It’s been a messy week for Sidney Jones. In fact, it’s been a messy year or two. But through all the flashes of hustle, strong looks in press-coverage, and occasional big play, there seem to be a flurry of mistakes, breakdowns in communication, and toastings.
That tension boiled over this week. Doug Pederson ‘called out’ Jones who had been battling a hamstring injury, claiming that he needs to essentially push through the pain like other veterans on the team.
“In any athlete, not just Sidney, but in any athlete’s case, that is the case. We need to get them out on the practice field. We have to push them as coaches just a little bit. Not risk further injury. We’re not going to do that.
But get them to feel comfortable and confident that everything is okay, and once they push past that barrier then we’re good, and then they learn to play that way, they learn practice that way. I think that’s why guys like [RB] Darren Sproles, [T] Jason Peters, [C Jason] Kelce, [DT] Fletcher Cox, [S] Malcolm Jenkins, guys that have played for a long time, they have been able to do that, and you learn that at an early age, early in your career, and it just gives you confidence moving forward.”– Doug Pederson
Well, Jones tried to play through said threshold on Sunday and that went about as well as expected. Torched on several plays, there were five notable points.
- The touchdown in the redzone allowed to Adam Thielen.
- Malcolm Jenkins seemingly barking at him after another big completion allowed.
3. Jones benched in favor of Craig James (was it injury-related? We don’t know)
4. Malcolm Jenkins taking shots post-game.
Well, it’s not as if Jenkins is pulling punches here. There is clearly some internal (and external) frustration around Jones’ play. Some hypothesize that his hammy injuries conveniently occur whenever he’s been badly beaten. Others worry about the decision to draft a man coming off a heartbreaking Achilles during his pro-day, to begin with.
But if there really is a line in the sand now, what happens next?
It’s assumed that Jalen Mills will be back in action this week or next and given that he’s not played Football in close to a year, there’s bound to be rust.
Ronald Darby could also be set to make a return, but it’s not as if he was performing infinitely better than Jones was. In fact, I’d argue that I’d rather have Jones’ coverage setbacks and tackling fundamentals, bringing down players in one-on-one situations in the open-field, than Darby who has the inverse skillset and costs the Eagles a lot of yardage underneath. It’s catch-22.
It’s perhaps a little premature to cast Jones aside just yet. I’m not here to make excuses, but when things like this happen so consistently, it has to at least be acknowledged.
But the truth is, Jones is a corner who has battled injury since first entering the NFL and that bug has not released its bite just yet. Is that now taking a mental toll on the former Washington product? It’s absolutely possible, but throwing him to the side of the road in favor of corners who really have no real case to start over him (Craig James included), does seem a little premature.
Through week’s one and two, Jones allowed a QB rating of just 38.1 when targeted. But then, in week 6, he was the third-worst ranked corner according to PFF – Flashes amidst a thunderstorm. So, what do you do? Do you bench Jones in the hopes Mills and Darby can provide an injection of production?
If there is a drop in confidence and the Eagles no longer feel comfortable with Jones, that’s fine. But making it so public and indirect on top of the scolding on the sideline is hardly going to help, especially when you consider that the Eagles’ secondary has become as volatile as a ticking time bomb labeled ‘day-to-day’. At any given moment, Jones could be thrown back into the deep end and it’s a completely different ball-game when you feel a complete lack of trust and confidence from those around you.
Cc: Nelson Agholor.
There is a strong chance that Sidney Jones is now at the bottom of the pecking order, but he may just be the sacrificial Lamb at this stage…and if, like Agholor, like Wisniewski, Jones is going to be pushed aside, there has to be a belief that those stepping in will be better. A belief at this point, I honestly wouldn’t be comfortable in betting behind.