The job description of an NFL cornerback typically paints the picture of his working conditions as being alone on an island. Unfortunately for Miami, those islands are looking mighty vulnerable these days.
I agree with the team's decision to forego overspending to re-sign an old, creaky Andre' Goodman whose great half-season in 2008 bears no resemblance to the rest of his 6 ½ year career. However, the depth remaining at the position is paper thin, and apart from Will Allen, who will be 31 when the season begins, there aren't any proven players who can be counted on to start.
So how does the front office attempt to alleviate this problem? By signing Eric Green and bringing in Demarcus Faggins for a tryout.
I bashed the team's signing of Jake Grove two weeks ago, and I stand before you again (figuratively, of course) to say that signing Eric Green is a bad move. Signing Faggins would be mistake number three.
The fact of the matter is that the Dolphins need legitimate starting cornerbacks right now, not more dimebacks. They have one starter in Will Allen, but like I said, he's going to be 31 and his contract runs out after this season. I'm comfortable with Nate Jones as a nickel back, but he's not a starter. Jason Allen might be able to fill that role, but will the coaches ever give him an extended chance to actually do it? He can't be worse than Joey Thomas.
So let's assume that Will Allen has a lock on one of the starting positions and that Nate Jones and Jason Allen make the team as reserves. What then is Eric Green's role on this team? He's certainly not being paid $6 million over two years to be the fifth corner, and Jones proved he can man the nickel spot. So the front office must think Green can start opposite Will Allen.
Eric Green is terrible.
Let's go to the numbers (not all figures are available yet):
|'07 vs. #1 WR
|'07 vs. #2 WR
|'07 vs. Other WR
To put it bluntly, those numbers are awful. To rank among the worst starting cornerbacks in the league two years in a row (when you are in the prime years of your career no less!) is a clear indication that you should not be starting anymore. Heck, judging by his performance against backup receivers in 2007, I question his viability at any level of the depth chart.
That kind of performance would only be magnified playing opposite a solid player like Will Allen, since he would be targeted relentlessly.
Now, I know most of you will simply shrug off the numbers and say, "Well, I'll wait until I see him myself." No need, as I've collected some eyewitness reports from Green's tenure in the desert.
From Pro Football Prospectus' 2008 season preview:
"The Cardinals' team numbers against wide receivers were bad because of Eric Green and Antrel Rolle, not [Roderick] Hood...This analysis doesn't even get to some of the other problems, like Green's inexcusable blunders. Last year, in the opener against San Francisco, Green had the opportunity to prevent a tying touchdown by falling on a fumble in the end zone. Instead, he tried to pick the ball up and missed it. The ball was recovered by Darrell Jackson for a 49ers score....They believe Rodgers-Cromartie has the talent to go straight from Division I-AA to the big leagues, but he needs to replace Green, not Hood, or Arizona will still have a big hole in the lineup at cornerback."
From Trevor Hoskins, a Cardinals game-charter for Football Outsiders:
"Eric Green is worthless, often burned easily even though he's fast, and struggles with any type of move. They should give up on trying to make him a cornerback, and switch him to safety as a last shot."
Yup...I'd say this signing falls into the "bad idea" pile along with Jake Grove.
But there are still other options available in free agency. Perhaps the team can amend for this lack of judgment by signing someone of value.
Again, Demarcus "Petey" Faggins is not that guy.
You know a player is bad when the team's fan base adopts his nickname as a general term for poor play. In Houston, a "Petey" became a synonym for "all the Texans secondary play, as a bunch of players who try hard, aren't terribly talented, give large cushions, can't stop key third down passes, or even basic routes and typically get burnt deep." Faggins exemplified these qualities to the fullest.
For the 2007 season, Faggins was targeted 58 times and had a success rate of 44% (65th in the league). In those 58 attempts, Faggins had a grand total of three pass defenses. Against #1 WRs, he averaged 10.4 yards per attempt and a 36% success rate. Oh yeah, he'll be 30 years old in June.
Once again, let me call in an eyewitness account to back up these dreadful numbers:
"If Faggins were good enough to be a starting CB2 in the NFL, such a proclamation would be ok. Unfortunately, Petey is not and, so, the statement is not.
Now, every single time I deride Demarcus, I get an email or a comment or whatever sticking up for him. Usually, buried in the defense is something to the effect of "but... he has so much HEART" or "he was injured last year." Both of these things are true. You know what else is true? THEY DON'T MATTER. Faggins is not talented enough to play CB2."
Ah, now that's a quote after my own heart.
Oh, and just for fun, check out this Timeline of Petey Faggins' Suckiosity. Here's an excerpt:
"January 15, 1997-Petey Faggins signs his letter of intent to play for Navarro Junior College. When asked why he didn't sign with an NCAA school, Faggins offers only that they "didn't know what they were missing." People assume he is joking, so they laugh. Faggins dies a little inside."
To sum all this up, Eric Green and Demarcus Faggins are abject failures as starting cornerbacks, and it makes little sense to bring them in for depth. At this point, the only real solution is to invest a high draft pick (or two) into replenishing the position.
Of course, that raises a problem since Bill Parcells is notoriously averse to drafting skill position players (particularly corners and receivers) high in the draft. And his success rate on those that he does select is low.
This should be nothing new. We all knew that Parcells was the guy when it came to evaluating linemen, and those are the positions that come first in rebuilding projects. He has addressed those positions heavily since his arrival, and the rebuilding has got off on the right foot.
But the team is now entering the stage of rebuilding where the lines are young and talented (except for Jake Grove) and some attention must be turned to the skill positions. However, this is not Parcells' strength, and I simply can't get behind a philosophy that thinks an entire roster's worth of CBs and WRs can simply be plucked from the ranks of undrafted college players and the scrap heap of failed free agents.
Now is the time to change course. Now is the time to spend our first day picks on those positions.
Otherwise, we're just going to end up with a secondary full of Peteys. And no one wants that.