Eagles

What's behind Ronald Darby's 'horrible' play of late?

What's behind Ronald Darby's 'horrible' play of late?

Ronald Darby regrets his mini Twitter rant Tuesday morning when he said he was ready to block "half way fans." 

He even apologized (see story).

But the reason Darby was "in his feelings" was that he didn't think he had a very good game against the Giants. Sure, he had a huge interception in the first half, but he was roasted and picked on by Eli Manning for much of the afternoon. Darby said it was one of the worst games of his career. 

"It was horrible," he said. 

On Thursday, Darby admitted he "sort of" overlooked the Giants' receivers but didn't want to use it as an excuse. In fact, Darby wasn't willing to use anything as an excuse. Not switching sides. Not his health. Not his relative unfamiliarity with the Eagles' scheme. 

Darby, 23, actually echoed what his defensive coordinator pointed at as the problem. Jim Schwartz said technique issues have been his problem. 

After joining the team Aug. 11, Darby didn't have a ton of time with the Eagles when he dislocated his right ankle in the season opener in Washington. Based on how gruesome that injury looked at the time, it's pretty amazing Darby has even been able to play at all this season. Since returning, he's played 93 percent of the defensive snaps in the last five games. 

But in those last five games, Darby has been far from a dominant corner. According to ProFootballFocus, he's given up 24 catches on 40 targets for 309 yards and a touchdown, with that one interception. 

How close is he to 100 percent? 

"Right now, I feel I'm as good as I'm gonna be," he said. "That don't make no excuse for nothing. I'm out there playing, so I need to play at 100. Even when you're not feeling 100. I'm not the only person out there not feeling 100."

After Darby went down in the opener, Jalen Mills took over at the team's left cornerback. That means Darby has returned on the right side, which he admitted was awkward at first, but has become more familiar. 

The Eagles traded Jordan Matthews and a third-round pick to get Darby this summer and they need him to play well in these playoffs. Rookie Rasul Douglas played well while Darby was out, but Darby gives the Eagles their best chance at success. 

What's the next step after a "horrible" game against the Giants? 

"Move on," Darby said. "That wasn't the first time I played bad before. We play corner. There can be games where you cover tight on somebody and they make a catch on you and it could go like that the whole game. It's just how the position is." 

Mike Trout predicts Super Bowl pain for Tom Brady

usa-mike-trout_0.jpg
USA Today Images

Mike Trout predicts Super Bowl pain for Tom Brady

Mike Trout hasn't decided if he will travel to Minneapolis to watch his beloved Eagles play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Trout said he enjoys staying at home and watching the game on television with his family. (There's something cool about that.) He also digs the commercials.

Wherever baseball's best — and highest paid — player decides to watch the game, he will have one important accessory with him: his dog mask. The same one he wore at Lincoln Financial Field during the Eagles' trouncing of the Minnesota Vikings in Sunday's NFC Championship Game.

"I will definitely be wearing that dog mask," Trout said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "Gotta ride with it."

Eagles tackle Lane Johnson gave Trout the dog mask that has come to symbolize the Eagles' place as an underdog in the playoffs and again in the Super Bowl. The Eagles have come to relish that status.

"A lot of people doubted them," Trout said. "They lost the majority of their captains and starters (to injury), but they're still fighting. Next-man-up mentality."

Even some of Trout's teammates with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim doubted the Eagles. But no more.

"They give me grief all the time," Trout said. "Now they're all rooting for them. Throughout the season, there were a lot of ups and downs. But now we're going to the Super Bowl."

Trout, of course, was raised and still lives in Millville, New Jersey, less than an hour's drive from Philadelphia. He grew up a fan of all the Philly teams and, in fact, was in the parking lot outside of Citizens Bank Park celebrating with friends the night the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

Trout, 26, is a season-ticket holder with the Eagles and a close friend and hunting buddy of Carson Wentz. Trout, who saw his first Eagles game back in the Veterans Stadium days, was able to visit with several Eagles players after Sunday's big win over the Vikings.

"I told them to go get it," he said. "Obviously, there hasn't been a Super Bowl champion in Philadelphia. I told them to go get it."

Trout recalled watching Super Bowl XXXIX more than a decade ago. The Patriots beat the Eagles, 24-21, in that one.

Trout sees a different Eagles team in the rematch.

"This team is just a little bit different," he said. "They want to win and it's not just one guy carrying them. Every guy has a part in it."

Trout's buddy, Wentz, won't be playing in the Super Bowl. He may have been on his way to the NFL's MVP award hadn't he been knocked out by a season-ending knee injury in December. Nick Foles has taken over and been at the helm for two playoff wins.

In six spectacular seasons in the majors, Trout has won two American League MVP awards and finished second three times. (That's why he will make $34 million in 2018.) He finished fourth in the voting in 2017 and would have finished higher if he hadn't missed significant time with a thumb injury that required surgery. He feels for Wentz, who has to watch from the sidelines.

"It's definitely difficult," Trout said. "I went through it last year. It's tough for him. I thought he was the MVP. It was hard to watch when he went down. But he's working hard. He's walking. I'm sure he'll be ready for next season.

"What he did on the field this season was amazing, and now Nick has stepped up."

Tuesday's conference call was set up by the Angels' media relations department because of the large demand to speak with Trout, who has emerged as the Eagles' most visible fan, woofing and pumping his fist in triumph with the rest of the fans at the Linc. Trout said he'd never heard the place louder than it was as Patrick Robinson ran back that game-turning pick-six in the first quarter Sunday night.

Philadelphia fans dream of a day when they will be cheering for Trout rounding the bases in a Phillies uniform. He is signed through 2020. His free agency is not that far away.

As always, Trout deflected a question about whether he could see himself playing in Philadelphia someday.

"I'm an Eagles fan," he said. "Obviously, I grew up a Philly sports fan. I love playing in Anaheim. I have a couple more years on my contract. I love Anaheim and the West Coast."

That wasn't exactly a no.

Trout was more direct when asked about what he expected in the Super Bowl.

"It's going to be tough," he said. "Anybody that goes against Tom Brady is going against the best and maybe greatest of all time.

"I still think the Eagles will pull it out and they're going to win, 31-24."

And the decisive play will be?

"An interception of Brady," Trout said.

Carson Wentz's greatest leadership feat

usa-nick-foles-carson-wentz.jpg
USA Today Images

Carson Wentz's greatest leadership feat

After the Eagles celebrated their win in the NFC Championship Game, Carson Wentz limped off the field at Lincoln Financial Field with the help of a cane. He wore an Eagles NFC champions hat, T-shirt and a giant smile.  

Wentz didn't get to play Sunday night, but he still played a huge role in the Eagles' getting to the Super Bowl. 

That was the message offensive coordinator Frank Reich tried to get across to Wentz when he had a brief chat with him during the fourth quarter of the blowout win. Wentz was one of the main reasons the Eagles got a chance to play the championship game at the Linc. 

Wentz wasn't just happy for the Eagles on Sunday. He was happy for Nick Foles, the guy who took over for him. 

"To me, one of the greatest things about a person that you can say, is when you see him celebrating somebody else's success," Reich said. "Even when you know it's at the same position. I don't care; human nature tells you that's hard to do. And it's been fun to see those two do that. It's fun to see Carson truly have the maturity to celebrate Nick's success and understanding how he's helping this team, also with the frustration knowing that he wants to be in there." 

For the last couple of games, Wentz has progressed enough in his ACL rehab to be allowed on the sideline during games and that's meant a lot to the Eagles, especially Foles and Nate Sudfeld. The three have spent all year together so it feels more natural to be together during games. 

During Sunday's NFC Championship Game, Wentz was on the sideline but part of him was on the field. The second touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery came on a play Wentz brought with him from North Dakota State. A FOX camera caught his reaction after the score: 

"Every time we score on his play," Reich said, "the smile's gonna light up."

Reich has some experience with watching big moments. Spending most of his career as a backup quarterback, he had to watch Jim Kelly play in big moments and he knows how hard that can be. 

"It's absolutely human to wish you were in there," Reich said. "But the whole key, it's a very fine line. That fine line to me is that you can still not just be happy for the team winning, but to be happy for Nick, who could potentially be stealing another person's thunder. That's the pretty cool thing. Of all the great things he's done this year, (this) even more exemplifies the leader he is."