Leading up to the Eagles playing the New England Patriots on February 4, Sports Talk Philly will be taking a look at the underdogs on the Eagles roster that have made their run to become the underdogs in Super Bowl LII possible.
In this edition, we will focus on cornerback Patrick Robinson.
Robinson was rated as a three-star prospect and recruited by Florida State University. He played all four years there, posting 117 tackles (seven for loss) and seven interceptions. He was seen as a very active corner who should translate well to the NFL level.
The issue for Robinson was whether or not his body could hold up. He never played an entire season in his college career, appearing in 44 of the Seminoles’ 52 games. While he played many games early on as special teams, he missed more games as a corner, including playing only nine games in his junior year.
2010-12 New Orleans Saints Campaigns
Fresh off their Super Bowl win, the New Orleans Saints took Robinson with the final pick in the first round of the NFL draft. It was a pick that no one saw coming. It isn’t that Robinson wasn’t expected to be good, but that the Saints were not in need of secondary players at that time.
Robinson played most of his rookie season on special teams, but also played some corner in six games after injuries piled up for New Orleans. He was a healthy scratch in five different weeks, though. All told, he posted 26 tackles and three passes defensed in 12 games, including a playoff game.
The Saints were impressed with Robinson’s sophomore campaign and he saw the field in 17 of the Saints’ 18 games (his only inactivity due to illness). He finished the regular season with 45 tackles, four interceptions and 15 defensed passes and added five tackles and a defensed pass in the playoffs. It was at this point that Robinson became a rising star for the Saints. As a result, the team let star cornerback Tracy Porter walk in free agency.
2012-13 New Orleans Saints Campaign
Robinson did not do too well. He put up stats, but he played against the oppositions best receiver every game for the league’s 31st ranked passing defense. Malcolm Jenkins was considered by many to be the best player in that secondary despite Robinson posting 64 tackles, a sack, three interceptions, a forced fumble and 18 defensed passes.
Eagles fans may remember Robinson playing that season as he made all the highlight reels. On the November 5 game, the Saints played the Eagles. The Eagles lost due to an interception being returned 99 yards for a touchdown. It was Robinson that had that pick-six. Overall, it was not an awful season, but it showed that Robinson was not a top-tier corner and that the Saints needed some help in the secondary.
2013-15 New Orleans Saints Campaigns
The Saints built on their secondary with a low-risk high-reward cornerback to a one year deal and signing Keenan Lewis to a five-year contract. The signing put Robinson behind Lewis and strong play from Jabari Greer left Robinson as a backup. He was in line to have a pretty large workload rotating in until he buckled a knee in the second game of the season and was carted off the field. He was placed on injured reserve and, for all intents and purposes, ended up not playing the entire 2013-14 season.
The Saints cut Jabri Greer the following offseason, leaving Robinson to a starting role. He was set make a comeback. The only problem was that he injured a hamstring. On his first play in week 3, Robinson suffered a hamstring injury. He missed the next week, played fewer than 50% of the snaps the week after that and then missed week 6 due to the injury. While he did come back at the end of the season, he only started half of the remaining games and put up numbers that were not on par for what people expected from the former first-round pick. His 36 tackles, two interceptions and 11 defensed passes did not inspire the Saints’ front office, either. They let him walk in free agency.
2015-16 San Diego Chargers Campaign
Robinson latched on with the Chargers on a one-year deal. It was a signing that went largely under the radar, but paid off well for both parties. From the day that Robinson stepped into camp, he had an impact on the team. Teammate Eric Weddle was one of the most outspoken guys on Robinson. “Great coverage. He's fast. We're excited about him. He's just a great kid. You love guys like that who are quiet, go about their business and work hard. He's been the bright spot these first three days, for sure," said Weddle of Robinson.
Robinson was slated to play nickel corner and special teams after a standout preseason, but ended up starting 10 games due to other cornerbacks sustaining injuries. In all, he registered 49 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and eight defensed passes playing 84% of defensive snaps.
Robinson received coverage from Pro Football Focus and he became a hot commodity.
No CB with 500+ snaps has allowed fewer rec yards than SD's Patrick Robinson (300). No CB has allowed more than PIT's Antwon Blake (1,003)— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 28, 2015
2016-17 Indianapolis Colts Campaign
After a whirlwind of media that pointed to Robinson signing with the Cowboys, the corner ultimately changed his agent and signed a three-year deal with the Colts. He fared well in his first game, but suffered a concussion and missed the next two games.
Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino was not worried, though, telling the media, “Patrick is a competitor and he wants to play well and he doesn’t care who you match him up against,” Monachino said this week of his starting left cornerback. “He wants to compete and he wants to dominate the matchup.” Perhaps he should have been.
Robinson’s play was lackluster in the next two games. He was beaten up by Cameron Meredith of the Chicago Bears who had nine catches for 130 yards and a touchdown against Robinson in one game. However, after he missed a game with a knee injury, he had a great game against the Titans, allowing just two catches for 13 yards. It was thought that this would be the building block to his season, but inconsistency still shadowed the cornerback.
He missed three of the next four games with a groin injury and was placed on injured reserve. In his first year of the three-year deal, he posted 26 tackles, a forced fumble and five defensed passes. He was released following his removal from the IR.
2017-18 Philadelphia Eagles Campaign
It was Malcom Jenkins that brought Robinson to the Eagles. Having played with him in New Orleans, the safety convinced Robinson to sign with Philadelphia. For the second time in his career, Robinson signed a one-year prove it deal. The Eagles seemed to be weak at cornerback and lacked linebacker depth. The signing of Robinson was thought to address the cornerback issues.
It did not seem that would happen. Robinson struggled mightily all through training camp and many thought that he might not even make the roster cuts. There was thoughts that playing Darby with a second-year player in mills and a few rookies might be the best bet, but in the end, the Eagles decided to hang onto Robinson as a slot cornerback.
Robinson proved everyone but the Eagles wrong and most certainly addressed the cornerback issues. Robinson mostly played in the slot this season, but was the starter opposite Jalen Mills when Ronald Darby was out with an ankle injury in addition to being a regular contributor on special teams. He has had the best season of his career with 54 tackles, a sack, four interceptions and 22 defensed passes in the regular season and four tackles, an interception and a defensed pass in the playoffs.
Robinson’s performance was so good that Pro Football Focus rated him as the fourth best cornerback of the regular season.
The top graded CBs in the 2017 regular season! pic.twitter.com/YJchKG9AZ3— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 30, 2018
Despite his excellent play, Robinson’s greatest contribution to the Eagles did not come during the regular season, but during the NFC Championship game. The Minnesota Vikings had driven straight down the field for a touchdown and the Eagles offense made two mistakes that ended their first drive. The defense needed a stop. On a 3rd and 8, the Vikings needed to pass the ball. Defensive end Chris Long, who the Eagles signed the same day as Robinson, got around the edge and affected the throw. Robinson got in position to play the ball and did a really nice job of setting up his blockers and using them to return the ball 50 yards for a pick-six.
The play shifted the momentum of the game in the Eagles favor and they never looked back. Robinson set the Eagles, who had been struggling up until that point, up and got them back into the game. The team ran with that momentum and left the Vikings in the dust in a 38-7 blowout win.
For a player that has suffered so many injuries, was thought to be washed up, and nearly didn’t make the roster out of training camp, Robinson has been a vital part of the Eagles defense this season. While the Eagles salary cap situation makes it unlikely that Robinson is with the team next season, his focus now is on winning Super Bowl LII.