Rasul Douglas hasn’t seen the field much this season but that could change this Sunday.
Rookie Avonte Maddox was the choice to switch positions and replace Rodney McLeod at safety so Douglas saw the field sparingly on defense from Week 1-5.
Fans and media members alike have speculated for two seasons now whether Douglas would be a fit at safety and Philadelphia got a first glimpse of that last week against the Giants.
Jones was forced out of the game with an injury, pushing Maddox inside and Douglas to safety.
The former third-round pick held his own with a 58.8 coverage grade, almost coming up with a diving one-handed interception.
That is what you get from Rasul Douglas. When he is on the field you never know when he will come up with a game-changing play.
Late in the season opener against the Falcons, with Atlanta driving in the red zone, Douglas came up with an interception to halt the Falcons drive. It was on his first play of the game, covering one of the best receivers in the NFL in Julio Jones.
Simply put, Douglas is a play-maker. And he may be needed in a big way against the Carolina Panthers this week.
Douglas is going to be on the field Sunday.
Jones is week to week and the Eagles were already thin in the secondary after McLeod was put on IR earlier in the season.
Maddox was filling in as the second safety next to Malcolm Jenkins, but he has been the backup in the slot throughout the season and was the one to fill in for Jones last week.
If Jim Schwartz keeps Maddox inside, Douglas would likely be back at safety for the second straight week. The Eagles could elect to move Mills inside with Douglas on the outside, or have him shadow Funchess/Olsen outside and inside.
The third option is an interesting one. If the Eagles run more Cover 2 like they did last week, Jenkins is going to be playing deep. If that is the case Douglas could come inside if Funchess or Olsen lined up in the slot.
Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham could be used against Olsen in coverage but they both will be needed in spying Cam Newton, and potentially keying in on Christian McCaffrey who the Panthers like to use all over the field.
This is the kind of game where having Douglas is big. Douglas is the biggest, lengthiest secondary member for the Eagles and that was a huge part of the defense’s success last season against the Panthers, who used big receivers like Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin.
He probably had his best game of 2017 against Carolina.
Douglas will struggle to keep up with quicker receivers in space but he matches up well with a bigger receiver like Funchess. Here, Douglas is all over Funchess jamming him from separating across the middle.
On Douglas’s interception, a lot of this play resulted in Fletcher Cox getting to Newton up the middle. However, Douglas does a great job jamming Funchess on the line which allows him to stay inside and line himself up in perfect position to intercept the pass.
That is a 6’4 receiver he forced back.
On this deep attempt to Benjamin, Douglas is left one on one and does a great job not only reading the double move, but also creating contact and slowing down Benjamin from getting near the ball. If this was Darby on the outside making contact, Benjamin might blow through him and get open. Douglas is big enough to absorb and match Benjamin’s contact.
Not a lot of corners can go up with a 6’5 corner and match his length at the catch point on a fade.
Funchess scored a touchdown off a jump ball in the red zone last week and if Darby is the corner in coverage, Funchess would have five inches on him.
Even if the Eagles use Douglas as a safety, he will be important against Funchess. If the Panthers give him chances down the field to come up with a contested pass, Douglas being over the top to help Darby or Mills contest could help in a big way.
Overall for his first start at safety, the West Virginia product did a solid job of taking away space for Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants receivers down the field.
We will have to wait until Sunday to see what the Eagles do with Douglas, but without a lot of healthy bodies in the secondary, he will see plenty of playing time.
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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