Jonathan Gannon explains what makes James Bradberry so important to this Eagles defense

CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 20: New York Giants cornerback James Bradberry (24) in action during a game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants on September 20, 2020 at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles have taken some huge strides over the last few months and find themselves in arguably the league’s most intriguing spot. A team built on a youth infusion that should also be a formidable playoff contender with significant draft capital behind them, Howie put the cherry on the cake with the signing of former Giants CB James Bradberry. Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon opened up on what it is he brings to the secondary.

He is a very versatile player. [He’s] smart, tough, physical, can get the ball, can cover. Anytime you have that type of skill set with your outside corners, it’s a good asset to have. He allows us to play certain things predicated on what we’re trying to stop that week, as [CB Darius] Slay does, [and] as all those guys do. That’s why you look for complete players. Can they play off? Can they press? Can they play with vision? Can they play with man eyes? 

He does all that, and really with that type of player, it gives you flexibility with some of the coverages that you can play, which I like flexibility with coverages.

Bradberry had a down year depending on who you asked. But if a step back involves picking off 4 passes and amassing 47 tackles, it’s a step back many would be happy to take. He made the Pro Bowl in 2020 and fits the Eagles perfectly. He’s 6’1, 212 lbs, and runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, which is more than athletic enough for this secondary, and is a corner who feasts at the catch point.

Having two boundary corners playing at an elite level should give the Eagles’ defensive coordinator some creative freedom, and that’s something that was being begged for throughout 2021. The defense drew criticism for being too passive, giving up ridiculous stat-lines to top-10 quarterbacks, and showing no signs of unpredictability. Having a reliable backend is the key to Gannon being able to open things up and utilize the rest of his new pieces, and Bradberry’s football IQ is going to play a huge part in that.

One of the things I love about him is the high football intelligence. He has a high football IQ and production, and he can cover. He can cover. That’s what you want. You want people that can deny the football, and he can do that.

Bradberry’s ability to read and react and play downhill is going to take a lot of weight off the linebackers, arguably the group with the rawest floor and highest ceiling, and allow Gannon to play them to their strengths, which is very much the mantra for this team.

It’s encouraging to hear Gannon speak so highly of the team’s newest acquisition. The exciting part for Eagles fans will be seeing him take flight alongside Darius Slay this season and hopefully playing a part in facilitating a return of the No Fly Zone.

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire