Ronald Darby picking up the pieces after getting torched by Falcons

Ronald Darby picking up the pieces after getting torched by Falcons

ATLANTA — Maybe he came back too soon.

It’s been less than 10 months since Ronald Darby tore his ACL against the Cowboys last November, and on Sunday night he looked more like a guy who was still rehabbing than a guy who was healthy.

And the Falcons didn’t hesitate to take advantage.

Matt Ryan went right after Darby, and it wasn’t pretty. Darby spent much of Sunday night chasing after Calvin Ridley, who finished with five catches for 106 yards and a 34-yard touchdown that was on Darby. Julio Jones got him a couple times, too.

Darby could always run. He won a bronze medal in the 200-meter dash at the 2011 World Junior Track Championships in Villeneuve d’Ascq, France. That speed gave him the ability to make up for a lot of plays. When he was healthy.

He doesn't have that right now. And Ronald Darby without his wheels doesn't do the Eagles any good.

The Falcons knew from watching film that Darby isn't itself, and they made the Eagles pay.

“There is no excuses, I just made a few mistakes,” Darby said after the Eagles' 24-20 loss. “Come back better next week (and) make some plays. At the end of the day this game is in the past, I made some plays that hurt us but I will come back stronger.”

It’s kind of shocking to see that despite Darby’s struggles, he played dramatically more snaps in the Eagles’ 24-20 loss to the Falcons Sunday night than Sidney Jones (39) or Rasul Douglas (32).

But the Eagles are paying Darby $6 ½ million, Jones $1.02 million and Douglas $670,000.

So Darby plays and the two promising young corners rotate.

Darby did have one of the Eagles' three interceptions off Matt Ryan and a 13-yard return to set up Carson Wentz's third-quarter TD pass to Nelson Agholor.

So there's that.

But overall, he didn't look right.

“I’m good,” he said. “There are no excuses. If I didn’t think I was good enough I wouldn’t be out there. Just going to have to keep working, keep getting it right and come back stronger next week.”

I asked Darby if a healthy Ronald Darby makes some of the plays he didn’t make Sunday night.

“I understand,” he said. “It’s early. That’s in the past move on to next week.”

But the best option next week might be Jones and Douglas, two much less experienced but much healthier alternatives.

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Kobe Bryant told this Eagles draft target he wanted him at wide receiver for Birds

Kobe Bryant told this Eagles draft target he wanted him at wide receiver for Birds

Kobe Bryant may have spent the second half of his life in the Los Angeles area, but he was always an avid - and very public - Eagles fan. He celebrated Super Bowl LII like the rest of, screaming with joy in his living room, and he followed the team year in and year out.

So it's no surprise that, a month before his tragic death in a helicopter crash, Bryant used a serendipitous meeting at a Lakers game to make a pitch for the Eagles.

During a Lakers game Dec. 29, Colorado wide receiver and likely first-round draft pick Laviska Shenault Jr. found himself sitting next to Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who also died in the crash. It would be the last Lakers game the two attended. 

You can see Shenault, shown here wearing a backwards hat, dap up LeBron courtside:

Shenault said Bryant spent most of the night explaining intricacies of the game to his daughter, but the Lakers legend took a minute to talk to the soon-to-be NFL star.

As the two chatted, Shenault told DNVR.com at the NFL Draft Combine this week, Bryant tried to nudge Shenault towards a possible spot on the Eagles:

On this night, Shenault got his own Kobe memory to cherish for a lifetime.

"I actually haven’t been able to talk to anybody about this, but one of the talks we had—he had an Eagles hat on, and one of the things he said was, 'Man, Philly sure needs a receiver,'" Laviska explained, raising his eyebrows and smirking in a way that helped you imagine the exact way Kobe delivered the line.

"That was so exciting for him to say that," he added. "I responded with, 'Aye, I can get the job done for you.' That was a special moment."

That's an insanely cool story. And it'll be 10 million times cooler if the Eagles, who are indeed in need of a wide receiver, manage to draft Shenault at No. 21.

Shenault, who is just 21 years old, probably grew up idolizing Kobe as the ideal image of an athlete. To have Bryant imply he'd like to root for Shenault next season was probably an absolutely surreal moment.

Also: the image of Kobe, wearing an Eagles hat and talking Eagles football courtside in Los Angeles? Just another way Bryant was dedicated to reminding people he was a Philly guy.

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Eagles prepared to be bigger players in free agency this offseason

Eagles prepared to be bigger players in free agency this offseason

INDIANAPOLIS — A few weeks before the start of free agency, Howie Roseman hinted on Tuesday that the Eagles will be more active this year than in recent offseasons. 

With ample salary cap space in tow, the Eagles’ general manager didn’t come out and say that the Birds will be players for top free agent targets when free agency begins on March 18, but he did make it pretty clear that the philosophy in 2020 is a departure from 2018 and 2019. 

After a couple offseasons of bargain shopping for players to plug into what the Eagles viewed as their Super Bowl roster, the Eagles are in what Roseman termed a retooling period. 

That means the Eagles are prepared to spend some bigger money this offseason. 

“I think what would be fair to say is that over the last two years, coming off the Super Bowl, we had a different amount of resources going forward,” Roseman said at the combine on Tuesday. “And we were looking at our team-building over that ’17, ’18, ’19 period, and we knew at ’20 we were going to have to change that a little bit. 

“Now we’re looking at it over the course of a window. Not that we don’t want to win this year — we desperately want to win this year — but more over building this team over 2020, 2021, hopefully 2022.

“It’s hard to look three years out, really, but keep our eye on that. I think that maybe changes the complexion of some of our decisions this offseason, that it’s different from coming off the Super Bowl or coming off losing to the Saints in the divisional round.” 

Roseman made it clear that the Eagles aren’t looking for aging players on one-year deals anymore. Forget plugging holes in the short-term; they want to build with longevity in mind. This is a departure from recent seasons and a necessary philosophical change as the Eagles continue to get further from their Super Bowl LII win. 

It’s no longer about recreating the Super Bowl team. 

It’s about creating the next one. 

Roseman said the Eagles aren’t undergoing a “total rebuild” but are simple in a “retool period.” That makes sense. They have several cornerstone players already in place: Carson Wentz, Miles Sanders, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox, etc. 

With 10 draft picks, the Eagles can supplement those cornerstone pieces with young and cheap talent. (They also have the ammo to trade up and down the board in April.) 

And with plenty of cap space, they can also supplement those cornerstone pieces with relatively younger free agents who can be viable players for the next several seasons instead of one- or two-year rentals. 

Think back to when the Eagles signed Brooks, Rodney McLeod and Nigel Bradham in the 2016 offseason. 

Since then, Roseman has said those types of deals have become more expensive, so they’ll have to judge each case this offseason independently. Signing a 26-year-old to an exorbitant contract just because he’s 26 doesn’t make sense. 

But if the Eagles are able to find some middle ground, find perhaps a second-tier guy in his 20s that won’t break the bank, that would be the best of both worlds. 

And if they feel comfortable shooting their shot for a player like Amari Cooper, Byron Jones or Yannick Ngakoue, that’s a possibility too. 

“Now when we look at it,” Roseman said, “I think the scenario changes a little bit, in terms of, if we can get the right free agents, we’re not in a mode now where maybe we try to find the undervalued older guys that we tried to find over the last couple of years, and going forward, we’re trying to build this over a period of time, we’re not kind of in this one-year window. 

“We talked in January about looking at this, 2020, 2021 and 2022 in this three-year period who are part of it, I guess kind of similar to how we looked at free agency in maybe 2016 and ’17.”

That approach helped them win a Super Bowl. This situation is different, but Roseman is hoping going back to it will do the trick again. 

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