Byron Maxwell could control the fate of entire Eagles Secondary


Byron Maxwell has been a curious case this season. We have already posted an article on how he has gone from laughing at his atrocious coverage on Julio in week one to shutting down two of the NFC East’s finest. But against the Bucs Maxwell struggled again in one particular area and it’s an area that is going to be absolutely vital over the coming weeks.

His man-to-man coverage has improved as the season has gone on and when it comes to swatting balls away Maxwell shines. In fact, Maxwell only allowed on average two catches per game between weeks 4 and 10 and no touchdowns. But the one flaw he has consistently showed us all season is his lack of strength. Whether it’s being floored by a blocker or trying and failing miserably to wrap his arms around a receiver, the tackling of Byron Maxwell has been shoddy at best.

Mike Evans was set to be the biggest threat to Maxwell but the touchdown scored by Charles Simms called his effort into question. Coming off of that kind of performance, Maxwell has a long road ahead. Normally, his lack of tackling ability wouldn’t damage the team too much but when you look at some of the names he could be lining up against from now until the end of the season, the alarm bells begin to ring.

Danny Amendola (more of a threat with Edelman out of the picture_
Rob Gronkowski
Sammy Watkins
Larry Fitzgerald
Odell Beckham Jr (again)
DeSean Jackson

Sure the WR matched opposite him averages under 40 yards a game and it’s rare to see him give up a touchdown..but that’s because people aren’t throwing his way. In terms of a complete package, he’s doing much better than the likes of Bradley Fletcher did the year before, but he now faces some of the toughest receivers in the game who maintain some of the largest YAC numbers in the league, teams would be crazy not to target Maxwell.

This could be a bigger factor than we think. If Maxwell gets targeted constantly against a hard nosed wideout then bad things happen (cough, Julio) and the Eagles need to be prepared to make adjustments very early on on Thursday..especially with Golden Tate still lingering too.

If the birds fail to adjust (like they did against the Bucs) and leave Maxwell lined up against some of the most dangerous receivers in the league then the price to pay could well be a second consecutive season without playoffs. If Maxwell doesn’t step up and find the confidence or strength to bring these guys down then the Secondary that Bill Davis has built could crumble before his very eyes.

It doesn’t matter how many times Jenkins can break up a play or Thurmond can storm across the field. It doesn’t even matter how many times Nolan Carroll can tap into his Sonic The Hedgehog abilities to stop an impending touchdown. If Byron Maxwell gets burned constantly out by someone as physical as Sammy Watkins then the rest is history. Rex Ryan for instance is regarded as one of the best defensive coaches in the league, he will smell the win a mile away when scouting and watching tape on Maxwell because he knows if he can get beaten physically then it’s all but over.

Maxwell has been widely overlooked this season, largely because people weren’t giving him enough credit for the big performances when they occurred (but then you’d expect big performances from a $63million corner) but this time he has to earn that credit. He’s already in the public eye for seemingly “giving up”at one stage against the Bucs, he now faces a much tougher opponent that won’t just punish him for lazy play..they” punish the team.


Photo credit:Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports