Why the Eagles could be looking to replace Walter Thurmond

walter-thurmond

Reports of a mutual interest in a new contract between the Eagles and Cornerback Nolan Carroll have started to surface today and whilst this is promising for Carroll, it’s slightly worrying for Walter Thurmond. The 28 year old may only be on the roster for three more weeks until he’s forced to walk into Free Agency. The former Seahawk enjoyed a career year in Philadelphia and stayed healthy for all 16 games, a first for Thurmond…so why aren’t the Eagles making the obvious decision? The decision itself isn’t that obvious.
Thurmond was great at covering slot receivers and was able to match most in a foot race if he had to..the problem was what happened once he caught them. His one downside seemed to be finishing tackles and he often needed a helping hand after initially stunting the run.

If you look at the solo tackles of all Eagles safety’s and the ratio of Solo to combined..it becomes glaringly obvious.

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Malcolm Jenkins has almost double the amount of solo tackles in comparison to the amount of solo tackles that Thurmond racked up despite having the same number of assisted tackles.

But why is this relevant?  If we delve into the same stats for each of the seasons Jim Schwartz was the head coach of the Detroit Lions and note the Defensive rank, it all becomes clear.

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Under Jim Schwartz in four years as Head Coach of the Lions, only three safeties had OVER 26% of their tackles assisted. If Thurmond were to enjoy a season of over 70 tackles, no Safety during Schwartz’ Lions tenure had OVER 26% of their tackles assisted when they have had over 70 tackles.

Why? Because the attaching 4-3 scheme that Schwartz employs is very aggressive. It’s hard hitting, it’s forceful, it’s in your face. Walter Thurmond is excellent in coverage. He’s good at stripping the ball out and even better at picking it off…but he isn’t a tough tackler.

We can expect a lot of blitzes under Schwartz and if there’s no help ahead of Thurmond and he can’t make a saving tackle it could be absolutely costly.

As Jimmy Kempski alluded to in an article regarding draft options at Safety, Jeremy Cash has had 333 tackles with 38 being for a loss during his time at Duke. Now he may not be a prime target for the Eagles but that’s the kind of exceptional physicality that would strive under Jim Schwartz.

We know Thurmond wants to be back. With the cap rising and the Eagles saving more room than they are losing it, there isn’t really an excuse to not engage in talks with him unless they don’t want him back..and unfortunately this could be Thurmond’s achilles heel.

If it’s aggression Schwartz wants, the “piggyback” moments of Byron Maxwell absolutely have to stop..but when you compare Jenkins and Thurmond it’s like comparing a Gazelle and a mountain Bear. The Bear is ruthless, aggressive and extremely intimidating..the other is extremely elegant, light on their feet and beautiful in their movement. Unfortunately..in this type of Defense..there might not be room for a Gazelle regardless of their talent.

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