Eagles’ starting CB tandem sits atop NFL.com’s Top-10 shutdown cornerbacks list
For the first time in nearly a decade, the Eagles have one of the best starting cornerback tandems in the NFL.
Darius Slay and James Bradberry have been lights out to start the 2022 campaign. The duo has combined for five interceptions while allowing a completion percentage of 42.1 percent and a passer rating of 21.8 when targeted.
The Eagles pass defense as a whole has been elite throughout this early portion of the season, due in large part to Slay and Bradberry. Philly ranks fourth in pass defense, allowing just 188 passing yards per game.
The stats speak for themselves here and pundits around the NFL are beginning to take notice.
On Thursday, NFL.com revealed their top-10 shutdown cornerbacks of the 2022 season thus far. Not only did Bradberry and Slay both make the cut, they snatched the top-two spots on the list respectively.
Bradberry and Slay have been dominant for the Eagles defense this season
Bradberry came in at No. 1, posting 91 coverage score through six weeks, per the Next Gen Stats Analytics Team.
The Eagles have played man coverage 32 percent of the time this season and have allowed just 3.8 yards per attempt on such plays. Bradberry has been the biggest beneficiary of Jonathan Gannon’s newfound reliance on man coverage, allowing six receptions on 22 targets when manned up with the opposing wideout.
“[Quarterbacks have] completed -8.0 fewer passes than expected and lost -25.8 expected points on those targets — both of which rank first in the NFL among coverage defenders,” the NFL.com article reads.
Although Slay is ranked slightly under Bradberry, posting an 85 coverage score, he’s been every bit as dominant in man coverage. Big Play has been targeted just eight times on 58 man coverage opportunities and he hasn’t surrendered a single reception in man coverage since Week 3.
“The dynamic duo of Slay and Bradberry has played a major part in the Eagles’ ascendance to the top of the NFC,” the Next Gen Stats Analytics Team writes.
There have been several reasons for the Eagles 6-0 start. It’s hard to argue that the play of Slay and Bradberry hasn’t played a significant role. Giving Gannon the luxury of playing man coverage whenever he sees fit is invaluable. It gives the defensive coordinator flexibility when attacking an offense and it helps the front-four create more pressure.
Having a dynamic duo like Slay and Bradberry holding down the outside cornerback positions gives the Eagles a legitimate shot to beat any team in the NFL. If they continue to play at an elite level, the Eagles could be the last team standing when it’s all said and done.
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