Eagles

Eagles

Call Sidney Jones the closer.

“Another one,” Jalen Mills said. “Another one.”

Yup, another one.

For the second time in two weeks, the former second-round pick, once thought to be one of the top cornerbacks in his 2017 draft class, has come off the bench to make the biggest play in crucial moments of season-extending wins.

This time, Jones batted down a fourth-down pass in the end zone from Dak Prescott to Michael Gallup with just 1:21 left in the fourth quarter. Jones, who came into the game earlier in the drive, played it perfectly and knocked the ball away. That was the last play for the Eagles’ defense in the 17-9 win.

Just think about how wild Jones’ career and season have been. Heck, three weeks ago, he was a healthy scratch against the Dolphins. And in two of the three wins since then, he’s made huge plays in the fourth quarter.  

“It’s pretty crazy to think about,” Jones said.

A couple weeks ago, Jones made a similar play against Eli Manning and the Giants, knocking down a third-down pass late in the fourth quarter of that overtime win. He played just one snap in that game and after that win, Jones was one of several players in the postgame locker room to get a special shoutout from Doug Pederson.

Watching that video, it was impossible to not be happy for Jones after all he’s been through.

But no one is more thrilled about his success than his teammates.

 

Their support has been awesome, man,” Jones said. “They know it’s been rough. They know it’s been a little disappointing for myself and everybody else to be honest. It’s just life. It’s adversity. It’s going to come at different times for everybody. Mine just happens to be in this early process of my career. Just battling. You get hit with adversity at the beginning, you can’t fold. You just gotta keep bouncing back.

Back in 2017, Jones was considered to be one of the best cornerbacks in the draft but fell to the Eagles at No. 43 thanks to a torn Achilles. He rehabbed and basically had a redshirt season. But in 2018 and earlier this season, he was hampered by nagging hamstring injuries.

After an encouraging training camp, Jones started four games earlier this year and didn’t play well.

But he claims he never had a moment of self-doubt.

“At the end of the day, I talked to you guys before and it’s always been a thing of confidence or how do you respond, how do you handle things?” Jones said.

“I just come to work every day grinding, head down, grinding. No matter what everybody else is saying. They can say this, they can say that. I’ve had unfortunate injuries and that’s what, I think, has been holding me back. I came into this year playing pretty strong, playing good … but injury. Once I get that consistency, I know I can dominate.”

Jones said it’s been helpful to have teammates like Brandon Graham and Nelson Agholor, who were able to find success in the NFL after early-career disappointments.

Graham for years now has been an example to any young player who gets off to a rough start.

It can be a little tough to come into a game cold and make a play, but that’s Jones’ role right now. He accepts it, even though he admitted it “was frustrating at first” because, as a competitor, he wants to play.

To be clear, these big clutch plays don’t necessarily mean Jones is turning a corner. It doesn’t mean he’ll finally live up to his draft status or ever become a Pro Bowl caliber player.

But it’s still good to see. And it means the next time defensive backs coach Cory Undlin yells “Sid!” on the sideline, we all know Jones will be ready to close again.

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