Eagles

NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles' cornerbacks

NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles' cornerbacks

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp continue the 2019 edition of Stay or Go, trying to figure out the future of the Eagles. 

Today, we’ll look at cornerbacks. 

Jalen Mills

Roob: Mills is in the unusual spot of having to fight for a job a year after being a starter on a Super Bowl team. There are several reasonable scenarios where Mills won’t get his starting job back. Even if Maddox moves to safety, it’s possible to imagine Jones and Douglas outside and LeBlanc in the slot. But Mills is a tough, physical, experienced corner on a rookie seventh-round contract (cheap). At worst he’ll be a backup.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: That foot injury happened before the bye week and it apparently kept getting worse. As much as fans ripped Mills earlier in the season, he’s a Jim Schwartz favorite. It’s amazing to think he’s entering the fourth year of his rookie contract in 2019. As a seventh-round pick, he’s still making peanuts. Even if he loses his starting job, which I don’t see, he’s back. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Fans love to get on Mills’ case, but if you look around the league, he really isn’t bad. The Eagles have certainly shown a bunch of confidence in the guy. Now, I think Mills’ starting job is up for grabs after an injury-shortened season opened the door to competition, and if he’s the odd man out, an August trade might make sense with free agency looming. Until then at least, he’ll be in the mix.

Verdict: Stays

Ronald Darby

Roob: There’s no denying Darby’s skill. He’s only 25 and is going to have a fine career. But he’s also played only 17 games the last two years, and I don’t see the Eagles getting into a bidding war over an oft-injured free agent corner when they have an abundance of talented corners under contract. If Darby’s price keeps falling, go for it. Otherwise, I don’t see it happening.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Darby is one of the injured Eagles coming off an injury who it would make sense to re-sign. So if he doesn’t get a deal elsewhere and wants to come back, by all means if it’s cheap enough. But will the other young corners on the roster and with the chance the Eagles add a draft pick, I’m not confident he’ll be back. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: I never got the sense Darby’s departure was automatic. Yet, similar to Mills, his injury created opportunities for others to shine. The difference? Darby is a free agent. The Eagles no longer appear to need him, especially coming off of a torn ACL. Only 25 with a pretty good body of work, he should fetch some decent coin on a prove-it deal somewhere else.

Verdict: Goes

Sidney Jones

Roob: I still don’t know what the Eagles have in Jones, who we just haven’t seen healthy enough for long enough to get an idea what kind of player he is. My thing about Sidney is he’s 22 years old, he was considered a first-round prospect this time two years ago and it’s way too early to dismiss him. He’s going to be one of the most scrutinized guys in camp next summer. Excited to see what he can do.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: I wrote about it during the season, but it still holds true. Anyone who is calling Jones a bust seriously needs to pump the brakes. He was a second-round pick for a reason and missed his rookie season with that Achilles tear. Then he had a hamstring injury. He’s been hurt for what was really his rookie season. And I thought he actually played well in the nickel spot early in the year. Give the kid a chance. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: People need to realize this was essentially Jones’ rookie season. He played one game in 2017 after rehabbing all year from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Expectations are high, but the kid doesn’t need to be on a Hall of Fame trajectory after 10 games. Although the continuous stream of injuries is becoming concerning, Jones is turning 22. His critics should chill.

Verdict: Stays

Cre’Von LeBlanc

Roob: What a remarkable story. Went from the scrap heap to the practice squad to playing at such a high level in the by the end of the season that Pro Football Focus had him as the highest-rated corner in the entire postseason. LeBlanc really took ownership of the slot for the Eagles, and I don’t see him giving it up any time soon.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: LeBlanc was a revelation during the 2018 season. He was claimed off waivers from the Bears and played so well down the stretch, I think the nickel corner job ought to be his to lose. He’s making $720,000 for 2019, which is a huge bargain. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Not sure the last time we’ve seen a player come from total obscurity and absolutely lock down a job in such a short amount of time. LeBlanc was plucked off waivers in November, and by the end of the season, there was pretty much no question he’s going to be the slot corner in 2019.

Verdict: Stays

Avonte Maddox

Roob: Like Douglas and LeBlanc, Maddox just kept getting better and better each week. He had a tough postseason, but you could definitely see the ability wherever he played — outside corner, slot, safety. For a 22-year-old fourth-round rookie, his confidence and production were remarkable. There’s a spot for him somewhere next year. The only question is where.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: He started to get picked on a little in the playoffs, but Maddox had a tremendous rookie season. He played well at three positions as a fourth-round pick and the Eagles desperately needed him. He’s back for Year 2 in 2019. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Guessing the Maddox hype train lost some steam after hitting a rough patch down the stretch. Still, strong rookie season. A fourth-round pick once imagined as a pure slot guy, Maddox performed well on the outside, as well as at safety where he might wind up carving out a niche next year in a surprisingly crowded secondary.

Verdict: Stays

Rasul Douglas

Roob: If you asked me two months ago I would have thought Douglas didn’t fit into the Eagles’ plans. He was struggling, he couldn’t get on the field and you really wondered if the Eagles had wasted a third-round pick. But Douglas blossomed the second half of the season and looking at it now, I’ve got him penciled in as one of my outside starters next year.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: When the Eagles’ secondary was in disarray, it was Douglas who stepped in and provided some stability. Heading into Year 3, he’s earned the right to battle for a starting cornerback job in 2019. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Tired of hearing about Douglas moving to safety. For one, I’m not sure it’s a fit. More importantly, he’s a decent corner. Douglas looked horrendous when he was first inserted into the lineup last season, but by the end, he was the Eagles’ most reliable cover man outside the numbers. Finished the regular season with a team-high three interceptions and was fourth with 57 tackles — he only started seven games!

Verdict: Stays

Josh Hawkins

Roob: Hawkins was put in a very tough position in the playoff game against the Saints, forced to play significant snaps just a month after joining the Eagles’ practice squad and a week after being activated. Drew Brees went right after him, and the results weren’t pretty. I’d still expect the Eagles to give Hawkins a look during the summer. We’ve seen so many other young corners come so far under Cory Undlin Hawkins will get every chance to do the same. But he’s facing an uphill battle.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I almost felt bad for Hawkins in the divisional round game. He got thrown out there and didn’t really have a chance. He should be back in camp, but I think it’s going to be tough for him to make the roster. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Not even looking at Hawkins on his own merit, the Eagles are actually deep at cornerback. If somebody is cracking this group, it’s probably not the guy who showed up in December and, when pressed into action against the Saints, was completely out of his depth.

Verdict: Goes 

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Navy pulls off iconic Philly Special at the Linc

Navy pulls off iconic Philly Special at the Linc

Let's just say, the Navy Midshipmen certainly know how to win over a crowd in Philadelphia.

On Saturday during the 120th Army-Navy game, a familiar play call was seen.

You might have seen it before. There's a statue immortalizing it in front of the Linc. It happened during Super Bowl LII. Anything come to mind?

That's right. The Philly Special.

What an awesome moment in the middle of one of the best days in sports. Check it out:


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A myth dispelled, thoughts on the Carson Sucks crowd and much more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!

A myth dispelled, thoughts on the Carson Sucks crowd and much more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!

Another myth dispelled, thoughts on the Carson Sucks crowd, an observation about Duce Staley and lots more in this weekend's edition of Roob's Random Eagles Observations! 

1. Dwayne Haskins may develop into a big-time NFL quarterback. He certainly has the arm. But right now he’s a 22-year-old rookie with 3 TDs and 7 INTs in seven career games and a miserable 61.2 passer rating — worst among current starter QBs. This is a quarterback the Eagles need to dominate. Pressure him. Mix coverages and blitzes. Confuse him. When you get your hands on a ball, make the interception. When you get your hands around him, bring him down. He can’t drive the offense 75 yards down the field in 10 plays, but he's got a legit arm so don’t allow big plays over the top. Don’t give the Redskins a reason to keep fighting like you did the last two weeks against bad teams. The Eagles are 4-1 against rookie quarterbacks under Jim Schwartz, allowing 12 points per game. More of that Sunday. This shouldn’t even be a game by 2:30 p.m. But I'm afraid it will be.

2. Here’s one for the Carson Sucks crowd: Despite missing eight games the last two years and with three games still to go, Wentz already has the 9th-most TD passes in NFL history by a QB in his first four seasons. Three more in the last three games move him up to 6th. He’s also thrown 35 interceptions. Of the 10 QBs currently ahead of him in TD passes over their first four seasons, only Russell Wilson has also thrown fewer than 44  interceptions in his first four years, and only Wilson and Dan Marino have a higher passer rating. Worst QB ever.

3. The Eagles have used 18 cornerbacks since 2016.  Eight of them are no longer in the NFL.

4. I’m always up for a good conspiracy theory. Did you know the first manned moon landing was actually fabricated and the astronauts were actually on a film set in Arizona made to look like the moon? For real! I saw it in Capricorn One! Some conspiracy theories are hilarious, like the one making the rounds this week. Did you know Jordan Howard isn’t really hurt, he’s sitting out to protest not having a long-term contract? I swear, I got that from at least a dozen people this past week. Yeah, that’s a great way to get a new contract! Pretend you’re hurt, lie about a neck injury, miss five games, watch your free agency value plummet and hope that the Eagles just happen to forget to inform other teams that you were healthy all along but just didn’t feel like playing. Makes perfect sense!  

5. MYTH: “Jim Schwartz NEVER ADJUSTS.”
REALITY: Since 2016, the Eagles have allowed the 11th-fewest first-half points in the NFL  [11.0 per game], but they’ve allowed the 4th-fewest second-half points [9.6], behind the Vikings, Patriots and Ravens. Among the top 20 defenses in the league over the last four years, only the Vikings [2.1-point differential] have a larger first-half / second-half point differential than the Eagles [1.4 points]. Overall, the Eagles have allowed the 7th-fewest points in the NFL over the last four years.

6. I count 21 Eagles players who’ve missed a total of 105 games so far this year, a figure that will go up considering how many won’t be playing the next three. Two things: 1) The Eagles have to take an honest look at every facet of their training, conditioning and rehab this offseason and figure out why half the team is always hurt. And 2) It really makes you appreciate guys like Malcolm Jenkins and Jason Kelce, the only Eagles to start and finish all 45 games since opening day 2017. Not far behind are Brandon Graham and Brandon Brooks (44), Fletcher Cox (43) and Zach Ertz (42). Those guys have been there for their team every step of the way — or almost every step — for three years now. They're all-time Eagles.

7. What the heck is going on with Genard Avery? The Eagles spent a 4th-round draft pick to acquire Avery from the Browns in October, and he’s played 20 snaps on defense in five games since. TWENTY SNAPS. He didn’t play a snap on defense in the Giants game. His snaps were supposed to go up as he got acclimated to the defense. Now he’s not even playing. He’s been here seven weeks now, and he can’t even get a single snap on defense? He’s playing a lot on special teams (19 snaps per game), but that’s an awfully expensive special teamer.

8. How bad are the Redskins? They've scored 79 points in six home games. They have eight offensive touchdowns at Fedex Field this year. And five of them were in their first two games. They've scored THREE offensive touchdowns in their last four home games. The Eagles are actually 3rd-BEST in the NFL in road scoring at 29.3 points per game. This REALLY needs to be a blowout.

9. Rasul Douglas is the Eagles’ best cornerback.

10. Think about Duce Staley’s body of work as Eagles running backs coach: 1) Got a 776-yard, 9-TD season out of Ryan Mathews in 2016. 2) Won a Super Bowl with LeGarrette Blount on his last legs and Jay Ajayi coming in halfway through the season. 3) Undrafted rookie Corey Clement, who had 10 catches all year, had a 100-yard receiving game and miracle TD in a Super Bowl. 4) Got over 500 yards and a 4.3 average from undrafted rookie Josh Adams in 2018. 5) Miles Sanders has already broken the franchise record for scrimmage yards by a rookie. 6) Jordan Howard was in the midst of a comeback year with a 4.4 average and 7 TDs before he got hurt. 7) Darren Sproles netted nearly 1,400 scrimmage yards in just 30 games, all after turning 33. 8) Boston Scott comes off the practice squad to pile up 128 scrimmage yards in a critical win over the Giants. 9) Eagles are the No. 12 rushing team in the NFL in four years under Staley even though nobody on the roster has rushed for more than 850 yards TOTAL during that span. 10) All 11 running backs who’ve gotten at least 30 carries under Staley have averaged at least 4.0 yards per carry under Duce. Nine of them have averaged at least 4.3 yards per carry. The Eagles haven’t had a back with 550 yards in consecutive years since Shady, yet the Eagles always seem to run the ball well. The guy’s really good.

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