Eagles' trio of young CBs doesn't look ready to give up 1st-team spots

Eagles' trio of young CBs doesn't look ready to give up 1st-team spots

Through the first seven practices of training camp, the Eagles’ starting cornerbacks haven’t changed. 

If they keep playing like this, maybe they shouldn’t. 

The young trio of Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox have had their roles shuffled at times in these first seven practices, but have been the three starters every day so far. Collectively, they have put together a very impressive first week of training camp. 

And I’m not convinced this trio isn’t the Eagles’ best bet. 

That’s saying something, especially considering that Jalen Mills (foot) and Ronald Darby (ACL) — the two starters in Super Bowl LII! — will return at some point from their respective injuries. 

“I love the way they’re playing, I love the way they’re competing,” Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor said. “I also love that they’re making plays on the ball. I think they’ve had a good amount of interceptions and have been sure-handed. That’s pretty cool.”

It just seems like every day these guys are making plays. 

I’ll start with Jones, who, through the first week of training camp, has been a star. He has picked off multiple passes and is showing off that first-round talent the Eagles thought they were getting when they took him with the 43rd pick after his Achilles injury in 2017. That first season was basically a redshirt year. In 2018, he began the season playing fairly well but was then hampered by a lingering hamstring injury. Now he looks healthy, he looks confident, he looks like a completely different player. 

Keeping up with Jones is Douglas, who seems to make plays every day too. While the other two have rotated roles inside and outside, Douglas hasn’t moved. With this current group, he’s been pretty much cemented into his starting role outside. In his first two years in the NFL, Douglas has actually started 12 games, but all as a replacement. Maybe it’s time for him to get one of those roles for good. 

And then there’s Maddox, who hasn’t had as splashy of a first week of training camp as the other two, but has been just as solid. As a rookie last season, he played three different positions and played all three well. Ultimately, his best spot might be as a nickel corner, but the Eagles never turn down versatility. 

The coolest part about this first week is that all three seem to be feeding off the collective group’s success. 

“It’s a great thing,” Jones said. “It’s always a great thing to see your brothers succeed. These are young guys. Obviously, Sul came in with me and Avonte came in last year. We just grow closer together, we grow a bond. We’re happy for each other when we make a play. It’s a team effort. It’s good to see everybody succeeding out here.”

It’s also worth mentioning that Douglas, Jones and Maddox are all still just 23 years old and were all drafted by the Eagles. We’re probably getting a little ahead of ourselves, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that these guys — or at least a couple of them — could be the Eagles’ starting cornerbacks for years to come. 

OK, back to this year. What happens when Darby and Mills are ready to return? That’s a fair question. Darby is much closer than Mills and still has a Week 1 return as his goal. The Eagles signed Darby to a one-year contract worth $6.5 million this offseason, so they probably didn’t pay him to sit him. Mills is still on the PUP list, but we know how much Jim Schwartz likes him. And we haven’t even mentioned Cre’Von LeBlanc, who was injured early in camp but played really well last season. 

“We can’t wait until those guys come back because there will be more competition in the room, more fun,” Maddox said. “And we want to see them on the field as much as we want to be on the field.”

After all the injuries at corner last season, the Eagles are happy to have depth heading into 2019. But we still have over a month to go before the season opener and we’re not sure which three guys will be on the field against Washington. 

The trio I’ve watched for the last week might not be a bad option. 

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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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