Connect with us

Philadelphia Eagles

Film Room: CB Ronald Darby vs. Cowboys (WK11)

Avatar

Published

on

Inactive since Week 1 with an ankle dislocation, the Ronald Darby revival was heavily anticipated by Eagles fans everywhere. While the defensive backs for the Eagles played admirably and arguably above expectation, their pass defense was their weakest spot on the team, currently ranking 19th overall (235.8 passing yards per game) after a dynamic performance against the Dak Prescott led Dallas Cowboys.

Dak Prescott would complete 18 passes on 31 attempts for 145 yards while throwing 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in the Cowboys 37-9 loss. There wasn’t one cause for Dakota’s terrible day at the office, there were many, including Darby.

I scouted Darby in the summer in the semi-finals of the Scouting Academy Prove It competition. Having arrived from the Buffalo Bills in return for WR Jordan Matthews and a 3rd round pick in the 2018 draft, expectations were through the roof for Darby. Things started well and in the preseason he would grab an interception against his old team.

In Week 1 he would suffer the aforementioned ankle dislocation, an injury that at first appeared season ending. Eagles fans waited with baited breath for his return and waited some more as he popped up on the “limited participation” injury report for what seemed like forever.

In Week 11 he made his triumphant return, solidifying an Eagles secondary just in time for their rivalry game with the Cowboys. He did not disappoint.

On the bottom of the screen, Darby’s propensity for aggression at the breakpoint shows up again, with Cowboys WR Dez Bryant getting him off his spot to release through him on a streak. This issue showed up a few times for Darby in his 2016 tape and he was lucky not to get caught out here. From my report:

Struggles to stay disciplined with no safety help; will get baited easily on double moves.

The Cowboys tested Darby often, including three “smoke” routes by Bryant. Essentially, Darby has off coverage and the Cowboys are betting that Bryant can defeat Darby’s tackle in the open-field. All three times Darby came up with aggression and secured the tackle for short gains.

Before this play, the Twitter timeline filled with “fade to Dez” predictions. Having not tested Darby on 50/50 balls yet, the Cowboys decided to do so here in the red zone. Darby avoids the penalty here by owning his space, forcing Dez to try to run through him and initiating mutual contact. Referees are instructed to “let ’em play” if both players have hands going and that’s what happened here. Darby, unlike Nolan Carroll and seemingly every other Eagles CB after Lito Shephard and Sheldon Brown, gets his head around, locates the ball, and bats it away.

At the top of the screen on 3rd and 17, Darby is in Cover 3 with Bryant running a post. Watch how Darby is able to spring out of his backwards moving stance and close down the route for his first regular season INT as an Eagle.

3rd & 4 here and Darby is playing with inside leverage with a single safety in the middle of the field. He has to respect the vertical stem for Bryant, which allows for just enough space for a completion and a conversion. Darby was not out of this play however, as he nearly makes a play by clicking and closing despite having his hips open to the outside.

“Smoke” to Dez again. No no no, not today.

Darby would be targeted 11 times, allowing 8 catches and 74 yards while recording 8 tackles and an interception. The majority of catches on Darby came on short routes or in garbage time with deep off coverage and he finished the day as the Eagles second highest graded player per Pro Football Focus.

Head Coach Doug Pederson referred to Darby getting into “playing shape” a few times in the lead up to his return. He wasn’t lying; Darby looked fit, smooth, and explosive in his first action in 10 weeks. The major concern, his ankle, showed no hitch and his feet looked fast as ever.

Bottom line, as mentioned before, Darby owned his space against the Cowboys and will be a force for this Eagles secondary as we inch closer towards the playoffs.

 

Michael is an NFL Draft enthusiast, aspiring scout, and grandson of longtime East Stroudsburg (Pa.) HS football coach John P. Kist. He hosts Locked On Eagles and writes for Inside the Pylon & Breaking Football.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Philadelphia Eagles

Matchups to watch in Cleveland

Louie DiBiase

Published

on

© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

On today’s Locked On Eagles:

A look at the key matchups for Sunday’s matchup with the Cleveland Browns.

How will the Eagles defend the Nick Chubb-Kareem Hunt backfield?

Is this the game Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz finally get things right?

Continue Reading

Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz Wednesday: Week 11

Louie DiBiase

Published

on

Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

On today’s Locked On Eagles:

Carson Wentz went from looking like Jameis Winston all year to Sam Bradford on Sunday

Evaluating the inconsistencies in Wentz’s throwing mechanics that were apparent against New York

Wentz deserves blame without always steering the attention to Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman

Continue Reading

Philadelphia Eagles

Doug and Howie on the hot seat?

Louie DiBiase

Published

on

Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

On today’s Locked On Eagles:

Even in a first place position…..it is time to think big picture with the Eagles

Are Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman safe beyond 2020?

Should Jeffery Lurie continue to be patient or is a shake-up needed?

Continue Reading

Trending