Secondary Could Derail Philadelphia Eagles Season

By Matt Lombardo
John Geliebter – USA TODAY Sports

New names, same problem for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gone are the likes of Nnamdi AsomughaDominique Rodgers-Cromartie and in their place are Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. Yet somehow, the Eagles secondary still can’t seem to right the ship while playing under their third defensive coordinator in 12 months.

Put it simply, Chad Henne‘s 17-yard touchdown pass to Justin Blackmon in the first quarter of Saturday night’s preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars typifies a problem that has plagued this secondary for several seasons. Last season, blown coverages became the norm. The miscommunication between Fletcher and fellow newcomer, safety Patrick Chung, on Saturday was all too reminiscent of gaffes from years gone by.

It isn’t an isolated issue, either. Opposing starting quarterbacks have a 93.4 passer rating against the Eagles in the preseason, which has to be troubling.

One has to wonder if this group will ever figure it out?

With matchups against the likes of Victor Cruz and the New York GiantsMiles AustinDez Bryant and Jason Witten and the Dallas Cowboys, not to mention a showdown with Peyton Manning looming large in the early part of this team’s schedule, it could be a rough go of it before the defense has a chance to get its footing under first-year coordinator Bill Davis Jr.

The Eagles surrendered a franchise history worst 33 touchdowns a year ago and along with holdover Nate Allen, this group looks like it could even surpass that mark this season.

Sure, Williams, Fletcher and Brandon Boykin are healthy but depth is quickly becoming an issue already. Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes are out indefinitely with broken hands and Eddie Whitley has already been released after suffering a knee injury during camp. That leaves rookie Jordan Poyer and Trevard Lindley as the only two healthy backups on the roster.

“We are very concerned, with three of those guys being out,” head coach Chip Kelly said Monday. “That’s where postgame on Thursday [after teams trim their rosters to 53 players] becomes a big day in terms of what becomes available. But our whole thought right now is we’ve got to play with what we’ve got.”

Sure, the Eagles will scour the waiver wire this week but even those band-aid type fixes won’t be sturdy enough to plug the hole in the dam that has widened across the secondary in recent seasons. It’s a problem that new names, new coordinators and new schemes haven’t been able to fix.

It could send Kelly’s first season skidding off the tracks before he has a chance to build any momentum.

Matt Lombardo is also a sports radio host on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow him on Twitter.

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