DB Review: How the Eagles Used Asomugha

Here’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles defensive backs performed Sunday against the Browns, after having re-watched the game. Click here for the review of the offensive line. And here for the review of the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.

Nnamdi Asomugha – By my count, he got targeted four times and gave up one completion – the 24-yard slant to Mohamed Massaquoi early on. Asomugha played almost exclusively at right cornerback. The only exceptions were a few snaps where the Browns went with 1-WR sets. On those plays, if the receiver was to the left side of the defensive formation, Asomugha simply acted like a safety or linebacker. On one occasion, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie went with the receiver to the right side of the defensive formation, and Asomugha moved over to the other side. Again, those were only a few snaps. Good, physical play by Asomugha, getting his hands on Josh Gordon at the line of scrimmage and breaking up a slant in the second. He made the same play again in the third. Brandon Weeden tried to fit one in between him and Kurt Coleman down the left sideline, but it was incomplete. Nice read and hit on Brandon Jackson in the flat, forcing an incompletion on third down in the fourth. And good hustle to bring Travis Benjamin down after a 35-yard gain on the reverse in the first. Really strong game for Asomugha. And check out Tim’s story on him and Rodgers-Cromartie from after the game.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – Rodgers-Cromartie was targeted seven times and allowed just one completion for 12 yards. He had the two interceptions, both on plays where Weeden looked for Benjami. Benjamin, a rookie from Miami, ran a 4.36 at the combine, but Rodgers-Cromartie had no trouble keeping up with him, running step-for-step with the receiver and making nice plays on the ball. He broke up a slant to Benjamin on third down in the first and had another breakup in the third. Rodgers-Cromartie got beat on a 12-yard slant in the second, but made the tackle right away and limited YAC. He got beat by Massaquoi in the first, but Weeden overthrew the receiver in the end zone. Rodgers-Cromartie nearly had a third pick in the end zone on a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. I’m guessing Weeden was targeting Massaquoi (who Rodgers-Cromartie was covering) on the game-ending interception. He missed four snaps because of a shoulder issue, but came back in. Really good game for Rodgers-Cromartie.

Brandon Boykin – Excellent start for the rookie. He was targeted five times and allowed one completion for 13 yards. Boykin was targeted in the second, but had good coverage on Greg Little on the incompleiton. Good, athletic play on third down in the third. Boykin was covering Massaquoi in the slot when Weeden escaped pressure and rolled to his right. Massaquoi started back to that side, and Boykin stuck with him, diving and breaking up the pass with two hands, while forcing a Browns punt in the process. He broke up a pass for Massaquoi on third down in the third. Boykin was targeted in the fourth, but again had good coverage, forcing an incompletion. The only yards he allowed came on a 13-yard completion in the third. The Eagles were in nickel with Boykin on the field for 63 percent of their snaps. He got banged-up on the final Eagles’ kickoff, but looks to be OK.

Brandon Hughes – He played 12 snaps. Some were in dime as the fourth cornerback. Others were at left cornerback when Rodgers-Cromartie came out. And one was in nickel for Boykin on the final play of the game. I’m surprised the Browns didn’t go after Hughes when he was on the field. He was not targeted at all. Curtis Marsh played one snap but suffered a hamstring injury.

Nate Allen – Strong game. Great read, great tackle on the tight end screen in the first, dropping Alex Smith for a 1-yard loss. Great timing on the first interception in the red zone. Allen hit Little as soon as the ball got to him, breaking up the pass and allowing Coleman to make the pick. The Eagles only blitzed a defensive back once. That was Allen in the first quarter. He finished last year strong and is off to a good start in 2012.

Kurt Coleman – Good game for Coleman too. He came down with the interception in the red zone in the first and of course had the second one to end the game. Coleman made a good tackle on Gordon after a 12-yard completion. And it should be noted that his helmet was loose from a block before Trent Richardson knocked it off in the second. Coleman and Allen played all 62 snaps.

Note: The target numbers above are from re-watching the game on TV. I’ll revise if necessary after taking a look at the All-22 when it’s released on Wednesday.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.