Jalen Mills: The Cornerback the Eagles Need

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Buffalo Bills
Oct 27, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills (31) greets fans following the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Since returning after his year-long injury, Jalen Mills has been the cornerback that the Eagles need but the one fans don’t deserve. Mills was an afterthought entering this season as all of Philadelphia focused on the growth of Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas. I, myself, am also guilty of the Mills slander at times but can anyone blame me?

Mills was the corner who got burned against the speed receiver, the same corner who bit on every double move possible with no fix in sight. It’s funny, I saw the same double move, on Sunday, that’s haunted Mills throughout his career. See, the only difference this time around was that Mills didn’t bite as hard in the double move against Julian Edelman. He actually kept up with the receiver and looked like the cornerback that Eagles fans were hoping they’d get in a different Jalen, who’s currently with the Rams.

Mills has brought back the mental toughness that this defense needed. He’s added his own swagger to it and continues to play with short term memory. He’s the corner that never hangs his head after a play, instead, he keeps fighting until he’s able to wag that finger of his towards the bleachers.

While Douglas and Jones have shown they can’t be trusted with a full workload, Mills has shown that he owns his side of the field and a permanent spot on this roster. This, right now, is why Roseman didn’t sell the farm to acquire any other corner. A healthy Mills could be all this defense ever needed.

Against the Patriots, the Eagles secondary forced Tom Brady to second guess his throws with the tight coverage they had on the Patriots’ receivers. Mills had four tackles with one huge pass deflection that he tipped away just in time before Edelman could adjust.

Not only has the game slowed down for Mills on the field, but off it as well. He’s shown just how much he’s matured into one of the leaders in the locker room. When asked whether the defense can take away the fact that they put the Eagles’ offense in a good position to win the game, Mills replied:

“At the end of the day, it’s a loss. I’m saying we came in second. I’m a sore loser. I hate losing and so do the guys on this team. We can’t pride ourselves on anything. We came up short and we have to come in on Tuesday, watch the film, and make the corrections. Next week we have a good opponent. We see Seattle coming in and they have a really good quarterback and a really good offense.”

Last year’s season-ending injury may have been the best thing that could happen to the Eagles young corner. The green goblin was forced to look at the game of football from a different perspective, one that may be the reason for the growth in his game.

Recently Jalen opened up about what the injury allowed him to learn as a player during his year away, “I learned a lot, from a football standpoint, while I was sidelined. I got a coach’s perspective and learned more about how offenses gameplan to face a defense. I studied how different athletes move. When the players would come to the sideline, I could explain the releases and the routes that the opposing receivers would run.”

If this is the “Green Goblin” that’s going to be suiting up in midnight green from now on, then the future is bright for the 25-year-old 7th round pick. His growth has turned a weakness into a possible strength for this organization going forward. Only time will tell if the front office feels the same as the team may look to extend Mills before the season ends.

Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports