Posts Tagged With: Philadelphia Eagles

In the Cards: Nnamdi Asomugha

By sharing some of the football cards from my collection, my goal is to put a spotlight on defensive backs who may have become underrated or have been forgotten by history.

Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Philadelphia Eagles (Topps 2012)

Nnamdi Asomugha’s NFL legacy is complicated.

At one point in his career, the Cal-Berkeley alum was widely considered the best cornerback in football, even though he played for teams that were not good.

When Asomugha finally did land on a team that was supposed to be good — with a massive contract in tow — he didn’t perform up to expectations and the team became worse during his time with them.

And then, it was like his career suddenly ended sooner than it should have.

Possessing Hall of Fame talent and a borderline Hall of Fame resume, Asomugha could find himself immortalized in Canton, Ohio, as an NFL legend … or we could look up in 20 years and realize he’s been forgotten in the shadows of other elite DBs from his era. Either scenario seems just as likely.

Asomugha was a four-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler in his 11 NFL seasons. He was also named to the 2000s All-Decade Team by USA Today and FOX Sports.

Asomugha spent the majority of that decade with the Oakland Raiders, who took him in the first round of the 2003 Draft. Lockdown man-to-man coverage was his calling card. Quarterbacks rarely tested him, and when they did, they paid for it. During the 2006 season, Asomugha tallied eight interceptions; usually he was good for only one or zero in a season because he simply didn’t get many opportunities.

The Raiders never made the playoffs during Asomugha’s tenure, however. They never even had a winning record. Oakland’s 8-8 record in 2010 was the only time they didn’t have a losing record.

In 2009, Asomugha signed a three-year contract with the Raiders that made him the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history. It included a third-year team option, and Oakland declined to exercise it — because it would have meant they had to pay Asomugha a salary on-par with an elite quarterback — which made Asomugha a free agent in 2011. Asomugha was still playing like the best corner in the league, but it’s understandable why a bad team wouldn’t want to pay QB money to a DB when it’s not getting them any closer to the Super Bowl.

Asomugha then signed a five-year, $60 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Unlike the Raiders who were stuck going nowhere, the Eagles were coming off three straight playoff appearances and an NFC East division title, aiming to get to the next level of serious championship contention.

However, Asomugha never reached that same All-Pro level in Philly that he had in Oakland.

There are a few theories.

Some say that he simply ran into Father Time. Asomugha turned 30 years old in 2011, and a lot of skill position players have rapidly slowed down once they hit that age.

Some say he wasn’t as motivated, whether it was due to the big contract (lack of hunger to prove himself) or because he had been dabbling in acting and his mind wasn’t fully dedicated to football.

There could be some truth there. But the most logical explanation is a simple one of style and system.

In Oakland, Asomugha played in a scheme where he was primarily asked to be a press-coverage corner, where his skill set shined. He excelled at being physical at the line of scrimmage and shadowing a receiver downfield.

In Philadelphia, Asomugha was put in a system where he played more zone coverage. Backing off the line and giving receivers a running start didn’t fit his strengths, and Asomugha didn’t make as big of an impact as he did with the Raiders.

Asomugha played two seasons with the Eagles, and the team missed the playoffs both years. He was voted a Pro Bowl alternate and had three interceptions in 2011, but overall he failed to live up to the expectations that came with his reputation and with that big contract.

The Eagles released Asomugha after the 2012 season after being unable to agree on a restructured contract, and he signed with the San Francisco 49ers. Before the 2013 season was over, when he’d played just three games for the team, the Niners waived Asomugha. Later that year, he signed a one-day deal with the Raiders and retired with that franchise.

Since his playing days ended, Asomugha has made a name for himself in Hollywood. He has acted in movies and TV, and he’s worked on the other side of the camera as a producer and writer.

During and after his football career, he has also been recognized for his commitment to serving the community and working with youth.

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NFL’s Top 100: Malcolm Jenkins (#96)

Malcolm Jenkins

Malcolm Jenkins is apparently too good to get blackballed.

The two-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro safety for the Philadelphia Eagles was right there on the front lines with Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid in 2016 when those two former San Francisco 49er teammates began kneeling during the pre-game playing of the national anthem, a move that sparked a movement of NFL players publicly protesting police brutality and racism in the United States.

Jenkins, who is widely recognized as the heart and soul of the Eagles, chose to protest by raising his fist during the anthem — similar to track and field icons John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics. His version of silent, yet powerful protest drew its share of headlines and support and criticism.

But while Kaepernick’s stand against injustice appears to have cost him his NFL career, and Reid has inexplicably (and blatantly) gone unsigned on this year’s free agent market — both players have filed grievances against the NFL, accusing team owners of collusion — Jenkins hasn’t gone anywhere. Continue reading

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Super Bowl 52: A look at the secondaries

Malcolm Butler (21), Patrick Chung (23)

Flip the number 52 around and you’ll get 25. Which I found interesting for the purpose of this piece, because there are a lot of similarities between this year’s Super Bowl 52 pitting the New England Patriots against Philadelphia Eagles, and Super Bowl 25, when the Buffalo Bills faced the New York Giants in 1991.

Back then, the Bills were heavily favored to beat the Giants. Buffalo had the NFL’s most prolific offense, led by quarterback Jim Kelly, running back Thurman Thomas, and receivers Andre Reed and James Lofton. (All of them are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.) The defense was solid — led by Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith — but it was Buffalo’s offense that was its biggest strength.

The Giants made it to the Super Bowl thanks primarily to its defense, headlined by Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor (arguably the greatest defensive player in NFL history), Pro Bowl DE Leonard Marshall and LB Carl Banks, and cornerback Everson Walls, who is a finalist for the 2018 Hall of Fame class. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Philadelphia Eagles DB drills


Little league coaches, high school players, ambitious parents … they are just three of the many groups of people who will always be interested in the answer to one question: How do the pros practice?

This video clip gives a brief glimpse into a Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs drill during this year’s training camp. Eagles DBs coach John Lovett has been in the game for over four decades, starting as a college linebacker at C.W. Post and moving up the coaching ranks from high school to the pros. Most of his career has been spent as a defensive coordinator on the major college level. Philadelphia’s assistant DBs coach is Todd Lyght, a 12-year NFL veteran cornerback with the Rams and Lions who won a Super Bowl and was named to one Pro Bowl with the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams in 1999. Continue reading

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