Alumni Alley runs every week on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and features a former Eagle who writes about his time in Philadelphia and his perspective after his NFL career ended. This week: Former Eagles cornerback Bobby Taylor, who played in Philadelphia from 1995-2003 and was named an All-Pro in 2002. Taylor, who is now heavily involved in Heads Up Football in Texas, the fashion industry and upcoming as an executive producer in the entertainment business, made his mark covering big receivers. With Calvin Johnson waiting on Sunday for the Eagles, Taylor is the perfect person from whom to gain perspective ...
When I was in college and during my training, the receivers I covered were mostly smaller guys. I was a bigger cornerback and I had to focus more on my technique and my footwork and not wanting to take long strides – which is something that was natural to me, being as tall as I am – when I covered all of these smaller receivers.
I was able to stay with the smaller, quicker guys, and that helped me when I went up against players like Michael Irvin from the Cowboys and Herman Moore from Detroit. It was easier for cover those guys, actually. A lot of times those guys wanted to rassle, and that was fine with me. I was big enough to handle it. When I watched film and saw them playing against smaller cornerbacks, they just overpowered them.
Not with me. I felt that I had the footwork of a smaller cornerback in the body of a big man, so it was easy for me to transfer those skills and be competitive against those guys.
I loved playing those guys. My preparation started the Monday before the game, watching as much film as possible. And since I was from Dallas, playing the Cowboys was always special. In fact, a lot of the members of my family were Cowboys fans, and that added fuel to my fire. It was always very special to go against Michael, and Herman and some of the big receivers Arizona had.
During the offseason I ran into Leon Lett (former Cowboys defensive tackle) and we started talking about the old days and about how teams would play against Dallas and he said, "Man, Michael used to be worried about you. We tried to simulate some of the things you did in the games." That was a great compliment to hear that.
The challenge going against somebody like Calvin Johnson is enormous. These cornerbacks have to be physical and know they aren't going to win every play. They have to make Calvin earn everything. He's so big and strong.
What's going to be interesting to see is how much the referees let the players play. When I was an Eagle, I remember having our big team meeting with the officials at Lehigh University in Training Camp and they would show us the video and it was like me, Troy Vincent and Al Harris were the stars of the show. There were always new rules and new limitations to what defensive players could do.
I'm going to be at the game on Sunday and I'm excited. I like what Chip Kelly is doing. I became friendly with DeMeco Ryans when he played in Houston so I stay in touch with him and Duce Staley (running backs coach) and I talk with them just about every other week. It's a great battle for the NFC East with Dallas and I know the fans are enjoying it.
As a player, you have to make the adjustment to the new coaching staff and the new ways and these guys are doing that. I started with Ray Rhodes and then after four seasons with Ray, it was time to have a new coach with Andy Reid. He shocked the system, and that's what you have to do. Chip is doing that, and you see how the players are responding.