Last season was an aberration for Ellis Hobbs. Hobbs is willing to tell anyone who will listen that he wasn't himself last year, when his primary role on defense, before suffering a season-ending neck injury, was to spell Sheldon Brown. In fact, 2009 was the first season of Hobbs' career in which he failed to register a single interception. The good news is that, at this point, 2009 will remain an outlier because Hobbs notched his first interception of the season last week against the Detroit Lions.
Hobbs, 5-9, 195, is not the biggest cornerback, so it is of note that he snagged that first pick in coverage of the Lions' 6-5 physical specimen, Calvin Johnson. Hobbs jumped what appeared to be a curl route from Johnson outside the numbers and was able to pick off the pass from Shaun Hill, who threw the ball early to avoid a blitz. Hobbs said Thursday that the Lions had run the same play earlier in the game, and, on the sidelines, Hobbs told his teammates that if they saw that formation again, he would jump the pass.
"You don't necessarily have to be the most physically gifted guy to make a play," Hobbs said.
The gauntlet of physical receivers doesn't stop for Hobbs and the Eagles secondary. Although there's perhaps no one in the league quite like Johnson, the Jaguars' number one receiver is Mike Sims-Walker, who, at 6-2, still has five inches on Hobbs.
"When you do play against bigger guys, your technique has to be that much more involved," Hobbs said. "I wouldn't be here if I couldn't make plays on bigger receivers."
"You put yourself in the right position, first of all from a body position standpoint," said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, when asked about the technique taught to smaller cornerbacks for defending bigger receivers. "When ... (the offense) wants to throw the ball up, then you have to be ready to go up for the football and judge the ball accordingly. So, you just keep drilling it and exposing ourselves to it through the film study, and then when you're in a position, you make the play."
For Hobbs, another interception could be in the cards this week, as Jaguars quarterback David Garrard threw four picks last week in a loss to the San Diego Chargers. But the Jaguars are a better, crisper team at home.
"You have to look at it from a game-to-game basis," Hobbs said. "That game was for the San Diego Chargers; this game is for the Eagles. So I think (Garrard) is definitely going to come back and prove to his coach (Jack Del Rio) and the doubters that he is the guy. So you just play the game for what it is. There are no interceptions in this game yet, but hopefully he'll throw a couple. We don't know yet."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 6:30 p.m., September 23