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Have the Eagles done enough at cornerback?


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Have the Eagles done enough at cornerback?

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By Reuben Frank June 09, 2020 11:44 AM

https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/cornerbacks-marquand-manuel-darius-slay-nickell-robey-coleman-avonte-maddox

Good luck, Marquand Manuel.

The Eagles’ new secondary coach has his hands full as he tries to find some stability at a cornerback position where the Eagles have had none.

Have the Eagles done enough at corner? On paper, they should be much better than they have been.

But we’ve said that before.

Let’s take a look at what Manuel inherits as he begins his first year with the Eagles.

Just over the last two years, the Eagles have used nine different starting cornerbacks, and the last Eagle corner to start 10 games in consecutive years was Nolan Carroll in 2015 and 2016.

Once again, the position has been overhauled, and once again the Eagles are starting from scratch.

How did the Eagles get to this point?

It’s a long and complicated story, but essentially the Eagles have spent the last few years using Band-Aids at corner. And in some cases those Band-Aids stuck — Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills played well enough the second half of 2017 to help the Eagles win a Super Bowl.

But for the most part it’s been one week after another of guys getting hurt, guys giving up big plays, guys getting benched, guys getting promoted from the practice squad and guys getting cut only to be re-signed out of desperation.

The Eagles have used 10 different starting outside cornerback combinations just since opening day 2018 — and that doesn’t even take into account the revolving nickel corners.

In both the 2018 and 2019 playoff seasons, they finished the season with a completely different set of outside corners than they began it with.

Manuel replaces Cory Undlin as secondary coach, and he takes over a position once again in total upheaval: 

—> Mills, who has played the most snaps of any Eagles corner under Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz, is now a safety.

—> Darby, who has played the 2nd-most snaps since 2016, is now with the Redskins.

—> Douglas, who’s played the 3rd-most snaps, is now on the outside looking in when it comes to just making the team.

—> Maddox, who’s played the 4th-most snap during the Pederson-Schwartz Era, has, has moved from the slot to projected starter at outside corner.

—> Sidney Jones, who’s played the 7th-most snaps, is fighting for his Eagles career in his fourth season.

—> Darius Slay is CB1 after coming over from the Lions

—> Nickell Robey-Coleman is now the nickel favorite after signing as a free agent

—> Cre’Von LeBlanc is now the likely backup nickel.

Mills was very good in 2017, but let’s be honest — the Eagles haven’t gotten Pro Bowl play out of a cornerback since Asante Samuel in 2010.

Of course the cornerback position is closely tied to how Mills (or perhaps Will Parks) manages at safety with Malcolm Jenkins gone and how much pressure the Eagles can get from injury-plagued Derek Barnett and 32-year-old Brandon Graham.

But if Slay can continue his Pro Bowl level of play, if the talented Maddox can hold up for a full season at outside corner at 5-9 and the combination of Robey-Coleman and LeBlanc can hold down the slot, then maybe the unthinkable can actually occur, and for the first time in a long time cornerback can be a strength of this team.

Eagles' cornerback activity since 2018

Sept. 2, 2018: Signed De’Vante Bausby to the practice squad
Sept. 2, 2018: Signed Chandon Sullivan to the practice squad
Sept. 11, 2018: Released De’Vante Bausby from the practice squad 
Oct. 11, 2018: Sidney Jones left Giants game with hamstring injury
Oct. 16, 2018: Signed Dexter McDougle
Oct. 25, 2018: Promoted Chandon Sullivan to the 53-man roster
Oct. 28, 2018: Jalen Mills left Jaguars game with shin injury
Nov. 5, 2018: Claimed Cre’Von LeBlanc off waivers from the Lions
Nov. 5, 2018: Released Dexter McDougle
Nov. 5, 2018:  Signed De’Vante Bausby to the practice squad
Nov. 17, 2018:  Promoted De’Vante Bausby to the active roster
Nov. 17, 2018:  Placed Ronald Darby on Injured Reserve (knee)
Nov. 18, 2018:  Ronald Darby left Saints game with knee injury 
Nov. 18, 2018:  Sidney Jones left Saints game with knee injury
Nov. 18, 2018:  Avonte Maddox left Saints game with knee injury
Nov. 20, 2018:  Signed Jeremiah McKinnon to the practice squad
Dec. 8, 2018:  Placed Jalen Mills on Injured Reserve (foot)
Dec. 9, 2018:  Sidney Jones left Cowboys game with hamstring injury
Dec. 11, 2018:  Signed Josh Hawkins to the practice squad
Dec. 24, 2018:  Promoted Josh Hawkins to the active roster
Dec. 24, 2018:  Released De’Vante Bausby
Dec. 24, 2018:  Released Chandon Sullivan
Dec. 26, 2018:  Signed Chandon Sullivan to the practice squad
Jan. 14, 2019: Signed Jeremiah McKinnon to future contract
Jan. 14, 2019: Signed Chandon Sullivan to future contract
March 15, 2019: Signed Ronald Darby 
May 1, 2019: Waived Chandon Sullivan
May 10, 2019: Signed Jay Liggins
July 26, 2019: Claimed Alex Brown off waivers
July 27, 2019: Signed Orlando Scandrick
Aug. 4, 2019: Signed Ajene Harris
Aug. 16, 2019: Released Jay Liggins
Aug. 31, 2019: Placed Jalen Mills on PUP
Sept. 2, 2019: Signed Cre’Von LeBlanc
Sept. 2, 2019: Placed Cre’Von LeBlanc on Injured Reserve (foot)
Sept. 2, 2019: Signed Craig James to the practice squad
Sept. 11, 2019: Promoted Craig James to the 53-man roster
Sept. 12, 2019: Signed Ajene Harris to the practice squad
Sept. 17, 2019: Released Craig James
Sept. 18, 2019: Signed Craig James to the practice squad
Sept. 22, 2019: Ronald Darby left Lions game with hamstring injury
Sept. 24, 2019: Promoted Craig James to the active roster
Sept. 26, 2019: Sidney Jones left Packers game with hamstring injury
Sept. 26, 2019: Avonte Maddox left Packers game with concussion and neck injury
Sept. 27, 2019: Signed Orlando Scandrick 
Sept. 30, 2019: Signed D.J. White to the practice squad 
Oct. 1, 2019: Signed Ryan Lewis to the practice squad
Oct. 1, 2019: Released Ajene Harris from the practice squad
Oct. 4, 2019: Signed Ryan Lewis  
Oct. 8, 2019: Signed Ajene Harris to the practice squad
Oct. 14, 2019: Released Ryan Lewis from the practice squad
Oct. 15, 2019: Activated 21-day practice window for Jalen Mills
Oct. 19, 2019: Activated Jalen Mills from PUP list
Oct. 21, 2019: Released Orlando Scandrick
Oct. 29, 2019: Released Ajene Harris from the practice squad
Nov. 26, 2019: Activated 21-day practice window for Cre’Von LeBlanc
Nov. 30, 2019: Activated Cre’Von LeBlanc from practice squad
Dec. 4, 2019: Signed Tremon Smith to practice squad
Dec. 9, 2019: Jalen Mills left Giants game with elbow injury
Dec. 22, 2019: Ronald Darby left Cowboys game with hip flexor 
Dec. 24, 2019: Placed Ronald Darby on Injured Reserve 
Dec. 29, 2019: Jalen Mills missed Giants game with ankle injury
March 19, 2020: Acquired Darius Slay from Lions
March 25, 2020: Signed Nickell Robey-Coleman

Outside CB starting combinations since 2018

16 … Darby / Mills
5 … Douglas / Maddox  
5 … Douglas / Jones  
2 … Darby / Douglas 
2 … Darby / Jones
1 … Bausby / Sullivan 
1 … Douglas / James 
1 … Douglas / Mills
1 … LeBlanc / Maddox 
1 … Maddox / Mills 

Current cornerback roster

Rasul Douglas
Michael Jacquet III
Craig James
Sidney Jones
Cre’Von LeBlanc
Avonte Maddox
Nickell Robey-Coleman
Darius Slay
Prince Smith Jr.
Tremon Smith
Trevor Williams

Cornerback snaps played since 2016

3037 … Jalen Mills                  
1849 … Ronald Darby            
1673 … Rasul Douglas            
1260 … Avonte Maddox                   
910 … Nolan Carroll               
998 … Patrick Robinson                   
650 … Sidney Jones                
587 … Leodis McKelvin
485 … Cre’von LeBlanc                    
235 … Ron Brooks                  
161 … Dexter McDougle                  
147 … De’Vante Bausby                  
87 … Chandon Sullivan           
84 … Orlando Scandrick                  
69 … Craig James         
21 … Josh Hawkins        
1 … C.J. Smith     
0 … Deiondre’ Hall        
0 … Ryan Lewis   
0 … Aaron Grymes        
0 … Dwayne Gratz

 

 

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Quite simply, no.

Bringing in Slay seems a great addition based on his ability. But it is a move that comes with concerns. At 29 is he set to enter that CB slump? Was his slight decline last year a sign of that?

Opposite Slay who is the guy? Maddox? I like Maddox but he's not an outside corner in my book. Teams with 2 really good receivers are going to feast on that.

I am hopeful though of what Williams could potentially bring to the team and we have upgraded in the slot with NRC.

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2 minutes ago, UK_EaglesFan89 said:

Quite simply, no.

Bringing in Slay seems a great addition based on his ability. But it is a move that comes with concerns. At 29 is he set to enter that CB slump? Was his slight decline last year a sign of that?

Opposite Slay who is the guy? Maddox? I like Maddox but he's not an outside corner in my book. Teams with 2 really good receivers are going to feast on that.

I am hopeful though of what Williams could potentially bring to the team and we have upgraded in the slot with NRC.

I'm slightly more optimistic than you. I think Slay is still very good and wasn't happy with Detroit. I share your worry, but I am optimistic that he can still be a true number 1 corner, that we haven't had since Samuel.

I agree on Maddox. My hope is that either Jones can finally turn it around, or that Wallace can win the safety job and we can move Mills back to CB2. If Slay can get back to his best, we can roll coverages to the other corner and that will help hugely.

We are very deep in the slot!

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1 hour ago, ManchesterEagle said:

I'm slightly more optimistic than you. I think Slay is still very good and wasn't happy with Detroit. I share your worry, but I am optimistic that he can still be a true number 1 corner, that we haven't had since Samuel.

Yeah I mean I'm not necessarily being down on Slay but I'm just concerned that he's perhaps entering that age where he may decline. 

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1 hour ago, UK_EaglesFan89 said:

Yeah I mean I'm not necessarily being down on Slay but I'm just concerned that he's perhaps entering that age where he may decline. 

Definitely a concern, but I'm hoping for the best, plus we have a much better pass rush than Detroit, so he won't need to cover for as long.

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Robey-Coleman is a really good slot CB, so there's good depth there.

Outside is a different story. If Slay goes down, it's basically a repeat of last year. Let's hope he stays healthy all season.

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9 hours ago, PoconoDon said:

Outside is a different story. If Slay goes down, it's basically a repeat of last year. Let's hope he stays healthy all season

A repeat or perhaps even worse. Though I guess it's hard to be much worse than Darby.

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16 hours ago, UK_EaglesFan89 said:

Yeah I mean I'm not necessarily being down on Slay but I'm just concerned that he's perhaps entering that age where he may decline. 

He's also realistically only signed here for 2 years, so in effect, he is also nothing more than a band aid at the position (vs being a long term solution).  It's a shame Howie can't evaluate the position effectively ... Lord knows he has spent resources on the position but he has had few hits, mostly misses.  Perhaps it is scheme related.  If some of these guys that failed here were drafted elsewhere and put in a different scheme, might they have had better careers?  Hard to tell.  

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5 hours ago, time2rock said:

He's also realistically only signed here for 2 years, so in effect, he is also nothing more than a band aid at the position (vs being a long term solution).  It's a shame Howie can't evaluate the position effectively ... Lord knows he has spent resources on the position but he has had few hits, mostly misses.  Perhaps it is scheme related.  If some of these guys that failed here were drafted elsewhere and put in a different scheme, might they have had better careers?  Hard to tell.  

That's also very true. There's potential for him to be really really good but only for a couple of years in all likelihood. And yeah once he does leave we need Howie to draft a good young corner and he doesn't have a very good track record there. 

I still personally don't fully understand the move. It feels like a win now move yet in reality this team aren't preparing for this year and they've pretty much admitted that. 

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No.  Teams are going to target the CB opposite Slay until we adjust or give him help.  Eagles must not want to give up on their draft picks by bringing someone better in, or so it seems.

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It remains to be seen if enough has been done. Would be nice if Jones became the top 10 CB we hope he can be. 

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6 hours ago, jsdarkstar said:

It remains to be seen if enough has been done. Would be nice if Jones became the top 10 CB we hope he can be. 

It sure would be. At this point I'd take a good or even solid #2.

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Darby and his missed tackles are gone so I'm gonna say they're a little better. If last year we traded Darby for Slay straight up the fans would have been happy as hell. It might not be enough but they should definitely be better. 

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The only way to answer this question is with the results from the end of the season: did they win the Super Bowl? Then, yes. Otherwise, no.

They did some things. I like the Slay signing. I like the slot corners. I feel ok about Safety. I wish we had a starter on the outside, opposite Slay I had more confidence in. But, we'll see.

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As Ive said many times, until Jim is gone, our cornerbacks will keep struggling due to the scheme setting them up to fail. So its a easy No for me on the question asked. Next year when Jim is gone, I think this group could do nice things if the right DC is brought in. Im a believer the players only play as good as the DC scheme. 

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