clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Eagles All-22 Film Review: Marcus Epps has the makings of a good starter

Philadelphia’s safety situation might not be so dire after all.

Los Angeles Chargers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Ask, and you shall receive. After lots of comments this offseason and in particular last week about Marcus Epps, it is finally time to get to his film. Let’s go.

Stats

All stats from PFF and from this past season. Only players with 20% are counted, which means 98 total players at safety

- 72.8 PFF grade, ranks 23rd

- 505 total snaps. 86 in the box, 87 lined up over the slot, 324 at safety. Totals 48% of Eagles defensive snaps.

- 87.6 run defense grade, ranks 2nd (!!)

- 67.9 coverage grade, ranks 37nd

- Only 4 missed tackles, 6.8% missed tackles, ranks 82nd.

- Targeted 21 times, giving up 16 receptions. Ranks 17th in terms of % allowed.

- Gave up 11.2 yards per reception, ranks 51st.

Strengths

+ Has a good timing of the snap when to come into the box as late as possible. Improved hugely last year on his ability to come down and help in run support

+ Was trusted in man coverage against Gronk in the playoffs when the Eagles went to more man coverage and did a really good job, allowed no catches. He has the ability to cover tight ends in man.

+ He has the movement ability and speed to play man coverage against slot receivers

+ Impressive ball production numbers. Gets his hand on the football, going back to college

+ A pretty smart player with good reactions. Rarely seems to be in the wrong place or caught out badly. Always seems to be around the ball and has good instincts

+ Good acceleration and aggressiveness in the run game, he can get downhill in a hurry

+ Excellent click and close speed in man coverage

+ The Eagles seemed to trust him with late rotation last year, which is something we didn’t see a lot of over the first half of the season

+ Not just a deep safety, played in the box last year and came down in run support. I don’t think you can play safety in the modern NFL without this versatility.

Weaknesses

- Slightly undersized and has struggled with physicality and tackling in previous years. Not a hard hitter and can get pushed backwards for extra yards. Didn’t have a problem with tackling last year but rarely stops a running back in their tracks.

- I felt he could be more aggressive in zone coverage but I think this is the way he is taught by Gannon

- Can struggle to get off blocks if blocked by a good run blocking tight end

- Plays in a system that makes it pretty easy on the secondary. Not a weakness, but worth pointing out that you expect to see less big plays against him.

Overall

So, I will be totally honest, evaluating safety play is probably as hard as it gets. I find it easy to put safeties into 3 main categories.

1. Elite player who makes the team significantly better.

2. Good starter, who doesn’t make huge errors and does what is needed.

3. A weak starter who needs replacing.

I would say after quite a lot of film the past couple of years, that Marcus Epps is pretty clearly in category 2. You don’t see him make huge errors and you don’t notice him a lot (which is a good thing). I was shocked to see how many snaps he played last year because although I thought he had a good season I didn’t realise how much he played. I think he might be closer to category 1 than 2 and I would like it if the Eagles extended him (I think he is heading into the last year of his deal) because I have a feeling he might be about to have a really good season.

I think Epps is really good in coverage, both in zone and man, and has done a lot to improve his physicality in the run game. I remember watching Epps miss quite a lot of tackles the year before and I questioned whether he had the physicality to play a lot more snaps and I think he has proved that he can. This was clearly his biggest weakness and I think he has managed to solve it.

I think he benefited from the scheme change last year and he is capable of rotating late which allowed the Eagles to do more coverage wise as the season progressed. I think Jaquiski Tartt is slightly more of an impact player due to his hard hitting style and physicality but Epps is a little more versatile with his man coverage ability in the slot.

Overall, I expect the Eagles to rotate Epps, Harris and Tartt next year but it wouldn’t shock me if Epps plays a lot of snaps, and I would have absolutely no problem with this. He’s probably not going to be a difference maker but he does what this defense requires consistently at a pretty good standard.