There are plenty of takeaways when it comes to the Eagles closely contested loss to Kansas City, but arguably the biggest is the performance of Rasul Douglas. In the absence of starting cornerback Ronald Darby, the Eagles threw their third round pick into the deep end against some of the fastest and most explosive wideouts in the league. Despite a “bend, don’t break” mentality, Douglas was able to hold his nerve and flash the potential he flashed during his time at West Virginia.
With four tackles to his name, Douglas also broke up a crucial pass on third down to force a Chiefs fourth down. Douglas kept plays ahead of him and more importantly, held his nerve against an Offense that has the ability to turn a dead play into a touchdown. We’ve seen many cornerbacks drown in the deep end once dropped in, but Douglas began the swim to safety onto his own Island, giving the team a level of confidence that may not have been there in the days after Darby’s injury.
“Rasul stepped in, and I thought he did a good job. Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz told reporters on Tuesday. “He tackled well and made no mental mistakes. That’s a tough duty against what they do offensively from read option, reverses to shovel passes to jet sweeps to all the different stuff, and it’s a lot of moving parts. I was proud of him for that part of it.”
Proud is certainly the word echoing around the streets of Philadelphia and excitement is one that will soon follow. The Giants Offense beckons, but it’s been a shadow of what we’ve seen in years past. Eli Manning continues to struggle and lose touch on the deep ball, while a wounded Offensive line has leaked far too much pressure to gain any kind of momentum. Manning was sacked five times in the loss to Detroit and a further three times in the season opener. Despite a number of dominant receivers on the outside, two strong pass-rushing Defenses have allowed the G-Men opposition to take pressure off their corners and send pressure up the middle.
This bodes well for Douglas, a true dinner cornerback who may have the safety net he needs to gain a certain amount of swagger against a Giants Offense with its back to the wall. The WVU standout has great length at 6’2, and size at 209 lbs. The Eagles didn’t just crave a long cornerback..but a playmaker. In his senior year, Douglas intercepted 8 passes and broke up 8 more. Douglas contributed heavily to a Mountaineers defense that dominated the Big-12, and has all the makings of a strong press corner. His impressive numbers shined through during the NFL Draft, and after an offseason of development, they provided Schwartz with enough confidence to pull the trigger and give him his first taste of NFL action.
Those same traits were on full display against the Chiefs. Playing in one of the loudest venues in the league, Douglas portrayed the confidence of a veteran. Physical at the line of scrimmage and not afraid to get up close and personal with Tyreek Hill, Douglas was anything but phased.
“Yeah, we saw it last year at West Virginia.” Schwartz said. “I mean, that was one of the reasons we liked him. He was a tough, physical player, and he has good size. The way we played that game plan, we played an awful, awful lot against their receivers. Seemed like every time we did get close to them we had a ball go over our heads, so we had a very concerted effort to keep them in front. That only works if you make tackles, and I thought that Rasul, [CB] Jalen Mills, Jaylen Watkins when he was in the game, I think that those guys did a good job of getting those things tackled. We can go play a second down-and-three. It’s hard when it’s a 40-yard chunk or a 50-yard chunk and it’s either a touchdown or the ball is in the red zone. Like I said, it only works if you’re making those tackles. I’d say this, Rasul played with good anticipation on those. He didn’t cheat, he didn’t run down and guess. He played good technique, and I was happy to see that.”
If Douglas can bring that same mentality to the Linc on Sunday when the Giants are in town, we may see exactly what we saw with Jalen Mills one year ago. A young player who is prepared to leave it all out on the field to make a good impression…and make a good impression he might.
Through two games, not a single Giants receiver has 100 total receiving yards, and RB Shane Vereen is second in receptions. Newcomer Brandon Marshall has just two receptions for 27 yards and Odell Beckham has already endured his fair share of controversy and pressure. If there is ever an environment for Douglas to shine, it’s entering week three.
With the home crowd behind him and a ruthless pass rush up ahead, Douglas will be licking his lips at the chance to make a big play against one of the leagues most reputable receiving talents. The Eagles may not have an overly intimidating Secondary, but they’ll have one hungry cornerback who can smell blood in the water.
Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports