It's been said so much by Eagles fans, it's nearly a broken record. The Birds have had a terrible secondary in recent years.
Will it be better in 2017?
After adding veteran free agent cornerback Patrick Robinson and drafting Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas, Philadelphia clearly knows it's an area of need. They addressed it during the offseason, but even-keeled defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz isn't quick to provocate by calling his secondary much-improved.
When asked if the cornerbacks would be be better in 2017, Schwartz said: "We'll find out during the season for sure. The final determination in everything we do from preperation to drafting to signing free agents to coaching schemes — it all comes to light during the season. It's a little too early to evaluate and we are working through a lot of different stuff. It certainly is a situation of importance for us."
The Eagles secondary actually improved under Schwartz's first year in 2016. A year prior in 2015, Philly allowed the fourth most passing yards in the NFL per game (267.1). Last year, the team allowed 239.5 yards per game, actually good for the 13th best in football. The scoring defense was in the middle of the pack last year too, allowing the 17th most touchdowns per game through the air. Much of the credit can go to the safety tandem of Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. Schwartz is no doubt hoping the veteran leaders he has at safety rub off on the incoming cornerbacks.
"I think that we'll see where that goes," Schwartz said when asked if the secondary would be better in 2017. "We go in just about any position, we don't expect anthing. We don't expect our [defensive] line to be better this year. That will probably make a bad quote, but what I am trying to get to — I don't know the best way to put it — but you maybe take for granted that you add a couple players and you are going to be better. This is a tough business and things change and you can't take anything for granted."
The addition of Jones will be a long-term benefit for the team, as the projected first round pick (drafted in the second round) continues to rehab from a torn ACL. But, according to Schwartz, teams shouldn't sleep on returning starter Jalen Mills who is expected to start, with veteran Ron Brooks and Robinson to start the year.
"His challenge is creating that consistency," Schwartz said looking back at Mills' up and down rookie year. "The expeirence that comes from a year being out there, being thrown into the fire — he should be able to benefit that going down the road."