Lost Season For Boykin?
The calls for more Brandon Boykin have quieted down as the year has gone along, partly because people have come to realize those efforts are fruitless, and partly because Boykin hasn’t been flashing with the same brightness compared to last season.
That six-interception campaign seems a world away now, doesn’t it? The talk this offseason was all about how to get the young corner’s snaps up from 50 percent. Instead, his playing time has gone south (he’s played 42 percent of the defensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus) and it feels like Boykin has been pushed further to the fringe by Billy Davis and Chip Kelly despite the coaches’ claims that he is viewed as a starter.
His stats have gone down along with his playing time. Last season, Boykin had six picks and 10 passes defensed while limiting quarterbacks to a 58 percent completion rate when throwing in his direction. He has one interception and six pass breakups this year, and the completion rate has jumped to 63 percent. Judging by those numbers, it appears that Boykin has taken a step backwards this season. But he doesn’t see it that way.
“I think I’ve played very solidly. I think this time last year, the only thing I was doing better was getting more opportunities to get interceptions. The average person would see that and say he’s not being successful because he doesn’t have five interceptions by now, but it has so much more to do with technique and where they’re throwing the ball or where they’re attacking, what coverage, all that plays into you getting interceptions,” said Boykin. “That’s why it’s really not realistic to necessarily do better than you did once you kind of jumped on the board and everybody knows about you.”
Plus, it’s hard to have the same level of production when you’re not on the field as much.
“That’s true too. That has a lot to do with it too,” he said. “But control what I can control.”
The Eagles have stayed in base more this year; hence, Boykin’s playing time has fallen off. Instead of adding a defensive back in response to three-receiver sets, Davis at times will leave the extra defensive lineman in and have Malcolm Jenkins cover the slot so his unit is less susceptible to the run. While that’s a nice asset to have in the name of scheme versatility, it spells fewer looks for Boykin, who was one of the defense’s top playmakers last year.
“It’s not difficult because you know you are going to play. You don’t just tune out. But there are times when you want to be on the field and you just have to imagine yourself in that situation,” he said. “I guess the hardest part is staying warm, especially this time of year it’s cold and you’re standing on the sideline and you’ve gotta go in knowing that the ball is going to come your way (snaps fingers) as soon as you get in but I mean that’s just part of the game, part of your position.”
It’s easy to feel that this has been somewhat of a lost season for Boykin, and there appears to be a growing level of frustration within his camp over the lack of opportunity. But the 24-year-old, who has one year left on his rookie contract after this season, insists that this has not been a difficult time for him.
“Not really. It hasn’t. I think the perception of I guess what was expected after last season is what made it hard I guess in everybody else’s eyes,” he said. “You can’t come in as a player having expectations that aren’t necessarily realistic. And I knew that coming into this season, knowing that last year was an amazing season – playing 50 percent of the time and getting six interceptions, that’s crazy. Doing it this year again would be awesome but if it didn’t happen, that’s fine because realistically that might not happen again. That’s fine for me. My technique I got better at, and opportunities I did have were plays I made.”