Eagle Eye: Predictions for Eagles vs. Cardinals
Patrick Peterson has three interceptions and two fumble recoveries thus far in his third NFL season. (USA Today Images)
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson might be the NFL’s best young defensive back. He’s played two full seasons and made the Pro Bowl both times. Last year, his seven interceptions were fourth-most in the league and his five fumble recoveries were the most.
Peterson already has three picks and two fumble recoveries this season as he gears up to face the Eagles on Sunday at the Linc.
It’s almost guaranteed that Peterson will shadow Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson for the entire game, creating a matchup of two of the most dynamic players at their position.
But just because Peterson has quickly earned the coveted “shutdown corner” label doesn’t mean Nick Foles won’t be looking in Jackson’s direction.
“I know Peterson is a very talented football player, just a great football player,” Foles said Thursday, “and there are different situations where you do look and you see how he plays and from film study. I’ll take my receiver every single time on anyone, let’s just get that out of the way.
“But there are situations where maybe this route based on how he’s playing the route, it might not be a good look but it’s not where I don’t trust my receiver, but it’s not a good look for that route. So I’m not going to force it if I don’t have to, and I can go elsewhere because we have talented guys."
The Cards have 15 interceptions, tied for second-most in football, and 23 total takeaways under first-year defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who was the Eagles’ defensive coordinator for 10 games in 2012.
Foles, who just won NFC Player of the Month honors and has three straight passer ratings over 104.2, said he trusts his receivers to get open, regardless of the matchup. He doesn’t believe in fearing the opposition.
“I don’t think you can go into a game afraid of anyone,” he said. “I respect all of them. I respect this (Cards) defense. I respect them as players and I respect the coaches. That’s why you prepare and study film. At the same time, I have all the confidence in the world in my guys, and I know they’re going to get the job done.”
Foles has already shown a fearless trigger finger against elite cornerbacks. In his first start this season, against Darrelle Revis and the Buccaneers in Tampa, he targeted Jackson six times and completed all six passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns. His 12-yard touchdown pass to Jackson in the second quarter came with Revis trailing.
In the past two weeks, Foles has thrown against two corners with a combined four Pro Bowl berths in Green Bay’s Tramon Williams and Washington’s DeAngelo Hall. He’s totaled three touchdowns in those games, including a 55-yarder and 45-yarder against the Packers, and completed better than 65 percent of his passes in each game.
A decade ago, elite corners like Deion Sanders and Darrell Green were the game’s most impactful players. They took away an entire half of football field away and neutralized the game’s best wide receivers.
Eagles wideout Jason Avant said lockdown corners are a dead breed no matter how many Pro Bowl trips Peterson makes.
“There’s no shutdown corners in this league,” he said. “That’s just the honest truth. There are very, very, very good players and he’s a very, very good player and that’s just what you have.
“But in this league, with all of the rules and all of the things that that can transpire when the quarterback is accurate, there is no one that can literally be lock down. He’s in the top two or three best, but there’s still no lock down.”