Eagles Wake-Up Call: New Brand Of Ball At Corner

Your favorite former cornerback tandem has been in the news lately. Nnamdi Asomugha for marrying actress Kerry Washington. (God bless him.) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for acting like Denver was the first coaching staff to ever point out his flaws.

It’s still hard to fathom how  a duo with so much talent and four Pro Bowls between them struggled as much as they did while in Philadelphia. After two disappointing seasons both darted back west — Asomugha to the Niners and DRC to the Broncos.

Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams are the favorites to fill their spots. They have zero combined Pro Bowl appearances. Where Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie were both taken in the first round of their respective drafts, Fletcher was chosen in the third round and Williams the seventh. In terms of stature, the talent coming in does not match the talent going out.

But we’ve seen how far stature gets you in this league.

Last season, Rodgers-Cromartie was the 98th ranked corner in the NFL out of 113, according to Pro Football Focus. Asomugha came in at 101. In contrast, Fletcher was 37th and Williams 69th for the world champion Ravens.

Williams started all 16 games for Baltimore last season but Fletcher only four, as the Rams decided to turn to 2012 draft picks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. Fletcher posted solid numbers when he did see the field. He held opposing QBs to a 55.8 rating (Asomugha yielded a 120.6 quarterback rating), allowed quarterbacks  to complete just 47 percent of their throws (seventh best in league) and gave up little after the catch.

Chip Kelly values a corner that can tackle. Williams holds his own in that department as well. His 72 tackles last year was eighth best in the league among cornerbacks.

Fletcher (6-0, 196) and Williams  (6-1, 185)  can both play a physical brand of football. There should be a little nastiness where nastiness was lacking over the past couple seasons. That doesn’t guarantee that it will be better, but it will definitely be different.


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Tommy Lawlor reacts to Jaws ranking Michael Vick as the league’s 25th best quarterback.

One thing that does bug me in regard to analysts and Michael Vick is all the talk about his talent. Vick was talented last year, but didn’t play well. As the old story goes, Jerry Claiborne, a college coach, went up to a kid during pre-game drills and said “Son, your potential is going to get me fired.”

Talent is talent. But it does a coach no good if he can’t “control” it. A coach needs a player that is on the same page with him. I don’t mean that they get along or anything of that nature. I mean that the player has to understand the coach’s vision for the offense or defense and has to be able to make that come to life.

Frank Schwab of Shutdown Corner weighs in on the quarterback competition.

Foles played well enough at times last year to at least have some intrigue. A 381-yard performance with two touchdowns and no interceptions did come against a bad Buccaneers secondary, but it’s still worth a second look. Foles also threw for 345 yards in the last of his seven games last year, against Dallas. He wasn’t great as a rookie, but certainly good enough to get a legitimate chance to compete for a starting job.

And while Barkley took a pretty shocking dive in the draft, he’s still the same player who was once considered a strong possibility for the first overall pick of the draft. It’s not hard to picture him reviving the hope that once surrounded him now that he’s away from the Lane Kiffin-led mess at USC.

Nothing is going to be settled in that quarterback battle for a long time, but nothing should be assumed going into training camp either.


Countdown is on. Seventeen days until camp.