When he played for the New England Patriots, one of the things that Patrick Chung was consistently praised for was his leadership. Chung brought all the intangibles to the table as a strong safety that a team would want in a leader in the secondary, and Chung is one of those players who is willing to do whatever it takes to make the tackle. His aggressiveness and willingness to throw his body around is admirable and is what makes him an effective safety in-the-box, but it also leaves him prone to mistakes and, more importantly, to the injuries that have derailed his career. Chung had issues staying healthy last season, and that marred what was a quality season from him. He covered and tackled better than Steve Gregory, and the Patriots were better in pass coverage with Chung on the field as opposed to any other strong safety last season (though anybody who watched the Patriots in 2011 will rightfully tell you that Chung is a clear liability in coverage and can only succeed in the box).
Chung’s leadership qualities are being felt in Philly, and he has high expectations lofted onto him with the Eagles. A big contract will do that to a player, and the Eagles were willing to take a gamble on his injuries. Signing Chung was a great idea and upgrade for a team that had awful safeties last season and still has some problems there, but the deal they gave him looks less than ideal, despite the fact that Chung seems to be a player they love and always wanted (I’m sure Chip Kelly loves having a former Oregon Ducks star around too).
Kelly also knows plenty about a certain rookie cornerback who recently starred for the rival Oregon State Beavers in Jordan Poyer, who fell a bit in the draft and was a solid pick-up for the Eagles. Poyer spoke highly of Chung’s leadership, as the veteran safety has been quick to help out a rival college alumni at corner, “For me personally, he’s helped me tremendously,” Poyer said. “I watch film with him. The first time I came in here, maybe the second day, he told me, ‘You want to know how you make it in this league?’ I said, ‘How?’ He said you’ve got to find an older guy who is doing it right, link up with him and just follow his lead. That’s what I’ve been doing with Patrick. I see the way he watches film. I see the way he practices. He’s been as successful as he is, and I just want to get to where he’s at, so I’m just doing everything that he is doing.”
Even though Adrian Wilson is a better player (and Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon are better options on the roster going forward), I kind of miss Patrick Chung in a weird way. Maybe it’s because of stories like this, but we do have plenty of leadership to go around in the secondary with the starting safety duo of Devin McCourty and Adrian Wilson.