In 2007, the Philadelphia Eagles went a disappointing 8-8 after making the playoffs the year prior. After a season where they ranked last in the NFL in turnovers but 10th overall, it was clear secondary help was needed. That prompted the signing of ballhawk Asante Samuel. The rest is history.
Although Jonathan Gannon’s defense was a top-10 unit statistically last season, the eye test told the story of a unit that lacked both the requisite talent and experience to execute the scheme. To fix that, the Eagles signed James Bradberry. A move that mirrors the signing of Asante Samuel in more ways than one.
One can only hope Bradberry’s impact is as close to Samuel’s was for the team itself.
Corners on the Roster
When Asante Samuel was brought in, he joined long-time stalwarts Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown. Originally the best tandem the Eagles had in years, the declining play of Sheppard made the move for Samuel paramount.
Samuel instantly brought credibility to the pass defense that went from last in takeaways to a top 10 finish. The Eagles ended up getting to the NFC Championship Game because of the play of Samuel and the changes that came from his talents on the defense.
It’s safe to assume that James Bradberry could offer the same style of improvement for the Eagles defense. The Eagles already have Darius Slay who played at an All-Pro level last season. Similar to Sheldon Brown in 2007. The 2021 Eagles only ranked 26th in takeaways. Adding a player like Bradberry could not only help enhance that number, but improve a pass defense that was already 10th in yards allowed.
The Front Seven
When Asante Samuel came to the roster, he joined a team with a ton of young, unproven linebackers, and some solid pieces along the front four. Led by Trent Cole, the Eagles run defense was stout. With Samuel on the roster, the Eagles linebackers were able to flourish and moved sideline-to sideline without having to much to worry about.
The 2022 Eagles have a similar roster. A strong DLine is finally being paired up with young linebackers like Kyzir White and Nakobe Dean. With James Bradberry joining Slay in the secondary, the Eagles can be creative with where they put their linebackers and let them play more freely.
The addition of Bradberry, like Samuel over a decade ago, will help the front seven even more.
We know the outcome of what happened when Asante Samuel came to the Eagles. The defense had its best year under Jim Johnson and the Eagles got to their fifth NFC Title Game in nine seasons.
The story hasn’t been written yet for James Bradberry and the 2022 Eagles. While on paper, a move like this could alter the course of a season, execution is still the most important thing to focus on for this Eagles roster.
As Samuel did 14 years ago, Bradberry will look to help an Eagles defense not just pass the eye test, but be a dominant force in the NFL.
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