Eagles' Rasul Douglas should get real shot at a starting job

Eagles' Rasul Douglas should get real shot at a starting job

Rasul Douglas knows which photo I’m talking about as soon as I bring it up. At this point, it seems like everyone knows about the photo. 

The Eagles’ cornerback posted it to his Instagram story about week ago. 

In it, he shows his body transformation over a two-month span. It’s not that the before photos show an out-of-shape guy; they don’t. That’s the body that has powered Douglas to 12 starts and five interceptions in his first two NFL seasons. 

It’s that the after photos show him completely cut up. His abs have abs. His back is a mountain range of muscle. 

A lot of work went into that body transformation. 

“A lot,” Douglas said on Tuesday, before playing it cool. “Just offseason training, eating good for the first time. Just lost some weight.”

It shows a dedication to his craft. It shows that he isn’t resting on the somewhat modest level of success he’s had during his first two years in the NFL. He wants to keep getting better and he hasn’t yet reached his ceiling. 

The Eagles have a surplus of talented cornerbacks right now and no one really knows how this will all shake out when games start in September. But I think one thing should be clear: 

Douglas has earned a legitimate shot to win a starting job in 2019. 

“I’m excited to compete,” Douglas said. “That’s what we do. It doesn’t matter who the guy is, we just want to compete.” 

Before OTAs, Douglas spent the last couple months working out in Florida, while completely overhauling his diet. He cut out fatty foods and and ate better all the time. A typical meal these days would be a chicken breast, some rice and asparagus. 

You’ll likely remember Douglas’ backstory. When he was playing football at Nassau Community College, he struggled so much financially that he would order dollar-menu items from McDonald’s for lunch and save half for dinner. It got him through tough times, but that’s no way to treat a high-powered machine playing NFL football. This offseason, he’s become increasingly serious about treating his body right.

“I think it’s like the first time I actually stuck to it for a long period of time,” Douglas said.  

After being taken in the third round in 2017, Douglas has played quite a bit for the Eagles in his first two seasons and every time they’ve called on him, he’s performed well. In 2017, he started five games. In 2018, he started seven. 

• Overall, Douglas has played 30 games with 12 starts 

• He has five interceptions in his first two seasons. He led the Eagles with three in 2018 

• Just five members of the 2017 draft class have more interceptions 

• Douglas has more interceptions than 22 of the 27 defensive backs drafted before him in 2017, including five first-rounders

His game action has come in much different ways. In 2017, he was a place-holder for Ronald Darby as Darby recovered from a dislocated ankle. He knew his starting job wasn’t going to last forever. In 2018, after a “low-key frustrating” beginning of the season, Douglas was a starter for the second half of the year thanks to injuries to Darby and Jalen Mills. His first start didn’t come until Nov. 11; he had played just 93 defensive snaps before then, including six games with three or fewer snaps. 

This spring, as Darby and Mills are still recovering, Douglas has been working as a starter during OTAs. We’ll have to see what happens when those guys come back, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz mentioned Douglas by name when asked for players who have impressed him so far. 

“Over the last couple years, even though he wasn't a starter,” Schwartz said, “he probably has a year of starting experience under his belt and you're starting to see that when he goes out.”

Douglas agreed that when other people are noticing all the hard work he’s put in, it validates what he’s been doing. 

When I ask him if he thinks he’s done enough to warrant consideration for a starting job, he cuts me off after the word “enough.” He emphatically states he hasn’t done enough overall. 

As far as the starting gig? 

“Who knows? I’m not in their (coaches') head,” Douglas said. “All I can control is what I can control.”

It seems like he’s certainly doing that. 

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One company offering Super Bowl ticket loans at 30% interest (P.S. -- dont do this)

One company offering Super Bowl ticket loans at 30% interest (P.S. -- dont do this)

It’s “easier than ever” to attend the Super Bowl, according to a Stub Hub press release.

It may also be easier than ever to go into debt doing it.

StubHub this week announced a program that allows fans to finance ticket purchases — including Super Bowl tickets — and pay for them over a period of 3, 6 or 12 months.

All at the bargain-basement price of up to 30 percent interest.

Stub Hub, in conjunction with financial firm Affirm, introduced a program this week that allows consumers to use Stub Hub to purchase tickets and during the check-out process elect to finance the purchase through Affirm. 

Although ticket buyers can use Affirm for most Stub Hub purchase, the company is rolling out this program as a way to encourage fans who can’t afford Super Bowl tickets to buy them at potentially exorbitant interest rates.

According to financial web site The Balance, the average credit card interest rate as of December was 21.26 percent.

“Just in time for the Super Bowl, consumers can purchase event tickets now and pay over time,” reads a joint press release from Affirm and Stub Hub. 

The StubHub-Affirm joint press release makes it sound like paying 30 percent interest is a financially sound idea: “With U.S. credit card debt at an all-time high and many consumers looking to kick off the new year with better financial habits, they’re demanding more transparent financial products that align with their interests.”

According to a CBS News story that examined the Stub Hub program, two lower-level end-zone tickets selling on Stub Hub for $15,760 on a 12-month, 30-percent loan would cost the buyer an additional $2,676 in interest.

The story also said that unlike credit cards, there’s no financial benefit for consumers to pay this sort of loan off early. 

Ted Rossman of creditcards.com appeared on CBS MoneyWatch and warned consumers against using this sort of financial plan to pay for tickets makes no financial sense.

"It is a huge risk to make any type of discretionary purchase with something that carries a rate of 10 percent to 30 percent,” Rossman said on the show, according to the CBS News story. "It's risky to buy it now and think you are going to pay it later."

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After egregious All-Pro snub, Brandon Brooks named top OL in NFL

After egregious All-Pro snub, Brandon Brooks named top OL in NFL

Earlier this month, Jason Kelce called Brandon Brooks “the best offensive lineman in the NFL.” 

Turns out, ProFootballFocus agrees.

On Thursday, PFF named Brooks the winner of its annual Bruce Matthews Award, given to the best offensive lineman in the NFL. The Eagles were also named the best overall offensive line in the league. 

It’s an honor Brooks deserves after he was egregiously snubbed by voters for the Associated Press All-Pro team earlier this month. It was an absolute joke that Brooks wasn’t even named to the second team. No disrespect to Zack Martin or Marshal Yanda but Brooks was better than both of them this year. 

There’s no doubt that Brooks is the best right guard in the NFL. PFF thinks he’s the best overall OL in the league too. 

Here’s what they said about him:

“Brooks has been a perennially underrated player throughout his NFL career, whether it was playing in Houston or Philadelphia. Aside from a rookie season in which he played just 173 snaps, he has earned overall PFF grades of at least 74.0 every season since. Four of those six seasons before this one saw him top 80.0 overall, but this year he took his game to another level, earning an overall grade of 92.9. For years we have been making the case that he deserves Pro Bowl, and then All-Pro, recognition, and now he deserves to be acknowledged as the best offensive linemen in the game.”

While opinions are split on ProFootballFocus, their evaluations for offensive linemen are incredibly valuable. PFF has been able to give stats to a position that was previously stat-less. No, they don’t necessarily know assignments or the exact designs of plays, but they grade each and every play and that detailed analysis can take some of the human element out of giving these awards. 

When the All-Pro voters made their selections, they picked two guys at right guard in Martin and Yanda who have a longer history of playing at an elite level. PFF doesn’t care about that. They did their game-by-game, play-by-play evaluations and came to the conclusion that no other offensive lineman was better than Brooks this season. 

According to PFF, Brooks gave up just one sack and and 19 pressures on 647 pass snaps. That’s pretty impressive. But it’s even more impressive that Brooks was that dominant eight months after suffering a torn Achilles. 

For the start of next season, Brooks will be coming off a shoulder surgery, but there’s no doubt he should be able to return to his dominant form in 2020. 

The Eagles know what they have in Brooks. They signed the three-time Pro Bowler to a four-year extension during the season that made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL and will keep him in Philadelphia through 2024.

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