One thing that is being emphasized in Billy Davis’ new 3-4 hybrid look for the Philadelphia Eagles defense is physicality and aggressiveness at every position. One man who should bring that physicality and aggressiveness on the back end is Bradley Fletcher, formerly of the St. Louis Rams.
Fletcher had an up-and-down career with the Rams, a team that had quite a few coaching changes in his time there. When Fletcher played, he actually graded out solid across the board in coverage and tackling. There was a numbers crunch in St. Louis with newcomers like Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson added during last year’s draft and the high-profile signing of Cortland Finnegan; this left Fletcher looking for a new home.
Tackling and fundamental football is something Eagles corners lacked in a huge way last year. Opposing offensive players seemingly broke tackles and made the secondary miss at will last season, partly due to bad technique and partly due to a lack of commitment and will to do the dirty work for some high prized diva-type players. Fletcher is the antitheses of this as he comes up from the secondary and makes the wrap-up tackle and can bring the wood on opposing ball carriers and wide receivers. This is frankly something Eagles fans have not seem from the corner position since Sheldon Brown, and it will be a refreshing change from the soft play of the corners through the last few seasons.
Physicality, aggressiveness and intimidation used to be the staple of an Eagles defense under the late great Jim Johnson. Under new defensive coordinator Davis, the Eagles are trying to get back to that by adding Fletcher, an aggressive playmaker, along with recent Super Bowl champion Cary Williams, who is more of a gambler on the back end but will also come up and hit the opposing player. The Eagles feel like they have the most physical set of corners since Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor patrolled the secondary in the 90s. Eagles fans have been dying to watch great defense in this town again. It may take some time with a new coordinator and a brand new system, but the foundation is being laid in the secondary for a defense that will bring its lunch pail to work every day and shut opponents down on Sundays.