Zach Berman, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: Saturday, November 24, 2012, 1:35 AM
Sixteen months into Nnamdi Asomugha's tenure with the Eagles, the oft-criticized former Pro Bowl cornerback admitted his experience is "not even close" to what he anticipated when he signed a five-year, $60 million contract with the Eagles in July 2011.
He thought he was joining a contender, but the Eagles are 11-15 since he signed, and Asomugha is on pace to continue a career-long postseason drought.
Because of his contract and his previous status as one of the NFL's elite cornerbacks, Asomugha has seen his play come under scrutiny. Opposing teams have not shied away from targeting him. He also has been part of communication gaffes, including one in Sunday's loss to the Redskins. Asomugha said fans are "just" for having high expectations of him, and he maintains higher expectations of himself.
"If a fan has an issue with [how things have gone], they're not going to get me saying that's wrong," Asomugha said. "As a fan, I can look back to teams that I've liked . . . and getting upset about that. So I can't be that guy and look at them and say, 'You can't be upset that we haven't won even though I haven't been Superman on the field,' even though that's what's expected of me."
Asomugha was the top free agent on the market in 2011, and his suitors included the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets. It was seen as a coup when the Eagles landed him, even though Asomugha was joining an unfamiliar defensive system. Asomugha often hears the question about whether he regrets coming to Philadelphia, a notion that he wholeheartedly rejects.
"I absolutely believe in the decision I made and believe in this team," Asomugha said.
He said Friday that he didn't know anyone with the team but that he thought the Eagles were going to achieve success during his first season. He did not anticipate the acclimation process that battered the start of the Eagles' 2011 season, but he thought the team turned around when it started 3-1 this season.
Asomugha has seen the situation unravel, but he said he has remained "mentally strong" because the struggles he experienced with the Oakland Raiders hardened him. He did not delve into why his performance has not reached expectations in fear of sounding as if he is making excuses.
"I think there's a lot of things that go into it, but to say anything about that now would kind of be making an excuse," Asomugha said. "My mind is focused on turning it around as opposed to why hasn't it or what has been the issue."
Asomugha is due a base salary of $15 million in 2013, when he will be 32. There will likely be a new coach, and a new regime often means a roster overhaul, especially if the Eagles season continues on its current track.
Asomugha said he does not ponder where he's going to be because he's confident that things will work out for him. But he said he hopes he is still in Philadelphia to experience success.
"I want to be around for this turnaround that I know is going to happen," Asomugha said.
Extra points. Quarterback Michael Vick has advanced to the second stage of a five-step process of concussion recovery and worked out Friday on a stationary bike, the team said. Rookie QB Nick Foles will start for the second consecutive game.
In addition to Vick and running back LeSean McCoy, who is also out with a concussion, wide receiver Jason Avant (hamstring) and running back Chris Polk (toe) did not practice. . . . The Eagles claimed receiver Greg Salas off waivers from New England and waived receiver Mardy Gilyard.
Contact Zach Berman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zach Berman Inquirer Staff Writer