NFL Betting Inquiry: Why Did the Eagles Pay Byron Maxwell So Much?
A year ago, NFL betting fans and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly became well acquainted with the skills of Byron Maxwell. Then a cornerback with the Seattle Seahawks, Maxwell was the best player in the secondary that night as the Seahawks held Philadelphia to just nine first downs and 139 total yards. He was terrific in man coverage on the outside as well as in the slot, which can be a different challenge. His strength and long arms made him a difficult task for the Eagles’ wide receivers to solve. When the Seahawks ended up beating the Eagles – and the Eagles fell into a three-game losing streak that would knock them out of the playoffs – Kelly saw his own cornerbacks get beat over and over and over again – particularly Bradley Fletcher on the left side.
As the losing streak grew, defensive coordinator Billy Davis decided he couldn’t trust man coverage with the team. The nickel and dime sub-packages he had created to build pressure became more vulnerable as the players simply couldn’t provide the coverage. Davis’ creativity had been an important part of the success that the Eagles had had on defense, and without the creativity, the whole thing fell apart. Davis would use such innovative schemes as inside blitzes with the best rushers attacking the A-gaps rather than the edges. There were also some green-dog blitzes and spy tactics that would shake Eagle opponents up.
If you know Chip Kelly, then you know that he’s all about putting a diverse scheme out on the field that surprises the opposition. Davis is his creative equal on the defensive side of the ball. However, if you can’t cover the opposition, then you can’t afford to get creative, because teams will torch you right and left. So if you’re wondering why Philadelphia would pay Byron Maxwell $65 million over six years, then maybe understanding just how awful the Eagles’ pass defense was in 2013 and 2014 will help. Bradley Fletcher, just so you know, left via free agency, and the Eagles released Cary Williams, who had started opposite Fletcher and hadn’t really done all that much either. Interestingly, the Seahawks ended up signing Williams to replace Maxwell. It will be interesting to see if Williams ups his game under the tutelage of Pete Carroll.
The Eagles also needed a starter at the other corner, and so they took Eric Rowe from Utah in the second round. The message is that both Kelly and Davis want a physical Eagles attack on the corners. So they’re basically bringing the Seahawks’ approach to the East Coast. That’s a good way to mess up an offense’s timing as the play begins, which will help the pressure up front cause even more havoc. The Eagles feature a lot of single-high coverages, like Seattle, but they are a little more complex inside than Seattle is. They have Malcolm Jenkins at free safety, and he can cover wide receivers in the slot or cover tight ends one-on-one. Kiko Alonso is a quality inside linebacker who lost his 2014 season to an ACL injury, but if he can gain that movement back, he will be a force.