The Eagles were able to see off an underdog Giants team in emphatic fashion on Sunday after a Jake Elliott 61-yard field goal sealed the deal. While impact kick is still being felt heavily around the city, the impact of another Eagles rookie is going under-the-radar. Cornerback Rasul Douglas played in just his second NFL game in week three and despite a complete lack of depth and an overwhelming sense of pressure, he was able to survive on an island for the second consecutive week.
Douglas tallied four tackles and his first interception against the Giants in a game that he’ll remember for a long time. But just how impressive was the Eagles third round pick? It’s time to delve into the film room!
The need for speed:
One of the big reasons behind the breakout of Rasul Douglas was the Giants Offense itself. The challenge of containing Brandon Marshall may not sound like an easy day at the office, but this was the perfect scenario for the lengthy defensive back.
The Giants gameplan was simple. Short throws and lots of them. In an effort to stunt the Eagles pass rush, Manning would release the ball just seconds after dropping back, giving the corners little time to work with and the pass rush even less so. Concurrently, Schwartz treated the Giants receivers with the respect they deserve. Sitting his CB’s deeper and in off-coverage, he allowed a cushion for the Giants to make the first move, avoiding being burned down deep in press-coverage without the help of the starting safety tandem and allowing his corners to play instinctively.
Douglas didn’t play much in the way of press coverage at WVU due to the transition that the Defense was facing at the time. However, he did play a lot of zone…something that played into his hands very nicely here. From the moment the flag was dropped, Douglas did what was asked of him and did it well.
Eli tried to find Marshall on a curl route early, but Douglas kept his eyes on the quarterback and closed down incredibly quickly to shut down any potential of YAC.
The same instincts could be seen throughout the game. It was even more evident on the play below, with Douglas choosing his angle early and going straight for the big hit. It’s that raw, competitive fire that Schwartz covets in his corners.
While we’re on the subject of tackling, take a look at how Douglas wraps up the running back on the play below. The rookie spins out of press coverage and immediately looks for the ball, charging down field and making a big hit on a physical runner.
Close, but no cigar:
While the tackling of Douglas was a strong point, there were two mistakes that nearly proved costly. Douglas took a slightly poor angle on the below play, but a quick stutter from Marshall saw him break to the sideline and pick up some extra yards. A small price to pay, but one that could have been so much higher.
That wasn’t the only time that Douglas missed a big tackle. A nearly identical play happened in dangerous territory and Douglas simply couldn’t get his arms around the spinning wideout, leading to a big gain.
If there’s one thing we know about Douglas however, it’s that he’s a born and bred ballhawk. Even though the Eagles played with a “bend and don’t break” mentality, Douglas still had an opportunity to show off his skillset that saw him lead the NCAA in interceptions last year.
A fluid transition here enabled Douglas to take the inside leverage against Marshall as he correctly read the route which could have easily been a cut inside (as Mills experienced later). Keeping his eyes where it mattered, Douglas made a leaping grab over the veteran receiver to haul in the pass and cut the attack short for his first career interception.
A little later in the game, Douglas again jumped on a curl route perfectly, leaping over the back of his receiver with confidence and swatting the ball away in a play that almost certainly made Marshall aware he wasn’t dealing with a mismatch anymore.
There is certainly room for improvement in the game of Rausl Douglas but from a technical standpoint, he executed so well on Sunday that it’s hard to ignore. While most traffic found its way to OBJ and Jalen Mills, Douglas did well when called upon to keep the ball ahead of him and not give up the big play. His closing speed continues to be a strength that the Eagles lacked altogether last year and his confidence is rising on a weekly basis.
We’re no longer viewing this secondary as weak in the absence of Ronald Darby. The Eagles had more than enough firepower to contain the Giants and bought everything they had against an AFC powerhouse one week prior to keep it close. They may not be perfect, but the presence of Rasul Douglas is absolutely vital in the secondary…and is no longer a presence of bandaid, but more one of development, promise, and potential.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports