No matter how he played on Sunday, seeing Sidney Jones back on the field had to be great for the Eagles.
The second-round pick got his first game action against the Cowboys on Sunday after a lengthy recovery process from a torn Achilles. There was bound to be some rust after not playing a game in a full calendar year and that was evident. But Jones did plenty of good things too.
"Little bit of rust today," Jones said on Sunday night. "First game so there's going to be a little bit of rust as expected. But I feel like I did pretty good."
After the game Malcolm Jenkins made a pretty good point: After not playing for an entire year, expectations for Jones in the game were pretty low.
It was an up-and-down NFL debut for Jones. He played 29 defensive snaps and would have played more had his back and quad not started cramping. We're not going to look at all 29 plays, but here are a few from his debut:
This was Jones' fifth defensive snap of the game and he's still looking for his first real contact. Jones (circled in red) has off coverage at the top of the screen. The Cowboys are backed up on 2nd-and-9, so they're going to try to pick up some quick yards with a wide receiver screen to Ryan Switzer (circled in green)
At the point of the catch, things are setting up nicely for the Cowboys. They have a hat for a hat on the right side of the field and some room to work with.
Switzer tries to cut it back inside, but Jones doesn't give up on the play. He gets off his block and cuts back inside too, eventually making his first NFL tackle.
This next play comes just a few snaps later. It's 1st-and-15 after a penalty. Jones is on the top of your screen. This play is a handoff to Ezekiel Elliott, who will burn Jones and the Eagles' defense for a 16-yard gain.
Jones' recognition was good. He sees that Elliott has the handoff, so he's going to come up and try to make a play. Jim Schwartz obviously wants his corners to cover, but their tackling ability is important to him too. Earlier in the game, Jones showed he can.
This is where the play went wrong. Jones came inside too hard and Elliott is about to show his speed to the outside. Jones was simply trying to make a play but lost contain and left a lot of green grass outside the numbers.
Here's the sluggo route where Terrence Williams just beat the rookie. Bottom of your screen.
Jones bites hard on the slant and Williams is able to get over top of him. These routes have given Eagles corners fits all year, so Jones is just fitting in. After the game, he just said he got beat but was grateful the safety over the top was able to get there.
The pass falls incomplete.
Here's a chance to see Jones in the slot. This was one of his most impressive snaps of the day. Rasul Douglas and Patrick Robinson are both outside, which leaves Jones on Ryan Switzer inside.
It's hard to see in the still image, but this is at the exact moment after Switzer pulled a little stutter move. Jones didn't bite even a little bit. He just calmly stayed with the slot guy and took him out of the play. Eventually, Dak Prescott forced an incompletion toward Dez Bryant.
OK, so this last play is a little tough to illustrate in still images. It was a play where Prescott eventually scrambled for a 10-yard gain and it didn't even count because two offensive linemen were holding. He couldn't throw it because no one was open.
Geoff Swaim is the Cowboys' third-string tight end (at the bottom of the screen), so it's not exactly like Jones was covering Odell Beckham for 10 seconds, but he doesn't give the tight end an inch and he never gives up on the play. It was impressive.
Sure, there's some rust. And maybe Jones won't have a role in these playoffs. But it's pretty clear how talented he is and how good he can be. All of a sudden, the Eagles have a ton of depth at corner, but they'll need to find a place for Jones to play.