It's been quite a few times this season that Bill Davis has been asked if the Eagles are considering making a change at the cornerback position. Days following the losses to the Green Bay Packers, and most recently, the Dallas Cowboys come to mind.
It's obvious as to why these questions are asked. Neither of the Eagles starting outside cornerbacks are particularly stellar, but it's been Bradley Fletcher who tends to get picked on the most. Fletcher has been targeted by opposing quarterbacks 106 times this season. Only two players -- Cleveland's Buster Skrine and Tennessee's Jason McCoutry -- have been thrown at more. Fletcher was targeted five times in the Eagles-Cowboys game and allowed a reception on each of those plays. Those catches equated to 88 yards and three touchdowns. All but one of those catches were allowed to Dez Bryant.
Davis may have considered benching Fletcher in the Green Bay game, but he said he did not consider that against Dallas. Further, Davis went on to defend his starting cornerback on Tuesday morning. "I believe in our guys," Davis said. "I have faith in Bradley Fletcher even though he didn't have a good game."
Eagles fans can't say they have the same level of confidence. They would rather see Fletcher on the bench.
While being frustrated with Fletcher's performance is completely understandable, expecting the Eagles to take him out isn't. It's just not realistic at this point. It's Week 16 of the 2014 NFL season. Fletcher has started since Week 1 of 2014. He's the same player now as he was then, and there still aren't better options to replace him.
It could be argued that Brandon Boykin would be a better option on the outside, and that's one that has been discussed here before. The Eagles are set on keeping Boykin in the slot, and he's seemed to struggle in recent weeks anyway. (Perhaps due to a lingering hamstring injury?)
Nolan Carroll II probably couldn't be worse than Fletcher. He looked really good in the summer. But like Boykin, Carroll II plays a specialized role on the defense. He plays as the dime cornerback and, right or wrong, the Eagles don't want to take him out of that spot.
Rookie Jaylen Watkins, a fourth round draft pick, has only been active just a few times this season. He was up and down during the preseason.
Benching Fletcher isn't much of a solution. It wouldn't be a horrible move, and it would be somewhat justified, but it probably wouldn't make much of a difference. The Eagles are stuck with him in the short-term and there isn't much they can (or are willing to) do about it.
At this point, Philadelphia's secondary can't be properly addressed until the offseason. Cary Williams could potentially be a salary cap casualty and Fletcher is an unrestricted free agent. Talent upgrades will be needed.