There were plenty of highs and lows in Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, but one man who experienced the extremes of both of those words was cornerback Rasul Douglas. After a rollercoaster season, Douglas looked like he had tapped into a different mindset. In the last two weeks, he’s amassed 13 tackles, an interception and a huge tackle for a loss. But on the final play of the overtime loss, all of that looked to come undone.
Amari Cooper ran a slant route that Douglas blanketed perfectly, only for a poorly thrown pass to miss its target and bounce off of the left hand of the Eagles cornerback. The unlucky impact saw the ball float into the hands of Cooper, who took it the distance to win a nail biter, plunging a dagger into the Eagles playoff hopes.
Fuck man 😢 https://t.co/HWiBQEaP9e
— rasul (@rd32_era) December 10, 2018
One day after the play and it’s safe to say that Douglas is still beating himself up about it, as can be seen from his tweet above. Moments after the play, Jalen Mills, Jordan Matthews and others consoled the corner who clearly placed accountability for that play on his own shoulders.
Tough one for Rasul Douglas. Unlucky bounce. pic.twitter.com/pHcDixybwx
— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) December 10, 2018
The truth is, the game should never have come down to that play and a misplaced ball bouncing off of a hand is nothing Douglas should be feeling ashamed of. In fact, if it wasn’t for him, the Birds may not even be in that position to begin with.
If there’s one area that somewhat evaded the game of Rasul Douglas during his young career, it was tackling. A ballhawk in every sense of the word, the West Virginia product has already proven to be a complete menace around the ball and was once again on Sunday. But tackling? That was never really a documented strength.
However, Douglas has now posted 3 games of 7+ tackles and is hitting like a man possessed. Who can blame him?
When the Safety depth was tested due to the losses of Rodney McLeod and Corey Graham, the Eagles opted to drop rookie corner Avonte Maddox into the deep end. At the time, this move seemed confusing, but the hard-hitting DB has proved a lot of people wrong. But when Sidney Jones suffered an injury, surely, surely the Eagles had to turn to Rasul Douglas?
Instead, they brought in Dexter McDougle, who spent time with the team last year, playing primarily on special teams during the first half of the season before being cut to make room for emergency linebacker help. In two weeks, McDougle, who was signed off the street, played 106 snaps on defense, proving to be a liability in most. Douglas, a former third-round pick, meanwhile has played in 94 through 8 games.
In 106 snaps, McDougle didn’t really show anything positive. He ran into Jordan Hicks on a pick play, almost gave up a deep touchdown against the Panthers having been completely burned, tripped over on another play and looked lost in London. In his defense, that was to be expected given he was literally signed after not playing a regular season game since November 2017.
But since Douglas was given the reins against the Cowboys a few weeks ago, he hasn’t looked back. Hitting ferociously, reading the game at speeds previously unseen in his play and still showing he can go up and pluck balls out of the air, Douglas has been a key asset in holding the defense together.
Let’s not forget, the Eagles secondary is missing 3/4 starters right now and Sidney Jones, their last remnant of this year’s starting line, is still battling injury. For Douglas to be the glue holding the cornerback corps together after being left out in the cold for so very long speaks volumes.
His long-term future remains uncertain. It’s not yet known if the Eagles will pay Ronald Darby or let him walk, or how confident they feel in Sidney Jones outside, let alone whether or not Avonte Maddox will permanently move to safety. But if Douglas can continue to fight, scrap and battle for every last inch of turf as he has been, then that one play wont matter.
What Douglas has been showing over the last month is tremendous resilience, play-strength and development. In fact, he’s been one of the few bright points of an Eagles defense that has struggled all season long. If he can keep his head held high and use that cornerback ‘one-play’ mentality to shrug it off over the next seven days, there’s no reason he can’t continue to force his way into the plans of a defensive coordinator who was flat out refusing to give him a shot when the team needed him most.
This season is all about revenge for Rasul Douglas and while this play is evidently going to sit with him for a while, if it can only heighten the chip on his shoulder, this might only be the start of a very promising rise.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports