Friday, September 27, 2013
Broncos-Eagles matchup of the day
By Jeff Legwold
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has dropped back to pass over this season’s first three weeks, the guy he’s looked to throw to most often is wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Jackson has been targeted on 37 percent of Vick’s passing attempts and his 19 receptions account for 34.4 percent of Vick’s completions. And when a defense elects to simply match a cornerback on a wide receiver no matter where that wide receiver lines up, two of the main criteria for the decision is to first have a player who can do it and if the move could potentially take a big enough piece of the offensive game plan away.
So, given how things have gone thus far in the Broncos' defense, the time looks right for the Broncos to match cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on his former teammate Sunday. When the Broncos signed Rodgers-Cromartie in the offseason they said he had the talent to be a No. 1 cornerback and that they would coach him hard to get him to reach that level.
In short, they said they could lift him back to his Pro Bowl level of 2009 and perhaps beyond if he would listen and do the work.
“I think he understood that, I think he was open to that," Broncos coach John Fox said. “He wants to be great. It takes a certain mindset and work ethic and study habits to be that guy."
The Ravens threw at Rodgers-Cromartie just once in the season opener as he locked down Jacoby Jones, until Jones left that game with an injury.
For his part, Jackson not only has top-tier speed, but with his experiences as a top-shelf returner in the kicking game, he also runs well in traffic once he has the ball. Rodgers-Cromartie has a reach advantage over the 5-foot-10 Jackson and has enough athleticism to run with Jackson as well in the open field.
The Broncos will often match a cornerback on a receiver -- usually when Champ Bailey is healthy -- and given Vick’s leanings toward Jackson in the pass pattern, they could feel that’s the move to make in this one.
“[Jackson] hit me up on the phone and was just like ‘you know it’s me and you this weekend, we’re going to go at it’," Rodgers-Cromartie said. “But that’s just a challenge I’m looking forward to."