Last Season's Biggest Off-Season Move

As we look to improve our team this year through a definite draft and a possible free-agency, let's also reflect on what happened during last years off-season. One move made last off-season made a huge impact to say the least and it really crippled the Eagles through the season. It occurred April 2, 2010. Remember it?




CLEVELAND -- While their best defensive player was still in jail, the Cleveland Browns got some help for one of the NFL's worst units.


The Browns acquired cornerback Sheldon Brown and linebacker Chris Gocong in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for linebacker Alex Hall and two draft picks on Friday. The fourth- and fifth-round selections are the Nos. 105 and 137 overall in this month's three-day draft.


Ah yes, the Sheldon Brown trade. Need I say more? Well...yes I'd like to break this down and analyze this more.

1. Sheldon Brown pre-Browns

Most Eagles fans know him well. Whether he's lighting up Reggie Bush or Steven Jackson or shutting down a WR, he was our best corner for most of the 2000's. Brown was drafted in 2002 in the second round, along with former Eagle Lito Sheppard. Both he and Sheppard replaced former stars Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor in 2003, and both of the young corners were instrumental in the 2004 Superbowl run. In that 2004 season, Sheldon had 89 tackles, leading the Eagles, 3 sacks and 1 fumble. In terms of total defense in 2004, the Eagles allowed only 16 TD (3rd fewest) and had 47 sacks and 17 picks. 

Here are Sheldon's Career stats as an Eagle


Career Statsmore
Season Team Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
G GS Comb Total Ast Sck SFTY PDef Int Yds Avg Lng TDs FF

2009 Philadelphia Eagles 16 16 51 43 8 0.0 0 17 5 152 30.4 83T 1 1
2008 Philadelphia Eagles 16 15 51 42 9 1.0 -- 12 1 23 23.0 23 0 1
2007 Philadelphia Eagles 16 16 68 61 7 0.0 -- 14 3 3 1.0 3 0 1
2006 Philadelphia Eagles 16 16 52 37 15 0.0 0 9 1 70 70.0 70T 1 0
2005 Philadelphia Eagles 16 16 56 47 9 1.0 0 21 4 67 16.8 40T 1 1
2004 Philadelphia Eagles 16 16 89 66 23 3.0 -- 14 2 33 16.5 33 0 1
2003 Philadelphia Eagles 16 3 48 41 7 1.0 -- 10 1 10 10.0 10 0 1
2002 Philadelphia Eagles 16 0 16 12 4 1.0 -- 2 2 41 20.5 29 0 1
TOTAL 494 400 94 7.0 0 109 21 399 -- 83 3 7


What does these numbers tell us? Sheldon Brown was physical and a versatile weapon for JJ's defense. He has had 50+ tackles every year, brought pressure from DB blitzes with sacks, and forces fumbles when tackling. While he doesn't consistently have picks, he was one of the premiere cover corners for the Eagles.

Here are some in-dept numbers from Sheldon Brown's 2008 season.

5. Sheldon Brown, Philadelphia Eagles
Season Totals: 63 attempts, 4.84 YPA, 44.44 Forced INC%, 0 TDs, 1 INT

My two cents: I have been calling Sheldon Brown overrated for a few years now, but he sure did shut me up this season. Among CBs with at least 40 attempts, Brown was behind only Brandon Flowers, Samari Rolle and Corey Webster with a 4.84 YPA. In a must win situation during the Eagles Week 17 game against Dallas, Brown was dominant. Brown was thrown at five times, allowed nine yards, and intercepted a pass.

While these stats usually are weird because some no-name corners are really high, it's a really good stat for corners that start. That YPA is insane for a starting corner. The players before him on this list are all starters: Nnamdi Asomugha, Corey Webster, Darrelle Revis, and Charles Woodson (in that order.)

2. Sheldon Brown Cleveland Browns (2010)

Sheldon Brown's stats from last season


Career Statsmore
Season Team Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
G GS Comb Total Ast Sck SFTY PDef Int Yds Avg Lng TDs FF
2010 Cleveland Browns 16 16 63 51 12 0.0 -- 10 2 0 0.0 0 0 0


Compared to his career stats he had another good season, his tackles are really high like 2007 and he has around the same passes defended and picks. But how much of an impact did he really have on the Browns defense?

As a secondary, the Browns were ranked 29th in the league according to yards per game at 244.7, and although thats an average, that is extremely high. They also gave up the 4th most yards during the season against the the pass with 3,915, only behind the Seahawks, Titans, and Lions. They also allowed 375 total points

Here was there starting secondary from 2009:

LCB: Eric Wright, RCB: Brandon McDonald, SS: Brandon Pool, FS: Mike Adams, FS Abram Elam

Here is starting secondary from this year (2010):

LCB: Joe Hayden, RCB: Shledon Brown, SS: TJ Ward, FS: Abram Elam, FS: Mike Adams

While there was a huge turn over from last season, usually starting a rookie free safety puts a lot more stress on the corners, making Sheldon Browns impact much more significantly. 

While they moved up in ranking based on passing yards per game, they are ranked at 18 with an average at 220.7. While that isn't that great still, they allowed less yards with 3,513 and total points at 332.

But how much of an impact did Sheldon Brown have on the defense? Well we can measure that based on WPA, EPA, and success rate. Here are Sheldon's stats from


Player Team G +WPA +EPA +EPA/G SR(%) Tkl Asst TF Sk SkYd PD QBHit FF TklLoss Int
23-D.Hall WAS 15 2.54 51.3 3.42 42.4 61 30 1.03 0 0 16 0 2 4 6
21-C.Woodson GB 15 2.16 55.6 3.71 57.0 74 15 1.23 2 11 13 6 4 7 2
38-T.Williams GB 15 1.85 45.5 3.03 46.3 47 6 0.73 1 5 18 1 1 2 5
31-P.Buchanon WAS 14 1.62 30.6 2.19 52.2 36 8 0.53 0 0 17 0 2 1 2
22-W.Gay PIT 16 1.59 25.9 1.62 54.7 34 5 0.45 2 15 11 4 1 4 0
33-C.Tillman CHI 15 1.54 55.3 3.69 35.7 64 11 1.05 0 0 13 1 4 1 5
30-D.Moore CHI 15 1.49 46.6 3.11 54.7 35 5 0.56 1 5 7 2 1 5 4
24-T.Thomas NYG 15 1.38 63.6 4.24 41.3 75 19 1.29 1 12 21 1 4 2 5
28-G.Toler ARZ 12 1.35 47.0 3.92 39.6 72 8 1.26 1 10 8 1 2 2 1
20-B.Grimes ATL 15 1.34 45.7 3.05 38.7 65 10 1.06 0 0 23 0 0 2 5
23-J.Haden CLV 15 1.29 36.6 2.44 42.1 45 7 0.62 0 0 17 0 0 0 5
31-R.Marshall CAR 16 1.24 43.9 2.74 41.5 74 14 0.97 1 7 8 3 1 3 3
20-R.Barber TB 15 1.21 45.4 3.03 56.1 64 16 1.10 1 1 13 5 0 9 3
24-S.Brown CLV 14 1.20 25.3 1.81 42.1 47 12 0.75 0 0 10 0 0 1 2


"+WPA" and "+EPA" add up the value of every sack, interception, pass defense, forced fumble or recovery, and every tackle or assist that results in a setback for the offense. What these stats measure is "playmaking" ability.

These stats are really useful to see a players impact on the field, but inaccurately measure how "good" they really are. You can tell this because of guys like P.Buchanon, W.Gay, and T.Thomas. However, this is a good tool if the corner is a starter, which is Sheldon. He is ranked 14th, but I'm going to minus P.Buchanon, W.Gay, T.Thomas, D.Moore, and G. Toler off the list. This leaves all starters and out of starters ranks Sheldon at 9th. The stat that I liked the most from Sheldon's season was his success rate throwing against him. Also what is significant is Joe Haden's numbers. Haden was the Browns first pick last season and one of the better DB's coming out of last years draft. He had an phenomenal rookie season and you can see from the stats above and his season stats.


Career Statsmore
Season Team Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
G GS Comb Total Ast Sck SFTY PDef Int Yds Avg Lng TDs FF
2010 Cleveland Browns 16 7 64 57 7 1.0 -- 18 6 101 16.8 62 0 1


Part of the reason Haden had such a good season was because of Sheldon. With Sheldon  playing RCB, he takes on the better WR while Haden takes on the number two WR. Plus, as a rookie, teams will throw more to his side rather than an established vet like Sheldon.

3. April 2, 2010 Trade Aka "Bye_Sheldon :("



After weeks and weeks of Sheldon complaining about his contract and Reid and Co. saying they will not re-negotiate his deal, the Eagles traded starters Sheldon Brown and Chris Gocong to the Browns for their 4th, 5th, and player Alex Hall. An interesting part of the trade was Alex Hall, a 1 year player that the Eagles were very interested in drafting before being swooped by the Browns. Those draft picks became Trevard Lindley in the 4th and Ricky Sapp in the 5th. Both are talented players that are still very unproven. Sapp was IR at the beginning of the season and Lindley, showed promise in two games, but barley proved himself being deeply buried underneath the depth chart. Alex Hall is also no longer with the Eagles, being cut to make room for Nate Allen on the 80-man roster.

4. Eagles post-Sheldon Brown: RCB's Ellis Hobbs and Dimitri Patterson

Going into the season it looked as if Andy was copying the Patriots old secondary, starting both ex-pats Asante Samuel and Ellis Hobbs. Hobbs was traded to the Eagles in 2009, however his season was cut short with a horrific neck injury. Looking for a comeback, Hobbs was penciled in as the starter. However, hampered with a hip injury and a inalienably to cover, was pulled after a ugly loss to the Titans, who destroyed the Eagles DB's with Kenny Britt, whom Hobbs was covering. He was demoted to just nickel downs and kick retuning. Unfortunately he again hurt his neck returning and his career is in jeopardy.



Enter, Dimitri Patterson. A longtime journeyman who found his way into the starting lineup after a great performance against the 49ers. He was good in zone coverage and like Sheldon Brown, was an excellent tackler and run supporter. Everything was going well until the Miracle in the Meadowlands II. Although the Eagles had an amazing performance in the fourth to win the game, the defense, more specifically  Patterson played horribly against Hakeem Nicks. After that game, things went south for Patterson playing the out of position and missing assignments. The two RCB's are the biggest reasons why we had the worst Redzone D this year and is why RCB is one of the biggest needs this off-season.

5. Dawgs By Nature Comments

I went to join Dawgs by Nature, a Cleveland Browns BGN to put a fan-post to see how the like Sheldon and who got the better deal, however I couldn't post for one day and I'm impatient. I might do an update, but in the meantime I found an  interesting article on Brown and the teams youth movement, similar to the one the Eagles had not to long ago. Here is the full article. Here are some comments below,


Eric Wright was absolutely horrible this past season. Horrible. Bad. Not good at all. I don’t know what happened to him. He looked lost out there. As bad as he was…there is something that tells me that he could rebound this upcoming season.

I like Sheldon Brown and I feel that he is a strong and reliable corner that can tutor Haden. He may not be as fast as he once was, but he can still hang with the best of them. Haden and Brown as starters works. Just think if the Browns are looking to place more youth into the secondary and opt to draft Peterson if he’s available. Wow…that would be something!

by Rounds94 on Feb 17, 2011 6:31 AM PST reply actions  



I’d love for Wright to stay as a 3rd CB, but I doubt he’d accept that role. I think he’d be a great #2, but I don’t think you can put Brown in the slot. Sounds to me like we need to find a good young CB later in the draft and add a little DB depth in FA.

Wright may have been quite a disappointment last year, but we all know that that’s not the norm. I’m more worried about Brown. Even as the #2 guy he was beat deep on numerous occasions. Even worse, after Haden’s fantastic rookie season, don’t be surprised if the ball is rarely thrown his way. Instead they’ll throw at Brown (much like Wright last season).

Let’s just say that I’m keeping my eye on Sheldon Brown this year.

by StuckInPa on Feb 16, 2011 10:54 PM PST reply actions  

There is no law that says you must play your #3 in the slot.

We can start Wright and Haden, bring in Sheldon on the nickel package, and put Wright or Haden in the slot, or even choose who goes in the slot based on the matchup.

"Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital." - Aaron Levenstein

by rufio on Feb 17, 2011 12:09 PM PST up reply actions  



For as much crap wright got throughout the season, I still think he’s one of the best options we have. With as many teams running 3 wired sets, I’d rather have home as our 3rd CB instead of Adams or ventrone. If we can get him for a good price and he proves himself this year, brown could move to FS and our DB Corp would be set.

by OrangeAndBrownFever on Feb 16, 2011 8:42 PM PST reply actions  


6. Conclusion: Who got the better deal April 2, 2010?



With all the problems we had this year with our secondary and with the Browns vastly improved secondary, they got the better deal as of now. The only way to turn this around is if Lindley and/or Sapp become quality starters or stars. Lindley has the most upside at this point. He was the more talented player coming out of the draft and gave us a little preview of what he can do. But at this point Lindley nor Sapp are ready to start and we haven't always got a steal on corner-backs that were highly talented but injured, just ask JIBTA. Imagine how the season would have turned out with 24 opposite Samuel, I think we could have beaten many more teams including the Packers.

The time is yours, did we get the better deal, or did the Browns?

Sniff..."Bye_Sheldon :("

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