Eagles

How injured Eagles are coping with missing Super Bowl

How injured Eagles are coping with missing Super Bowl

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Every night before Chris Maragos falls asleep, he lies in his bed and thinks about running onto the football field with his teammates in Super Bowl LII. 

He won't get to do that on Sunday. 

His season as a player ended way back on Oct. 12, when he suffered a knee injury in Carolina. But he's continued to be a part of the team. He's continued to be a leader and a captain. 

And he's not the only one. 

"Honestly, I'd like to say that it's not pretty difficult, but I'd be lying if I said it was," Maragos said. "Obviously, it's disappointing not playing, but when I came to this organization I wanted to do anything I could to help this team win. Right now, my role is to help these guys from a mentorship role, from an experience role. That's my way of contributing. 

"I think as you come in and you have special seasons like this, everyone has to lay aside their pride, everyone has to lay aside their own goals and aspirations for the team."

In addition to Maragos, the Eagles have also lost Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, Caleb Sturgis, and, of course, Carson Wentz. Every single one of those injured players is in Minnesota for Super Bowl week and they'll be watching as their teammates try to take down the Patriots on Sunday. 

They'll be cheering, they'll be offering advice, they'll be doing the same type of supportive things they've been doing all season. But this is the big game and they won't get to play. 

What will it be like to watch the Super Bowl? 

"Tough, but amazing," Hicks said. "These guys deserve everything. They have worked as hard as any team and are as close as any team I've seen. I'm excited, man. I know they're prepared. They're going to go out there, play loose and play great."

Pretty much every key injured player said the same thing this week. Of course it's going to hurt like hell to miss out on playing in what would have been one of the biggest games of their lives. That's natural. 

"As humans, we all want to be the competitors that we are and be out there on the field," Wentz said. "Every time the offense comes on the field on Sunday, it's tough. It hits me a little bit. But then I'm in it. I love these guys and I'm a part of this team as much as anybody else. I get involved in the game and that kind of all goes away. Without a doubt, as humans, it just feels ... it's tough. It's tough to not be out there, but I love watching these guys and I couldn't be happier." 

All of the injured players have been incredibly selfless all season. They've helped their teammates with whatever they possibly could. They're in film rooms, they're on the phone offering advice, sometimes they watch practice. 

They've been around for the whole ride, even when they weren't able to play anymore. 

"We all get together," Peters said. "Wentz goes with the quarterbacks and Hicks has the linebackers and we just support everybody. Maragos got the special teams. Sproles got the running backs. And I take care of the offensive line. We have support with every group."

The injured players said it's been helpful to have other key guys in the same position. They're able to commiserate and lean on each other when the tougher times come. 

Hicks and Maragos have talked about it before when they have lunch together in the NovaCare Complex while everyone else is off working out and practicing. It would be a lot harder if they weren't together. 

And the season would be a lot harder on everyone if these key leaders didn't stay involved. Lucky for the Eagles, they did.  

"It's been difficult all year," Hicks said. "Can't sugarcoat it. It's been tough. But you roll with it and you learn from it and you try to find different ways to help. Your role changes and it is what it is. Right now my role is having a different perspective and sharing it. That's part of the leadership role. You go down but you're still a leader."

Howie Roseman fails to pull trigger on trade for Jalen Ramsey, who reportedly goes to Rams

Howie Roseman fails to pull trigger on trade for Jalen Ramsey, who reportedly goes to Rams

The Eagles failed to land one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. 

Instead, Jalen Ramsey has been traded to the Rams, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The price to get him was reportedly first-round picks in 2020 and 2021 as well as a fourth-rounder in 2021. 

Would you have done that?

That’s a lot to give up, but Ramsey really is that good. He’s widely considered one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and is still just 24 years old. Ramsey was the fifth overall pick in 2016. He’s been a Pro Bowler in each of the last two years and was an All-Pro in 2017. 

And now Ramsey is out of the AFC and on an NFC contender. So this is bad for the Eagles in two ways. 

Ramsey is in the final year of his contract this season and is on a fifth-year option in 2020, so he’ll be looking for a big deal soon. But he’s worth it. 

Back on Sept. 16, Ramsey and his agent requested to be traded from Jacksonville, the team that drafted him, after a sideline blowup with head coach Doug Marrone. Since then, the Eagles had clearly been in the mix. 

But Howie Roseman didn’t pull the trigger. There are still a couple weeks left until the trade deadline and there are other options, but opportunities to get shutdown corners who are just 24 don’t come around often. 

Getting Ramsey would have filled an immediate need for the Eagles, who haven’t had a true shutdown cornerback in years. They’ve tried to get by for the last couple years with a hodgepodge group, and they’ll have to continue. At least they do have some youth at corner, but they need some of these young players to play better. This news about Ramsey comes just a couple days after we all watched Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones get toasted against the Vikings.  

The Eagles might get Jalen Mills and perhaps Ronald Darby back this week and that will help, but they won’t help nearly as much as Ramsey would have. 

Ramsey could have been the first Eagles cornerback to make a Pro Bowl since Asante Samuel back in 2010. Yeah, it’s been a long time. 

Ramsey certainly has a loud personality and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. That is always part of what the Eagles look at when they inquire about potentially adding a player. Perhaps that played a role in not getting him. 

Since entering the league in 2016, Ramsey has nine interceptions and 45 pass breakups. During that span, Rodney McLeod has the Eagles’ lead in INTs with seven and Mills leads the Eagles in pass breakups with 30. So Ramsey would have immediately helped at a position where the Eagles desperately need help. Oh well.  

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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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