• Justin Morganstein

Inside The Birds: DB Development Woes Plague Birds

As Jonathan Gannon is brought in to replace Jim Schwartz as the next defensive coordinator in Philadelphia, he'll be looking to craft the Eagles' secondary, which has had its issues over the last few years.


In the latest Inside the Birds podcast, Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan focus on the Eagles' secondary and lack of development from corners and safeties along with examining the team's salary-cap issues.


Gannon's Impact

Geoff Mosher: “[The secondary] is a really big area of development – or lack thereof – that we're going to talk about over the past few years. And it's a big part of this team, knowing that the new defensive coordinator was a defensive backs coach [with the Colts], so the same things we've talked about with the new coaches on the offensive side at wide receiver, I think apply a little bit here to defensive backs with your defensive coordinator.”


Adam Caplan: “Jon Gannon, this is his position, defensive backs. He's bringing in his version of Mike Zimmer's scheme for the most part, and you would think it would be dominated by the secondary. We had said about a month ago when we had heard from our sources that there's gonna be a lot more pre-snap disguise, compared to Schwartz's scheme where, my god, for two years it was rare that we didn't talk about the lack of disguise. That was the one issue that other teams had when they'd watch Eagles tape, so that'll change.”


Roster/Salary Cap

Mosher: “We're getting closer to the start of the new league year. Next week is gonna be a big week for a lot of teams, including the Eagles who have to cut down money, as we've talked about with the Eagles. I think one source described it to this reporter as it's going to be a massacre.”


Caplan: “To be honest with you, I would not agree with that.”


Mosher: “So, you don't think it'd be a lot of cutting from some of these teams?”


Caplan: “There will be, but there's been already. I tweeted something late Tuesday afternoon about the guys who have been told they're going to be cut or have been cut already. The one that shocked me is Kyle Van Noy, they paid him $15 million in the first year, and they cut him the second year? They haven't done it yet, but they told him he's going to be cut and he actually put a statement out so that was a surprise. But here's the thing. If we get the TV deal done by March 17, the major TV deal we are talking, not just ESPN. Obviously, ESPN’s TV deal is gonna be really massive, it's going to be even better than it was before. But whatever it's going to entail, the billions of dollars. The cap is gonna be bigger than we thought.”

(Darius Slay will be asked to lead an Eagles secondary short on proven talent)

Eagles CBs

Caplan: “Starting at corner, this is a pretty barren group they just don't have a lot of talent at this position.”


Mosher: It's amazing how top-heavy they are. I know Darius Slay had a rough time against DK Metcalf and Davante Adams, but he also had some good games against [Terry] McLaurin and against [Darius] Slayton, who gave the Eagles fits last year, so it's not like he was awful like people want to say. But after Slay, what do you got? If we're assuming that Avante Maddox is your slot corner going into 2021, are we wrongfully assuming that? Do they maybe give him a shot on the outside?”


Caplan: “I hope not. I mean he is, as one source told me, a dynamic slot corner because he's strong for his, you know, for being 5-foot-9. He runs better than you think and he timed well, but the tape shows he can really run. High-character kid. Now, he's had some injuries, we know about that, that’s a concern. But in football, it's all about understanding what the guy brings to the table and using him correctly. I understand that they had issues at corner. They played [Nickell] Robey-Coleman for goodness sake at 5-foot-7-and-change outside. [Crevon] LeBlanc and Robey-Coleman are free agents. As you're saying, it's Slay and everybody else, so right now it's Slay on the outside, and they don't have another corner on the outside right now that is under contract. They're gonna have to draft."


Jalen Mills Outlook

Mosher: [The Eagles] only unrestricted free agent, of course, is Jalen Mills, who was the subject of some questions in our livestream the other day. I probably misspoke when I said I think it's a better than average chance that he comes back, but I think you could build an argument for why you would want him to come back. He is a veteran, there's not a lot in that group. Rodney McLeod is coming off an ACL so I don't know how he's been doing with that, but if it's only going to be a one-year deal I can't imagine anybody's going to be out there, offering him multi-year deals, so it would make sense to me to use him as that third safety, that hybrid type who can cover backs and tight ends."


Caplan: The thing that’s always going to plague Jalen Mills is he just doesn't run well enough. We know he's smart, we know he's tough, we got all that. He was a Jim Schwartz guy. New coaching staff, I would say it is a small surprise if he's back.”


Mosher: “When you say he doesn't run well enough, I agree with you if we're talking about outside corner. But if we're talking about third safety, I mean, you're covering tight ends.”


Caplan: “Yeah he's got length, and he's physical but I just don't think he's ever going to be good enough for that role.”


Safeties Outlook

Mosher: “How do you see the starters? If Mills doesn't come back how do you see their top two safeties?”


Caplan: Rodney McLeod, they're into him for just under $4 million fully guaranteed so you would think you'd be back. Plus, the big reason I understand why they brought him back last year is they really wanted a veteran back there, which is fair. I get it. obviously he’s a very high-character guy and he could get everything set up.

"K’Von Wallace was not ready when they played him. We told you after the draft, he would not be ready. The way we understood it from more sources is that he plays a certain way, played a certain way at Clemson. He had to not change the style, he's an aggressive player, but he needed further development. He played a little bit here and there, just didn't play very much. But the Eagles are very high on him and at some point he's going to get his chance. But if you look at the group, Geoff, Marcus Epps is a backup, Blake Countess is a special teams returner, Grayland Arnold and Elijah Riley are complete unknowns and they're just in the mix to maybe be the fourth safety that's about it.” – Justin Morganstein (@jmo318@comcast.net) is a staff contributor for InsideTheBirds.com.


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