Thursday, January 7, 2010
The Eagles have secondary issues
By Matt Mosley
We've focused a lot this week on the Eagles' inability to score points against the Cowboys, but Philly's defense is also struggling. And while the linebackers seem to be a mess, the secondary may be the bigger problem.
Miscommunication and changes in personnel have hurt Quintin Mikell and the Eagles' secondary.
The Eagles have some ball-hawking cornerbacks who have contributed to the most interceptions of the Andy Reid era with 25. But the Eagles have also given up 27 touchdowns passes, which also leads the Reid era. Daily News NFL writer Paul Domowitch thinks it has a lot to do with a lack of continuity in the secondary.
Playing next to Brian Dawkins last season, safety Quintin Mikell had an excellent season. He was solid in coverage and also did a nice job of supporting the run. This season, he appears to be doing too much. Mikell was supposed to be helping over the top when Patrick Crayton appeared to beat cornerback Sheldon Brown for a touchdown in the first half of Sunday's game.
"I should've been over the top," Mikell told reporters Wednesday. "I was just out-thinking myself. I was trying to make a play. Sometimes that happens. It's happened too often with me this year, and it won't happen again. I've just got to stay within the scheme."
Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has started a variety of different lineups and he's not afraid to make wholesale changes between plays. But players say all the different lineups sometime lead to communication problems. I can remember at the end of the Chargers game, a defense was called that was supposed to have Mikell covering tight end Antonio Gates. For whatever reason, the call wasn't executed and Gates caught a game-sealing pass against Quintin Demps.
Domowitch said the Eagles have given up a league-leading 15 touchdown passes when they blitz. I realize the Eagles blitz more than most teams, but that's still a staggering number. That might explain why McDermott only blitzed about 30 percent of the time against Tony Romo last Sunday.
I don't know if you can make enough changes in six days, but perhaps the Eagles' defense will play more under control this Saturday night. Cornerback Asante Samuel's one of the best in the league, but his gambling ways have put the defense in a bind at times. In fact, two of his interception attempts last Sunday led to big plays for the Cowboys.
If the Eagles can't do a better job of executing Saturday, Romo will have another big game.