Eagles

Sidney Jones looks comfortable in debut

Sidney Jones looks comfortable in debut

The rookie report makes its triumphant return this week with the Eagles' meaningless, ugly 6-0 loss Sunday afternoon to the Cowboys at the Linc (see breakdown). Let's take a look at this week's highlights.

1st quarter, 11:43, 1st-and-10 at DAL 39 - Eagles 0, Cowboys 0
This is the kind of play we've seen from Rasul Douglas all season. Douglas is lined up in off coverage against wide receiver Dez Bryant. Quarterback Dak Prescott throws a screen his way. Left tackle Byron Bell is leading the way, getting out to block Douglas. Douglas plays it perfectly and engages and sheds Bell like a linebacker, then makes a nice tackle on Bryant. Douglas also engages in a little trash talk with Bryant after the play. 

A couple plays later, Prescott delivers a terrible throw and misses an open Bryant. Douglas then gives Bryant a nice shot at the end of the play. You have to love Douglas' enjoyment — not just willingness — of physicality as a corner. Again, he talks a little trash to Bryant. You also have to love the swagger.

1st quarter, 6:39, 1st-and-10 at PHI 18 - Eagles 0, Cowboys 0
As the season has gone on, Corey Clement has surprisingly taken on the role as the team's third-down back. On this play, he shows why. Quarterback Nick Foles is lined up under center with Clement as the deep back. Clement steps up, identifies the blitzer in linebacker Damien Wilson, meets him under control, keeps a solid base and stands Wilson up at the line of scrimmage. It allows Foles to make a great throw to Zach Ertz for nine yards on an otherwise rough day for the Eagles' QB. This was arguably the best play in pass protection an Eagles back has made all season.

1st quarter, 3:12, 3rd-and-5 at PHI 47 - Eagles 0, Cowboys 0
On this play, the Cowboys are trying to get the ball to wideout Terrence Williams quickly so he can make a play after the catch, trying to take advantage of Douglas' off coverage. Instead, Douglas reads the play, crashes in on Williams and makes another sure tackle.

Sidney Jones, making his NFL debut, also had a nice jam on Bryant, but it must be noted Bryant looked extremely uninterested on the play since it wasn't going his way.

2nd quarter, 12:51, 1st-and-10 at PHI 19 - Eagles 0, Cowboys 0
WR Mack Hollins gets in on the action during the start of the Nate Sudfled era (I kid). Hollins is lined up out right and runs a slant. Demarcus Lawrence realizes it's a three-step drop and instead of rushing the passer, gets in the passing window. Sudfeld makes a really nice play, getting Lawrence off the ground and then throwing around him. Hollins does a nice job staying alive and not giving up on the play. Hollins secures the catch, makes a nice move and gets nine yards.

2nd quarter, 4:48, 2nd-and-9 at DAL 5 - Eagles 0, Cowboys 0
Jones is in off coverage on this play on the outside receiver. Prescott throws yet another WR screen, this time to Ryan Switzer who is lined up in the middle of the trips formation. Jones engages the receiver attempting to block him, sheds him and makes a solid tackle on Switzer. Pretty impressive play for a guy that hasn't played a football game in a year.

3rd quarter, 10:30, 2nd-and-6 at DAL 41 - Eagles 0, Cowboys 0
The Cowboys give the ball to Ezekiel Elliott on a zone run to the right. Converted safety now LB Nathan Gerry is lined up to the left to the side of the run. La'el Collins comes out to block Gerry. Gerry does an outstanding job taking on Collins with his right shoulder to keep his left arm free. Not only does Gerry do this, he actually knocks Collins to the ground and is in on the tackle with Chris Long. This is a great play for any linebacker let alone a guy just learning the position after converting from safety in college.

4th quarter, 12:19, 3rd-and-7 at PHI 20 - Eagles 0, Cowboys 0
This was a nightmare drive for Douglas (see Roob's observations). He got beat by Brice Butler for 30 yards on a 2nd-and-22 from the Dallas 7. He was then called for an illegal contact penalty — as ticky-tack as it may have been — on a deep ball to Bryant. The rough drive ended with Douglas allowing the only points of the game. Playing off coverage as usual and looking like he had outside leverage on a zero blitz, Butler runs a slant. Prescott gets the ball out quickly to Butler and Douglas doesn't have the speed to recover and the play goes for a TD.

4th quarter, 10:34, 1st-and-10 at DAL 28 - Cowboys 6, Eagles 0
On this play, Prescott rolls out to his right. Jason Witten is running a crossing route. Gerry has outstanding coverage, but Prescott attempts to force the ball in anyway. Gerry breaks up the play and nearly makes an outstanding, backhanded interception.

Analysis
Douglas made some plays early but really struggled late, especially on the aforementioned touchdown drive. Jim Schwartz constantly plays him in off coverage because he fears Douglas doesn't have the speed to recover if beaten deep. Maybe Douglas can instill some confidence in his coach — which likely won't be Schwartz — to give him more reps in press coverage next season.

Considering Jones hasn't played football in a year and came out of the game with just some cramping, you'd have to consider it a successful debut. He bit the cheese on a double move by Williams but overall looked smooth and comfortable out there. He was an elite talent at Washington. I had him ranked as the best corner coming out, ahead of the Saints' Marshon Lattimore. You have to be excited at the thought of this guy being in the starting lineup next season. 

There's been a lot of clamoring for Hollins to get snaps over veteran Torrey Smith (see report card). It's a little late in the season to make a move like that, but I get what the fans are saying. Hollins will get plenty of chances to be a bigger part of this offense going forward. He's another prospect to be excited about going forward.

Have to say, I wasn't expecting to write a ton about Gerry in this space, but the kid impressed me. He put on weight and had to learn a brand new position so he didn't see much action all season. His experience as a safety will certainly help him in coverage. He hauled in 13 interceptions during his time at Nebraska. The Eagles might have found something here.

Rodney McLeod explains biggest lessons learned from Malcolm Jenkins

Rodney McLeod explains biggest lessons learned from Malcolm Jenkins

Four years ago, when Rodney McLeod became a free agent for the first time in his NFL career, one of the reasons he wanted to join the Eagles was for the chance to play next to Malcolm Jenkins. 

And for the last four years, he did. The two formed a safety tandem that played 49 regular season games and four playoff games, including Super Bowl LII, together. 

But now Jenkins is back in New Orleans with the Saints and the Eagles are preparing to play without him for the first time since 2013. Meanwhile, McLeod signed a two-year deal to return to Philly. 

On a conference call with reporters on Thursday, McLeod said he learned a lot from Jenkins over the past four seasons. 

What were some of those lessons? 

Just as a competitor,” McLeod said. “And then the ability to get the most out of guys, whether it’s on the defensive side or from an entire team standpoint. I think as a leader, that’s your kind of job. How can you get guys to play at the highest level and get the most out of your players. I think he was one of the best at doing that and understanding everyone … I learned a lot from him. 

“Not just on the field but off the field, the way he handled himself and what he did in the community for the city. I’ll always admire him. It’s hard to match. But like I said, his legacy will live on. The Saints are getting a good guy. Now, us as Eagles, playing with a new group of guys and we’re ready to move forward.

There’s no question that the Eagles are going to miss Jenkins’ contributions on the field. They will use some combination of Jalen Mills and Will Parks to replace him at that position and that won’t be easy. 

But the Eagles will also miss the leadership Jenkins brought to the locker room. He wasn’t just the leader of the secondary or even just the defense; Jenkins was oftentimes the key leader for the entire team. That’s hard to replace too. 

It’s not that McLeod, 29, hasn’t been a leader during his first four years in Philly. But now that role might need to expand and will become more important with the absence of Jenkins. 

“I think it’s important for me to be myself and be who I’ve always been,” McLeod said. “And that’s a guy that leads by his actions and leads by example. I think if you ask a lot of guys on the team, that’s what they’ll tell you most. Actions sometimes speak louder than words. I think there will be times for me to speak up when needed. When my teammates need me most, I’ll be ready to do that.”

For the most part, McLeod has been the quieter of the two safeties and Jim Schwartz has previously called him the calming presence in the defensive backfield.

But McLeod can speak up too. 

It’s really just about finding a balance between his two sides and putting the lessons from Jenkins into practice in 2020. 

“Myself, being a leader on this team for some time, will of course be asked to step up as well as other guys from a defensive standpoint and on the team,” McLeod said. “I think we’re prepared for that. And guys will be willing to step up to the plate and accept the challenge. Myself first and foremost.”

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Carson Wentz’s 3rd annual AO1 softball game canceled

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AO1 Foundation

Carson Wentz’s 3rd annual AO1 softball game canceled

Carson Wentz’s AO1 Foundation has canceled its 2020 softball game that was scheduled for May 8 at Citizens Bank Park. 

The foundation says the game will return in 2021. 

The AO1 Foundation said the following in a statement: 

“We canceled the game because we are taking the COVID-19 situation very seriously. We were looking forward to an event that brings the Philadelphia community together to have fun and help others, but the health and safety of our supporters is of utmost importance to us.”

All purchased tickets will be refunded. Expect it to take 5-7 business days for that credit to appear in accounts. If there are questions about the refund process, the AO1 Foundation asks you contact the Phillies at tickets@phillies.com. 

In the first two years, this softball game has raised $1.35 million for the AO1 Foundation, which launched in 2017. Last May, there were 15,000 fans at Citizens Bank Park. 

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