Members of the Eagles secondary have been raving about Philadelphia's new defensive backs coach Cory Undlin this offseason. Last month, starting safety Malcolm Jenkins called Undlin "the most important pick up" in the defensive backs room. Brandon Boykin recently said he's improved more in limited time with Undlin than he did all of last year.
The Eagles hired Undlin earlier this year after the Denver Broncos fired most of their coaching staff. He was brought in to replace former defensive backs coach John Lovett, who has since been moved to Philadelphia's pro scouting department.
It's no secret the Eagles secondary has struggled the past two years, which contributed to Lovett's reassignment. In order to fix those issues, the Eagles made a number of personnel additions, with the biggest one being Byron Maxwell. The team also signed Walter Thurmond along with drafting JaCorey Shepherd and Randall Evans.
But while talent is a big factor, so is technique. Or at least that's what Undlin preaches.
"We’re looking for non-imposters is what we’re looking for," said Undlin. "Meaning, guys who get up and line up in press, and then the ball gets snapped, and then they open - I use the term 'open the gate' - and then they just let the guy run down the field ... we don’t want that.
"So my job is to get them to believe in themselves and believe in the technique so when they get lined up on any guy, I don’t care what guy it is, the starter or their fourth wideout, they’re going to play with the technique that we demand out of them."
Undlin is hoping better technique leads to allowing less big plays, which was obviously a big issue in 2014. The Eagles allowed a 72 plays of 20 yards or more, along with 18 of 40 yards or more.
"Obviously, X-plays, we do not want those," said Undlin. "I use the term all the time: 'We are out of the X-play business.' We’re not doing that."
"I believe that every X-play that’s given up, at some point in the down, was a result of poor technique somewhere in the down. The guy fell down, somebody got picked, they just threw the ball over your head. They were some examples of technique. So my focus has been on "here’s how we’re not going to give these plays up." Not watching last year’s plays, we’re not going to do that because we’re going to play with good technique. And if somebody gets beat, then we’re going to tackle the guy so he doesn’t go for [the big play]."
There's a lot of time left until the Eagles secondary can prove their improvement. A mix of new talent and new coaching should provide some reason for optimism.