Roseman Confident In Hobbs....No One Else Is
By Lance Epstein
A developing situation that has many Eagles fans nervous entering the 2010 season is the right cornerback position.
In fact, Eagles enthusiasts counted on general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Andy Reid to select a cornerback high in the 2010 NFL Draft considering they traded away the most consistent player on the defense in Sheldon Brown.
However, after a run-off of cornerbacks at the end of the first-round, the team decided not to select a cornerback until the fourth-round in Trevard Lindley. Ultimately, what this means is that the Eagles are putting their faith in cornerback Ellis Hobbs to hold the fort over on the right side of the field.
During this weekend’s Post-Draft Minicamp, Asante Samuel and Hobbs lined up as the starters at cornerback on the defense. Yet, Joselio Hanson did take some snaps with the first-team at the right cornerback position.
Still, Roseman trusts that Hobbs has fully recovered from his Nov. 8 neck injury suffered at the hands of the Cowboys and truly believes he will do a great job.
"We have some guys who are going to have an opportunity. Ellis Hobbs and Asante Samuel were starters on an undefeated [actually finished 18-1; lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl] team," Roseman said. "Ellis is feeling great, looks great."
Additionally, Roseman discussed that the Eagles have been very high on Hobbs since last year's draft when they decided to give up a fifth-rounder for his services. Also, he deems the acquisitions of Darryl Tapp, Brandon Graham, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Ricky Sapp will greatly improve the Eagles pass rush. In turn, this should immensely help out Hobbs and the rest of the secondary as well.
"The best thing for these corners is pass rush and we believe we've helped the pass rush," Roseman said.
Nevertheless, the Eagles have walked this fine-line of trusting injured players to comeback and make an major impact, but several times it has blown up in their face. Stacy Andrews, Shawn Andrews and Cornelius Ingram were three players the team put a lot of faith into last year. None of those players made a noteworthy contribution to the squad in 2009.
In addition, the Eagles defense already has three players penciled in the starting lineup that are trying to recover from some sort of injury in Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims and Hobbs [possibly even Marlin Jackson-- if he starts]. If history has shown the organization anything, it is that pushing more injured players into starting roles does not translate very well.
Besides Hobbs’ injury concerns, he was did not show the skills to be a starting cornerback last year before his season ended in week eight. Before going down, Hobbs was fighting for the fourth cornerback position with Dimitri Patterson; a journeyman corner that has played for three teams in four years. Furthermore, Hobbs was primarily used as a kick-off return man because teams were picking on him when he did see the field as a cornerback.
If that was not horrifying enough, Roseman keeps referring to Hobbs being a starter on an undefeated team as his reasoning for him being allowed to start. First, the team actually lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, so they were not undefeated. Moreover, Hobbs was one of the key reasons that the Giants went onto win that game. He left receiver Plaxico Burress wide open to catch the game-winning touchdown.
Second, the Patriots defense was not the strong point of that particular squad. The offense with Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Randy Moss were very potent. They would outscore teams to win games and not due to shutting down opponents offenses.
Lastly, that was nearly three years ago and a lot has changed since then. The year after the Patriots Super Bowl run, Hobbs saw his play drop significantly. Not only did his play fall off, he gave up the most touchdown passes of any cornerback in the NFL.
His fall from grace with the Patriots made him expandable and replaceable for coach Bill Belichick. Eventually, New England traded him to the Eagles during the 2009 draft for a measly fifth-round pick. Why would a team with a history of success, trade a player that the Eagles consider a "starting caliber" player? Simple, he is not actually a starter.
If Hobbs were a third corner or a nickel and dime back, fans would be thrilled. Unfortunately, he is starting at the right cornerback. Even worse, behind him sits a rookie [Lindley], a suspended player who's performance dropped after being suspended [Hanson], a player coming off a torn ACL [Marlin Jackson] and a corner that was switched last year to safety due to being too slow [Macho Harris]. Still, this is not exactly instilling confidence in the fans that are always loyal to the franchise.
For Roseman, his confidence in Hobbs better translate into the on the field production. Otherwise he can expect to continuously hearing it from the fans about his decision to ignore the position and trade away Brown.