Strong safety Patrick Chung heads into his first training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles as the favorite to win the starting job.
Chung, a second-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2009, brings a hard hitting style that’s been missing from the Eagles secondary since Brian Dawkins left town after the 2008 season. He was a starter since his rookie year in New England, but his role in a statistically poor pass defense over the past few years made him seem expendable to the Patriots brass.
It also didn’t help that his signature play with the Patriots was being a millisecond late on the long pass down the sidelines from Eli Manning to Mario Manningham that ignited the New York Giants‘ come-from-behind victory in Super Bowl XLVI. But while that play showed one of Chung’s weaknesses — his quickness in reacting to throws down the field — it doesn’t tell the whole picture of what he brings to the table for a defense.
Chung is a throwback type of safety. He operates better inside the box then he does in the deep zones on the field. He’s a sure tackler and hard hitter who isn’t afraid to step up and stop a ball carrier from turning a five yard gain into a huge play. The question for Chung is whether or not his style of play is still what you want from a defensive back in today’s NFL.
The answer to that question still has to been seen. Sure, the league is becoming more and more pass oriented by the year, that can’t be denied. The league has also made it a priority to take away a physical defensive back’s ability to defend the pass by roughing up receivers down the field.
Chung has plenty talent and brings a lot to the table, but if he’s going to live up to the expectations the Eagles have for him in 2013, he’s going to need to change the way he plays. He’s going to need to learn to defend the pass better by improving his pre-snap positioning, because he’s not the type of player who can get by on his physical skills alone.
The jury is still out on Patrick Chung, but if he can step up the mental side of his game, he’ll have a good year in 2013.