Sheldon Brown and Asante Samuel can lay claim to the title of the league's best cornerback tandem - from an interception perspective. No other cornerback duo in the league has as many picks as the six that Brown and Samuel have produced in just four games.
However, that might not be what's stood out most though about the play of the secondary thus far. One thing is for certain - and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers learned this last week - catches are certainly earned.
Strong safety Quintin Mikell jarred the ball loose from Antonio Bryant on a third-and-13 in the first quarter to end a drive. Brown made sure that Michael Clayton didn't come down with a fourth-down reception later on. And Ellis Hobbs sacrificed his body on a knife tackle to stop Jerramy Stevens for a 1-yard gain off of a play-action screen that could have gone for more yards.
Brown said that a big reason that receivers need to keep a head on a swivel has been the play of rookie free safety Macho Harris. With 12 tackles and a pass knockdown in four games, Harris hasn't made the highlight-reel play but he has impressed his teammates.
"I think what everybody is overlooking is how physical Macho Harris plays," Brown said. "That was a precedent that Dawk (Brian Dawkins) set. I think the biggest thing for a rookie to come in, especially a guy like Macho. He's been playing physical and setting the tempo for us. When the opportunity presents itself, I'm pretty sure he'll catch (an interception) and then his return ability will take place. As far as making solid tackles and bringing that physical presence where receivers are just running across the middle of the field not wondering where he is, he's handled that.
"A lot of safeties out of college are finesse players and they don't bring that physical aspect. He's a guy that played corner in college and I'm shocked at how physical he is. A guy comes down and tries to crackblock him and he's putting his elbow in the throat. He's lived up to the expectation. He's done well."
The Eagles racked up 10 penalties on Sunday and one of them was an unnecessary roughness penalty on Harris away from the ball on a third-down play which kept the drive alive. Brown didn't think the shot that drew the flag was dirty.
"When you watch the game, it was not a cheap shot on the receiver at all. He decleated him," Brown said.
Brown is already just one interception short of tying his career high of four in 2005. Brown said that he's not doing anything different on his end. It's the play of the defensive line that has allowed Brown and Samuel to feast on the "gimmies."
"It's a team sport. You have to give credit where credit is due. Let's be honest. The guys up front are stopping the run, number one. They're getting in there and applying pressure that allows us to be in place to make those plays," Brown said. "With the salary cap, I don't know many teams with the depth that we have. ... It's probably one of the best defenses I've been on with the depth. It's exciting watching everybody play."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 6:05 p.m., October 14