The players you think of when talking about the Philadelphia Eagles, Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, have all produced at the same high level that made them the face of the franchise.
Both sides of the ball haven’t got the same level of consistency from the other starters, such as the early-season struggles of the offensive line and the continued inconsistency of Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills.
Two names in the secondary that have been unsung heroes however for the Eagles, especially last Sunday against the Jaguars have been Avonte Maddox and Rasul Douglas.
Plagued with injuries in the back end, the defense has played musical chairs at corner and safety while trying to replace Rodney McLeod, fill the slot with Sidney Jones week to week, and now Jalen Mills also ruled week to week after his injury in London.
Douglas and Maddox (more so Maddox) have been asked to step up, playing multiple positions throughout the season.
A 4th-round Swiss Army Knife
After McLeod was placed on IR, the Eagles chose to move Maddox at safety.
The fourth-round rookie has had mental lapses, getting lost in coverage on some key red-zone situations but for the most part, he has been a bright spot.
His sub 4.4 speed made him an attractive option to replace the athletic McLeod, quickly getting to each side of the field and having the ability to cover in space. But the 5’9 safety has also surprisingly been a thumper.
Avonte Maddox brings Carlos Hyde down short of the 1st down sticks on 3rd-and-1 pic.twitter.com/mqkxGWKlZ5
— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) October 28, 2018
— DIE-HARD 🦅 Fans (@Eaglesfans9) October 28, 2018
Maddox has been solid against the run, finishing with a run-defense grade of 60 or higher in all but one start according to Pro Football Focus.
Avonte Maddox! 🔨💥💥 pic.twitter.com/OfECxkrBub
— WeAreDBnation (@WeAreDBNation1) October 28, 2018
Unlike Darby, Maddox comes in like a rocket to make tackles, forcing a much-needed turnover against the Jaguars. In a season where the defense has struggled to get turnovers, Maddox has two in five weeks.
Like Malcolm Jenkins, his versatility has made him a favorite of the coaching staff.
Against the Giants on Thursday Night Football, after Sidney Jones went down with an injury, Maddox was forced to move from safety to slot and only allowed 22 yards in coverage.
As a rookie, playing a position he has never played before, a position in free safety that Jim Schwartz puts a lot of responsibility in, Maddox has stepped up.
Douglas hasn’t made the impact Maddox has but that has more been a product of coaching preference than performance-based.
Schwartz preferred Maddox at safety when McLeod got hurt. He chose to keep Maddox at safety, and Mills on the outside when Sidney Jones got hurt. Pushing Dexter McDougle inside instead of getting Douglas on the field.
That was despite Douglas holding his own at safety against the Giants.
Instead of keeping the 2017 third round pick at safety or outside corner so Mills or Maddox could play slot, Douglas rode the bench as the next man up.
Anytime he has been the next man up, he has made plays.
Week 1, late in the fourth quarter against the Falcons, Douglas came down with an interception while covering Julio Jones.
It was his first snap of the season.
Rasul Douglas! 🔒🔒🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/rKksmUgITP
— WeAreDBnation (@WeAreDBNation1) September 7, 2018
Last week against Jacksonville, Douglas had to relieve an injured Mills on the outside. In the heat of a close game, Douglas made some big plays.
The Jaguars tried to test Douglas early down the field. One on one, Douglas stays right with Donte Moncrief along the sideline.
Jacksonville tried to make it a one-score game with this two-point conversion attempt but Douglas uses his length to close in and make a great pass breakup.
Rasul Douglas! 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/RaEeleFgaO
— WeAreDBnation (@WeAreDBNation1) October 28, 2018
Douglas has really come to play late in the fourth quarter of games. On this 3rd and 1, he uses his instincts to read Bortles going to his check down. Douglas quickly closes in, delivers a big hit to break up the ball and force a fourth down.
Howie Roseman and the front office has done a great job finding secondary talent later in the draft. Douglas, a third-round pick and Maddox, a fourth-round pick have both answered the call when the Eagles have needed them this season.
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