Is the writing on the wall for Eagles CB Sidney Jones?

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The story of Sidney Jones has been filled with twists and turns, but the fire may finally be burning out. With Training Camp even more valuable than ever, the former second-round pick was expected to lock horns with Avonte Maddox in the battle for the starting cornerback spot opposite Darius Slay. Missing five consecutive practices has all but handed Maddox that role and potentially painted an even more dangerous picture for Jones.

The lie of the land

The reality of what is already a concerning scenario is that Sidney Jones is entering his contract year. He’s played in 22 games since entering the league as a second-round pick and is yet to put together a solid enough campaign from start to finish that showcases the potential associated with the label. Jones needed this, badly. He had the perfect platform to build on as well.

After a strong Summer one year ago, it looked as though Jones may have been finally poised to step up as a starter. As the season progressed, the flashes displayed by Jones were mired with errors and yet more injury concerns. Tensions boiled over after the loss to Minnesota, and Jones was benched for six games after taking pubic criticism from his coach and teammates regarding mental toughness. However, when he came back, he made some of the most important plays of the entire year.

Confidence was surging and Jones looked like he was ready to bounce back in a big way. Fourth time lucky, right? Apparently not. Coming up against Avonte Maddox in camp was always going to be tricky. The Pitt product is younger, has more leverage on his contract, and has been very productive and versatile during his time as an Eagle. Without OTA’s or preseason, this period was vital if Jones was to unseat Maddox. Instead, he’s been given the inside track…as Jim Schwartz would allude to in a recent press conference.

Sid is into it. He’s done a good job of staying up and everything else when he hasn’t been able to practice. But as coaches, guys that are on the field are the guys that are getting the reps, and the guys that are available and doing those kind of things and just unfortunately he has not been there for this last week or so. There’s still time, but time is starting to creep in on us. We’re less than three weeks from our opener right now. 

– Jim Schwartz

Schwartz raises concern

Our time is starting to run short, and the only thing we can do as coaches is coach the guys that are available to practice. 

– Jim Schwartz

If there was ever a comment that resembled a nail into a coffin – that’s the one. The Eagles are pushed for time and you ‘can’t make the club in the tub.’

The Eagles defensive coordinator would go on to give a huge vote of confidence in Avonte Maddox when talking to reporters earlier this week, only heightening the climb for Jones.

I think that size matchups are always a concern, but what I would say about Avonte is the only time he looks short is when he’s in the lunch line. When he gets on the field, he’s never in my mind played small. He’s a physical player. He has great timing and ability to jump.

There’s been a lot of guys that have that kind of skill-set. He brings some things to the table that maybe some of the taller guys don’t have. He’s got great quickness and change of direction ability. He can get up to speed super quick, which allows him to play a little bit different technique on the outside.

And the thing that he’s probably most deceiving with is he’s really strong. Let’s not confuse small with little with him because — or short with small; I guess that’s probably the best thing there, because he’s a physical player. He’s strong and he’s matched up against big receivers his whole career. As far as settling him in, he has played a million different positions for us. He’s played safety, nickel, outside corner. He’s played special teams. 

– Jim Schwartz

Writing on the wall

One of the Eagles’ most underrated signings of the entire offseason, in my opinion, was that of CB Trevor Williams. At 26-years-old, the former Charger had experienced a flurry of injury setbacks alongside what has been a very productive career when healthy. As a former running-mate to Casey Hayward, Williams almost seemed like the perfect candidate to push for a CB2 role on a budget, following in the footsteps of Patrick Robinson in 2017 (before a trade for Ronald Darby pushed him into the nickel).

The Eagles shockingly released Williams before training camp even started and that was thought to be the end of it. But on Monday, the Eagles re-signed their first offseason signing, who will finally get his chance to dance.

This could be taken several ways, but it’s a clear indicator that if it’s not direct competition for Avonte Maddox while Sidney Jones is down, then it’s a head-to-head clash for the rotational spot currently held by the Washington product…and if he can’t get healthy to fight for his spot, the Eagles may be forced to either send him to IR, or cut ties altogether if Williams performs well.

Bottom line

Sidney Jones has had a turbulent career so far, but this offseason was absolutely vital in securing his long-term future. With a string of missed practices stripping him of starting contention less than a month before Football resumes, and Trevor Williams now back in the fold, the time bomb is most definitely ticking for a corner that was once thought to be just as explosive.

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