Maybe, just maybe, Eagles cornerbacks can survive without Ronald Darby

Maybe, just maybe, Eagles cornerbacks can survive without Ronald Darby

When Ronald Darby went down less than a half into his Eagles career, many fans saw their playoff hopes being carted off with him.

However, the club received surprisingly good news on Darby’s health. The diagnosis is a dislocated ankle. Although it may be erring on the conservative side, he reportedly may miss just four to six weeks. So that was the best-case scenario after the frightening scene Sunday.

And that wasn’t the only good news for the Eagles. Maybe, just maybe, they found out they can survive for a stretch without Darby. Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson and Jaylen Watkins all acquitted themselves well against Washington. Granted, it was only two-plus quarters, and the Redskins helped out with some drops. Still, the secondary appeared much improved from last season’s whiplashed mess.

What Mills lacks in foot speed he appears to have made up for with experience and anticipation. He’s never lacked for confidence, and now, he appears more poised to back up the finger-wagging.

Robinson was a full-fledged mess early in camp, but he looks much more comfortable in the slot than the outside. Despite him playing OK on the outside when pressed into duty for Darby, Robinson should stay inside. Rookie third-round pick Rasul Douglas should get the start outside.

The corners don’t stand alone in the receiving line of praise. Mills' interception was a direct result of the pressure the Birds' defensive line put on Kirk Cousins. The Eagles' front was relentless all afternoon, and coordinator Jim Schwartz’s blitz timing was spot on. They sacked Cousins four times and harassed him throughout the game. Not to mention, stuffing the run game.

If the Birds can continue to get that kind of consistency and disruption from their line, it could make up for a lot of sins and inexperience on the back end.

That said, this is by no means a declaration that all is well. Howie Roseman gave up a healthy sum for Darby and brought in Dexter McDougle late in the preseason. You’re not making those kinds of moves that close to the regular season unless there are issues. Douglas and McDougle were inactive last week.

And the next test will be a big step up in class.

In dropping 42 points on the champs, the Kansas City Chiefs had eight different players catch balls and piled up 537 total yards en route to a stunning road beatdown of the New England Patriots in Week 1. Rookie third-round pick Kareem Hunt amassed 246 total yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs also have perhaps the fastest player in the NFL in Tyreek Hill and a top-three tight end in Travis Kelce.

Much will be written and spoken regarding Doug Pederson and Andy Reid’s relationship, which dates back to their time in Green Bay — Pederson as a backup quarterback and Reid as the offensive line/quarterbacks coach.

Where does the advantage lie: mentor or pupil? The question will be moot if the Birds' corners revert to last year’s form.

Jay Gruden 'very upset' Eagles were able to land Carson Wentz

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Jay Gruden 'very upset' Eagles were able to land Carson Wentz

Washington head coach Jay Gruden has faced Carson Wentz just three times so far.

That's all he needed to think Wentz is special.  

"I think he's progressed at a rate as fast as anybody I've seen really," Gruden said on a conference call with Philly reporters on Thursday. "His ability to make plays in the pocket, his ability to stay in the pocket in the face of a rush and still deliver balls accurately, his command of the offense. 

"I think he's already proven this short in his career that he's one of the top quarterbacks in the league, quite frankly, and he's going to be for a long time. And I don't know how he got to Philadelphia. And I'm very upset about that." 

Wentz is 1-2 against Washington in his first three games, but that first win came in this season's opener on the road. In that game, Wentz completed 66 percent of his passes for 307 yards, two touchdowns and one pick, for a passer rating of 96.8. 

And Wentz has gotten even better since then. He's now the favorite in Vegas to win the NFL MVP. 

When asked how daunting it might become to face Wentz twice per season for the foreseeable future, Gruden pointed out that it's similar to the Cowboys and Dak Prescott. Then he pointed out they still have to face Eli Manning twice per season. 

"Every week it seems like we're playing against an excellent quarterback and knowing that Wentz is going to be there for a long period of time just puts a few more gray hairs on my head," Gruden said. "But love the competition and it's our job to get after him and make him uncomfortable." 

While Wentz is clearly the Eagles' quarterback of the future, things are a little cloudier in Washington, where Kirk Cousins is in his second year of playing on a franchise tag. 

Gruden said the "intent" is to have Cousins for the long-term, but it's already been a long saga and there's still no deal in place. 

Cousins has had a crazy career path. He began as Robert Griffin III's backup after being taken three rounds later in the same draft in 2012. But he won the starting job and he's started every game for Washington the last three seasons. 

Thursday, on a conference call with Philly reporters, Cousins said he thought there was a good chance the Eagles were going to draft him in 2012. He felt that way after meeting with Howie Roseman and Andy Reid before the draft. But instead, the Eagles took Nick Foles 14 spots ahead of him. 

After watching the Eagles rotate quarterback since then, Cousins doesn't have any hard feelings. 

"I think the Eagles have ended up with the guy that they want," Cousins said. "I think they're really excited about Carson Wentz and for good reason. They're one of the best teams in the league on third down, and some of the plays he's making off-schedule are very special. I think they're very content and I'd like to think the Redskins are as well. Hopefully, it can make for a great rivalry that a lot of fans can get behind and get excited about, hopefully, for many years ahead."

Doug Pederson responds to Chris Thompson's comments about Eagles fans

Doug Pederson responds to Chris Thompson's comments about Eagles fans

Redskins running back Chris Thompson doesn't want to bring his family to the Linc Monday night because he's afraid of what Eagles fans will do.

Doug Pederson hopes Thompson changes his mind.

"Philly fans are some of the meanest fans I've ever experienced," Thompson told ESPN radio's Washington affiliate, ESPN 980, on Wednesday, according to a story in the Washington Post.

"I heard that's the one stadium you keep your family from going to. My family will be (up from Florida) this week, and they were like, 'I want to come to the Philly game.' I said, 'Absolutely not, you're going to have to wait until Dallas comes around. … I was told that right away my rookie year: Keep your family away."

Pederson said he loves Eagles fans and the energy and passion they bring but also said he hopes Thompson or any opposing player feels comfortable bringing his family to the Linc.  

"I just know that playing at home is a great advantage for us," Pederson said before practice Thursday. "Our fans are great, they're energetic, I love playing at the Linc. 

"You know, I hope every family can watch their sons play. I think it's important that they're there and have a chance to watch their siblings play, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents.

"Right now in the league, every stadium is great for the home team and ours is no different. We're just excited now to finally be getting a stretch of games where we can play for the home fans."

Thompson, a fifth-year running back out of Florida State, has played at the Linc twice, in 2015 and 2016, both Redskins wins.

The Eagles, 5-1, host the 3-2 Redskins in a national TV game Monday night at the Linc. The Eagles are 8-2 at home under Pederson, including a 2-0 mark this year, although they're only 4-6 at home against the Redskins over the last 10 years.