“What if I told you that a team with no corners backed into a corner……cornered the cornerback market.” Ok, maybe it isn’t something you write a documentary out of. And even if it was that certainly wouldn’t be the start.
Regardless after a thrilling, down to the wire victory against the Falcons in the season opener, one thing that is obvious about this 2018 team is how much talent Jim Schwartz and Corey Undlin have to work with inside the cornerback room.
Don’t let the stat line of Julio Jones confuse you. The secondary was impressive Thursday night and the once weak point of an elite defense suddenly seems like a strength.
Ronald Darby stood out the most of the group, and of the entire team but Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, and even Rasul Douglas popped on numerous occasions in the film.
Play #1: Mills crashing on the ball
The best trait of Jalen Mills is his aggression. Especially when it comes to closing on the ball and making tackles. Mills and Hicks crash on the ball here and blow through Ridley who can’t hang on.
Play #2: Sidney Jones recognizes the screen pass
One of the best parts of Sidney Jones’s tape at Washington was his ability to wreck a screenplay. Here Jones recognizes Ryan is coming to Freeman after an RPO (offensive line is run blocking so it isn’t a play-action) and sits on the route. Even if it was a completion Jones would have immediately brought Freeman down. His patience and route recognition was impressive in this game.
Play #3: First example of Darby’s close-in speed
Atlanta catches Darby too deep off the line of scrimmage as Sanu comes back inside. Luckily for the Eagles Darby is one of the fastest cornerbacks in the game so he can make up for the ground lost. Matt Ryan throws to Sanu’s outside and Darby breaks it up.
Play #4: Jalen Mills against the run
Mills is a corner but he often looks like a mini-linebacker on the field. Atlanta leaves Mills untouched so he needs to shoot through the D-gap to take down Tevin Coleman. Mills gets through and finishes the play. Extremely important part of being a corner in this defense.
Play #5: Sidney Jones plays the pass over the run
This was a good run by Ryan but I like how Sidney Jones played this. Jones is all over Sanu, sees Ryan flushed out of the pocket rolling right and instead of pursuing he tries to get in front of Ridley who Mills is behind. Most likely he assumes Graham in the middle will break off and go after Ryan. Like the decision.
Play #6: Darby shows off tackling ability
Another example of corners having to make tackles in open space. Everyone is blocked except for Darby who is one on one with Coleman. Darby shoots down, gets the push on Coleman’s legs and forces him out of bounds for a three-yard loss. That is something Darby has improved on.
Play #7: Blanket Coverage
This was perfect coverage from all three. Ryan’s first read is Jones trying to beat Darby on a double move cutting inside then immediately out. Darby doesn’t let it fool him, then Ryan looks to his right where Mills is trailing Ridley, and Jones jammed Sanu in the middle of the end-zone allowing no separation. This coverage allowed the pass rush up the middle to push Ryan back and back until he was too far to make a play.
Play #8: More speed from Darby
Another example of Darby’s recovery ability. Jones has the inside leverage and a step on Daby over the middle, Darby closes in and makes an athletic breakup.
Play #9: Mills plays the run perfectly
Because Mills was beat deep a few times it seemed like the third year corner wasn’t having a sharp 2018 debut. He didn’t have the game Darby did but he was rock solid. Here he once again plays the run very nicely. Another strong combo play with Hicks who keeps Coleman running sideways not pursuing too hard. Mills also recognizes the play is coming his way, knows Hicks has the inside so he pushes off his block to the left, forcing Coleman out.
Play #10: Jones and Darby shut it down
Matt Ryan fakes the handoff and immediately looks for Freeman on a swing, Jones recgonized it and buried in on the play then quickly got back up to Sanu down the field. Darby was already there covering the top and the ball sails out of bounds.
Play #11: No.Where.To.Go.
Jordan Hicks gets the highlight play on the sack as the Eagles brought five but take a look at the coverage from all three corners. Mills locks down Hooper, Jones is all over the inside route, Darby has Julio deep, Ryan has no time.
Play #12: Darby denies Julio again
Darby sees Julio cutting inside, has a little hesitation to read if it is a double move, and when it isn’t he makes a play that a lot of corners would have no chance at getting at. Jones also all over his man on that one.
Play #13: Mills gets beat on a familiar route
Hate to put one of the bad plays in here but this is a route Mills and the secondary has struggled with for two years. More hesitation is needed when reading this Sluggo because that should have been a catch. Mills doesn’t have the long speed Darby has to catch up. He is quick and fast side to side but that is a play he will get burned again and again with.
Play #14: Another near coverage sack
There were many plays where Matt Ryan had nowhere to go with the ball. Ryan has to throw it away and gets a penalty rather than take what would have been a coverage sack. Darby is on Jones like white on rice, Sidney Jones is not allowing anything inside, and Mills keeps Ridley at arm’s length.
Play #15: Darby makes a CB1 play
Darby was really good on Julio. Reads the out route, closes inside and punches it away. That is a CB1 play right there.
Play #16: Darby Island
Very next play they come right back at Darby. The Eagles trusted him enough one on one with Jones that they sent a blitz with McLeod. Ryan sees it and targets Julio deep but Darby is running stride for stride.
Play #17: Sidney Jones forces run inside
Love this awareness for Jones on the reverse. Sees it coming, takes on his block outside. Made the runner stay inside where Darby takes him down before a big gain.
Play #18: Douglas only needs one snap
Probably my favorite play. The young guns are alone on the outside as Douglas checks in for Darby who was dealing with cramps. Communicating who takes who since it isn’t exactly man on man, Jones takes the shorter out which gives Douglas Julio deep. He recognizes the route, turns at the perfect time and does what he does. Ballhawks.
Play #19: Sidney the screen killer
Jones was so good at stopping screens at Washington. Here he knows it is coming, sheds his block perfectly and makings another nice tackle which he did all summer.
Play #20: Streetball
23 seconds left, red zone. Man coverage, Graham pushes inside and forces Ryan to roll out and this is when you need your corners to just play street ball. Pickup football where you just run with your man. Darby has Julio in the left corner, Jones is all over his route in the slot, and Mills tracks the outside perfectly giving Ryan no options. Another example of perfect play with the pass rush and coverage.
Pick #21: Standing tall
Julio is doubled with Graham and McLeod in the slot, and even if Ryan went elsewhere there was nowhere else to go. Sidney Jones’s first game he is thrust into a goal-line stand situation to win the game and he had one hell of a drive
Pick #22: Darby is a hero
Last year it was Mills. This year it was Darby. One play to win the game. Julio catches the ball but is high in the air to catch it so Darby makes sure he forces Julio out before he can get his body down. The game ends the way it should. With Darby making a play. Hey, at least Julio caught it this time right Atlanta?
*Bonus Play: Jones vs Jones
Long makes an amazing play here but the coverage on this play was excellent. Jones on Jones in the slot sees Julio go out but plays it deeper which was the right move as Julio broke up the field.
Is Jordan Matthews back?
After 3 seasons as the Eagles primary wide receiver, Jordan Matthews was traded to the Buffalo Bills for Ronald Darby.
One year later the Eagles are razor thin at wide receiver and may just be bringing the former second round pick back.
It may not be the reunion story people were expecting but after Matthews had a workout with the Eagles Tuesday, it looks like he may be in midnight green this Sunday.
Louie and Gino break down EVERY aspect of this potential move. Why are fans so upset? How will it impact Nelson Agholor? What will they do when Alshon Jeffery comes back? Will Wentz and Matthews start up right where they left off in 2016?
Check it out:
Double debut on Sunday?
Wentz is back! Wentz is back! Tell the people! Wentz is back! According to Doug Pederson Carson Wentz has been cleared for contact and will start against the Colts this Sunday.
With Alshon Jeffery still week to week and Mike Wallace now out indefinitely, do the Eagles need to get more help for Wentz?
Perhaps an old friend like Jeremy Maclin or Jordan Matthews? What about trading for Josh Gordon by the 4 pm deadline?
DeSean Jackson and the Eagles: A redemption story that never was
When DeSean Jackson runs out of the tunnel Sunday taking on his former team, you can’t help but wonder if Jackson will think about what could have been.
Just a year ago Jackson was a free agent after spending three seasons in Washington. Even before the 2016 season ended, speculation arose that the former Eagle might be coming back to the city where he spent six seasons becoming one of the most dangerous deep threats in NFL history.
During the Eagles-Redskins week 16 match-up, an employee at Lincoln Financial Field asked Jackson “You coming home?” Jackson’s reply got Eagles fans everywhere excited about a possible reunion.
The moment I thought DeSean was coming back pic.twitter.com/dyhb9VpNbs
— Louie DiBiase (@DiBiaseLOE) September 15, 2018
Not only did Jackson comment on a potential comeback with the security guards, but he also told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he wanted to play for a great quarterback (praising Carson Wentz) and that coming back to the Eagles would be a “great story or ending I guess you could say.”
The pairing made perfect sense. In the three years that Jackson wasn’t with the Eagles, the team was unable to replace him at wide receiver, rolling through the likes of Dorial Green-Beckham, Josh Huff, Jordan Matthews, and Miles Austin.
They also couldn’t find anybody to cover Jackson who suddenly was playing the Eagles twice a year.
He went from being the most dangerous deep threat in Eagles history, to the most dangerous threat to go deep against the Eagles.
Jackson gave the Eagles fits as he exposed the mediocre groups of Carry Williams and Bradley Fletcher, Byron Maxwell and Nolan Carroll, followed by Carroll and Leodis McKelvin.
He was the kryptonite of the Eagles. They could not stop the once Giant, Cowboy, and Redskin killer that was now the biggest Eagle killer in the NFL.
Since 1983, DeSean Jackson has the most 50-yard catches for the Eagles and the most 50-yard catches against the Eagles.
— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) September 12, 2018
The Eagles finally had the opportunity to do right by Jackson who was cut unexpectedly by Chip Kelly after (or before) a story came out that Jackson had gang ties back in California. It was speculated that the Eagles leaked the story as a way to justify cutting a receiver who had a career year in 2013. Jackson who has never got in trouble off the field spoke on the matter often, saying he grew up with friends that did get involved with gangs but he had never been a part of it.
Now that Chip Kelly was out of the picture and the Eagles desperately needed weapons to surround Carson Wentz with, it seemed like DeSean Jackson could be coming home.
Jackson seemed to like the idea, the Eagles reportedly had interest, and even former teammates like Brandon Graham and LeSean McCoy were talking about the potential reunion.
“It’s an exciting feeling to get an Eagle back. I’m excited because he should have never left. Everybody knows that DeSean, yes, things were happening while he was here, but he’s a good guy. I used to be with him all the time.”
“I’m just happy because I kinda knew already. I’ve talked to him. I talked to him when Doug (Pederson) got hired. We have fun during the season. He’s like, ‘B.G. you know I’ll be back, man.’ But now that it’s official, as far as the season about to be over, I think you’ll be hearing a lot of noise about DeSean … I’m saying official as far as the end of season, now we’re gonna really see.”
Instagram live w/ Shady McCoy tonight was interesting. Called Kiko a bumb and said Desean told him he was going back. Whatever that means.
— Dan Hellie (@DanHellie) December 25, 2016
The comeback of a fan favorite never came to fruition. Jackson, in a free agent market where a lot of teams were willing to pay big money for weapons like him, cashed in with Tampa Bay.
The Eagles took the route of bringing in Alshon Jeffery on a one-year prove it deal, while bringing in Torrey Smith to be their new DeSean Jackson.
Smith struggled to make the deep plays down the field but signing Jeffery over Jackson seemed to pay off as the Eagles finally had a complete WR1 who scored 12 touchdowns on the year including three in the playoffs. Jeffery was one of the biggest reasons the offense opened up and the team never looked back winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Jackson has to think that potentially could have been him had he and the Eagles worked something out in free agency.
With DeSean instead of Jeffery, Wentz would still have plenty of weapons on offense to take the MVP-caliber step he took in year two.
He commented on the Eagles winning the Super Bowl in an appearance on “Undisputed”, and how he and players like McCoy or Jeremy Maclin could have been with that Super Bowl team had Chip Kelly kept them around.
But DeSean’s situation is different from that of McCoy and Maclin. The Eagles were interested in bringing Jackson back. Had he asked for less money, perhaps the Eagles bring him home and he is hoisting the Lombardi Trophy with the Eagles.
What a story it could have been.
Instead, Jackson will be looking to once again be a problem for the Eagles secondary this Sunday. This time with a journeyman quarterback and a team that despite being 1-0, has a lot of question marks for this season and the future.
Gotta wonder if Jackson would do it differently if he could go back to 2017 free agency.