Friday, September 13, 2013
With Fletcher out, Eagles scramble at CB
By Phil Sheridan
The Philadelphia Eagles will be without starting cornerback Bradley Fletcher (concussion) for Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers.
That raises a couple of issues.
The most obvious is how defensive coordinator Bill Davis replaces Fletcher. He can move nickel corner Brandon Boykin outside and likely will much of the time. But that could mean putting the 5-foot-9 Boykin on the 6-5 Malcom Floyd while also weakening the Eagles in the slot.
“I get this so much,” Boykin said. “Regardless of what your height is, you have to go out and get it done. Every week, I’m going to face people that are taller than me. They switch their guys up. I might have to go against Antonio Gates, their tight end. That’s not a challenge to me. I’m ready for it. I demand greatness from myself when the ball is in the air.”
Davis said Wednesday the Eagles would “practice it a couple different ways, but that would be our first move, probably.”
The other options are problematic. Brandon Hughes practiced this week, but he has been sidelined for nearly three weeks with a broken hand. Rookie Jordan Poyer has shown promise, but he was immediately targeted for a Robert Griffin III touchdown pass when he came in Monday night. Shaun Prater has been with the team only two weeks and was inactive Monday.
“All the guys that we just picked up are doing a great job of studying,” Davis said, which suggests Prater isn’t ready to play yet.
That brings us to the other issue. It is almost unfair to compare this year’s defense to last year’s. It is an entirely new scheme with new starters at six positions. So it probably wouldn’t mean much that Philip Rivers is exactly the kind of quarterback that destroyed the Eagles the past couple of years -- smart, accurate, able to spot the weak link and exploit it.
Passer ratings against the Eagles last year looked like IQ scores at a Mensa meeting: Griffin (158.3), Tony Romo (150.5), Matt Ryan (137.4), Eli Manning (134.5), Drew Brees (137.4).
Take a starting corner out and those problems seem more likely to carry over into this game. The Eagles defense was impressive in the first half against Griffin, but he completed 25 of 38 passes for 276 yards (93.8 rating) in the second half.
Davis moves his corners around as needed, so he could try to get the 6-1 Cary Williams on Floyd and Boykin on the 5-10 Eddie Royal. Hughes (5-11) and Poyer (6-0) are likely to play based on their effectiveness.