The gloves are off, the bell has rung and the Eagles are back where they started for the last four years. The cornerback situation has yet to be resolved but this time around, accountability needs to be taken seriously.
Ronald Darby suffered an ACL injury last year that seems to still be affecting him. Darby has been targeted 22 times this season and has allowed 15 receptions. His fortunes darkened further when he was taken out of Sunday’s game with an injury that could keep him out for a few weeks.
He’s not the only one struggling however. Even Avonte Maddox has somehow regressed a bit. He’s allowed 15 receptions as well but on 19 targets.
Jim Schwartz has stuck to what he wants for too long while ignoring what he knows. He knows that both Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones have been targeted 16 times this season. He also knows that they’ve only allowed 9 receptions each.
Douglas looks to have rebounded from being burned in week 1 by the Redskins. He gave Julio Jones a run for his money in Atlanta and he was making the right tackles against the Lions as Sidney Jones was. So where’s the disconnect?
The Eagles were rumored to have a heavy interest in Jalen Ramsey which could make a huge impact in the secondary. Now the question is if the Eagles make that trade, who starts opposite of Ramsey? Would it still be Darby? The tables have obviously turned due to injury, the point remains the same.
The Eagles traded Jordan Mathews to the Bills in exchange for Darby. There was hope that he would be their lockdown corner but he’s been everything but that at times.
Unfortunately at the moment, Darby has become a liability for the secondary but in an odd twist of fate, Rausl Douglas and Sidney Jones will have a chance to make their mark and prove themselves worthy of long-term starting roles due to Darby’s injury.
Neither Ronald Darby nor Jalen Mills are contracted past 2019 and there’s a good chance that the Eagles move on from both, as evidenced by an offseason of doubling down.
Howie Roseman stuck to his guns when he didn’t seek cornerback help in the offseason and bet it all on the development of these corners. It’s worked for half of the secondary group, as Jones and Douglas look to be finding their own within this defense but the others seem to be stuck.
Thursday’s game could play hugely into seeing what the actual problem with the secondary is. If Douglas and Jones hold their own against Davante Adams and company then Darby may become the odd man out. All of this falls on the shoulders of Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz.
“Those guys have built up a lot of good snaps and have been there for us and have played consistent ball for us and have made some plays.” Schwartz told reporters on Tuesday. “But what they’ve done in the past isn’t going to make any difference now. They’re going to have to play well in a different set of circumstances now rather than spot-subbing or filling in for somebody, they’re going to have to go in and play because we’ll be without [CB Ronald] Darby for a little while.”
If Douglas and Jones can shine in the abscense of Darby, Schwartz will have to make a tough call upon the CB1’s return…as he has for the last two years when he’s missed 6+ games in each. They say ‘the third time is the charm’, but is it one of good luck for Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones?
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports