The story of Sidney Jones is an interesting one. The former second-round pick has seen some towering highs and some upsetting lows, but after another rollercoaster year, it looks as though he may finally have found his footing.
For the second time in as many weeks, the University of Washington made a big-time play in a crucial moment. One game after his heroic pass breakup against the Redskins, Jones lined up against Michael Gallup with just 1:21 left in the game. Gallup challenged Jones down to the endzone, but it was the feisty young corner who was able to bat the ball away and come out as the victor, putting the bow on an early Christmas gift for the Eagles.
After missing his rookie year and battling nagging injuries in the two that have followed, Jones appeared to hit a wall earlier this season, drawing strong words from Doug Pederson and Malcolm Jenkins with regards to playing through pain and doing so without fear. His role decreased and Jones would go from week 8 to week 14 without playing a single snap. It looked as though the 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. Since then, Jones has become the ‘closing pitcher’ of sorts.
“I think it shows the resiliency of him personally because a lot has been said or written about him and his performance and then not playing.” Doug Pederson said after the game. “Getting an opportunity to play here the last few weeks and step in and do what he has done and make big plays in big moments, that is who we thought all along Sidney Jones is and the type of player he is and what he is capable of doing.
That just helps his confidence moving forward and the next time he gets an opportunity to play, he learns from it and gains that strength mentally and becomes better.”
This spike in form couldn’t come at a better time. Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby both picked up injuries on Sunday, with Darby expected to miss a few weeks with a hip flexor setback. Not only that, but both are pending free agents, and the likelihood of a secondary rebuild is high.
With a playoff berth now likely and some scary opponents on the horizon, if Jones can continue to thrive and build on that confidence, there’s every chance he rights the early-season wrongs and earns his place in next year’s cornerback corps. If what Jalen Mills says is right, that scenario is a probable one.
“He comes into work everyday, he’s working hard, not getting down on himself knowing that this is a process and knowing that cornerback is if not the hardest position in the league, the second hardest. Guys are going to catch the ball on you and you just have to go out there and battle the next play.”
Jones has been the hero that the Eagles have needed in recent weeks, but the road to redemption is a long one. The good news is, every tunnel has a light at the end of it…and it’s only getting brighter.
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