Reuben Frank

A blunt assessment from Jim Schwartz on Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas

A blunt assessment from Jim Schwartz on Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas

Cornerbacks always talk about how crucial it is to put bad plays behind them.

Gotta be confident. Gotta have a short memory. Gotta forget about it when you get beat.

Every cornerback gets beat. The great ones bounce back quickly.

Fair to say Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones didn’t bounce back quickly Sunday.

I asked Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz Tuesday how Douglas and Jones have handled having a short memory and putting bad plays behind them, and his answer was surprisingly blunt.

Inconsistently,” he said. “There have been times that they have, but you know like a 3-3 team, we’re all striving for consistency and I think that those guys are striving for that.

Douglas has played fairly well much of the season, although he’s been inconsistent. Jones has struggled both on the field and to stay on the field.

On Sunday, both struggled through their lowest moments. Kirk Cousins victimized both young corners to the tune of four touchdowns and 333 yards in the Vikings’ 38-20 win at U.S. Bank Stadium.

This was the first time Schwartz has spoken this bluntly about Douglas and Jones and their confidence issues.

I don’t know that any of those were lack of confidence or [not] putting a play behind them, but whether it was a penalty, whether it was a physical error or a technique error or a communication error, another bad play ended up rolling up on them and that’s the life they live,” he said. “There were a lot of technique errors, there are a lot of miscommunications in every game with D-linemen and linebackers and everything else, whether you win the game like we did against the Jets or you lose a tough game like we did against the Vikings.

But generally those don’t get the attention that the cornerback position takes, and that’s part of the job description. That scrutiny. Kickers. Quarterbacks. Head coaches. It’s just what we deal with, and corners need to be able to put bad plays behind them, and we’ve been inconsistent doing that.

Jones is only 23 and Douglas is 24, and both come from big-time college programs and were high draft picks in 2017 — Jones in the second round and Douglas in the third. 

The Eagles clearly are hopeful both can go on to become high-level long-term starters.

But Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby could both be back for the Cowboys game on Sunday or, if not, soon after.

We all know both of them have allowed their fair share of big plays, but they’ve also started for a Super Bowl championship team, and nobody has ever questioned their confidence. They’ve both shown a knack for bouncing back.

Who’s going to wind up starting when everybody’s healthy? 

Too early to answer that. But if you’re a coach and you have two cornerbacks who have confidence issues and two who don’t? Who would you play?

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Making sense of Miles Sanders' bizarre rookie year

Making sense of Miles Sanders' bizarre rookie year

It’s been a strange six weeks for Miles Sanders, who’s started out his NFL career struggling in what he was really good at in college and flourishing in what he wasn’t good at.

Sanders is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry, which ranks 24th of 30 running backs with at least 50 carries.

But he’s caught 13 passes for 219 yards, the eighth-most receiving yards in the league by a running back. He’s got five catches of 30 yards or more — he had only one in college — and that’s more than every wide receiver in the NFL other than Will Fuller of the Texans and D.J. Chark of the Jaguars.

As Sanders' carries have decreased — 45 in the first four games, 12 in the last two — his impact in the receiving game has increased. 

Only David Johnson of the Cards has more receiving yards than Sanders over the last four games among running backs. He led the Eagles with 86 receiving yards in the loss to the Vikings Sunday, including a 32-yard TD and a 45-yard catch to set up another touchdown.

He already has the most receiving yards by an Eagles rookie running back since LeSean McCoy had 308 in 2009, and he’s more than halfway to the record — 405 yards by Herman Hunter in 1985.

It’s tricky trying to figure out Sanders’ season.

The rushing stats are certainly disappointing. But the receiving numbers are remarkable.

Overall, Sanders trails only Josh Jacobs, the Raiders’ first-round pick, in yards from scrimmage among rookies. Jacobs has 507, Sanders has 418.

Sanders was just 3-for-6 rushing against the Vikings, and after the game he told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Derrick Gunn he understands why his carries are down.

“I haven’t really shown too much in the run game and that’s obviously something that I”ve got to keep working on in this league, but I’m just happy I’m able to do something to help the team win,” he said. “They use me a lot in the passing game and I’m going to do whatever they tell me to do. Obviously I’ve got some stuff to work on to keep getting better. I’m a rookie and it’s not going to be easy, but I’ve got a lot of stuff to work on.”

The bottom line is that Sanders is contributing, and even though it’s not how anybody envisioned him contributing, he is leading the team in yards from scrimmage — more than Zach Ertz, more than Jordan Howard, more than any of the wide receivers. 

And he has the Eagles’ six-longest offensive plays over the last four games — five catches and a run.

And yards are yards. Moving the sticks is moving the sticks.

It’s way too early to tell whether Sanders’ biggest impact ultimately will be as a receiving back, but there are certainly a ton of running backs who’ve started out as productive runners and gradually developed the receiving side of their game.

Maybe Sanders will just be the opposite.

Consider this: Darren Sproles has seven 30-yard catches in 60 games as an Eagle. Brian Westbrook, the Eagles’ best receiving back ever, had five 30-yard catches in his first four years. Ricky Watters had three in three years here.

Sanders has five in the last four games.

“We like to see all the different matchups that we get each week, and the whole offensive staff is pretty confident I can match up with any linebacker in this league,” Sanders said. “We see mismatches and we try to take them.”

It hasn’t been an ideal first six weeks for Sanders. That 3.5 figure needs to come up. He had two fumbles against the Lions.

But the bottom line is he’s contributing in a big way right now, and that’s more than you can say about a lot of people on this team.

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Eagles release linebacker Zach Brown

Eagles release linebacker Zach Brown

Three days after linebacker Zach Brown called Kirk Cousins “the weakest part” of the Vikings’ offense and one day after Cousins threw four touchdowns against the Eagles, the Eagles parted ways with Brown.

The Eagles signed the one-time Pro Bowler this past offseason to a one-year, $1.4 million contract, but he played only six games and made virtually no impact. He was credited with 29 tackles and two pass breakups.

The move came after head coach Doug Pederson met with the media earlier in the day and without comment. Pederson is not scheduled to meet with the media again until Wednesday.

The Brown signing was a big deal when the Eagles signed him in May. He was expected to help offset the departure of Jordan Hicks, who signed with the Cards.

Brown’s $1 million base salary and $400,000 signing bonus were guaranteed.

The move doesn't affect the Eagles' salary cap since Brown was playing on a one-year deal and his base and signing bonus were both guaranteed.

How much of the move was related to Brown’s ridiculous trash-talking last week, which backfired in embarrassing fashion, and how much was related to his nondescript level of play isn’t clear.

But the timing of the move is very unusual for a starting player and indicates there were important factors in play that led to the move beyond his performance on the field.

It's reminiscent of the Eagles releasing Jason Babin 11 games into the nightmarish 2012 season one year after he had 18 sacks.

Whoever winds up signing Brown will be his fifth team in the last five years.

Brown played 271 snaps in the Eagles’ first six games, second most of any linebacker behind Bradham’s 352.

The Eagles, who released cornerback Ryan Lewis earlier in the day, do have two open roster spots. One is expected to go to Jalen Mills, and the other would likely be a linebacker.

Former CFL star Alex Singleton, who had such a strong training camp, is on the practice squad and would be an obvious choice to replace Brown on the active roster.

With Nigel Bradham dealing with an ankle injury he suffered Sunday in Minnesota, the only healthy linebackers currently on the roster are Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, undrafted rookie T.J. Edwards and recent acquisition Duke Riley. Edwards has played only 12 defensive snaps this year — 10 of them in garbage time Sunday — and Riley hasn't played any.

Brown, who turns 30 next week, is in his eighth season. He was originally a second-round pick of the Titans in 2012 and spent four years with Tennessee, one Pro Bowl season with the Bills and two years with the Redskins before joining the Eagles.

The only news Brown made during his stay in Philadelphia was when he ripped Cousins, his former teammate with the Redskins.

After Cousins and the Vikings embarrassed the Eagles on Sunday, Brown declined to talk about it or apologize for his remarks.

The Vikings' Twitter account didn't hesitate to mock Brown after the game, although it did slightly misquote him.

Not the legacy anybody expected when the Eagles signed Brown.

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