there would be some fantasy football advice you can give, thus expanding your resume AND creating more articles for you to write for your deadlines!!! Just sayin’

    • irvin792

      I would love to be apart of this

  • Kevin.Rosenberger

    Did they do enough to be a feared secondary..? No. But I don’t think anyone thought we would come into this season with an all pro back end. I think expecting much more than what they did is just greedy and unrealistic. It will be much better this year and ill take the WAY under in the points allowed.

  • CHRIS – CB with dreads

    Good enough? Yes. Great? Don’t think so. I’m most interested in seeing an improvement in 3rd-and-long (which may be difficult if the refs are flag-happy) and in sacks. If those two have made an improvement from last year the D should be just fine.

    • southy

      If they were an exact copy of last year but improved their 3rd and 5+ by even 10% it would make a massive difference to the overall results.

      • B-West

        Agreed. The dime look with Nolan and Kendricks as the LB should help
        with 3rd and long. I love Meco but he really shouldn’t be on the field
        in that scenario. Also, I think (hoping.. begging… pleading) that the
        coaching staff makes a greater effort to get Vinny and Brandon on the
        field for those scenarios. Vinny at least.

        Good enough is the key terminology. These guys just have to hold up in the overall scheme of things. This is an offense first team. If the offense and run defense perform well, the bar should be set right around “don’t get burnt deep and make a play or two a game”.

      • dnabrice

        I’ve been saying this all offseason after hearing Caroll was looking good.

  • https://twitter.com/richcolton RichC, brings duck to cockfigh

    Bold prediction: Jenkins is to the secondary what ‘Meco has become to the LB corps. Solid, if not spectacular play. Not a difference maker, but a guy you can depend on to make the plays you’re supposed to make.

    Come to think of it, that’s not really that bold. Here’s one: Jaylen Watkins will start at least one game at CB.

  • cliff h-MOAR white goons

    bold prediction…Wolff will take over for Allen by week 8, and end season with 3 picks and 3 Ints.

    • NickS, Combine Warrior

      That’s not bold for you.

      • cliff h-MOAR white goons

        how about this, he ends Romo’s season with jarring hit Thanksgiving night, everyone steals my idea and every German Shepherd in south-eastern PA is sold black Friday and named Wolffie

        • NickS, Combine Warrior

          I like it. If Romo is still standing by then…

      • JosephR2225

        Bold would be 3 picks and 5 Ints.

        • southy

          The only player I’d have any confidence in for making that kind of prediction would be Jordan Matthews.

        • UKEagle99 à l’orange

          Nah this is bold, 0 picks, 1 int.

    • Travis Papa

      Are picks and ints different from one another? My bold prediction is Nate Allen having 4ints this yr and a td

  • NickS, Combine Warrior

    Bold prediction: Eagles pass D finishes 21st or better in DVOA pass D.

  • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

    Bold prediction: sconces has less than 6 P.I. penalties this season

    • NickS, Combine Warrior

      He’d have to get one or less every third game… That is bold.

      • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

        living on the edge today.
        also- we need a concerted social media effort to harass Sheil & Tim for FFL

        • NickS, Combine Warrior

          Indeed. Can’t do much from work, though. And I try to keep the social media off the phone

        • Say No to Marc Mo From Easton

          I know they see us! …. We know it Sheil, Tim!

    • dnabrice

      Rob, see above comment.

  • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

    Folks,

    it’s in our green blood to stress the defense this year. we’re all drinking, praying, and hoping through this together.

    but let’s stop for just a moment and appreciate some of the young, cheap, talented players we have brimming with potential and unlimited upside. Plus, most are athletic and versatile. Real classroom studs. Brown bag lunch guys.

    and then we have this. I’ll just leave this here, courtesy of Bill Barnwell (http://grantland.com/the-triangle/nfl-season-predictions-part-2-the-falling-stars/)

    The Cowboys finished 30th in defensive DVOA last year. That was with DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, who left in free agency for Denver and Washington, respectively. They had 17 of Dallas’s 34 sacks. That was with Sean Lee, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. That was with Orlando Scandrick, who is suspended for the first four games. And their top defensive draft pick, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, is on the IR-return list and won’t be around until Week 9 at the earliest. This, impossibly, is who the Cowboys are likely to start in their base defense against the 49ers in Week 1:

    DE George Selvie
    DT Nick Hayden
    DT Henry Melton
    DE Jeremy Mincey
    LB Bruce Carter
    LB Rolando McClain
    LB Justin Durant
    CB Brandon Carr
    CB Morris Claiborne
    S Barry Church
    S J.J. Wilcox

    That’s not just the worst starting defense in football. It’s miles away from anybody else’s D for the worst in football. Dallas almost definitely has the worst set of defensive linemen and the worst linebackers, along with one of the five worst secondaries. In an attempt to emulate the wild success enjoyed by the Cowboys offense, Dallas has created a leadership mire by demoting former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, replacing him with former defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. As a CFL player from the late ’60s, Kiffin might actually be better served starting on Dallas’s defensive line.

    Best-Case Scenario: Did you see that defensive depth chart?

    Worst-Case Scenario: Jerry Jones blames a disastrous season on the Cowboys not drafting Johnny Manziel and trades a top-five pick to Cleveland to acquire him.

    • Jason

      Yeah, I saw that. Barnwell isn’t exactly bullish on the Eagles either.

      • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

        meh; he’s weird in the descriptor, basically acknowledging some personnel upgrades and maturity of scheme, personnel, coaching. And then rolls out the familiar: DCs catching up with Kelly; Cassel & The Vikings; playing better schedule this year (although even he has written how silly it is to predict such things). Odd hearing such tired bologna from him. He’s been down on PHL all summer, predicts Foles regression repeatedly

        • NickS, Combine Warrior

          Predicting a Foles regression might be the least bold prediction of any this offseason. It’s all but guaranteed…. Think he’s down on PHL because all of the pundits who were saying Chip can’t coach in the NFL are now all over his johnson. This way, if he’s right, it’s “I called it” and not just another writer saying he called the same thing as everyone else.

    • NickS, Combine Warrior

      Can’t upvote this enough.

      • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

        my HS english teacher always told me I’d come to appreciate poetry one day. “it will just hit you like trotter; wash over you like gatorade”, he’d say.
        I finally get it.

    • cliff h-MOAR white goons

      Selvie isn’t practicing because he has re-injured his re-re-reinjured shoulder, some point, it’ll fall off.
      Melton has not taken 1 preseason snap, and has sat out more than 1/2 the practices, and almost all of them were full contact.
      McClain started 1 quarter of PS game 3, and had to sit out for 3 days due to soreness…that trainers could not find. see what happens after a Mathis beatdown.
      Romo is still throwing ducks over 20 yds downfield.

      • Tikkit, draft crapshoot

        Don’t forget Josh Brent, he’ll be back maybe week never.

        • MagatBrackendale

          After seeing Josh Brent’s photo, I have to say he could probably seriously injure a lineman or two just by falling on them.

    • UKEagle99 à l’orange

      Lol, even Jimmy Johnson will be saying “WTF” during commercials. Michael Irvin will just blame the opposing D for not letting Dez get his numbers, Ugh, Cowboys blowhards…

      Hey Jerry, you drafted ‘em, you signed ‘em, now play ‘em.

    • Max Lightfoot

      Nice post!

      I was dumfounded when they drafted Zack Martin for their O-line, because that was a fairly intelligent pick. But then I learned that the Son of Jerrah snatched the paper outta his father’s hand. Ol’ Jerrah hisself was allegedly gonna pick Johnny Football.

      Now imagine that Manziel has an awesome year for the Browns – I mean, just tears up that division. Jones will revert to his awful drafting again – the next time he’ll be slappin’ Junior around!

      The fun just never stops with this team, does it?

      It’s a hideous Dumpster fire on which they keep pouring huge tubs of barbecue grease!

      It’s not polite to laugh at the misfortune of others, but WAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • mtn_green

    If Jenkins is the Meco of the secondary then my bold prediction is that, Jenkins singlehandedly makes eagles 3rd down conversion rate become nfl average.

    I love how Meco makes those stops just shy of third down marker.

  • UKEagle99 à l’orange

    My bold prediction is at 6pm Sunday (1pm EST) I will be sitting in the ‘comfy chair’ dragged front & central in front of the TV with surround sound on loud enough to make my wife say “can you turn it down a bit” at which point I’ll knock it down 1db and say “yes dear” whilst sipping a cup of Earl grey…

    • Rambler

      Earl Grey? You Brits know how to get crazy. Simmer down over there, you football hooligan.

      • UKEagle99 à l’orange

        Lol. The earl grey is what makes it bold, the rest is a guaranteed cert, I suspect it will actually be a Belgian lager…

        • dnabrice

          I enjoy Earl Gray.
          I would prefer a Chimay.
          The Eagles will win.

          Haiku for the day.

  • Kleptolia

    The man outside the convenience store asks for change to break a five.

    Brandon Graham hands him a small wad of paper money.

    “Keep it,” he says. “I have plenty of fives in my life.”