...We may still be in need of your services.
I have to give the Eagles credit, for a third consecutive offseason we've made move that on the surface look great and look like we are attempting to field a competitive squad. We all know how those first two years went, and regardless of how right Asante was I can't blame the Eagles for trying. As for 2013, we've wiped the slate clean and added some lowkey free agents for good contracts. Barwin has the biggest contract of 6 years but it's really a three year deal, as far as all the other 3 & 2 year deals those could possibly become 1 or 2 year deals.
So we are seemingly in a better place now, we've bulked up for our new 3-4/4-3 Under scheme by adding to our D-line, our LB corps and re-vamping our secondary grabbing 4 starters. So we're good, right? ...No. I wouldn't be writing this intro if I thought we were good that's no fun, so no, no we are not good, our secondary still has some serious issues. The biggest issue, Cary Williams.
While I do believe that Cary Williams will absolutely be an upgrade in the run stopping department as he has nearly 150 tackles over the last two seasons, Cary is an absolute liability in coverage. Looking at the chart below, which I found at @JPSTATS (the GM of STATS.com), indicates Williams was quite possibly the worst FA coverage option to go with. DRC would've been a better choice and for a comparable deal probably was. This chart illustrates how many times these guys got burned, or allowed receptions and for how many yards:
Looking at the numbers right away one thing, no EVERYTHING jumps out to you. Amongst Free Agent CBs, Williams gave up the most yards (884), tied for the most TDs given up (6) and was the second worst in burn percentage (64.9%), which explains why he has to be such a good tackler everybody is catching the ball on this guy. Cary did breakup 17 passes, which is a really solid amount.
If you look at Cary's career you will see that he had never incepted a pass until 2012, so we could assume he was being much more aggressive off the ball and at the point of contact and it opened him up to get torched, a lot. From that you could gather he is going to get better now that he has developed a better feel for breaking up passes and intercepting the ball or that he will always be a liability in coverage. The Eagles are hoping for the prior, I'm unsure. Cary has the size, speed and length to be able to break up plays but he lacks the body mass to go up against stronger receivers and still break up passes at the point of attack.
Scanning the list a bit further, we see a few names we all wanted that have much better numbers than Williams. Those guys are signed, so I will not dwell on it and Bradley Fletcher is fairly high on the list so that's refreshing. But our Cornerback situation is far from solved, should we look to the draft? Specifically, Dee Milliner?
Funny enough, when the season ended I was firmly a Dee Milliner at 4-guy, then I moved off of that to Geno Smith, then to Lotulelei to Joeckel to Fisher and finally back to a half-and-half of Milliner or Smith (sue me). While I have reservations about Dee (and Geno for that matter), I do feel that Milliner is a day one starter and Pro Bowl caliber potential and an instant upgrade compared to last season. Now that we have Cary Williams and his coverage deficiencies and a not so proven Fletcher, it's completely reasonable that the Eagles should still use the #4-pick on Milliner.
Looking at another chart I got from JPSTATS, shows Milliner amongst the top prospects at cornerback in defending the pass:
Although Milliner faced college receivers (albeit SEC) he is still regarded as the top Cornerback prospects even with bigger prospects like Xavier Rhodes and Jonthan Banks grading similarly in "Burn %" & Pass Defense. The prospect chart lacks the "Yards Allowed" stat but at 42.6%, 21 passes defended with a majority in crunch time (7 points or less diff.) and only 2 touchdowns given up, Milliner would be hard to pass up with the liability Williams presents and the greenness of Fletcher, it doesn't hurt to have a Top 5 stud in your secondary. So not so fast Mr. Milliner, we may still need you after all.
[UPDATED; Thanks for the heads up, nealba]