Eagles

CB Rasul Douglas learned a lesson during rough Week 4 vs. Chargers

CB Rasul Douglas learned a lesson during rough Week 4 vs. Chargers

It's inevitable. It happens to every cornerback. And if it hasn't happened yet, it's about to happen.

On Sunday, it happened to Rasul Douglas.

"I play the hardest position out there, I'm going to give up catches, I'm going to give up touchdowns," Douglas said. "That's normal. You can't show me any corner who doesn't do it. I'm just happy we got the win. 

"My teammates, man. No matter what happened, they all had faith in me and they just kept talking me through it ... because sometimes I tend to let plays keep going [when] the play's over with.

"Malcolm (Jenkins) was like, 'OK, that play already happened, let's get back.' When they come out there and see you on the island, they're going to test you."

And Philip Rivers, a 14-year veteran who ranks 11th in NFL history in passing yards, knows how to test a young cornerback.

Douglas, the Eagles' rookie third-round cornerback, gave up two huge plays Sunday: Tyrell Williams' 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter and a 50-yarder to Keenan Allen that set up a fourth-quarter Chargers touchdown.

They're the Chargers' two longest plays from scrimmage this year. The 75-yarder was the fourth-longest completion of Rivers' career.

On the 75-yard TD, Williams faked outside into Douglas, then made an inside move to gain separation near midfield and raced under a Rivers play-fake bomb, catching it at the 30 with Douglas 10 yards behind.

On the 50-yarder, Allen lost Douglas on a deep cross, Rivers got Allen the ball at the Eagles' 45-yard line and Douglas was so far out of the play that Allen was able to race all the way down to the 11 before Jenkins finally knocked him out of bounds.

The Eagles hung on to win 26-24 and improve to 3-1 despite allowing 347 passing yards.

"That's on me," Douglas said. "That's nobody else. Everything that happens on my side is because of me. If it's on my side, it's my fault. Always. We all hold each other accountable, and [Sunday] I had to hold myself accountable."

Douglas was inactive in the opener, but with Ronald Darby out indefinitely he's played a ton the last three weeks and started the last two. Douglas played at a high level against the Chiefs in his NFL debut and also against the Giants, when he recorded his first career interception, but Rivers went after him repeatedly Sunday at the StubHub Center.

"It's going to happen to every rookie at some point," Jenkins said. "Coming off a decent game last week, he got tested [Sunday]. Gave up a couple but kept fighting. That's the biggest thing. They want to see how you're going to handle that and I thought he stayed in the game, stayed locked in. He'll have some things he'll learn from it."

Douglas played 39 of 53 defensive snaps against the Chiefs and all 125 the last two weeks.

Things won't get any easier this weekend when Carson Palmer and the Cardinals come to town for a 1 p.m. Sunday game.

There are 13 quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 45,000 yards. In Eli Manning, Rivers and Palmer, the Eagles are facing three of them in a 15-day span.

"We just tell him, 'Man, keep your head up,'" Rodney McLeod said. "In this league as a cornerback, you're going to get scored on. It's going to happen. Every game isn't going to be perfect. It's how you bounce back, and it's how you respond. And I think [Douglas'] mentality is always great. 

"He didn't get down on himself. Not one bit. Line back up, challenge those guys. It's one game he's going to learn off, but I'm so proud of everything he did. He hung in there the entire game, and he's only going to continue to get better."

With second-round pick Sidney Jones out for perhaps the season with an Achilles injury from his pro day and Darby out since the opener, the Eagles are thin at cornerback. Safeties Jaylen Watkins and Corey Graham are also out, and McLeod missed the Giants game.

So it's not surprising that the Eagles are giving up a ton of passing yards.

Four weeks in, they rank 31st in the NFL in net passing yards allowed (285 per game), 23rd in TD passes allowed (7), 24th in opposing passing accuracy (66.0 percent) and tied for sixth in passing first downs allowed (51).

It's not all on Douglas, but Sunday was definitely a rough one for the 22-year-old from East Orange.

“He’s a competitor," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "He’s a lot like Jalen (Mills) in that way. They’re young guys, they’re competitive. You need to have a short memory to play corner. …

"We have to play more consistently at the corner position. It’s not just about a singular flash play, it’s about consistency over the course of the game, and those guys are still working their way through that.”

Meetings and film study won't be particularly pleasant for Douglas this week, but he said he couldn't wait to get started.

"I'm going to critique myself the hardest," he said. "I want to be the best. I'll critique myself, and my teammates will let me know what I could have done to put myself in better situations to make a play."

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

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USA Today Images

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

When Doug Pederson said back in July that the 2017 Eagles "probably have more talent" than the Super Bowl Packers teams of the 1990s that Pederson played on, more than a few eyebrows were raised.

Millions of eyebrows maybe.
 
The Eagles? Who hadn't won a playoff game since 2008 and were coming off a 7-9 record in Pederson's first season?
 
More talented than a team that went to the playoffs virtually every year from the early 1990s through the mid-2000s behind Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Reggie White and reached back-to-back Super Bowls in 1996 and 1997, winning one?
 
"I look back on my time in Green Bay as a player when we were making those playoff runs, those Super Bowl runs there," Pederson said on July 17.
 
"And do we have as much talent on this team than we did then? We probably have more talent, right?"
 
Seriously, Doug?
 
Six months later, Pederson's comments — which seemed so ridiculous at the time — don't seem so ridiculous, do they?
 
Because here are those 2017 Eagles, sitting 13-3 with a playoff win over the Falcons in the books and a berth Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the Vikings despite a rash of injuries to some of their best players.
 
The Eagles haven't lost a game with postseason implications since Carson Wentz was lost for the season, and they're one home win from reaching their third Super Bowl.
 
Pederson, who had two stints backing up Brett Favre with the Packers — from 1996 through 1998 and 2001 through 2004 — was reminded of his comments Friday before practice.
 
"I don't have a crystal ball, obviously, and it's hard to predict," he said. "You'd love to sit here and go, 'Yeah, in the summer, (I thought we were) going to be 13-3 and win the NFC East.' You'd love to be in that situation, or 16-0, or whatever it might be.
 
"I did have a feeling back then when I made that statement that we could be, we had the potential to be a good football team because of the way we've practiced and the talent that we brought to the roster and the progression of Carson in his second year.
 
"And then defensively, the front, the way they performed, and the back end, I saw a lot of the same similarities. So you just have that gut feeling when I made that statement."
 
Back in July, when Pederson made those comments comparing the Eagles to the Packers, he tempered them by saying talent isn't always enough. It takes much more for a team to have success.
 
"I (said) it takes great coaching, teaching, mentoring to also have our guys prepared each week to be in this position," Pederson said. "So all of that has kind of culminated. I think you look back on it and you go, 'Wow, maybe it was a true type of thing.'
 
"But we just keep doing our jobs, keep doing what we've been coached to do. Players play what they can do and what's in their control, and we're here today."

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

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Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

Veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) is the only Eagles player listed as questionable for this week's game. Everyone else on the 53-man roster is expected to be available. 

Ellerbe, 32, missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday. 

The Eagles' starting MIKE linebacker was also listed as questionable last week and was able to play, so expect him to be good to go. After all, this is the NFC Championship Game. There's no resting for anything else. 

In Minnesota, wide receiver Adam Thielen (lower back) and safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) are both listed as questionable. 

Thielen, the Vikings' top receiver, missed Wednesday's practice and was limited on Thursday and Friday. Just like Ellerbe, there's no saving him for next week. 

Sendejo was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, was a full participant on Friday, but is still technically in the NFL's concussion protocol. He'll need to clear that before he's able to play, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he's optimistic Sendejo will be able to play. 

Meanwhile, third defensive tackle, Shamar Stephen (knee/ankle), missed practice all week and has been ruled out. While Stephen isn't a starter, he played just under 40 percent of the Vikings' snaps this season, so missing him is still a loss.

After practicing indoors on Wednesday and Thursday, the Eagles loaded up on buses and spent their Friday practice outside at Lincoln Financial Field. Head coach Doug Pederson likes to get his guys outside for at least one day per week. 

The Eagles will have a walkthrough on Saturday before they'll be back at the Linc for Sunday's 6:40 p.m. kickoff in the NFC Championship Game.