After a stunning collegiate career, the jump to the pros hasn’t been as smooth as Sidney Jones would’ve hoped for. By now, we all know the story. Tearing his Achilles tension during his pro day, Jones slipped out of the first round and into the laps of the Eagles several picks later. Everybody knew the talent Jones possessed, but would he be able to recover from such a heartbreaking injury?
Finally making his debut in week 17 after spending his rookie campaign nursing the injury, the Washington product made quite the impression, raising excitement for his first full season. But after missing time in the offseason with yet more injury setbacks, it would seem to be a bad omen that would follow the young cornerback.
Jones started the season replacing Patrick Robinson and did so very promisingly. A series of big games were followed by the typical ‘rookie’ struggles that all defensive backs struggle with, but then that bad omen returned. Jones picked up a hamstring injury against the Giants and would be out for a month before returning against the Saints…who went on to demoralize an already battered and bruised secondary.
Forced to move outside, Jones would miss another game following the loss to New Orleans before returning against Washington. Although he whiffed on a few tackles that game, Jones was largely quiet, which for a cornerback is the loudest compliment you can give. But then one week later, things started to turn sour…again.
Jones picked up a first half injury and tried to carry on into the second half, with depth already at a minimum. Although his effort was valiant, it didn’t take long for Dak Prescott to begin picking on Jones, bullying him all the way down the field and into the end zone for a touchdown. The training staff pulled the 6’0, 181 lbs, corner shortly after.
“That is what it is. He was going good early in that game.” Said Eagles defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz. “Another guy who made some good tackles for us. Had a big PBU, and then he started feeling a little bit. Trainers took him in. After the half they thought he would be ready to go again. He was out and made a couple nice plays for us, and then it was pretty obvious that he wasn’t running the way he could.
I don’t think on the touchdown that was the issue. I think he was in good position and just the guy made a great throw and he didn’t really finish it. You could really tell on the next one the guy sort of ran right past him and Sid was off. It was obvious then that he couldn’t run well enough to do his job, so we had to take him back out again.
Like all our other players, he’s game and he’s out there battling trying to do whatever he can to help the team. He knows the position we’re in with our corners, and he’s trying his very best. But it’s up to us at times to be able to say, “Okay, let’s call it a day,” and that’s what we had to do late in that game.”
His bumpy first full season in the NFL has been filled with promise and flashes of the potential that Jones displayed so consistently during his time at Washington, but it’s also been filled with uncertainty and setbacks. For anyone to make a call on how Jones will fare several seasons from now would be silly, but to even consider that scenario, he has to stay on the field.
“You look at him like he’s a young player that’s had to battle through a lot of injuries.” Schwartz continued. “You have to take last year out of the equation because that — we knew going in what we were going to get. We bought that issue, so we certainly don’t hold that against him in any kind of way.
There are a lot of players who experience injuries early in their career, late in their career. The hardest time to experience injuries is when you’re new to a team. You’re a signed free agent, and that guy goes and gets hurt. The spotlight is on you. You’re a high draft pick and you get hurt.
I think you guys probably have a lot of those situations here. A guy comes in drafted high and everybody is expecting him to come in and be a key contributor and he’s just not able to for whatever reason.
You probably put — we put Sid in that category. He’s done some really good things for us this year playing the nickel early in the season. I thought by this time he was really going to — there was some on-the-job training, but by this time I would’ve thought he would’ve really taken off. He got injured, wasn’t able to do it, then had to move outside with our injuries. Not just his injuries but the other guys, too.
He hasn’t really been able to play the same position. We’ll be patient with it. He’s working as hard as he can to contribute to the team, and we know that.”
From the injury that saw him fall elegantly into the laps of the Eagles, to a wounded secondary that pushed him outside and yet more injuries of his own that continue to haunt, Jones has battled more adversity than you might think during his short time as a Philadelphia Eagle. Yet through it all, his ceiling remains as high as ever.
It’s way too soon to be throwing out ‘bust’ labels or discrediting the decision Howie Roseman made to take a plunge on a first-round talent who suffered a freak injury. But it is not too soon to begin wondering if this is something that will persistently hamper his career and ultimately hold him down.
Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Ron Jenkins