The Eagles entered the 2010 season looking to find some consistency in the cornerback position despite losing all-pro corner Sheldon Brown in a trade to Cleveland. The departure of Brown left a huge question mark as to who would play right corner during the season.
This seemed to be a common theme all season for the Eagles and it became frustrating to watch our right corner struggle every game. By the end of the season, the Eagles secondary was a complete joke and allowed a franchise high 31 passing touchdowns. Let’s review, individually, how the cornerbacks played this season.
Asante Samuel: Asante Samuel again proved his value as he showed that when the ball is thrown his way, he is going to make a play. Despite not playing in 5 games, Samuel was still tied for second in the league with seven interceptions. That’s remarkable when you consider how little opposing quarterbacks threw the ball his way. Unfortunately, the defense collapsed when Samuel was not able to dress because of injury. We all know by now that Asante is not the going to make the big hit, but believe it or not, Asante improved his tackling significantly over the season.
2011 Outlook: Asante Samuel signed a six-year contract in 2008 so look for him to be a center piece to a rebuilding defense.
Ellis Hobbs: This was supposed to be Ellis Hobbs’ breakout season as he lined up as the Eagles starting right corner. To make it short and sweet, that never happened. We all clearly remember when Kenny Britt torched Ellis Hobbs in that frustrating loss to the Titans. The poor performance in the Titans game forced the Eagles to slide in Dimitri Patterson into the starting corner position. As if getting benched wasn’t bad enough, Hobbs sustained another season-ending neck injury against the Giants in late November. Hobbs was seriously injured on the play and may very well be forced to retire due to the injury.
2011 Outlook: Ellis Hobbs will more than likely retire this offseason. If he tries to make a comeback, it will be a long uphill battle. Hobbs is also a free agent this season so all signs point to him not returning to the Eagles next season.
Dimitri Patterson: As stated above, Patterson was thrown into the starting role due to the poor play of Ellis Hobbs. Patterson played well during his first couple of games, but it was evident that the offensive game plan for the opposing team was to throw towards Patterson as much as possible. Patterson had a terrible effort in the crazy game up at the Meadowlands, where he allowed three touchdown passes. As the season went on it was obvious that Patterson is not the long term solution for the Eagles.
2011 Outlook: As of right now Patterson is a free agent. I would be somewhat surprised in the Eagles were to resign him. Look for Patterson to play elsewhere next season.
Joselio Hanson: Hanson played nickel cornerback for the Eagles this season and was not much of a factor. Hanson got his chance to show the team he could play when he started in place of Samuel in the game against the Bears. Sadly, Hanson struggled mightily in the game. Hanson is nothing more than a nickel corner in this league.
2011 Outlook: Hanson signed a five-year deal in 2009 and will be expected to contribute in 2011 as the nickel back.
Trevard Lindley: Lindley was a fourth round pick by the Eagles in the 2010 draft and was not expected to show much this season. However, Lindley surprisingly showed flashes of potential, but still has a long ways to go to make a significant impact on this team.
2011 Outlook: Lindley is the wildcard of the secondary. I expect Lindley to step up next season and be a major contributor as a nickel cornerback in 2011.
Obviously the sexy signing would be to bring in Nnamdi Asomugha to play opposite of Asante Samuel. This would create a dynamic tandem and would certainly be fun to watch. I see the Eagles making this their primary free agent signing in the offseason, but it’s not going to be cheap.
The Eagles will certainly have to pay a premium to get Asomugha, but they have shown in the past that they value the corner position. Outside of free agency, I believe the Eagles will use a pick in their first two rounds to take a corner. The corner position could suddenly become the best in the league if the Eagles acquire Asomugha and add another top notch corner. It sure would be enjoyable to watch opposing quarterbacks throw at our secondary if the Eagles are able to make big moves this offseason.