When the Eagles went out and acquired the services of veteran cornerback, Patrick Robinson, there was a sense of intrigue in the city. Philadelphia had a bursting hole at the cornerback spot and had previously released both of last years’ starters, leaving them with just Jalen Mills and Robinson. Little did we know the structure at cornerback would change dramatically over the coming months.
It was a rollercoaster season on the outside with the Colts that led him to wading the free agency waters, but a jump to the starting spot was something Robinson embraced. The Eagles then went on to draft an injured Sidney Jones and the lengthy Rasul Douglas to bolster the position. While Jones was expected to spend his rookie season learning from the sideline, Douglas had the potential to come in and steal a starting spot. This battle would headline Training Camp for the most part, with a flurry of young and hungry corners chomping at the bit for their opportunity.
Robinson was left on the outside, struggling to contain the Eagles wideouts which led many lobbying for his head. However a quick look at the film would suggest that all he needed was a move inside.
Robinson was electric during his time with the Chargers in 2015. His numbers weren’t amazing, but a 55.9% completion rate allowed absolutely was. In his lone year there, Robinson showed the potential he had flashed at times playing for the Saints.
According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed 8.9 yards per catch during that lone season with San Diego, the best among corners targeted 40 times or more. When lined up in the slot, he allowed 0.78 yards per coverage snap, the second best among corners targeted over 200 times in the slot.
The Eagles quickly shifted Robinson inside during the latter stages of Training Camp after the arrival of Ronald Darby and it suddenly became blindingly obvious that the nickel spot is where the 29-year old belongs. Robinson would remain there for the regular season and go on to have a season that nearly mirrored what we saw two years ago.
During the 2017 regular season, Robinson recorded 47 tackles and matched a career high in interceptions (4) and passes defensed (18). That interception number could have been much higher however, with several quite literally slipping through his hands.
Robinson consistently graded as one of PFF’s top cornerbacks, locking down WR3’s and tight ends all year long…and then the postseason rolled around. Against the Vikings, Robinson made an incredible interception that completely changed the tides of momentum. Sprinting back the other way, the veteran corner started directing blocks and patiently waiting for holes to open. The composure and experience allowed Robinson to weave through traffic into the corner of the end zone that sparked a 38 unanswered point run.
“When you get a pick-six like that and get yourself back into the game, yeah, guys begin to feed off that and feed off the crowd.” Doug Pederson told reporters after the game. “What a tremendous crowd today. Fans were excited, electric. I don’t think they sat down the whole game. So plays like that, the fans really got us back into the game.”
“I don’t think it just pumped up the offense, I think it pumped up the whole city of Philadelphia.” Nick Foles exclaimed in his post-game presser. “I think everyone down Broad Street heard that, and I can only imagine what’s going on down on Broad Street right now. I know everyone is probably having a good time as they should. But anytime you get a pick-six it’s a momentum change. [Patrick Robinson] made a play. It was the biggest play of the game and a momentum shift.”
Robinson is a pending free agent and it’s not yet clear whether or not the Eagles will bring him back, but his production has far exceeded the money paid to him in the offseason. Signing a ‘prove-it’ contract in the early stages of the free agency process, Robinson has certainly lived up to the title of the deal.
“Well, really it’s the d-line.” Robinson said when asked to explain his thought process during the play. “I’m definitely appreciative of our d-line. When I went out to the flat, I saw the ball coming out. I was like, ‘Oh man, it’s going to be an easy pick.’ Like two hours before the game, I was like, ‘If I get a pick, I’m not going out of bounds.’ I was running down the sideline and I was like, ‘No, I definitely can’t go out of bounds.’ So I just cut it back upfield. [Eagles CB Ronald] Darby made a great block.”
It’s crazy to think that just a few months ago, Robinson was a player many were so prepared to give up on. But now, in the NFC Championship Game, that same player arguably made the biggest play of the matchup and will undoubtedly be relied on to provide consistent coverage and leadership against the New England Patriots in two weeks time.
The story of Patrick Robinson is certainly an inspiring one, but there’s still one chapter left to write.
Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports