The Eagles sent the Browns home empty handed after an impressive 29-10 win at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, but the score isn’t as dominant as it suggests. The Eagles cornerbacks struggled at times and were extremely lucky in others. The unit come out unscathed, but is there a strong case to push the development of Jalen Mills ahead of the likes of Ron Brooks?
There was always a concern that once Eric Rowe had been traded, the Eagles cornerbacks would struggle. Beyond McKelvin and Carroll, Ron Brooks who was a special teamer for Buffalo last year and seventh round pick Jalen Mills are the only guys on the roster. In some regards, the Eagles missed Eric Rowe..but without a suitable replacement ready and waiting, it’s time to get creative.
Ron Brooks struggled massively yesterday, but that shouldn’t come as a shocking surprise considering his limited snaps at the position last season. In preseason, his play was erratic and inconsistent. Yesterday, the 27-year old showed an inability to jam at the line of scrimmage and was often burned deep down the field. The only reason that this isn’t being reported on a bigger scale is because an inefficient Browns Offense failed to capitalize on the errors.
Nolan Carroll also had his fair share of worrying moments. Carroll struggled to keep up with Corey Coleman at times, losing the battle at the line of scrimmage at others.
Leodis McKelvin left the game with a hamstring injury, giving even more responsibility to Nolan Carroll and Ron Brooks. Jalen Mills saw some action following the departure of McKelvin and surprisingly made a relatively positive impact. A big tackle on third down pushed the LSU corner into the spotlight for a brief moment before some nice coverage in the latter stages of the game showed the development between the worrying preseason game against the Bucs, and now.
So, the question is..why isn’t Mills getting more snaps? With Rowe out of the picture, the Eagles have three veteran cornerbacks and one rookie. Ron Brooks signed a 3-year deal with the team while Carroll’s deal is a short-term one, expiring at the end of this season.
The unit is light on both overall talent and depth..but the only developmental talent at the position is Jalen Mills, the training camp standout whose hype quietened down during preseason.
Jim Schwartz stated that one of the reasons behind letting Eric Rowe go, was the development of Jalen Mills. So if that’s the case, isn’t it time to make Mills the Carson Wentz of this situation and Rowe the Sam Bradford? In trading Eric Rowe, the Eagles were obviously confident that Brooks and Mills are more than capable. After all, Mills was listed above Rowe on the first unofficial depth chart.
Both players were traded in an attempt to cash in when the value was still there and both potentially have young replacements with high upsides. Mills may be raw in his skill set, but it’s not as if Ron Brooks stole the show or Nolan Carroll showed shutdown tendencies against a relatively weak passing attack.
If McKelvin is injured, the Eagles could be in deep trouble. The 31-year old was easily the team’s best cornerback last night, but if the Eagles are going to give Brooks an extended role on the outside, it could be even more problematic.
It makes much more sense to give a very young and hungry Jalen Mills an increased defensive role regardless of McKelvin’s status, purely because the alternatives aren’t worlds away in terms of efficiency.
The absence of Eric Rowe hurt the Eagles on Sunday, but it could hurt even more against a much more refined Chicago Bears Offense..and if it comes down to it, a more patient and relaxed Jalen Mills seems a more viable candidate to start against a receiver like Eddie Royal in a Nickel formation than a slow, sloppy and erratic Ron Brooks whose value on special teams appears to be much higher than his value at corner after week one.