The Eagles cornerbacks overachieved massively this past season. Cary Williams, though initially given the cold shoulder by fans in the offseason, shined in the key moments of 2013. The most notable of these moments is when Williams deflected a pass in the front corner of the end zone in Dallas, denying the Cowboys a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Obscure signing Brad Fletcher was also rather consistent this year, his highlight being the interception he stole from Drew Brees in the playoff game. Second-year man Brandon Boykin became a star this season, leading the team in interceptions and sealing games with late picks.
However, the writing was on the wall: the Eagles were one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. In fact, they were 32nd in the league, allowing 4636 yards in the regular season. The secondary, which gave up 289.75 yards per game on average, surrendered 25 touchdowns in the process. Something had to be done.
On Thursday, the Philadelphia Eagles signed cornerback Nolan Carroll from the Miami Dolphins to a two-year deal. Carroll started 16 games in 2013, nabbing three interceptions during the season. Carroll, 27, made a combined 47tackles in what was his sixth NFL season last year. The former Dolphin fits the “big people” stereotype Chip Kelly is fond of, as he is listed at 6 ft 1 in, 205 lbs,
Carroll notched a career-high three interceptions in 2013. Additionally, he will give Billy Davis the option to rush the quarterback rom the outside, as he earned two sacks last season as well.
Carroll figures to compete with Cary Williams, Brad Fletcher, and Brandon Boykin for playing time this summer. Interestingly, one of the biggest plays in the Eagles playoff loss occurred on a 3rd and 12 in Saints territory. Cary Williams left the field for a play, and reserve Roc Carmichael entered the game. Quarterback Drew Brees exploited this lack of depth, and earned a key first down. With the additional of Carroll, Billy Davis can rest easy if one of his cover men leaves due to injury. It is likely that Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher remain in their starting roles; however, in an NFL where spread offense has become commonplace, the Eagles will often employ four cornerbacks in any given game. With offenses sun as that of the Saints, Packers, Lions, and Cardinals in the conference, Philadelphia will need strong corners to keep receivers at bay.