Of the 9 players that the Eagles brought in over the last week, one of the players that is lesser known than the rest, yet very intriguing, is former Rams CB Bradley Fletcher. And so, I asked my buddy Ryan Van Bibber (you can follow him on Twitter here) to answer a few questions. Ryan runs the great Rams site Turf Show Times. He also watched me get loaded in an Indianapolis bar at the 2011 Combine. So he has that going for him.
Jimmy: First, let’s just review Fletcher’s injury history. He hyperextended his knee his rookie season (2009). From that injury, he had multiple surgeries to fix the lateral meniscus cartilage in his knee, and to repair his ACL. He also tore the ACL in the same knee early in the 2011 season. Am I missing any?
Ryan: Nope, those are the big ones, and they’re kind of big too.
Jimmy: So let’s first focus on Fletcher’s stretch of 20 games from 2010 to the first 4 games of 2011 before he tore his ACL, when he was a full-time starter. How did he play?
Ryan: Very well, but clearly slowed by the injury. His greatest asset is his physicality. Fletcher presses well, and can hang in man coverage with most receivers, especially if he’s been able to throw them out of step at the start of their routes.
Jimmy: After the 2011 season, the Rams brought in a new coaching regime. They paid bigtime money to Cortland Finnegan in free agency, and spent two high picks on CBs (Janoris Jenkins at 39th overall, and Trumaine Johnson at 65th overall). That’s an enormous commitment to fix one position. A fair deduction would be to say that Jeff Fisher and his staff did not see Fletcher as a long term answer at CB. How do you see it?
Ryan: I think he could have been, but I also believe Fisher’s staff has a different version of corners they like to work with. Part of the issue is his fit in zone, which the Rams ask their corners to do a lot of. He’ll get beat on a slant by better receivers, and he doesn’t play the inside well at all.
Jimmy: Explain the dynamic of the Rams secondary in 2012. The understanding is that Fletcher played the outside in the nickel, with Finnegan moving inside to the slot. Is Fletcher strictly an outside guy?
Ryan: Yes, for sure. He doesn’t play the quick twitch stuff with the greatest of ease.
Jimmy: In the first 9 games last year, Fletcher played 354 snaps. In the last 7, he played in every game, but only got 20 snaps. It appears he lost his nickel job to Johnson. What happened there?
Ryan: Fisher et al, just wanted Johnson in there. It was part of an overall movement to play the younger guys more. Right or wrong? Who knows. That’s just one of those strange things about regime changes.
Jimmy: And finally, just from a strengths and weaknesses perspective, what did you like about him? What did you not like?
Ryan: Again, he’s a good outside corner, and if he can stay healthy, has the potential to be a solid starter. What I liked most about him was his ability to play the bigger, tougher receivers. Fletcher had a knack for drawing penalties because of the way he plays. He never quite figured out that you can’t grab jerseys like that and get away with it in the NFL.