Down On The Corner?
2023 Season Preview Series: Bradberry Will Be Fortunate To Repeat All Pro
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the seventh story in a series by Inside The Birds’ Geoff Mosher and Andrew DiCecco previewing the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles season. In Part 7, they identify the Eagles player most poised for decline in 2023).
Andrew DiCecco: James Bradberry
I know, I know. How can someone so vocal about the impact, consistency, and contributions Bradberry provided in 2022 seemingly pivot only months later?
Well, first, I fully anticipate Bradberry performing to the standard he set last season, efficiently blanketing his side of the field while relying on his high-level football intellect to make plays on the ball.
But expecting the near-30-year-old cornerback to replicate his lone All-Pro campaign seems awfully presumptuous.
For starters, one would expect new coordinator Sean Desai to follow predecessor Jonathan Gannon’s blueprint in how to best utilize his gradually aging veteran cornerback tandem.
Their usage, of course, has yet to be determined.
Furthermore, with five-time Pro Bowler Darius Slay occupying one side, team’s will likely devise a weekly ploy to exploit Bradberry’s territory when taking to the air.
Bradberry, hardly fleet of foot, will face an interesting test before the bye week, with home matchups against a scorching Dolphins receiving corps and a Cowboys unit boasting proven field-stretchers in Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup.
Don’t expect a reprieve coming out of the bye, either, with showdowns against the Chiefs, Bills, 49ers, Cowboys, and Seahawks on the slate.
The free-agent departures of safeties C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps could also come into focus, perhaps placing more of a burden on the team’s cornerback duo – specifically Bradberry – as it potentially anoints Terrell Edmunds and Reed Blankenship as successors, leaving the secondary largely devoid of the blistering foot speed required to keep pace with some of the league’s premier pass-catchers.
Geoff Mosher: James Bradberry
Maybe Andrew and I secretly plotted to have the same answers for nearly every category in this preview series.
Or maybe the Eagles are just that predictable. I’m going with B.
Several of the Eagles’ 30-somethings are still elite and haven’t yet show signs of slowing down, namely Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson. Another aging vet, Fletcher Cox, has already shown decline and was probably named in this category last year.
It really just leaves Bradberry as the obvious choice for many of the aforementioned reasons – he’s about to turn 30, he’s one year removed from being outright released, his safety help isn’t C.J. Gardner-Johnson or Marcus Epps anymore, and – perhaps the biggest reason – it’s really friggin’ hard to have as good of a season as he had last year.
The Giants and 49ers both made it clear last year they felt Bradberry could be beaten if they could keep their quarterbacks upright, but they couldn’t. The Saints got Bradberry down the field with Rashid Shaheed.
This year’s schedule features Patrick Mahomes (again), Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Geno Smith.
Good luck, JB. Probably gonna need some.
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffpmosher) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and Senior staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com. Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
Follow the whole series:
Part 1: Most impactful rookie
Part 2: Biggest second-year player impact
Part 3: Breakout 2023 performer
Part 4: Most significant free-agent addition, offense
Part 5: Most significant free-agent addition, defense
Part 6: Strong position, offense
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