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.