Eagles

How Sidney Jones' debut really looked on film

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NFL

How Sidney Jones' debut really looked on film

No matter how he played on Sunday, seeing Sidney Jones back on the field had to be great for the Eagles

The second-round pick got his first game action against the Cowboys on Sunday after a lengthy recovery process from a torn Achilles. There was bound to be some rust after not playing a game in a full calendar year and that was evident. But Jones did plenty of good things too. 

"Little bit of rust today," Jones said on Sunday night. "First game so there's going to be a little bit of rust as expected. But I feel like I did pretty good." 

After the game Malcolm Jenkins made a pretty good point: After not playing for an entire year, expectations for Jones in the game were pretty low. 

It was an up-and-down NFL debut for Jones. He played 29 defensive snaps and would have played more had his back and quad not started cramping. We're not going to look at all 29 plays, but here are a few from his debut: 

This was Jones' fifth defensive snap of the game and he's still looking for his first real contact. Jones (circled in red) has off coverage at the top of the screen. The Cowboys are backed up on 2nd-and-9, so they're going to try to pick up some quick yards with a wide receiver screen to Ryan Switzer (circled in green)

At the point of the catch, things are setting up nicely for the Cowboys. They have a hat for a hat on the right side of the field and some room to work with. 


Switzer tries to cut it back inside, but Jones doesn't give up on the play. He gets off his block and cuts back inside too, eventually making his first NFL tackle. 

 

••• 

This next play comes just a few snaps later. It's 1st-and-15 after a penalty. Jones is on the top of your screen. This play is a handoff to Ezekiel Elliott, who will burn Jones and the Eagles' defense for a 16-yard gain. 

Jones' recognition was good. He sees that Elliott has the handoff, so he's going to come up and try to make a play. Jim Schwartz obviously wants his corners to cover, but their tackling ability is important to him too. Earlier in the game, Jones showed he can.

This is where the play went wrong. Jones came inside too hard and Elliott is about to show his speed to the outside. Jones was simply trying to make a play but lost contain and left a lot of green grass outside the numbers. 

•••

Here's the sluggo route where Terrence Williams just beat the rookie. Bottom of your screen. 


Jones bites hard on the slant and Williams is able to get over top of him. These routes have given Eagles corners fits all year, so Jones is just fitting in. After the game, he just said he got beat but was grateful the safety over the top was able to get there. 

The pass falls incomplete. 

•••

Here's a chance to see Jones in the slot. This was one of his most impressive snaps of the day. Rasul Douglas and Patrick Robinson are both outside, which leaves Jones on Ryan Switzer inside. 

It's hard to see in the still image, but this is at the exact moment after Switzer pulled a little stutter move. Jones didn't bite even a little bit. He just calmly stayed with the slot guy and took him out of the play. Eventually, Dak Prescott forced an incompletion toward Dez Bryant. 

•••

OK, so this last play is a little tough to illustrate in still images. It was a play where Prescott eventually scrambled for a 10-yard gain and it didn't even count because two offensive linemen were holding. He couldn't throw it because no one was open.

Geoff Swaim is the Cowboys' third-string tight end (at the bottom of the screen), so it's not exactly like Jones was covering Odell Beckham for 10 seconds, but he doesn't give the tight end an inch and he never gives up on the play. It was impressive. 

Sure, there's some rust. And maybe Jones won't have a role in these playoffs. But it's pretty clear how talented he is and how good he can be. All of a sudden, the Eagles have a ton of depth at corner, but they'll need to find a place for Jones to play. 

Eagles aim to master late 1st-round picks

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Eagles aim to master late 1st-round picks

The Eagles will be at a disadvantage on April 26, when the first round of the 2018 draft begins in Dallas. Thanks to winning the Super Bowl — remember that? It wasn’t a dream — they have the 32nd and last pick of the first round. 

It’s a disadvantage they hope to have every year. 

“Yeah, that’s the goal,” Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas said on Thursday. “Hopefully we’ll be picking in the late 20s and early 30s [every year].” 

There’s an art to hitting in the second half of the first round and it’s obviously harder to find success there than it is in the top half. The good news for the Eagles is that Douglas learned under Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome, who is one of the best general managers in the NFL. Newsome’s team has often picked late in the first round and he’s often been able to find some great talent in that range. 

Ed Reed was picked at No. 24, Todd Heap at 31, Ben Grubbs at 29. There are more too. 

“Ozzie is patient,” Douglas said. “Ozzie Newsome is a Hall of Famer for the Cleveland Browns and he should be a Hall of Famer for the Baltimore Ravens as a GM. He’s the absolute best. His first two picks (Reed and Terrell Suggs) are first-ballot Hall of Famers. He was able to have great success in the 20s. Those players you specifically named, they were not a move up or move down guys. Those were guys that Ozzie was patient and he let the board come to him. Some of those picks were met with greater fanfare than others.”

They can’t all be hits, of course. In 2013, the Ravens took safety Matt Elam, who played in 41 games for Baltimore in three seasons, but was out of the league by 2017. Many consider him a bust. It happens. But it’s hard to argue with the Ravens’ body of work. 

The Eagles haven’t been nearly as consistent picking in the 20s in recent years. Nelson Agholor was No. 20 in 2015 and finally fulfilled his potential last season. But before then, Marcus Smith was 26 in 2014 and Danny Watkins was 23 in 2011. The last time the Eagles came off a Super Bowl appearance, they picked DT Mike Patterson with the 31st pick in 2005. A decent player, never a star. 

Douglas thought there were a lot of hits late in the first round of last year’s draft, but admitted it “varies year to year.” 

For now, the Eagles own the 32nd pick, but they’re definitely not ruling out a possible trade. On Thursday, de facto GM Howie Roseman said the team is “open for business.” 

There’s also plenty of appeal for other teams who might want a specific position with No. 32 because of a possible fifth-year option in their contracts. A few years ago, the Vikings traded for No. 32 to get Teddy Bridgewater. This week, the groundwork for possible draft day trades will happen, Roseman said. The Eagles will have contact with other teams to gauge their interest in moving up or down around their area of the first round. 

If the Eagles don’t move up or down, they feel comfortable at 32. 

“I guess when you’re picking, any number you’re picking, whether it’s 14 last year or 32, you’ve got to have 32 guys to be excited to take,” Douglas said. “Right now, we have 32 guys we’d be fired up to get. How it plays out, we’ll find out.”

Coming off first Super Bowl win, Eagles aim to crush complacency

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Coming off first Super Bowl win, Eagles aim to crush complacency

The Eagles on Monday released a short video montage of players returning to the NovaCare Complex for the start of the team’s offseason workout program, the first time the team has been back together since winning Super Bowl LII. 

Playing over the video is a snippet from Doug Pederson’s speech to the team, in which he talks about sacrifice and starting over at ground zero. 

The 30-second video then ends with a shot of the Eagles’ new Super Bowl champion banner hanging in the weight room, while Pederson delivers the message, “The new normal starts today.” 

The Eagles have finally won a Super Bowl, so now what? 

Well, now they have to battle complacency on their quest to make a parade down Broad Street an annual occurrence. 

“For me, when I hear the ‘new norm,’ I’m not thinking about the end result, the championships and the parades and all that,” veteran leader Malcolm Jenkins said on Tuesday. “I’m thinking about the work it took to get to where we were. How we started last year in April and grinded and competed throughout. For me, that’s kind of the new norm and the standard and the base that we’re trying to start from this year as we try to defend that title.” 

Unlike many of his teammates, this isn’t the first time Jenkins is coming off a championship. The year after his Saints won the Super Bowl during his rookie season, they were bounced out of the playoffs in the first round. 

Being that this isn’t the first time Jenkins is in this situation, he said he knows some of the “pitfalls” that come with trying to avoid the Super Bowl hangover. Aside from the obvious month less of recovery time, the Eagles also need to shift their mindset from celebration back to work. Jenkins doesn’t think that will be a problem. He thinks teams get their attitude from leaders. He thinks these Eagles want to “create something special.” He thinks they know how to do it. 

One thing that should help is getting back several key players who weren’t able to play in last year’s Super Bowl because of injuries. Their drive will be there. 

“I know for myself and (Jordan) Hicks and (Chris) Maragos, Jason Peters, it didn’t sit well with them either,” Carson Wentz said. “As much as we love our teammates and we were excited to see it, we wanted to be out there. We know that will kick things into gear. I don’t think complacency would have been an issue regardless, but I think that will definitely help.”

Jenkins this week didn’t want to even talk about repeating yet because there’s so long to go before we even know what the team will look like. 

But repeating remains the ultimate goal.  

“We’re extremely hungry for sustained success in this city,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “We’ve tasted it one time and that’s something you never want to give up. We’re hungry to repeat. … I don’t think we’ll ever have that mindset that we’ve arrived as a football team or as a city.”