The Eagles activated a 21-day practice window for Will Parks yesterday The versatile DB missed the opening stanza of the season with a hamstring injury, but is now close to making a debut on a defense that is in dire need of his services.
Parks was signed to a one-year deal this past offseason, joining his hometown team on a prove-it contract. Joining a Safety group of Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills, Marcus Epps, Rudy Ford, and K’Von Wallace, his versatility was thought to be a huge asset in negating the loss of Malcolm Jenkins, who signed with the Saints as a free agent.
Fast-forward a few months and that versatility is needed now more than ever. The injury bug has once again ravaged the cornerback corps, meaning Jalen Mills has returned to his old CB2 stomping ground, leaving the Eagles shorthanded at Safety and unable to depend on rookie K’Von Wallace, who was of course working on a shortened offseason and trying to make the leap to the pros.
Not only that, but a linebacking corps that was already light on talent, has been abused in recent weeks. Excluding Alex Singleton’s heroic efforts against San Francisco, the linebackers have been picked on over and over, with Nate Gerry being the primary target for offenses to try and catch off guard, punishing his total lack of coverage ability.
There is some clear confusion surrounding the Eagles defense. Jim Schwartz gave a questionable response when asked about the lack of linebacker depth yesterday and the Eagles have given up the 11th most passing yards of any team through their last 3 games, as well as the 8th highest completion percentage to opposing QB’s all season, allowing 2 touchdowns per game and an average passer rating of 105.1.
How Will Parks changes the defense
‘But how could a Safety help an ailing linebacker position?’ I hear you ask.
Parks is as versatile as defensive backs come and is no stranger to run-support and playing inside the box, hopefully relieving the pressure from Nate Gerry’s shoulders.
In the 2019 season, he played 34 snaps at Free Safety in week 2, followed by 34 snaps as box player in week 3, 42 snaps back at FS in week 4, and then 36 snaps at slot CB in week 6. This level of versatility was present throughout his career in Denver and not just limited to his final season.
In four seasons with the Broncos, Parks racked up 148 tackles, 4 picks, 13 passes defensed, and 2 forced fumbles.2018 was by far the best year for Will Parks. He had 224 snaps in the box, 108 snaps at CB, and around 200 snaps at FS. He gave up a 61 % completion rate on 26 targets, 0 TDs, and an INT.
Against the Chargers last year, he spent a lot of time at the ‘MIKE’ spot, helping to hold the team to just 35 rushing yards on 16 attempts.
Having someone with the versatility and physicality to hold his own inside the box, shoot gaps and get off of blocks, as well as carry TE’s and slot receivers down the field is absolutely huge and may open things up for a defense that has really struggled on the back end in recent weeks.
It’s unclear just when Parks will be back, but his presence in the box will be a huge addition for a team struggling to stop tight ends and underneath routes. Parks is a high-motor defender with a big personality who may be able to galvanize a secondary that’s beginning to lose its swagger. His arrival couldn’t come at a better time.
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