Why Big CBs?

Posted: March 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 64 Comments »

CB Sean Smith is someone the Eagles reportedly have interest in.  Geoff Mosher repeated that last night on Twitter.

Some fans don’t get the Eagles interest in Smith. He gave up plenty of catches and yards last year. Why go after this guy? Because he’s a big CB. Huge, actually. Smith is 6-4, 215. Heck, he’s almost bigger than William Thomas, who was the Eagles WLB in the 90’s.

As the read-option creeps into the NFL, it is forcing teams to adjust. The read-option is all about numbers. The offense wants to be able to have as many blockers as there are defenders. One way to counter this is to bring a Safety down into the box as a run defender. That leaves the CBs and FS to cover. The corners better be able to handle man-to-man coverage. And the FS better have pretty good range.

Smith is huge and runs pretty well, but is a bit stiff. Receivers can get open with quick cuts. This normally means they head to the middle of the field. Is that ideal? No. Is it something you can live with? Yes. The goal is for Smith to jam receivers and throw off their timing. If the QB looks that way and the receiver is late, the QB has to move on to the next option.

The problem is that you can’t jam WRs on every snap. You have to mix coverages. That means there will be some plays where the CB is off. There will be man and zone. Smith is best when he can be physical and aggressive.

Smith isn’t a guy you break the bank for. He’s worthy of good money. He can be a good CB, as long as you know how to use him and embrace his skill set. Juan Castillo did a poor job of using Nnamdi, Asante, and DRC in 2011. Things were better initially in 2012, but fell apart after Juan’s firing.

It isn’t as simple as throwing a pair of big CBs on the field. You must know how to use them. If you do, the results can be outstanding. PIT led the NFL in defense. They had a pair of big CBs. Seattles was 4th in yards, but 1st in fewest points allowed. They had the biggest CBs in the whole league.

Chip Kelly, Bill Davis, and John Lovett all need to be on the same page and have a specific vision. They need to add the players that fit that vision. The good news is that they don’t have to force awkward situations, such as Asante playing press and DRC in the slot. The bad news is that there isn’t even a piece in place for the coaches to build around. They literally have to start from scratch.

They do have a few pieces to try to work with. Nate Allen can be a good FS if used right. I think having him back as a centerfielder type is probably his best spot. Coming off a bad showing in 2012 you don’t count on him, but he can compete for a job. He’s not someone I’ve given up on. Brandon Boykin can be the slot corner. He showed lots of promise last year. Curtis Marsh has the size and skill set to play the kind of coverage it seems the Eagles want. You just wish he had shown more in the past 2 years so there wouldn’t be as much mystery around him. Can the guy play or not? Right now you can only look at him as competition for one of the corner spots.

Back to Sean Smith. Some expected the Chiefs to make a strong run at him, but their signing of Dunta Robinson has reportedly caused them to back off Smith. There will be multiple suitors for him. If the price gets too high, I think the Eagles will back out. They like him, reportedly, but only at the right price. It seems the Eagles understand he’s talented, but imperfect.

* * * * *

As we talk about free agency and players, always remember to ask yourself if the player fits what Chip Kelly wants. The Steelers just let go of James Harrison. Could he be a target? Not likely at all. He’s older and a short LB. Kelly is looking for taller defensive players. This doesn’t mean you rule out everyone who’s not tall, but the player would need to be an ideal fit in several other ways to override the size issue. Harrison isn’t a good match.

The fit issue definitely applies to the OL. Some have asked about the Eagles having interest in Andre Smith or Phil Loadholt as RT targets. No way. Kelly wants to run an up-tempo offense. All his former players keep warning Eagles players to be in the best shape of their lives. Smith and Loadholt are massive guys, not athletic OL. Based on what we know of Kelly, those guys don’t make any sense at all.

* * * * *

Bills CB/KOR Leodis McKelvin re-signed today. He was a player the Eagles liked in the past. No idea if they had any interest this time around.

Here’s an update on Sammie Lee Hill, a potential NT target.

SS William Moore re-signed with the Falcons.  Top notch player that I didn’t think Atlanta was letting go. I think part of the reason for their recent cuts was to keep a guy like Moore.


64 Comments on “Why Big CBs?”

  1. 1 nickross23 said at 12:33 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    With Smith’s size is there anyway he could be moved to safety like in a Charles Woodson role. Not having watched much of the dolphins over the years i don’t have a idea if he’s the open space tackler Woodson is, he’s sure not the playmaker either but he sure has the build for a good safety. As for Marsh he was a 3rd project pick with ideal size, and when he played he shown flashes. i think if he is truly given a shot at winning the starting spot he might surprise alot of people, and if he can’t win a job he’s good for depth. Open competition for all jobs on this team will be great.. .No more sense of entitlement.

  2. 2 Zach said at 12:55 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    He’s signing here to switch positions when he’s going to have multiple
    offers from other teams to play CB. Why would he want to play safety
    when corners make almost twice as much?

  3. 3 D3FB said at 1:13 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Not to mention strong safety’s have the pleasure of meeting 230 lbs running backs in the hole with a head of steam, taking on blocks from TEs, FBs, and even OL. Compared with the physical demands of press corner, anyone with the ability to play press man would tell a coach to take a hike.

  4. 4 nickross23 said at 5:46 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    It was just a thought i had. I know the difference in the salary of the 2 positions, but its not like Smith was lighting things up down there with the Dolphinsto warrent a big pay day. so who knows maybe with a position switch you could see a change in his production.. but like i said just a thought .

  5. 5 TommyLawlor said at 1:38 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I don’t think he is nearly physical enough as a hitter/tackler for that.

  6. 6 RAVS said at 12:38 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I have heard that the Seahawks use a special scheme that makes it easier for the CB’s to cover and that Richard Sherman is no where near as good as he claims he is and that the Seahawks scheme really helps big DB’s. Do you know if this is true or what people mean by this?

  7. 7 Michael Winter Cho said at 1:02 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    What? He’s better at life than you are.

  8. 8 RAVS said at 1:25 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Lol even though it was Skip Bayless Sherman sure did make himself look like a real d**k.

  9. 9 TommyLawlor said at 1:38 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Sherman is outstanding. That’s not scheme. That’s talent.

    Pete Carroll is a DB specialist. He just knows how to coach up DBs. That’s his area of expertise. Nothing magic. Talented players who fit scheme + good coaching.

  10. 10 austinfan said at 3:49 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Having a fast CF like Thomas helps, same way Ed Reed used to help in Baltimore. Speed and smarts (you can trade off between them, but speed without instincts is Quinton Demps) at S allow CBs to gamble a little more, think Asante in 2008 v Asante in 2010-2011.

  11. 11 DamonL86 said at 12:45 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Do you know how much cap space we really have? I saw Roobs tweet that we only have 23 million.

  12. 12 Zach said at 12:56 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Roob is wrong.

  13. 13 ICDogg said at 1:06 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    EaglesCap.com has it at 34.8M, and remember that’s still with Nnamdi who if cut would add about another 10.6M to the number. (OverTheCap.com has it at 32.4M.)

  14. 14 TommyLawlor said at 1:36 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Sam talked to Roob on Twitter. Got sorted out. Have $34M. Will jump to $45 when Nnamdi is cut Tuesday and then shrink back down to $40 after Vick’s deal changes (technical stuff). Plenty of money to spend.

  15. 15 DamonL86 said at 1:45 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Thank you, seems like in 2014 we have a ton of cap space too.

  16. 16 teltschikfakeout88 said at 1:36 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Tommy, in the past when the FA market was loaded with very good to elite players we would expect a deal on the eve of FA. After those players shook out then it was onto value FA signings which played out over the next couple of weeks of FA. While we have heard that the Eagles will be aggressive, there do not seem to be players available that warrant a contract on Tuesday. Also your post on potential targets make me believe that we are more of a player in the value FA signings which means we should be patient and not yelling about Lurie being cheap and not signing anyone. How do you see the timeline for FA activity for the Eagles playing out?

  17. 17 TommyLawlor said at 1:43 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I’m totally confused right now. This weekend will change Tuesday since some guys are re-signing. We saw that in the past when agents would talk to teams and then the players would stay put in the opening days. How much changes…I don’t know.

    Prices are cheap right now. Moore signed for $6M per year. If the prices are lower, the Eagles might jump in quickly. I do think the Eagles will play this smart and not get into bidding wars. You can overpay and that builds crazy expectations, setting the player up to be disappointing.

    Very fluid situation. Eagles might jump quickly or might wait a few days. Depends on the market.

  18. 18 ICDogg said at 5:19 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I think it takes time to develop. There are a lot of guys that we would be looking at who think they are worth more than what the teams interested in them are thinking of paying, and that needs to be sorted out by waiting for the bigger names to sign.

  19. 19 deg0ey said at 2:16 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    With Moore signing on a relatively cheap deal, I’m kinda hoping that we can afford to bring in both Chung and Quin. That way you could cut Coleman, keep Allen as the backup FS and draft a mid-late round guy to be the backup SS. I’d then see if we can get DRC back on a team-friendly/incentive-heavy deal and maybe bring in Bradley Fletcher as competition for Marsh.

  20. 20 TommyLawlor said at 2:32 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Interesting idea. I’d almost rather go for Goldson and Adrian Wilson, then draft a young SS to develop. Nate would be the #3 Safety for now. Good mixture of experience and youth, + diff skill sets.

  21. 21 deg0ey said at 2:42 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    That would make more sense. I just feel like Goldson’s still going to end up being expensive, whereas you could hold most of the other guys on the market to a smaller contract than Moore took. How would you feel about Quin instead of Goldson in the scenario you just suggested? I’m struggling to quantify how much better Goldson is, but I kinda feel like there won’t be as big of a difference in quality as there will in contract.

  22. 22 austinfan said at 3:47 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    If we go with big CBs, you want Goldson in CF? No thanks.

    If you add Wilson (who I think isn’t good enough in coverage for even SS anymore, more suited to the nickel LB role Dawkins played in 2008), you need a fast CF at FS.

  23. 23 deg0ey said at 3:53 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    So, out of curiosity, what would you do?

  24. 24 goeagles55 said at 2:54 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Any interest in Boldin? it’s been reported that the ravens will cut him if he doesn’t take a pay cut and he has rejected that idea.

    WR isn’t really a need and he’s older, but I have always liked him, he’s cheaper than he used to be and is an upgrade over maclin.

  25. 25 TommyLawlor said at 3:30 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I love Boldin, but I’m not sure the fit works for him or us. Boldin would likely want to go to another contender. Winning is fun, after all.

    I think Chip will want to see what he’s got in DJax, Mac. And he might be very interested in Cooper and Damaris Johnson. The one player I don’t know about is Jason Avant.

    If you could be Boldin to be our slot guy, I’m very interested. Seems like a longshot there.

  26. 26 TommyLawlor said at 3:30 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Ron Jaworski on Foles/Eagles.


  27. 27 austinfan said at 3:45 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I think this is more “Chip ran the read option in Oregon so he wants a read option QB in the NFL so he’s gonna trade Foles.”

    I think the real answer is Chip wants a QB, he’d prefer a young Kaepernick or Steve Young, but I’d like to win the lottery, he’ll settle for someone who can make the right reads, throw accurately in the short passing game and who won’t take sacks. If that QB can also run the read option, it’s a plus.

  28. 28 Malcolm Jones said at 3:52 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Yeah I have to agree with you…. I havent seen the David Garrard move finalized with the Jets yet so I say make a move with the Jets. They have too many Cap issues to go after a high priced QB in Free Agency and probably dont want to give up too much to move up in the draft. We have a cheap QB with upside and they have a OC who is familiar with him, who runs a similar system and already knows what he possess. Get her done! Take a 3rd and a conditional next year.

    I also get the sense Foles might feel this way too and wants a shot in a traditional WCO. I get this feeling because he still doesn’t appear to be in philly and still hasn’t met with Chip. Maybe i read too much into that but as the QB and leader I kinda want my QB close by and ready to get a head start so he can command and lead.

  29. 29 austinfan said at 10:24 AM on March 10th, 2013:

    Coaches aren’t allowed to talk to players about their schemes or anything football related until later this month? CBA rules. Chip has talked to Foles already, there’s no point in Foles being in town unless he feels the need to lift weights at the facility.

  30. 30 TommyLawlor said at 4:27 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I’m not in full agreement with Jaws, but wanted to pass the info along.

  31. 31 deg0ey said at 4:39 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    D’you think the Eagles would be able to trade Foles now for a first round pick in 2014? That’s probably the only scenario where I’d consider moving him on before Chip gets to see him first hand. Two firsts next year would mean they could roll with Vick for a season and then pretty much take their pick of whatever guy they want out of next year’s draft.

  32. 32 ICDogg said at 4:45 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I doubt they can get that for Foles.

  33. 33 deg0ey said at 4:47 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Me too, but you never know. Only takes one team to get desperate/stupid. To be honest, I might even be tempted to package him with a 3rd day pick this year for a first next year.

  34. 34 ICDogg said at 4:51 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I’d do it in a second, but would any other team want to do that? I don’t see it.

  35. 35 deg0ey said at 5:11 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    The Bills were the team I had in mind. They haven’t made the playoffs since 99 and they’ve just got a new coach. Their team still has some talent, Jackson, Spiller, Johnson, Williams, Dareus, Byrd. Add a solid draft this season and they might think Foles can get them back into playoff contention for the first time anyone can remember.

    It’s a long-shot, sure, but I’d give them a call and see if they’re interested.

  36. 36 A_T_G said at 7:58 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    That is a trade I would be happy with, so no, we probably can’t.

  37. 37 CalSFro said at 7:03 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Agree completely. I don’t think Chip even knows who his QB is going to be at this point.

  38. 38 BG said at 3:30 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Typically in a cover 1, it’s the FS who comes up in the box rather than the SS. The reason being, the FS also has to be responsible for the number two receiver to the weak side of the formation on pass plays. So the FS will play the 2nd receiver with outside leverage. This allows him to to play really aggressive in the run game because the running back wont be able to beat the FS out of the backfield.

  39. 39 Phils Goodman said at 4:03 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    So I guess Nnamdi wasn’t cut because they are waiting to see how things shake out in free agency and even the draft (this is perhaps true of both sides). There’s no harm in waiting, as far as I know.

  40. 40 TommyLawlor said at 4:26 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Technical issue. He’ll be cut Tuesday.

  41. 41 Iskar36 said at 8:43 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I’ve seen you say this a few times. Is this something you read somewhere or are you the one reporting this?

  42. 42 TommyLawlor said at 4:37 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Quick Sean Smith update.


  43. 43 A_T_G said at 6:25 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I am hoping that Marsh surprises us. Looking back at the last few years, we certainly haven’t been maximizing the talent in the secondary. To look decent in that environment might just translate to pretty darn talented.

  44. 44 A_T_G said at 7:56 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    With McClendon a RFA, if we get him to sign an offer sheet, could we put in a clause that says his salary is multiplied by the number of rivers that can be seen from the stadium in which he is playing? Or maybe a million dollar bonus for each SB victory the team has ever had.

  45. 45 TommyLawlor said at 8:06 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Can’t do that anymore, but would have been a brilliant idea.

  46. 46 A_T_G said at 9:29 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Okay, what about something less creative, like front loading his contract? Would Pitt be required to match the salary year for year, or just the total?

  47. 47 TommyLawlor said at 9:56 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    You can structure the contract any way you want. Joe Banner was a genius at that. I’m sure Howie learned well.

    Just can’t do the “poison pill” stuff anymore.

  48. 48 deg0ey said at 6:04 AM on March 10th, 2013:

    I don’t think we’d even need to front-load the contract. The Steelers are currently $3.4m under the cap and have a whole bunch of starters that are UFAs: LT Starks, ILB Foote, CB Lewis, RB Mendenhall. When you also consider that their first round draft pick will get around 4 years, $8m, they’ll have (at best) $2m to match our offer for McClendon AND sign any of those UFAs they want to keep.

  49. 49 Flyin said at 8:20 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Off topic…

    Kamerion Wimbley just had an impressive showing on American Ninja.

  50. 50 Iskar36 said at 8:51 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Off topic: does anyone else think that this three day legal tampering thing has led to more players resigning than anything else. I’m sure there is a lot of behid the scenes conversations, most likely including conversations including negotiating contracts, despite the NFLs warnings, but at the end of the day, it just seems this period just gives the original team a bit extra leverage in negotiating with their own players. They can see what other teams would offer but are the only ones that can really get a contract signed.

  51. 51 Flyin said at 9:07 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Most of the news seems to about players resigning. And agree it gives teams a some one on one time with players they wish to keep. I was expecting more talk and rumors today. I think the behind the scenes stuff you mentioned may lead to a faster than normal pace of signings at the start of FA. Just a guess.

  52. 52 Iskar36 said at 11:24 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    To be fair, given that teams are not allowed to agree on a contract in principle, the news is going to be very quiet in regards to negotiations. If you negotiate, in principle that means you are attempting to get a contract agreed on, so I’m sure teams don’t want that to leak in fear of getting in trouble with the league (although I am sure they are starting to talk contracts, but telling agents to keep things quiet for now). The issue with that is now an agent has a ball park number to work with that he can discuss with the original team which makes it a lot easier to resign the player.

  53. 53 austinfan said at 10:27 AM on March 10th, 2013:

    It doesn’t make that much difference, there’s a rash of signings just before FA starts every year, because if you haven’t come to agreement by then, players want to talk to other teams. Nothing like a “drop dead” deadline to spur negotiations.

    Agents have a pretty good idea what other teams will pay if they’re any good, they’re always talking with their peers, they have access to contracts of similar players, and there’s plenty of informal contacts with team player personnel types.

  54. 54 A_T_G said at 9:24 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Maybe, it certainly gives the current employer an extra little window. I wonder, though, if there are really more this year or if we just don’t remember the anticlimactic cases where nothing changes.

  55. 55 CalSFro said at 11:16 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Yeah, I tend to think it seems that way due to the fact that it’s only about a day in. There’s still plenty of time for this to go either way.

  56. 56 TommyLawlor said at 9:55 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I didn’t anticipate this amount of re-signings. Interesting product of the new system. Probably a good thing for the league overall.

    Too bad we want other teams players.

  57. 57 Flyin said at 10:20 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I wonder if this window would have helped work something out with Dawk. I personally like this period, because losing key guys on your team sucks. A little time for the team and player to work on negotiating a deal is a good thing. Time to think is good, when everything moves so fast. i.e. Chip Kelly’s decision to come to the Eagles. These are big moves.

  58. 58 Anders said at 11:05 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Most likely not. If memory serves me well Dawkins would have signed here for less then what Denver gave, but Banner thought Dawkins was done and only wanted him for spare change.

    Banner wasnt friend with anybody and many players have felt spitted on. I also think thats why the Jackson deal dragged out, Banner didnt want to pay him. In the end Roseman/AR won a power struggle and Banner left. Quickly after that both McCoy, Jackson, Cole and Herremans got new deals. The deals Cole and Herremans got would never have been given out under Banner.
    When Banner was here the air between him and Rosenhaus was ice cold, where with Roseman they seem like best friends.

  59. 59 Flyin said at 12:15 AM on March 10th, 2013:

    Maybe a little more time would have given Banner a chance to look in the mirror. Dawk was special and was disrespected by the handling of things. I just wish Dawk could have stayed. It’s was the hardest loss for the team I have ever felt.

  60. 60 Iskar36 said at 11:38 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I’m curious about your reasoning as to why this is good for the league. I like that players move around the league, and while FA is not the way to build a team, teams that use it wisely can often benefit. In fact, i think it is part of what leads to the fantastic parity in the NFL.

  61. 61 Bill Muller said at 8:58 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    tommy what about the eagles making a run at welker?and don’t you see the eagles real needs are on defense that scheme alone cant fix?they have maybe 4 playmakers on there current defense and a lot of ifs,maybes and hope so

  62. 62 A_T_G said at 9:20 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    I’m not Tommy, but I’m not interested in Welker. He is 32, I believe. If Avant isn’t what the team is looking for anymore, I would rather see those snaps go to D. Johnson than to a guy that will be too old to contribute when we hope things are coming together.

    I’m baffled by your other comment. Did you read Tommy’s offseason plan post? He is hoping we add free agents to compete at every level of defense so we are free to take playmakers in the draft.

    Kudos, by the way, for the space between a and lot. That little space separates us from the lower primates, and it is becoming increasingly rare.

  63. 63 TommyLawlor said at 9:54 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Welker would not fit. He needs to get a lot of passes thrown his way. Vick isn’t a QB that feeds the slot receiver. Not sure who the long term QB will be, obviously. Better to develop a slot guy (Damaris Johnson shows good promise).

    I did cover the idea of Danny Amendola (younger and cheaper slot guy) as a target.


  64. 64 Flyin said at 10:04 PM on March 9th, 2013:

    Could Vick change his ways and look for the slot wr more with the new scheme, or is that more of the QB’s desire to who/whomever he wants to go to? And what has your study on CK’s offense shown on how he likes to use the slot wr?