Eagles

Malcolm Jenkins: I'd hold anthem demonstration even if team's owner forbid it

Malcolm Jenkins: I'd hold anthem demonstration even if team's owner forbid it

The NFL's never-ending national anthem saga continued Sunday when vice president Mike Pence left the Colts game early after being upset by the sight of players protesting during the anthem.

Later on Sunday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones turned heads even more by saying that players who disrespect the flag "will not play."

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, through word and deed, has been making a difference both locally and nationally trying to generate change and improve race relations. He had a strong reaction Monday to Jones' comments, expressing gratitude that Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie hasn't taken such a stance.

"Well, my first reaction is that I'm grateful that Jeffrey Lurie not only did not express those kinds of feelings but has proactively been in the community and has reached out to try and hear about the issues that we are actually demonstrating to draw attention to," Jenkins told NBC Sports Philadelphia's Derrick Gunn.

"If [Lurie] were to put out such a statement I'd continue my demonstration because my demonstration is in no way disrespectful to our flag, our country or our service members. Neither is anybody in the league who is kneeling. I think we've made that very clear that what we are demonstrating about has nothing to do with the flag but everything to do with social injustice, racial inequality and the things that, you know, Jerry Jones and other owners who are making statements have yet to address.

"And so I'd love to hear their takes on that part of the conversation, what these players are trying to draw attention to. Their thoughts on, you know, police brutality and racial inequality, education gap, the economical gap in these communities that they make money in. And I'd love to hear that part of the conversation so that it's not so argumentative, so that it's not isolating the players who are trying to do the right thing with the platform that they have."

Jones' comments made clear that he wants his players to "stand up for the flag," not kneel, during the national anthem. Jenkins' demonstration has never included kneeling. Since last season, Jenkins and several Eagles teammates have stood and raised their fists during the anthem.

Still, Jenkins reiterated that even if his team's owner said what Jones said Sunday, he wouldn't change his way of demonstrating.

"I would still do it," Jenkins said. "I mean, I've been that committed to it because that decision is not mine. I made the decision a year ago that I was going to use my platform in a way to create positive change both on the field and off the field and having someone tell me I couldn't do that simply because, you know, a president or your bottom line is getting ready to be affected, that wouldn't deter me."

When Eagles look in mirror, they won’t like what they see

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USA Today Images

When Eagles look in mirror, they won’t like what they see

After the Eagles’ heartbreaking 27-20 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, Doug Pederson said his message to the team was that they all need to look into the mirror. 

When they do that, they’re going to see a bad football team staring back at them. 

They’re going to see a football team that set high expectations and hasn’t come close to meeting them. 

They’re going to see a football team that doesn’t even deserve to be compared to the team that won a Super Bowl nine months ago. 

Because for the first half of this season, it feels like we’ve all been waiting for a good team to turn it on. We’ve all been waiting for the Eagles to snap out of this funk and return to the form they showed last year as they went on their Super Bowl run. But after nine games, sometimes you just are what your record says you are. And the Eagles are a bad team. 

“Are we doing enough? Are we giving enough?” 

That’s what Pederson wants everyone on the team to ask themselves. There’s not an answer that makes you feel good. Either everyone is giving enough and the team is still floundering. Or there’s not enough effort, which might be worse. 

After several losses this season, I’ve sensed some anger in the Eagles’ locker room. They should be angry. They’ve let several games slip through their fingertips this season, games they should have won. 

It felt different after Sunday’s loss. 

The locker room was as dejected as I have seen it in quite a while. The players know the team needs to play better, but there were plenty more questions than answers. A lot of wide-eyed, searching stares. 

Instead of a bunch of guys saying, “We’re going to fix this,” there was more a vibe of, “We need to fix this.” I’m starting to wonder if they’re confident they’ll be able to. If there’s a lack of confidence, it would be understandable. 

Pederson went back to the well with his “look into the mirror” speech. It’s been his rallying cry before, but it doesn’t seem to be working. On Monday, he was asked if it’s time to change that message: 

“I think that's something I'd have to consider. Because I don't know any other way to do it but to look internally: Am I giving enough as a head football coach? Am I giving enough to the team? Am I giving up? Am I sacrificing enough in my game planning and my studies during the week? So, I have to look at myself. And that's what I asked the players to do. They've got to look and see, are they getting extra conditioning? Are they getting extra film study during the week? Are they getting rest at night? All those things are part of wins and losses. So that's something that will never change.”

Just like everyone else, it seems like Pederson has a lot of questions and not a lot of answers. Time is running out. 

And in a few months, it seems likely that when the Eagles look in the mirror, all they’ll see is a team that wasted a season.

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Final 7 games will show Eagles what they have in Rasul Douglas

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Final 7 games will show Eagles what they have in Rasul Douglas

As the Eagles limped their way to a 4-5 record with a 27-20 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday night, Ronald Darby, quite literally, limped his way out of the stadium. 

Darby tore his right ACL and his season is over. Just like that, a decimated secondary took another devastating blow. The Eagles are going to miss Darby down the stretch as they try to claw their way back into the playoff picture. Without him, Rasul Douglas will once again take over as a starter. 

We’re about to learn a lot about the former third-round draft pick over the next seven games.

Douglas has just one thing he wants to prove. 

“That I’m a ballplayer,” he said. “That’s really it. I don’t really care about anything else.”

That mission didn’t get off to a great start Sunday night. With Jalen Mills’ foot injury, Douglas started the Cowboys game along with Darby and he didn’t play very well. That might be an understatement. 

Douglas assessed his play as “OK” and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Douglas played like “a 27-20 loss,” just like everyone else who was on the field as the Eagles lost their third straight home game. 

“He’s got a lot of pride, he’s got a lot of confidence,” Schwartz said. “He’ll bounce back from it.” 

But perhaps Douglas showed us why the Eagles haven’t seemed to be in much of a hurry to get him on the field this season. For weeks, there had been a growing contingent of Eagles fans calling for Douglas to get more playing time. That’s about to happen for these last seven games and, if nothing else, we should get a sense of Douglas’ ability and his ceiling. 

A third-round pick out of West Virginia last year, Douglas actually played a big role early in the 2017 season but was phased out once Darby returned from an ankle injury he suffered in the opener. Douglas wasn’t great last season, but he at least showed some promise, intercepting two passes after starting just five games. This year, he had a pick in the season opener this year despite playing just a couple snaps but hadn’t had a big role since then … until now. 

While Douglas feels for Darby, the injury will give him the opportunity he has been waiting for all season. Just last week, before his first start of the season, he called the season “low-key frustrating.” That didn’t seem to matter as much after another loss. 

“I just want to win,” Douglas said Tuesday. “I honestly don’t care about anything else. Like, if I played 10 snaps per game and we win, I’m happy. I can go home happy knowing I helped in practice or scout team or did my job when I got in for those 10 plays. I think that’s the only thing that matters to anybody in this locker room.”

There will be plenty of challenges for Douglas the rest of the way. He’ll face Drew Brees and Michael Thomas this week. Then there’s Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks and Amari Cooper again.

“Perfect opportunity,” Douglas said. 

If the Eagles are going to make the playoffs, they’re going to do it with a secondary that has been banged up. Even when Sidney Jones and Jalen Mills return, the Eagles are already down Darby and Rodney McLeod for the season. They’re counting on backups like Douglas, among others, to perform. 

I asked Douglas how much pride is involved when backups are thrust into action. 

“You ain’t got no choice,” Douglas said. “You got everybody counting on you. You gotta come through for everyone. It’s like, you battle with us through OTAs and camp, you know what guys put in it and you don’t want to let them down. When you let your teammates down, it’s worse than letting yourself down.”

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