It’s time to stop sleeping on the Eagles Secondary

The Eagles front seven may attract the most attention, but behind the trenches is where the stars are shining. The birds’ safeties in particular have been among the best in the league. Going into week 6 the duo of Malcolm Jenkins and Walter Thurmond has been astounding. They rank 4th and 5th respectively according to Pro Football Focus with Jenkins obtaining a 90.5 overall grade (4th) and Thurmond being graded at 88.1 overall (5th).  Jenkins leads the team with 37 tackles and has been a force to be reckoned with all over the field whilst Thurmond is second on the team with 27 tackles but boasts the team lead with 3 interceptions.

Both players started their careers at the corner position and later switched to the safety position while playing in the Eagles secondary…Chip has a vision for the types of players he wants in his team and the Defense perhaps took even more of a shakeup than the Offense..but not every shake up needs to result in a spillage. It’s time to stop sleeping on the Eagles Secondary.

Malcolm Jenkins:
Jenkins is piecing together another solid season as one of the teams’ leaders and seems to be in on every big stop when the defense needs a big play.  The former Saints star has embraced the Philly attitude as well, getting into a twitter battle with Dez Bryant and showing Philly never backs down when the Cowboys are on the schedule.

Walter Thurmond:
Thurmond on the other hand has been a pleasant surprise. He was originally signed by the Eagles to play either the #2 corner position or in the nickel spot.  When pursuit of Devin McCourty failed, Coach Kelly and Coach Davis asked Thurmond to switch to safety. Thurmond agreed and has shown he has the natural instincts to play the position, becoming a ball hawk in the Eagles secondary with his 3 interceptions.

What makes Thurmond so good is the way he reads the play. Because he’s played at corner, he knows the routes and how to break up the plays. His judgement, anticipation and tenacity when making a play make him a nightmare for opposing Quarterbacks. If you’re throwing deep down the field and you have someone with the physicality of a safety but with the vision and mindset of a corner…it’s not going to end well.

EJ Biggers:
EJ Biggers has been playing very well in recent weeks and raised a lot of eyebrows. He had some key open field tackles against the Saints in short yardage situations on 3rd down stopping them from continuing the drive. The seven year veteran may well receive more snaps and has been assigned to 3rd down passing situations, usually lining up against opponents speedier receivers because of his elite 4.3 speed.

Eric Rowe:
Eric Rowe’s play on the other hand has been up and down. Rowe put together a strong showing against the Jets and Redskins but got beat more frequently against the Saints and looked lost during one play. However, this is to be expected of a rookie switching from Safety to corner.  Rowe has shown promise all season with good ball skills and body control. He presses close but doesn’t over do it and with time, he should get a better feel for defending routes and jumping them. His only real flaw has been awareness, sometimes he focuses too much on where the ball isn’t as opposed to where it’s being thrown and by the time he adjusts it’s too late..but overall he has had a very solid outing so far.

Byron Maxwell:
may have started slowly but has looked better in recent weeks. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis has given him some help over the top and less number 1 receiver assignments. Maxwell has 25 tackles on the season and forced a fumble against the Saints but is yet to see his first interception as an Eagle. That “elite talent” he has been expected to bring has simply been sub-standard and skills you would expect from his salary cap number have been few and far between. But after a promising game against the Saints despite battling injury during the week, there’s no reason why he can’t prove his worth against a stumbling yet dangerous Giants receiving core.

Nolan Carroll:
has been consistent all season and easily one of the standouts. He has played well in man to man schemes but does seem to struggle in zone coverage..especially against the quicker receivers. 25 total tackles rank him highly among his teammates however and he bares the ability to be able to jar any ball loose when the tight pressure is on. If you’re looking for a shutdown corner in this secondary, Carroll may be your best bet as of right now..

As the unit continues to get continuity together they could emerge as a top secondary, when you look at where the Eagles were last year giving up play after play, yard after yard..touchdown after touchdown..but this year things are different and could get better yet. Especially when the front 7 gets healthy and is able to provide some support int he pass rush. Maxwell is due to have a breakout game and finally show us the qualities that Chip was so adamant he had.. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.