Meet the man who might save the Eagles secondary

You may have read that title and said to yourself, another article on Darius Slay?

Kind of.

On Tuesday June 30th, the Flippin’ The Birds duo were lucky enough to sit down with Rischad Whitfield, aka “The Footwork King.”

Rischad is highly regarded around the league and has trained the likes of Darius Slay, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Odell Beckham Jr., Richard Sherman, Joe Haden, and Le’Veon Bell, among others. One of those “others” is Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas.

After his collegiate playing career came to a halt due to injuries, Whitfield found a love for kinesiology.

I’m a Kinesiology Major, kinesiology is about the body and movement. I’m big on mechanics. So when I watch a player, it’s not always a speed problem, it’s always a movement issue.”

With that love for movement, he decided to open up his own facility in 2015. But the facility came after the name:

In 2011, one of my coaches, I wanted to start an IG account and a Twitter account, and he was like ‘well you’re the king of footwork so footwork king?’ and I just ran with it and I was like ‘ok cool”. But now, with ESPN, NFL Network, Sportscenter, they’re all like ‘here’s Rischad Whitfield the footwork king’ and I can’t even change it now.

The name has stuck for a long time and rightfully so. If you look at his videos, he focuses on the movement of the lower half of a player’s body. Whether it’s their hips, legs, or feet, Whitfield focuses on that area to help better the mechanics of the player.

One of his clients has been criticized heavily for his mechanical issues. Fourth-year cornerback Rasul Douglas seems to make his sparse playing time worth it, having five interceptions in the last three seasons, which is second on the team to now-Washington Redskins corner Ronald Darby. However, he has had many moments where he is easily beat for a long pass.

Last season, quarterbacks had a 116.1 passer rating when targeting Rasul, to go along with a 16.0 yards per reception average and nine touchdowns.

Could Douglas be fixed?

On Rasul Douglas

“I get down to details [in movements] and that’s what’s going to help Rasul out a lot. He needed that. He came in, he was a heavy stepper, dropped too low, he’s already long and rangy but he was picking up his feet too high in short areas. I’m like ‘you can’t do that dude, you play corner back’. We’re working on flipping his hips quicker, which he’s getting a lot better at. He’s here all month, I’ll tell you right now that he’s going to lock one side of the field down, Slay is going to lock the other side down, Nickell Robey-Coleman is going to lock down slot corner. It’s going to be really hard for people to throw on the Eagles.”

“I’ll make sure that by training camp, and we have a lot of time, he’ll be moving the best of his career. He won’t be playing at 205 lbs, he’ll be closer to 195 lbs.”

But even with those improvements, many experts have pegged Rasul as an eventual safety.

Is he a corner or a safety?

“Before he got here, safety. Before he leaves, lockdown corner. I trust my training. The first thing I told him was ‘Rasul, you have to be a man press corner, that’s the NFL’. [He’s] long and rangy so I’m going to get him so fluid in his movements that he can play man press, off press, safety, zone, the whole nine.”

“It’s just a movement issue with him. He was too low in his stance, I raised him up a little bit. I shortened up his stance. He was too heavy-footed. I had to raise him up, man, his DB coach [Undlin] had him too low. He had him way too low. If you look a Slay, he’s almost standing up. Rasul’s like, ‘I need to be like that’.”

Speaking of Slay, Rischad was beaming with excitement when speaking about the additions of him and Nickell Robey-Coleman.

On Slay and Robey-Coleman’s addition to the Eagles

“Slay and Nickell Robey, I’ve been having those guys [training] for a long time. When I saw Nickell Robey and Slay went there, it’s lockdown. Those are one of the best corners and one of the best slot corners in the NFL. People don’t give Slay the respect. The dude is unreal, he’s smart: football I.Q. and movement wise. It’s like he has to keep proving himself and I don’t know why. But he gets respect from all the other DBs. Nickell Robey, that 5’8″ 175, he’s like a gnat, wherever you go he’s right there on your hips. Amazing burst, twitchy, fluid in the hips, great eyes, great feet, vertical is through the roof. He’s like a little dog.”

“You won’t have to worry about Slay trailing. The only receiver he has had trouble with is Davante [Adams] and Keenan Allen. Those dudes are different. You won’t have to worry about him [on double moves]. He’ll be watching the receiver and counting ‘one, two, three, ok the receiver has taken two steps that way’ and then watch the quarterback and he’ll be on the route. He’s calculating everything.”

The Eagles do face the Packers and Davante Adams in December, but it looks like the Eagles will not have to worry about opponent’s number one receivers having career days against them anymore.

With Whitfield’s work with Slay and Douglas, is it possible that there are similarities between the two?

It’ll come with experience but Rasul doesn’t move like Slay. Slay’s different. You know how they’re putting Gilmore and all of them in front of him? [on top CB lists] I’m like ‘man you’re going to give me more years [of top play]’ I love Gilmore but I need more than one year. I’m sick of guys playing good one year and then being put in front of Slay. yet Slay has another year where he has four picks, six picks. He has 19 picks in eight years, that’s incredible.

One diamond in the rough on the Eagles roster could be undrafted free agent Grayland Arnold. After going undrafted, the Eagles were able to secure the former Baylor defensive back and he was named the Eagles’ best UDFA signing by CBS Sports:

Arnold is one of my favorite undrafted free agents. He may play cornerback, he may play safety. It does not matter. He has an innate ability to be in the right place at the right time and shows good athleticism. His career may begin on special teams but Arnold has lasting power.

So after training Grayland, what’s Whitfield’s thoughts on why he wasn’t drafted?

On Grayland Arnold

“I’m trying to figure out the draft. You got the kid from Lenoir [Kyle Dugger] and I’m happy for him but I’m like ‘man Grayland’s been putting up those numbers in the Big 12 for years now’ I don’t understand. Grayland’s probably like 5’9″, he has great size, probably think he can be a strong safety. For sure tackler, he can cover ground, he’s explosive, really good football I.Q., he’s going to do it all. In the box, even if he came down to play some backer. He can run, he can blitz, he can cover, he can stay with the running backs, he’s very, very, very good.”

If there’s a renaissance in the Eagles secondary this season, you could look to Rischad Whitfield being one of the main reasons why. With his work with the “footwork king”, Rasul Douglas could be in for a breakout contract year. Defensive end Genard Avery will also be working with Whitfield in the near future, which means Whitfield could have a heavy influence on the Eagles defense as a whole in 2020.

Check out the rest of the interview below and let us know what you think in the YouTube channel and rate us on Apple Podcasts!

Mandatory Photo Credit: Jerry Habraken, The News Journal

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