Jump to content

The Eyes


Recommended Posts

The Eyes

Posted: June 23rd, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles 

The Eagles have a lot of questions at cornerback so it is a bit surprising that they haven’t tried to do more to fix the position. It makes you wonder if the team likes Avonte Maddox and rookie Zech McPhearson more than we know.

Now that some time has passed, I went back to re-watch McPhearson in action. I enjoyed studying him prior to the draft and thought he would be a good fit for the Eagles, but that was a guess. It turned out to be a good guess. They drafted him in the fourth round and the team was excited to get him.

McPhearson isn’t a big corner. He’s not special athletically. This isn’t a guy that has a lot of wow moments. The flip side is that he doesn’t have many "WTF?” moments either. He is a smart player.

That made me think about Jonathan Gannon and HITS.

"Those four things — hustle, intensity, takeaway, smart. The acronym for that is the HITS principle, and that’s what we’re going to hold our hat on.”

McPhearson is always in good position. He doesn’t guess. He doesn’t take chances. McPhearson knows his assignment and does it. When runs come his way, he plays with proper leverage. He tries to keep everything in front of him in coverage. On plays when he’s got a safety over the top, he’ll play differently underneath. A coach can trust him. That’s a huge compliment to a young player.

He has good eyes. McPhearson sees the field well and reacts accordingly. If there is a short throw in front of him, he comes up quickly to attack the ball. If there is a run, he gets in the right position. He sees the ball when it is thrown his way. He broke up 6 passes and picked off 4 others last year.

We heard Maddox talk about his eyes being the focal point for his offseason. The coaches are trying to get Maddox to use his eyes better so that he can play smarter and more disciplined. That must be a point of emphasis for them when evaluating players. I can see why they like McPhearson so much. He plays smart and he’s got good eyes.

One of the reasons I liked McPhearson so much is how aggressively he played. When he does see something, he attacks. He is a good tackler. No one will mistake him for Seth Joyner, but he is a tough, physical CB. He plays the run. Not all CBs are like that. Some think of run defense as job-optional. McPhearson is an active player. He wants to get in on tackles, whether run or pass. His style fits the HITS mentality.

The Eagles could go sign Steven Nelson as a band-aid for the CB position, but really what this team needs is to develop young CB talent. They can’t go throwing free agent money and key resources at the position every couple of years. They need to develop talent.

Gannon is a former DBs coach. This is his area of expertise. Give him some young players to work with and see what happens. No one is saying Maddox and McPhearson will turn into stars, but if one of them could become an above average starter, that would be huge.

I am curious to know what they think of Maddox. He’s shown good talent in the past, but injuries and moving around too much have stunted his growth. I think he played his best football at safety, but I’m not sure his body is made for that position. He has the potential to be really good in the slot. Let’s hope the new staff comes up with a plan and sticks to it as much as possible. Injuries to Maddox and his teammates have been part of the reason for all the moving around the past few years.

The upcoming draft is supposed to have a strong corner class so the Eagles will likely be adding to the talent pool, but it sure would be nice to find one player from the current group to help build around for the future.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’m really hoping McPhearson wins the starting spot opposite Slay (even if they add a vet CB).  We really need a CB we drafted to finally pan out.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Or maybe the rest are just that bad

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...