The Eagles need a RCB. Will Bengals CB Jonathan Joseph be a key target? How does he fit what the Eagles are looking for?
Joseph has five seasons under his belt. He's started for four and a half of them, 58 games in all. Joseph isn't an elite player. He's good, but not special. He has okay size at 5-11 and 190 pounds. Joseph has been productive. He has 14 career interceptions and 76 passes defensed. His tackling numbers are solid. Joseph has 272 career tackles and a season high of 69 back in 2009. He doesn't have a sack in his career.
Joseph was primarily the left cornerback in Cincinnati. He played a mixture of press and off coverage. In the games I watched he played mostly off. Joseph showed some potential as a physical press corner, but looked most comfortable playing off and then breaking on the ball. He has the quickness to be effective in off coverage. If you can't break on the ball, you'll give up a lot of completions. Joseph wasn't at his best in 2010 due to a nagging ankle injury. He actually missed four games. I made sure to watch tape of him from 2009 and 2010 to be as fair to him as possible.
You won't mistake Joseph for Antoine Winfield anytime soon. Joseph can be a physical hitter at times, but he picks his spots. He isn't a consistently good wrap-up tackler from what I saw. He's not soft by any means, but like so many cornerbacks, believes in picking his battles carefully. He also prefers to hit more than tackle.
How would Joseph fit in with the Eagles? He's not an ideal fit. In a lot of ways he reminds me of a lesser version of Asante Samuel. Joseph, like Samuel, spends most of his time at left corner. Both guys are best when playing off. Joseph isn't a big, physical press corner. The Eagles are looking for a right corner. I'm sure Joseph could play the other side, but you have to think about the situation. He's going to get a pretty big contract. You want to put Joseph in a position to succeed. That means letting him do what he's used to doing and not trying to change him too much. With Samuel playing off as much as he does I'm sure the Eagles would prefer the new corner to be a guy who likes to press and be physical. It would also help to have someone that is comfortable on the right side.
I don't think signing Joseph would be dumb necessarily. He's talented and in the prime of his career. There is certainly plenty to like about him. I don't think he makes a lot of sense because he isn't a great fit and would require a hefty contract. When you pay big money you should try to make sure the player is a good fit. Maybe Joseph would thrive at right corner in the Eagles scheme. Maybe not. The question is whether he's worth the risk. I think the Eagles will look elsewhere. If the Eagles were looking to replace Samuel, Joseph would most certainly be a primary target.
One other concern with Joseph is durability. He missed time in college with a foot injury. He missed a game in 2007. He missed half the season in 2008 due to injury. He also missed four games last year. 2009 was the only season when he started all 16 games.
Joseph will get overpaid by some team because there is a need for quality corners. There is a significant drop-off from Nnamdi Asomugha, the one elite corner that will hit the market. It is really going to be interesting to see which corner the Eagles do go after.
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I'm really curious to see what happens to a pair of former Eagles. Donovan McNabb had a disastrous season in Washington in 2010. It was tough to watch such a great Eagle go through such a miserable campaign. I wanted to cheer for McNabb, but it was hard since he was wearing burgundy and gold.
He's due a big salary this year and it sure seems like the Skins have to cut him. I really hope they do, and sooner rather than later. I want McNabb to get a chance to shop his services and find a team that wants him. He won't have a ton of choices. I'm think Seattle and Oakland could be his best targets, depending on what those teams think of the players they already have in place.
I'd love to see McNabb go play for the Raiders. He'd be on an AFC team and I wouldn't have to worry about whether pulling for him affected the Eagles in any way. I could just sit back and enjoy watching him play. The Raiders may feel the best option is sticking with Jason Campbell, but Oakland did look into dealing for McNabb last offseason so they could still have some interest. I certainly hope so.
If McNabb can't get a starting gig in 2011 that could be the beginning of the end for him. I don't want to see that happen. He's still talented enough to be a good starter. I recently re-watched part of the Skins game against the Texans from last year. McNabb was 28 of 38 for 426 yards and a touchdown. He made some great throws and looked very comfortable running the offense. Granted, the Texans defense was awful, but you don't put up those kind of numbers without good ability. Let's hope someone gives McNabb a chance to start again and show what he can do. 2010 was a year to forget.
The other ex-Eagle is of course Brian Westbrook. I recently re-watched his performance against Arizona from late in the 2010 season. He had 23 carries for 136 yards and a touchdown in that game. Going into the contest he only had five carries all year. He was buried behind Frank Gore. That night Gore got hurt and Westbrook took advantage of the opportunity.
His great showing did come against the lousy Cardinals defense and that has to be factored in, but I still think Westbrook can be a good role player. He remains a very good receiver and pass blocker. He didn't get banged up too much last year since he only had 93 total touches. There were no major injuries. Westbrook might be in his best shape in years.
The obvious question is whether the Eagles might have interest in bringing back either player. I'm sure Andy Reid would love to have McNabb come back, but the move doesn't make sense. McNabb wouldn't be happy in Philadelphia as a backup. With the Philly press, that would be a controversy waiting to happen. Maybe McNabb could return as a backup in a couple of years. It would be sorta cool to have him return and close out his career as an Eagle.
I can only guess as to what the Eagles want to do at backup running back. Jerome Harrison will be a free agent. There are rumors about Reggie Bush being a target, but we don't know for sure that he'll hit the market. Westbrook couldn't have stayed last year. Shady McCoy needed time out of Westbrook's shadow to show what he could do. Now McCoy is clearly established as "the man" at running back. Bringing back Westbrook is possible.
I don't think it is very likely. In recent years Reid has tried to find a big back to add to the mix. Draft picks Tony Hunt and Charles Scott didn't work. Free agent Mike Bell wasn't the answer. I get the feeling Reid would like a runner who isn't a McCoy clone, but is more of a complementary player.
The Eagles got lucky that McCoy stayed healthy in 2010. They need a better backup running back situation in 2011.