Now or Never

Posted: June 29th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas have been disappointing since coming to the NFL. Each player has shown flashes of real potential and looked good, but the overall level of play hasn’t been there. They are just good enough to keep you hoping next year will be the breakout year.

That better happen in 2020.

Douglas picked off two passes as a rookie in 2017. He showed really good ball skills. Douglas played well down the stretch in 2018. He finished the year with three picks and seemed to be heading in the right direction. 2019 did not go as planned.

Jones story is more complicated. He got hurt at his Pro Day and then fell in the 2017 draft. The Eagles thought they got a steal in the second round. Jones played a few snaps in the season finale, just enough to get a feel for the speed of the NFL.

Jones was the slot corner heading into 2018. He played well early on, but then got hurt. He missed several games. Jones came back and really struggled. He had a strong summer in 2019 and expectations were high. Jones played the first four games before getting hurt. Davante Adams was torching him in that fourth game. It was ugly. Jones returned for the final month as a backup. Due to injuries he got on the field and had some good moments.

I think people overrate some of that play. Jones had five pass break-ups in that final month. A couple of those were really good plays. A couple came when the ball hit him in the back due to a poor throw. Is the glass half full or half empty?

Both Jones and Douglas have worked with DB gurus this offseason since they can’t do normal training at the NovaCare facility. That is a good sign that both players understand the critical nature of this season. We don’t know that both guys will even make the team.

Darius Slay
Avonte Maddox
Nickell Robey-Coleman

Sidney Jones
Rasul Douglas
Cre’Von LeBlanc

That’s six corners fighting for five spots. Maybe the Eagles keep six, but you sure can’t count on that.

Neither player is projected to start right now. The way injuries have hit the Eagles in recent years, both players should count on being needed. They need to prepare as if they are ready to start.

Jones is the more interesting player because of his versatility (slot or outside) and ceiling. He was a star in college. Jones shutdown receivers and made plays. He was a player that teams coveted. The injury really changed him. We haven’t seen the Jones from college so far in his NFL career.

Staying healthy is the biggest issue for Jones. He’s been hurt in each of his NFL seasons. That obviously affects him physically, but it also affects him mentally. He plays hesitant, not wanting to get beat. There was a great moment in All or Nothing when Malcolm Jenkins told him “If you’re not confident, we can’t use you.”

If Jones can manage to stay healthy, he should be able to play with more confidence and more aggression. That matters at CB. Jim Schwartz loves Jalen Mills in part because Mills is completely confident. He’s delusionally confident. But that’s okay at CB. Heck, it’s a good thing. If we could just transplant some of that confidence into Jones we might have a good corner.

Maybe the pressure of having to earn a roster spot will bring out the best in Jones. He knew he was going to make the team in previous years. This is different. He is guaranteed nothing.

Douglas has played in 46 of 48 games since coming to the league so durability is not an issue for him. His fatal flaw is simply speed. Douglas is a 4.6 corner. Some teams won’t even bother when a corner is that slow.

You can make it in the league at 4.6, but you must be smart and you must be tough. You have to read routes well and use angles to your advantage. You must tackle really well. Douglas does too much guessing and he’s inconsistent as a hitter/tackler. It is fair to wonder if he might play better in a different system. There were rumors that the Eagles shopped him. If that happened, there weren’t any takers. Douglas even took a small pay cut. He knows this is a make or break year for him.

I do wonder about Douglas as a safety. He is at his best facing the QB, reading the play and going for the ball. That sure sounds like a safety to me. Again, his hitting and tackling would have to improve. Douglas does have some plays where he is impressive, but others where you want to hide your eyes. CBs can be sloppy tacklers. Safeties can’t (if they want to keep their jobs).

The Eagles love Darius Slay and are excited to have a stud CB. They love Avonte Maddox and think he can be a solid #2 CB. The 1-2 punch of Robey-Coleman and LeBlanc gives them terrific depth in the slot. The team needs Jones or Douglas to step up and win a job. Both players know the pressure is on. Let’s hope that brings out the best in them.

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