Bradley Fletcher

Posted: June 29th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 44 Comments »

The Eagles need better CB play in 2013 if the defense is going to be effective. Simple as that. Last year the team had a pair of big name corners, but they didn’t come close to playing to their reputations. Now both are gone.

Bradley Fletcher is one of the new guys that will be starting at CB. Fletcher is a tough subject. He’s had moments in the NFL when he looked like he could be a star CB. And yet he finished 2013 as the #4 CB for the Rams.

Let’s talk about that angle to begin with. Fletcher had a solid season in 2013. The problem is that he was coming off a knee injury and the Rams couldn’t count on him. So they signed Cortland Finnegan to a big deal. Then they spent high picks on Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. Early on, Fletcher played on a regular basis. He struggled with PI penalties against the Patriots in late October. From that point on, his snaps went downhill. The Rams knew they weren’t going to re-sign him so they wanted to get Johnson on the field.

I have watched tape of Fletcher, both before he was an Eagle and since then. I thought he had the best pure man cover skills of any free agent corner. I guess technically DRC had those, but he wasn’t coming back. Fletcher’s big problem in the NFL has been durability. He’s played in 43 of 64 possible games. If he can stay healthy, I think Fletcher can be a good starting CB.

Check out this note from PFF.

Fletcher is a good fit for Bill Davis and what he wants to do. Fletcher has good size at 6-0, 200. He plays big. Fletcher likes to be physical at the LOS. The Rams had him press and play off. Fletcher didn’t look as good when playing off, but he is smart. Fletcher is a former Safety and does a good job of reading patterns and knowing who to cover when the offense floods his area with multiple receivers. Fletcher keeps things in front of him and then quickly comes up to make the tackle. He is a good hitter and tackler.

Davis needs CBs who can blitz and play the run. Fletcher had a sack last year. He can get after the QB when asked to. He is a solid run defender. He will take on blocks and hold his ground. Fletcher understands leverage. He’s not going to let a WR seal him and give the RB an open lane to the outside.

I really think Fletcher could be one of those guys that surprises people when they see him play. “How’d we get this guy?”  The real key is him staying healthy. I wish I could tell you he’d be the next Troy Vincent, but that would be stretching things way too far. I do think he’s going to be better than Ellis Hobbs and Dmitri Patterson, but that’s setting the bar too low. I’m not sure what Eagles free agent CB would be a happy medium.

* * * * *

Let’s take a look at some video.

Going back to pre-draft days. Football guys did a piece on Fletcher from the E-W Shrine Game. You can see his natural cover skills.

Here are some good NFL hightlights. Notice that he goes against CJ, Fitz and Nicks. Fletcher can handle big WRs. Speedy guys are more of a problem for him.

* * * * *

Here is the Film Room piece from PE.com where Greg Cosell takes a look at Fletcher.

And here is an interview that Dave Spadaro did with him.

* * * * *

No matter what happens with Fletcher, I sure think I am going to like him a heck of a lot more than the Charmin Brigade that we had on the field last year. Give me a tough guy that will compete rather than soft underachievers.

_


  • Dominik

    Always had a good feeling about Fletcher IF he can stay healthy (comparable to Phillips, altough with him, there is more risk and even more upside, imho).

    Fletcher + Williams outside + Boykin for the slot and ideally Poyer as hybrid Safety/Slot – I guess it is fair to say that the Safety position is the bigger problem. Never liked the Chung signing, I don’t trust Allen and Coleman despite the scheme change, Wolff is a rookie. If Phillips can’t play, and you have to take that into account, we probably have two holes there.

    With Fletcher/Williams, I think we could have some problems with speedster receivers. But on the other hand: who hasn’t? And: At least the NFC East is not filled with those guys. Bryant, Austin, Garcon, Nicks, Cruz – all of those guys are good, but not exactly speedsters like DJax. You have to account for Austin and Cruz in the slot – which makes it even more critical that Boykin takes a further step forward. But I have a pretty good feeling about that. He was the best Defensive Back in a horrible, horrible environment as a rookie. That should tell you something about his potential.

  • Brendan Ekstrom

    It looks like every interception he grabs in he NFL highlight video is more of a ball that should never have been thrown than him anticipating a route and making the qb pay but at least he makes those plays and man just seeing some of those tackles is enough to get me excited for his guy after the last few years. A lot of the pbus are impressive as well. It doesn’t matter how good you can play man if you have no ball skills as we know all too well at this point.

    • TommyLawlor

      Yeah, he’s no ballhawk. I can live with that.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        Yeah, I’d much rather have shut down/physical corners that will make the TO when the opportunity comes to them, than soft ballhawks that are overly aggressive, get burned & then can’t wrap up.

        • MediaMike

          Agree 100%! Turnovers will come with a better pass rush, but missed tackles are brutal.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            And the pass rush/blitz will be better with strong coverage on the outside.

          • MediaMike

            Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan always say……….cover to get sacks, rush the passer to get INTs.

          • GEagle

            Hopefully Fletch n Cary can be our sound outside CBs and Poyer develops into our ballhawk

          • MediaMike

            Poyer should be interesting. I’m a fan, but we’ll see how he develops.

          • Tumtum

            Cary can intercept the ball now, don’t you worry about that. His tactic is also part of his downfall though. He tends to play off (though he is hyped around the Philly media as a press cover guy), and really keep everything in front of him. It keeps the ball from going over the top, but opens up the underneath stuff. Fine by me. His boon though is that as long as he doesn’t get turned around he can make a nice break on a well anticipated ball.

            Did he have more picks last year than all Philly DBs combined?

      • Mitchell

        Even if he’s not a ballhawk, he can still catch a ball that is poorly thrown, which is still better than last year!

  • MediaMike

    I really liked this signing and I’m very happy that Fletcher has flown WAY under the radar. I still don’t believe we have a true “# 1″ CB on this roster in the mold of Asante Samuel, Troy Vincent or Eric Allen, but Fletcher is as solid of a starter as you can ask for in this league. Williams, stupid OTA priorities aside, is also going to be a solid competitor at CB. I’d not thumb my nose at a solid trio of Fletcher / Williams / Boykins as our group.
    Safety on the other hand………………….F Chung and his ruination of my Super Bowl viewing.

    • GEagle

      Yeah, I’m with you in thinking our corners can be better than a lot of people think..safety is certainly the real issue…How fast is Boykin? he has experience on the outside and I Im not mistaken I think Bradley has played some slot, so I wonder if we could switch the two around, when opponents put a speedster on the outside?

      Tough to have much confidence in Chung, Kenny and Nate. Wolff is the X factor for me(not necessarily for this year), but if he can grow into a real starting NFL safety we will be closer to where we need be. Im still holding my breath for Jarius Byrd. A player like him, makes the entire defense better(I’m waiting for Howie “splash” Roseman to do his thing lol)..Byrd is a real impact player who can really make everyone around him better. Hopefully Wolff is ready to take over for someone come midseason….

      Question…Chung IMO has been brought here to start at safety in 2013. If we start him, would that remove him from ST? I hope not, because that kid has made some epic ish happen on ST..
      ….
      as for Bradley Fletch, going into free agency there were two oppinions about him:
      1) Who? He must not be that good
      2) The people who have taken the time to watch Fletch, mostly all echoed similar sentiments to Ty Law in that this kid can be one of those surprising players we grow to Love(I have a serious man crush on Janoris Jenkins).
      ..
      Fletch seems like a good Charecter kid, talks about how one day he wants to coach secondaries. Here’s hoping the man can stay healthy and take that next step as a play..

      It’s so early to talk about this, but 90% of Mocks next year have us going after 1st round CB’s Robey(Ohio state) or Olomu(Oregon)..I bring this up not because they are the players everyone is expecting us to target right now, but because I think it says something about how little people think about our CBs…Are C-Dub and B-Fletcb our CBs of the next 4 years? Who knows? But I do believe they have a very real chance of becoming just that. Both players haven’t had that much playing time and continuity, so they are very capable of still improving..whether they improve and stay healthy enough to man the outside for the next 5 years? That remains to be seen. No clue just how good our CBs look this year, but by default, it will be significantly better than what we saw last year

      • Tumtum

        At the start of last year Fletch didn’t play in 2 WR sets. In nickle he came in but he played on the outside. Not really suited for nickle.

        This is just memory from Tommy’s original synopsis, may be inaccurate.

        • GEagle

          Thanks for the intel mate

    • Tumtum

      Don’t forget the dark horse here. Curtis Marsh. The expectation from day 1 was that he would never do much until possibly 2013. He has the body, and the physical attributes. I would LOVE to see some homegrown talent do something on the defensive side of the ball. Trent Cole is the last long time starter type I can think of that an Eagles’ drafted has produced.

      • GEagle

        I’m done holding my breath in regards to Marsh, but I welcome him proving me wrong

  • deg0ey

    Honestly, when FA was still in full-swing, Fletcher was the one CB I really wanted us to target. I’ve seen a lot of people saying that Williams has got one spot locked down and that Fletcher will have to compete with Marsh et al on the other side. I don’t get that at all; if he’s healthy, I think Fletcher is our best CB and I don’t think it’s close. It’s like how Phillips will easily be our best S if his knee holds out.

    • GEagle

      Fletch, Williams and Cox were the free agent CBs that I wanted..so I think we did good considering what was on the market. I like that we went after guys who are still improving. take a guy like Cary, his play took a big leap from the season to the playoffs…iF these two can stay healthy, remain on the field gaining experience and continuity, they have a chance at becoming much better players then they we last year. I mean, neither player has really had more than two seasons of playing time. So while we didn’t Add two stud CBs, we added two CBs who’s career trajectory is still climbing.

  • Alex Karklins

    Wait, I thought CBs were not allowed to tackle. What is this madness I’m seeing in the video?

  • RIP Worms

    I couldn’t help but compare Fletcher to Sheldon Brown as I read that piece. Fundamentally sound, solid tackler (“…cardboard box. Seriously, cardboard box.”), but lacking top end speed. The only major difference I see is durability.

    If he stays healthy it will be the first time since Sheldon was here that we can actually expect a corner to provide run support.

    Nnamdi’s idea of “run support” was to provide assistance to the runner, “Cheerio, chap, right this way!”

    • TommyLawlor

      Brilliant Nnamdi quote.

      • Tumtum

        I like the Sheldon -> Reggie Bush reference even more! Play a video of that hit on a loop with ectasy of gold as the sound track and I would be able to run through a brick wall.

        I miss that guy…. I miss a lot of guys. Sheldon Brown, Mike Patterson, Jason Avant type guys. We used to have so many like that. Guys like that don’t win you championships but you don’t win championships without them.

    • Anders

      I agree. Sheldon Brown was the first guy I thought off. Fletcher do have better hands than Brown, so basicly Sheldon Brown with Samuel’s hands and cover skills (no matter what we say, Samuel got really great cover skills)

      • GEagle

        I like the Sheldon comparison….I know Fletch is a good tackler, but is he a gritty hitter like Sheldon was, or more of a sound tackler type

    • GEagle

      NNamdi and DRC would safely escort opposing recievers into the endzone

  • TommyLawlor

    Interesting stuff on the Body Bag Game.

    http://eaglesblog.net/2013/06/heaven-and-hell/

    • morenthemiddle

      Good stuff, always good to go back to that time with that defense. We always talk about Reggie, Clyde, and Jerome, but I forgot how good Golic was for us. Watching that game he was pretty active and did some good things. Thanks for posting that, I was stationed in Germany then and didn’t always get to see the games. My parents would tape them and send them, just not every game so I never saw that one.

    • bdbd20

      That FS for the Redskins was a pretty smart player. I wonder what happened to him.

    • ICDogg

      I was at that game. I got free tickets from the company I worked for… it was so freaking cold that some of the usual management types there didn’t want to attend.

      Before the game even started there were skirmishes in our section of the Vet between Eagles and Redskins fans. Because it was so cold, people were drinking even more than usual.

      I was at the time unaware that Buddy had said something prior to the game about bringing them out in body bags. Nevertheless, after a few guys got carried out on stretchers, everyone in our section was shouting “Bring out the body bags!” and later just “Body bags! Body bags!” I had never seen anything like it.

      That was a classic game where Buddy stuck with the running game even though it clearly was not working, but eventually it physically wore down the Skins. And we were stunned when Brian Mitchell came in to play QB after their 2 QBs went down. (Their usual other QB was injured before the game started).

      • GEagle

        Dude…Im straight up, sooo jealous reading this

  • Mitchell

    Correct me if I’m wrong but are the only serious injuries he had was he right ACL tore twice and the MCL once? Talk about bad luck. There is no way it will tear three times right!?

    • TommyLawlor

      Knock on wood, man!!! Don’t jinx him.

      • Mitchell

        Just got back from a forest….. We’re good.

        • TommyLawlor

          Well done, my friend.

  • Mitchell

    Since we may not have a “number 1″ corner, how are we gonna deal with some of the premier receivers in the league (ie Nicks,Bowe,Jackson)? Will we just provide safety help over the top or just jam the hell out of them?

    • Sb2bowl

      One could argue that we haven’t had an actual “number 1″ CB the last two years…………

      But yes- safety help over top with man/zone underneath is how they typically deal with a number 1 receiver. It looks like Fletcher plays better against bigger WR’s, so that could be something to watch.

      • Mitchell

        Good point lol

  • Tumtum

    The theme song from a MadTV skit just went off in my head when I finished the article. “Lowered expectations”. Not a had thing though.

    We had a winning football team with Ellis Hobbs starting. Ill take it.

    Tommy, are you as disappointed as I am we didn’t put up 20 last night? :)

    • TommyLawlor

      Lowered Expectations was a great bit.

      I’m mad Zach couldn’t go 7. With a 9 run lead, just throw the ball over the plate.

      Love that Ryan Flaherty is getting hot. Curious to see if they find a way to keep playing him with Roberts coming back.

      • Tumtum

        That DH spot is looking better and better. He can play all of the infield spots. Can’t believe I am saying this but he can’t be sent down to play every day. Chen is gonna be back soon, and it sounds like they are going to bring Reimold back for some reason. Roster space is going to be tight! Dickerson, Valencia, Flaherty… all guys that I think need to stay around. Flaherty has an option Casilla don’t.. and he makes 1.5 to Ryan’s .3. Ugggg.

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  • eagleyankfan

    Tommy – I’d like to commend you on a great article. What I like about your article(s) is that you are NOT over the top and you do not throw words around like “great” or “elite”. Just about every other article uses those words. Those words get thrown around WAY to much. It’s OK to call a players skills “OK”.
    I realize the video is a snip it and the video is not going to show the times he got burnt or juked but that’s ok. 3 seconds into that video I saw more plays than our “elite” corners played the entire season last year. Pass defense aside, I love the way he would come up(and fought off a few blocks) to make a play in the running game.
    Exciting times….

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