Eagles

CB Rasul Douglas learned a lesson during rough Week 4 vs. Chargers

CB Rasul Douglas learned a lesson during rough Week 4 vs. Chargers

It's inevitable. It happens to every cornerback. And if it hasn't happened yet, it's about to happen.

On Sunday, it happened to Rasul Douglas.

"I play the hardest position out there, I'm going to give up catches, I'm going to give up touchdowns," Douglas said. "That's normal. You can't show me any corner who doesn't do it. I'm just happy we got the win. 

"My teammates, man. No matter what happened, they all had faith in me and they just kept talking me through it ... because sometimes I tend to let plays keep going [when] the play's over with.

"Malcolm (Jenkins) was like, 'OK, that play already happened, let's get back.' When they come out there and see you on the island, they're going to test you."

And Philip Rivers, a 14-year veteran who ranks 11th in NFL history in passing yards, knows how to test a young cornerback.

Douglas, the Eagles' rookie third-round cornerback, gave up two huge plays Sunday: Tyrell Williams' 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter and a 50-yarder to Keenan Allen that set up a fourth-quarter Chargers touchdown.

They're the Chargers' two longest plays from scrimmage this year. The 75-yarder was the fourth-longest completion of Rivers' career.

On the 75-yard TD, Williams faked outside into Douglas, then made an inside move to gain separation near midfield and raced under a Rivers play-fake bomb, catching it at the 30 with Douglas 10 yards behind.

On the 50-yarder, Allen lost Douglas on a deep cross, Rivers got Allen the ball at the Eagles' 45-yard line and Douglas was so far out of the play that Allen was able to race all the way down to the 11 before Jenkins finally knocked him out of bounds.

The Eagles hung on to win 26-24 and improve to 3-1 despite allowing 347 passing yards.

"That's on me," Douglas said. "That's nobody else. Everything that happens on my side is because of me. If it's on my side, it's my fault. Always. We all hold each other accountable, and [Sunday] I had to hold myself accountable."

Douglas was inactive in the opener, but with Ronald Darby out indefinitely he's played a ton the last three weeks and started the last two. Douglas played at a high level against the Chiefs in his NFL debut and also against the Giants, when he recorded his first career interception, but Rivers went after him repeatedly Sunday at the StubHub Center.

"It's going to happen to every rookie at some point," Jenkins said. "Coming off a decent game last week, he got tested [Sunday]. Gave up a couple but kept fighting. That's the biggest thing. They want to see how you're going to handle that and I thought he stayed in the game, stayed locked in. He'll have some things he'll learn from it."

Douglas played 39 of 53 defensive snaps against the Chiefs and all 125 the last two weeks.

Things won't get any easier this weekend when Carson Palmer and the Cardinals come to town for a 1 p.m. Sunday game.

There are 13 quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 45,000 yards. In Eli Manning, Rivers and Palmer, the Eagles are facing three of them in a 15-day span.

"We just tell him, 'Man, keep your head up,'" Rodney McLeod said. "In this league as a cornerback, you're going to get scored on. It's going to happen. Every game isn't going to be perfect. It's how you bounce back, and it's how you respond. And I think [Douglas'] mentality is always great. 

"He didn't get down on himself. Not one bit. Line back up, challenge those guys. It's one game he's going to learn off, but I'm so proud of everything he did. He hung in there the entire game, and he's only going to continue to get better."

With second-round pick Sidney Jones out for perhaps the season with an Achilles injury from his pro day and Darby out since the opener, the Eagles are thin at cornerback. Safeties Jaylen Watkins and Corey Graham are also out, and McLeod missed the Giants game.

So it's not surprising that the Eagles are giving up a ton of passing yards.

Four weeks in, they rank 31st in the NFL in net passing yards allowed (285 per game), 23rd in TD passes allowed (7), 24th in opposing passing accuracy (66.0 percent) and tied for sixth in passing first downs allowed (51).

It's not all on Douglas, but Sunday was definitely a rough one for the 22-year-old from East Orange.

“He’s a competitor," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "He’s a lot like Jalen (Mills) in that way. They’re young guys, they’re competitive. You need to have a short memory to play corner. …

"We have to play more consistently at the corner position. It’s not just about a singular flash play, it’s about consistency over the course of the game, and those guys are still working their way through that.”

Meetings and film study won't be particularly pleasant for Douglas this week, but he said he couldn't wait to get started.

"I'm going to critique myself the hardest," he said. "I want to be the best. I'll critique myself, and my teammates will let me know what I could have done to put myself in better situations to make a play."

Eagles Mailbag: Trading Nick Foles; will Carson Wentz be ready?

Eagles Mailbag: Trading Nick Foles; will Carson Wentz be ready?

Training camp starts next week!

After a shorter-than-usual offseason, the Eagles will try to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champs in over a decade. 

We answered half of your questions yesterday (see story). The rest today: 

To me, this has always been the most likely scenario if Nick Foles were to ever get traded for a few reasons. The first is that by training camp, the Eagles will have a much better idea of whether or not Carson Wentz is ready to play. They can decide to either keep the insurance policy or trade it away. And you’re right, desperation will raise Foles’ price. 

I remember asking Howie Roseman about this exact possibility back in March. 

“I’d say that’s a possibility of anyone on our team,” Roseman said. “We’re going to do what’s in the best interest of the Eagles. I don’t want to make this about just Nick, but anything that can make us better at any time in the year, we have to look at.”

I think it would have to be a first-rounder. The Eagles already didn’t trade Foles for an early second-rounder this year and if Sam Bradford was worth a first-rounder, the Super Bowl MVP damn-well better be. Now, it’s rare to have a Teddy Bridgewater-type situation arise, but if it does, the Eagles will be waiting by their phones.  

(And side note: I don’t think Foles’ restructured contract changes anything.) 

My gut is that he’s ready for Week 1, but I don’t know. On one hand, it’s a really serious injury. On the other, I was incredibly impressed by how much he was able to do in the spring and how well he did it. 

The one thing I know is this: It won’t be a decision. Either Wentz is cleared and he plays or he isn’t cleared and he doesn’t. There can’t be any thought to resting him if he’s cleared to play. These games are too important and they’re going to need him in every one. 

The Rams improved their roster and should be one of the favorites to win the NFC. The Rams already had a quarterback and some key pieces around him and then they won the offseason. 

The brought in Ndamukong Suh, Brandin Cooks, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Now, putting a bunch of great players together isn’t enough — remember the Dream Team — but it’s a good start. And the Rams certainly added a lot of talent. 

This is a fair question after Nigel Bradham’s suspension, but the good news for the Eagles is that Bradham’s suspension is just one game. The Eagles should have had more depth but Paul Worrilow went down for the season in the spring on the same day they cut Mychal Kendricks. That leaves the Eagles with a depth problem. 

I think they’ll try to get a better sense of what depth they have during the first week or two of training camp. Let’s see what they have in Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, Corey Nelson, Joe Walker and LaRoy Reynolds. But I’d imagine the Eagles at least have a couple veteran names in mind. Remember, they did add Dannell Ellerbe late last season and I wouldn’t be surprised if they still have a short list of guys who would make sense. 

Hot dogs. Please don’t ask me if they’re a sandwich. 

More on the Eagles

Eagles Mailbag: Jay Ajayi's numbers; is Donnel Pumphrey a goner?

Eagles Mailbag: Jay Ajayi's numbers; is Donnel Pumphrey a goner?

It’s hard to believe but we’re less than two weeks away from the start of training camp. Doesn’t it seem like the Eagles won the Super Bowl, like, last week? 

Anyway, the entire team will report to the NovaCare Complex on July 25 and the first practice of the summer is the next day on July 26. The first preseason game is Aug. 9 against the Steelers. 

The season opener is Sept. 6 and it’ll be here before you know it. 

Let’s get to your questions: 

If Ajayi puts up 1,200 and eight touchdowns, the Eagles would be thrilled. The last Eagle to do that was LeSean McCoy in 2013. In fact, there have only been seven seasons in Eagles history where they’ve had a running back put up those numbers. Shady in 2013 and 2011, Ricky Watters in 1996 and 1995 and Wilbert Montgomery in 1981, 1979 and 1978. So it’s hard to do. Think about this … as good as the Eagles’ offense was in 2017, they had just nine rushing touchdowns as a team

So I don’t see Ajayi putting up 1,200 and eight, but I’m down with a 1,000-yard season. I think that’s possible. There’s still going to be a rotation in 2018, but without LeGarrette Blount taking carries, I think Ajayi will have enough opportunity. Remember, Blount led the team with 766 yards last year but lost his chance at a 1,000-yard season when Ajayi was traded to the Birds in the middle of the year.

I think with another year under his belt and without Blount taking carries now that he’s in Detroit, Ajayi will get over 1,000 in 2018. 

I’m not ready to completely write Pumphrey off, but I also haven’t seen anything that lets me know he can play in the NFL. There’s no sugarcoating it … Pumphrey was terrible last summer and if he’s that bad again this year, the Eagles might have to just give up on him. But if he shows some promise, things get trickier. Then they might have to find a roster spot for him. 

Either way, it’s hard for me to envision him really seeing time on the field this season. Is he really going to improve enough to take Ajayi, Darren Sproles or Corey Clement off the field? I just don’t see it. 

No, during a handful of spring practices, Sidney Jones hasn’t done enough to take a starting corner job from Jalen Mills or Ronald Darby. And unless one of those two really struggles, I think the Eagles will stick with them. But I expect Jones to prove himself plenty this season and to play a decent amount. I’m a complete believer in his ability and his recovery from injury. Before that Achilles injury, he could have been the first cornerback taken in the draft; he was that good. And even if he needs to shake off rust, that talent is going to show itself. He might not be a starter this year, but he’s the future of the secondary. 

I don’t remember receivers running free in the NFC Championship Game. The Vikings scored seven points in that one. As for the Super Bowl, yeah, that wasn’t great. The Patriots put up 613 yards and 500 of them came through the air. It was just the 16th game in NFL history where a team has put up 500 passing yards in a regular season or playoff game. So not great. 

But that was against the greatest quarterback in NFL history and the Eagles still won the game. I understand why you might rewatch that game and be concerned (actually it’s impressive you can watch that game and be concerned. They won the freaking Super Bowl), but that was an anomaly. They gave up 195 yards passing to the Falcons and 263 to the Vikings who trailed for most of the game. 

The Eagles bring back Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod and essentially add a first-round pick in Jones. I think they’ll be good. 

See: Snowball + Hell. 

More on the Eagles