To say that this season has been a rollercoaster ride for Sidney Jones would be an understatement. But then again, that statement could also be used to describe his NFL career to date.
After a strong Summer, it looked as though Jones may have been finally poised to showcase his potential as a former second-round pick who has been haunted by injuries and inconsistency. But as the season progressed, the flashes displayed by Jones were mired with errors.
Tensions hit a boiling point after the Minnesota game. Earlier in the week, Pederson told reporters that Jones had to play through pain like other veterans on the team. He tried that, and was bullied by Adam Thielen, leading to Malcolm Jenkins taking some indirect shots at the Washington product.
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.
His role decreased and he went from week 8 to week 14 without playing a single snap. It looked as though the Sidney Jones experiment was over…at least that was until Rasul Douglas had to come out of a crucial drive against the New York Giants due to cramping.
“That was an important part of the game.” Jim Schwartz explained on Tuesday. “Third-and-3, Number One, is a tough down defensively, and then coming in cold the way he did. But it didn’t surprise me at all. It didn’t surprise us at all because Sid has worked really, really hard in this last month or so. “
Jones stepped into the game playing tight-man coverage and breaking up a pass that arguably acted as the catalyst in a chemical reaction that ended in a huge comeback. That was his only snap of the game…and it couldn’t have been better.
“His role has decreased, but that hasn’t affected his work ethic, that hasn’t affected his preparation or his attitude. All those things have been good, and that’s going to serve him well as he goes forward and as we go forward, because we talk about it all the time: we say a lot of times the night before a game, somebody’s going to be called upon to make a play in this game and they might only play one play in the game. Well, sure enough, it was true. That was a big play. I don’t know if we win that game if he doesn’t make that PBU [pass breakup], because it was a tie game at that point in the fourth quarter [and we] had a couple of injuries. He went out cold, they came right at him and he was up for the challenge.”
There was a lot of questioning the mindset of Jones, and not in a negative way, but more out of concern. After suffering a heartbreaking injury at his pro-day, Jones has battled relentlessly with an injury bug that’s yet to release its venom and there’s every chance it was beginning to weigh on his shoulders. But it’s that very war that made his splash-play that much more wholesome.
“Some of that falls on us, but a significant portion of that falls on the player.” Schwartz said about Jones retaining his work ethic through adversity. “It’s not up to us to keep him engaged. It’s up to him to stay engaged. He’s had a great attitude and he’s worked hard on the practice field. And he’s worked on different parts of his game. He’s worked fundamentally on his game. So when you do that, there’s an old adage in the NFL, ‘Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.’ Well, Sid stayed ready.”
The Eagles are sitting on the edge of a playoff berth and there is a chance Jones will be called into action again. After weeks of many assuming ‘the experiment’ to be over, like all good Science scenes in films, the biggest reaction happens when the scientist gives up and turns away.
The Sidney Jones story isn’t over just yet…in fact, it may still be beginning.
Aaron M. Sprecher via AP