The Eagles have the best cornerback duo in football. Man, that feels weird to say. Darius Slay and James Bradberry have both been playing at incredibly high levels in 2022, which has been key to the Eagles’ 6-0 start.
For Eagles’ fans, this is unfamiliar territory. Cornerback play has been a consistent issue for the birds throughout most of the 2010’s. From Sidney Jones to Nnamdi Asomugha, Philadelphia has shot and missed on corner after corner, struggling to find the tandem to do the job.
However, the acquisition of Darius Slay in 2020 set the team in the right direction. Slay became a day one starter for the Eagles, eventually earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2021. However, the other side of the field remained an issue, with a carousel of corners tried in the position. However, in 2022, the Eagles seem to have found the answer with James Bradberry.
Bradberry’s Early Production in 2022
Bradberry has been on a tear in pass coverage so far this season. In six games, he has totaled nine passes defensed and two interceptions, one of which was taken back for a pick six. Just in Philadelphia’s week six game against the Dallas Cowboys, Bradberry broke up four passes.
As the Eagles’ CB2, Bradberry has done what many Eagles corners could not: make plays. For two seasons, beating the Eagles defense was simple: just find Darius Slay and look the other way. Most likely, whoever was standing over there wouldn’t be able to make a play. Bradberry, however, has quashed those issues, providing the Eagles defense with a second lock down corner.
Bradberry’s addition has helped unlock the defensive unit in more than just pass coverage, though. With Slay and himself able to survive on islands on the outside, the Eagles have become a much better pass rushing team. Guys like Haason Reddick and Fletcher Cox have reaped the benefits of Bradberry’s inclusion, helping the Eagles to solve another one of their biggest issues from 2021: rushing the passer. Philadelphia’s defense has been amongst the league’s best in 2022, largely due to their newfound well-roundedness.
Slay is Still Slay
Of course, Bradberry’s success would mean nothing if Darius… I mean Slay, would have regressed. Slay has been one of the league’s best corners in recent years, expected to lock down opposing teams’ top wide receivers every week. Luckily for the Eagles, he is playing as well as ever, having not lost a step from his brilliant 2021 campaign.
So far in 2022, Slay has seven passes defensed and three interceptions. This includes an impressive week two performance where he essentially removed Vikings’ star Justin Jefferson from the game, personally holding him to just one catch and seven yards.
Slay’s performance has made defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s life a lot easier the past two seasons. Now with the added help of Bradberry, the Eagles have been able to employ a diverse scheme, keeping opposing offenses on their toes. This formula has helped the unit be as successful as they’ve been.
So, Are Darius Slay and James Bradberry the Best Duo in Football?
Yes. At this current moment, who else is even in the argument? No pair has put up the stats or made the direct impact on games like Slay and Bradberry have in 2022.
Darius Slay and James Bradberry have transformed the Eagles defense. Both in pass coverage and pass rush, the two have made the unit a force, one which hasn’t truly been solved yet. Headed into the bye week, the Eagles are sitting pretty at 6-0, and it’s largely thanks to the efforts of their two stars on the back end.
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