Originally written on Eagles Eye  |  Last updated 11/18/14
Brand-name pharmaceutical or generic? Which is more reliable? Is there a real difference? The debate rages on... Woe is me. The brand-name Safety I wanted for the to Eagles purchase in free agency has just been taken off the market. One player the Eagles likely had their eyes on had to be crossed of their list on Friday when the Buffalo Bills franchised safety Jairus Byrd. Bryd was one of the best Safeties in the league last year, and almost certainly would have been a target of the Eagles if he did hit the free agent market. He was a brand-name pharmaceutical... So we are left with a somewhat generic pool of talent if we want to go the FA route at Safety. Not that there is anything wrong with a generic stopgap solution...as long as the generic player can at least improve the position somewhat without making it worse. I consider DeMeco Ryans an example of a generic one-year medication which indicated out well at middle linebacker for the Birds last season. Coming off injury from a system in Texas that no longer had use for him, Ryans at least proved out to be stopgap relief for a bleeding ulcer at MLB.           Ryans fulfulled the first rule of medicine which is: Do no harm. Don't make it worse... But he was "generic" relief in that he is serviceable and affordable, but less effective than a "brand-name" difference-maker at his position. And now that the defensive profile of the team is changing, Ryans may not even be a fit at all. That situation will play out over the next few months. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad we got Ryans. I'd just like to get a lot more bang for the buck. If the linebacker position was a bleeding ulcer, then the Safety position is a curable case of anemia. We're just missing some brand-name pharmaceutical spark--- some "wonder drug" guy that puts new life into the defensive backfield, and by extension makes all the salvageable players back there with him better by his presence. A centerfielder type that studies film like Spielberg and succesfully roams for "big plays"? A big-hit guy that can play up in the box or back in zone-coverage with equal skill and finesse? Oh right, that kind of guy--- Jairus Byrd--- is gone from the store shelf. What are we left with? 49ers' Dashon Goldson?  At 6-2, 200 lbs. and stil young at 28, and with 69 tackles and 3 INT's last season, you'd think he'd be on the Eagles' radar. But the great JB-Sage-Lion, who has watched film on the guy, says we should stay away from Goldson. Sage-Lion is probably right. Why else would the 49ers have no interest in franchising the guy? Ravens' Ed Reed?... Nah. He's the smartest centerfielder available, and I doubt he's going to leave Balltimore anyway. But Reed is nursing a torn labrum and suffers from a constant "stinger" due to a chronic pinched nerve. He's also lost half-a-step in coverage and is not the best tackler back there, anyway. Reed beats you with his brain. But his body is breaking down. He's one big hit away from retirement. Of course---aren't we all? Falcons' William Moore?... Maybe. Depends on the kind of blitzing schemes the Eagles go with in 2013, as that part of the game is Moore's specialty. But truth be told, he is average in coverage and is not a very good tackler. He's generic at best. Giants' Kenny Phillips?...Hmmm... If it weren't for his getting hammered by injuries last season, I'd  put Phillips in brand-name contention. He can do it all. But again, there's probably a medical reason why the Giants would let him walk away. That drops one of the best potential guys on the market down to generic level. Phillips will want major bucks for major risk. Houston's Glover Quin?... This is a weird potential selection because Quin mostly comes in on a subpackage and mostly defends in the slot or manned-up on a tight end. I'm not sure this is the style of Safety needed most by the Eagles right now. But it would not surprise me if the Eagles try to adapt some of Houston's defensive innovations. Suddenly Quin would be desireable. He's a "tweener"... Lions' Louis Delmas?  No...not that the guy doesn't have superior athletic abilities---he does---but his head is not yet seasoned enough to play a disciplined defense. We already have enough guys on the Eagles that overrun plays, take bad angles and bite on play-action. Patriots' Patrick Chung? I don't think so...he's a good tackler but simply lacks the athletic ability to cover deep. Too bad. If you could put Patrick Chung's head on Louis Delmas' body, you would have something special. Giants' Stevie Brown? Maybe---good cover guy but simply awful at tackling. 8 INT's is super impressive, though. My guess is the Giants re-sign him anyway. Redskins' LaRon Landry? Pass...big money for a big hitter who has seemingly lost the ability to cover. Use him on run-stop and blitz, sure...But the Eagles need an all-around talent back there who can lead by example. Landry is a glorified workout warrior whose rating in my book has sunk below generic. Miami's Chris Clemons? ...Intriguing...He's got centerfielder vision...good tackler...decent coverage skills...perhaps not the best guy to send on a blitz, however. It all depends on the style of defense the Eagles choose. In the right system, Clemons could be a generic answer. Fact is, in summary, we have about as much chance of finding the Ideal Safety Solution in free agency this year as the guy in the sinkhole disaster has of collecting on his homewner's insurance policy:         His house is still standing. But the bottom fell out. Not to belittle a real tragic situation, but it illustrates my feelings about the state of the Safety position in Philadelphia if no new leadership is brought in to pump it up.. We may have to settle for a generic medication in the free-agent market. I'm just not seeing a brand-name solution.  
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