Position Analysis: Defensive Backs

The Eagles secondary figured to be a huge asset for the team in 2005. Instead, they were picked on and torn apart by opposing teams, especially since there was no pass rush to help them out. Now, the question is just how much of the problem was the lack of a pass rush and how much was the personnel?

Starters: LCB Lito Sheppard, RCB Sheldon Brown, FS Brian Dawkins, SS Mike Lewis.
Backups: Rod Hood, Matt Ware, Quentin Mikell, Dexter Wynn, Donald Strickland.

After sending three of its four starters to the Pro Bowl in '04, this unit figured to be one of the team's greatest strengths in '05. Instead, it turned out to be one of its biggest disappointments. The lack of a pass rush put extra coverage pressure on Sheppard and Brown, who got beat much too often and must play better in '06. Lewis, another former Pro Bowler, was terribly inconsistent and made a slew of mental mistakes that resulted in busted coverages and missed assignments.

Another concern here is Dawkins. He is 32 and wasn't the same playmaker in '05 that he's been most of his career. Rod Hood moved into the starting lineup after Sheppard got hurt and played very well. He's a restricted free agent who could draw some interest from other teams, but the Eagles won't let him go.

The prevailing thought is that any need for upgrades may be able to be handled through the draft or lower level free agent signings. It's unlikely that the Eagles will break the bank to get a top notch free agent for the secondary and will go instead with pretty much the same staff that they had in '05, except for having an eye on how to eventually replace Dawkins, who is on the downside of his career.

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