New CB Bradberry Says Birds Scheme Fits His Strengths
As James Bradberry graced the podium at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday, the 28-year-old Eagles cornerback exuded confidence and optimism in his introductory press conference.
For Bradberry, now on his third team in four seasons, Philadelphia’s allure had less to do with the short trip down the New Jersey Turnpike than the scheme variance implemented by second-year defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
The playbook sealed the deal.
“I like the play of the defense,” Bradberry said. “A multiple-look, play zone and man, and I think I make a lot of plays in both. That’s the reason why I like the scheme.”
The long-limbed perimeter defender has largely specialized in zone for much of his career, which allowed his football acumen to flourish, specifically when it comes to reactionary plays, reading concepts – and the eyes of the quarterback.
In Philadelphia, Bradberry will work in concert with four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay — who turned in a banner year in his first season under Gannon — to comprise what figures to be among the most prolific NFL cornerback tandems.
“I’ve been watching [Slay] since I’ve been in the league,” Bradberry said. “And I admire his game a lot, and I feel like it’ll be a great opportunity to learn from him, but also, play alongside of him because he’s a great corner.”
However, it wasn’t merely the prospect of playing across from Slay that moved the needle for Bradberry.
The former New York Giant took some up-close-and-personal views of some other components who are primed to power Gannon’s refurbished defense.
“Of course, I admire Darius Slay’s game, so I knew he was here,” Bradberry said. “And of course, Fletcher Cox. Graham was here. I knew they had [Josh] Sweat. So, I also admired the front seven that they had.”
When the Eagles failed to retain cornerback Steven Nelson in free agency, and then proceeded to double-down by bypassing the opportunity of revitalizing the position through the draft, one couldn’t help but wonder about the plan to address the glaring vacancy opposite Slay.
In all likelihood, the answer wasn’t on the roster.
For all of his warts last season, one would be remiss to ignore the fact that Gannon was severely limited in terms of creativity and flexibility due to personnel shortcomings.
Vanilla game plans and novice blueprints became essential for weekly preservation. A vulnerable secondary limited Gannon’s creativity and appetite to blitz.
Gannon won’t have a barren cupboard to fall back on this season, however.
After overseeing the reconstruction of what was a notoriously volatile pass rush last season, the former Colts defensive backs coach now has the prototypical complement to Slay to run the system he likely envisioned upon accepting the job.
“He is a very versatile player,” Gannon said of Bradberry on Tuesday. “[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.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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