Byron Maxwell Is Not The Answer For The Philly Secondary
- Updated: March 9, 2015
One of the biggest prizes at the cornerback position in free agency was Seattle Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell. The veteran corner from Clemson, heading into his 5th season, was coveted by many teams looking for cornerback help. Even though free agency has not officially started, teams are already getting commitments from players and Maxwell has also reportedly committed to sign with a team this offseason. The Philadelphia Eagles and Maxwell have reportedly agreed to a six-year deal worth $63 million, with $25 million guaranteed. Immediately there were some that were saying that his signing was a good signing. Of course there were Eagles fans that were happy that he was replacing the now departed Cary Williams, who could routinely be in bad situations that would cost the team. But there are also some that are not buying into Maxwell and what he can produce on the field. He is coming from the Legion of Boom and he fits the perfect mold of their corners, size (6’1”), long arms and the permanent chip on his shoulder from all that thought he could not replace current Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner. There is no doubt that Maxwell had a good season last season. But paying him like a number one corner could prove costly to the Eagles’ progress as a team. And it was costly to them at one point in time as well when they once assembled the so-called Dream Team under Andy Reid.
Heading into the 2011 offseason, the Eagles had some cap space and decided to make some big things happen on their defense. They felt their offense was in capable hands with Michael Vick at the controls, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin at the wide receiver positions and LeSean McCoy at the running back spot. The Eagles added running back Ronnie Brown and quarterback Vince Young as backups, but on defense they made a trade for then-Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, signed defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and brought in defensive end Jason Babin. But it was the signing of cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha that was the biggest of them all. Asomugha and Derrelle Revis were looked at as the top cornerbacks in the game at that time and plenty thought Nnamdi was the better corner. When he signed, the Eagles were immediately dubbed the Super Bowl champions by many in the media and their fans before the season started. But that is why they play the game on the field because this Eagles team ended up not even making the playoffs. The Eagles finished with an 8-8 record, one game behind the New York Giants, and missed the playoffs. And what made that finish even more painful is the Giants would go on to win the Super Bowl that same year. Another painful sight for the Eagles was cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha’s play. He seemed to be lost at all times in the Eagles secondary. It seemed like if he was not getting burned defensively he was getting a penalty for face-guarding a receiver. It made Eagles fans sick that the team was paying him top dollar to perform the way he did. And his performance with the team never got any better. Nnamdi was eventually released from the team and he was never the same again.
Now the Eagles are in the same exact position where they are bringing in a corner that has a bunch of hype surrounding him. Sure, he does not have as much hype as Asomugha did, but the reality is he is very much wanted by many. But for Philly, they bought into the hype instead of doing their research on him. Maxwell is good, but the fact remains that he has never really had to be the number one corner. Of course many will talk about how he got more attempts thrown his way because of Sherman, but those same folks may also want to remember that he was not facing the number one wide receiver at all times. And when he was facing the number one corner for other teams, he did not do so well. Maxwell has size, but he does not have the recovery size that many corners would have to catch up to wide receivers in and out of their breaks. The bigger the cornerback, the harder it is for him to come out of breaks. And Maxwell is no small man. Another issue is Maxwell has always had Pro Bowl caliber safeties able to help cover up for him should he make a mistake. Earl Thomas and Cam Chancellor are great players in Seattle and they cover a ton of ground. In Philly, Maxwell only has Malcolm Jenkins at safety to cover up for him. The Eagles will probably go get some safety help, but it will be nothing like what Maxwell had behind him in Seattle. And with that help he had in Seattle behind him, it allowed him to be more aggressive and take some chances. After all, he had two erasers to take care of his mistakes. With him in Philly, the aggressiveness he has may cost him and the team because of the lack of backup there. But what is the biggest issue is that Philly does not have the same pass rush that Seattle had. Seattle’s pass rush is a huge part of the success they have had. The pass rush, led by defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, were relentless and heated things up around the quarterback. With the Eagles, they just released one of their best pass rushers and Connor Barwin is pretty much the only edge pass rusher they have so far. Now that is not to say they won’t add more pass-rushing, but their rush will not be like the Seattle pass rush. Whether folks want to believe it or not, Seattle’s defensive backs benefited from the pass rush and now that Maxwell will be in Philly, he will not have that luxury anymore. And that could be something that could expose him in Philly.
Maxwell could turn out to be a good cornerback for the Eagles. But looking at history, the different styles of the two defenses and also the change of scenery, Maxwell may have a difficult time making it happen as an Eagle. Maxwell jumps into the number one cornerback spot in Philly and that is way different than his role in Seattle. He may do well, but then again he could end up like former Seattle cornerback Walter Thurmond III. For those that don’t know, he was a cornerback for the Seattle team when they won the title and signed with the Giants after that. We have not heard from him since.