Step aside Jalen Mills. Rasul Douglas is the new public enemy #1 on Eagles Twitter.
All season long Eagles fans have called for Douglas to get playing time as starting corners Mills and Ronald Darby have played up and down all season.
The #FreeSul campaign got their wish on Sunday Night as Douglas started on the outside against the Cowboys.
The results did not totally destroy the brand….but it certainly didn’t help it.
To the film room we go.
Douglas didn’t have a good game by any stretch of the imagination. But he also didn’t play bad enough to believe he is the next Bradley Fletcher like some have him set to be.
On this play Douglas does a good job of staying with Cooper in the end zone, keeping him close to the sideline. Good leverage and he put himself in a position to make a play on the ball if it came his way.
Douglas has been strong in the red zone this year.
When Douglas plays up, he has more success when jamming at the line. It allows him to use his length and stop receivers from opening him up. Here, Douglas does a good job of bumping the receiver who stumbles and can’t gain any separation.
Gallup couldn’t create any separation from Douglas who once again does a nice job tying up the receiver.
Douglas didn’t have a great day when it comes to tackling but a lot of that came from hesitation and getting caught in the wrong spots. On this play Douglas reads Prescott going to the out route at the 50 and closes in to make a great open field tackle. When he wants to be, Douglas can be a very forceful tackler for a CB.
More examples of that tackling ability when Douglas takes the right angle and shoots to the ball.
Douglas shows a lot of patience against Amari Cooper on this play. Cooper tries to turn Douglas inside but Douglas doesn’t bite and runs toe to toe down the sideline, keeping Cooper on the outside with little room to work with.
Despite showing some positive signs, Douglas didn’t instill confidence in fans that he could replace Darby who most likely won’t be in Philadelphia after this season.
There were too many plays were Cooper manipulated Douglas’s hips to go wherever he wanted them to.
In a previous play shown Douglas did a good job not quickly biting on Coopers first step. This play was a different story as Cooper turned Douglas outside and then cut inside into the end zone. Luckily Dak Prescott isn’t Carson Wentz or this might be a touchdown.
Two more examples of Cooper beating Douglas with a good sell on his first cut. Cooper once again gets Douglas to commit outside with his hips while making another move inside. It is tougher for Douglas to get caught in these situations as he doesn’t have the quick footwork and hip movement to recover as well as someone like Sidney Jones or Avonte Maddox.
This was a brutal play for Douglas. On this screen, Douglas has a responsibility to protect the outside. Instead, he stays inside and has no shot of getting back to his spot with blockers already set up. Truthfully it looked like Douglas had cinder blocks attached to his feet. He didn’t move his feet and was badly out of position. Gotta fly to the ball.
Blame should go to Douglas for his play, but Jim Schwartz shouldn’t get a pass either. A coaches job is to put his players in the best position to succeed. Douglas isn’t the most athletic corner and he needs reps to grow his patience and route recognition.
Schwartz knowing that, should have allowed Douglas to get his hands on receivers at the line so he could better position himself to make plays on the ball and stay with receivers.
The way Douglas was getting turned inside-out with these first steps, Schwartz should have adjusted his gameplan. Instead, Dallas moves the chains on a crucial drive late in the game because Douglas gets put on ice skates.
Once the NCAA leader in interceptions, Douglas has a knack for making plays on the ball when he is in the right position.
The coaches have to do a better job of getting him in positions to make those kinds of plays in man coverage which West Virginia rarley used with Douglas.
Against excellent route runners like Amari Cooper (and Michael Thomas coming up), his weaknesses can be exposed.
When he was able to get his hands on Cooper or play off in man or zone, he was much more effective. That should have been the game plan all night long.
With Darby out for the season after tearing his ACL, Douglas is going to get 7 crucial games to prove he can be a starter in 2019.
It wasn’t a great first step against Dallas but it wasn’t a catastrophic performance that has sealed Douglas’s fate.
Bell over Brown is an obvious choice for the Eagles
It’s almost fishing season in the NFL as all 32 teams look to catch some nice pieces for their roster through free agency, the draft, and the trade market. While the biggest fish don’t always tend to swim in those waters, every year a few big names suddenly become available for a team looking to spend.
This year, it just so happens two of the best at their position are up for grabs, and they both are coming from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Star offensive weapons in RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown will both be in different jerseys next year for the first time in their careers. Bell is set to become a free agent, while Pittsburgh and Brown agreed a trade is in the best interest for both sides.
On paper, the Eagles could make sense for both. Adding weapons around Carson Wentz will always be a priority. However if Howie Roseman and the front office decide they want to go after one of these expensive play-makers, Bell makes much more sense for a number of reasons.
Bell doesn’t come with the baggage Brown does
Don’t let this fool you. Talent beats culture. It is why the Steelers were consistently atop the AFC despite a chaotic locker room. Coaches like Chip Kelly flamed out because they prioritized scheme and a robotic culture.
Despite that, Brown’s antics off the field are a real concern. He quit on his team with the season on the line. Pittsburgh needed a win and a Baltimore loss to make the postseason in Week 17 but Brown was MIA.
The temper tantrums on the sidelines, ghosting your team with the season on the line, that kind of behavior despite six straight seasons of 100+ receptions is eye opening.
Bell doesn’t have that stench to him. While Steelers fans will tell you Bell was selfish and uncommitted to football, it is unfair to say he has character concerns because he didn’t want to risk his long term health in a contract year. He wanted to be paid like the star he is and Pittsburgh wanted to pay the position not the player. Can’t blame either side.
Brown would require trade assets AND a big contract
Some people love to scoff at the idea of paying any significant resource for a star RB like Bell. While it wouldn’t be smart to kill the salary cap for the do-it-all weapon, it is far more reasonable to pay Bell rather than pay Brown big money and give up the trade assets it would take to get him from Pittsburgh.
What sounds better to you? $14+ million a year for Bell or $14+ million a year for Brown and perhaps a 2nd round pick + Nelson Agholor?
Bell, Agholor, and the rookie taken with that 2nd round pick sounds a lot better than just Brown.
The report Bell wants $50 million in the first two years is scary. He turned down a 5 year $70 million deal with the Steelers but perhaps when the market develops Bell will have to temper his expectations.
Bell’s age and position is more attractive to the Eagles
Two other major elements in deciding between Bell and Brown would be age and position.
By the start of next season, Brown will be 31. Bell will be be 27. Bell has four years on Brown.
If Bell could maintain his productivity into his early 30’s, the Eagles could be set at RB for 5-6 years.
Being a running back also makes him a more attractive option. Doug Pederson’s offense is in desperate need of a talented RB.
Having a weapon like Bell in the backfield that can be your top runner, a top receiver, and efficient pass blocker puts this Eagles offense on a level only the Saints and Rams can match in the NFC.
It also makes the offense less predictable. Using a committee with featured grinders like Ryan Mathews, LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajay, and Josh Adams to go along with the clear pass catchers in Darren Sproles and Corey Clement can be a good way to keep your backs fresh, but it is clear what the offense plans to do on 3rd and 4 when Sproles is out there.
It is easier to predict what Pederson will do on 3rd and 2 when Blount was out there. Someone like Bell keeps the defense guessing in any situation.
While the Eagles could use more speed on offense, Brown would be a luxury. A luxury that could cost high draft picks, players, a high cap hit, and potential baggage.
Is that worth it for a team that already has at least four quality receiving options? Can’t imagine Brown would be happy not seeing 13+ targets a game.
History tells us the Eagles won’t go after either Bell or Brown. However with an aggressive front office that has shown a commitment in surrounding their franchise QB with weapons, it wouldn’t be suprising to see one of these two in midnight green. Especially with Roseman’s ability to perform magic on the salary cap.
If they decide to pursue one, it should be Le’Veon Bell.
Offseason Options: Wide Receiver
The Eagles have plenty of weapons for Carson Wentz to throw to in 2019. The WR position, however, could use more speed to compliment the bigger weapons in Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert.
If Golden Tate, Mike Wallace, and/or Jordan Matthews leave the Eagles this offseason, what options does Howie Roseman have in free agency and the draft when it comes to pass catchers?
Louie and Gino give some big name options in the draft and free agency, as well as some receivers that could fly under the radar in both offseason periods.
Offseason Options: Running Back
It is time for the Eagles to add some serious talent in the backfield. What are their options if they want to add a big name free agent? What about a high draft pick?
If Howie Roseman sticks to his strategy of lower-priced free agents or draft picks, who could be a diamond in the rough?
Our “Offseason options’ series begins with RB on the Locked on Eagles podcast!
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