Sidney Jones prepared to make an impact any time his number is called

Sidney Jones prepared to make an impact any time his number is called

Sidney Jones hadn’t taken a snap on defense since Week 8. In fact, he was only in for one play of the Eagles’ 23-17 overtime win over the Giants on Monday — and everybody knew the ball was coming his way.

“100 percent,” said Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. “I felt like hopefully he would know, but I wasn’t gonna freak him out or anything.”

As anticipated, Eli Manning targeted Jones on 3rd-and-3 with the score tied and 1:35 remaining in the fourth quarter. The third-year cornerback rose to the occasion, breaking up the pass intended for Darius Slayton, who already torched the Eagles secondary for 154 yards and two touchdowns on five catches.

The Giants were forced to punt and would not have another meaningful possession.

“No bigger stop than that one,” said Jenkins.

A second-round draft pick in 2017, this was supposed to be the year Jones seized a starting job, perhaps even show signs he could develop into a shutdown corner. Instead, he suffered injuries – a recurring theme — and uneven performances.

The Eagles lost confidence in Jones to the point where he was a healthy scratch for several weeks, losing playing time to unheralded players like Craig James.

It was surprising to see Jones on the field at all, let alone in such a pivotal moment — especially considering James played the hero on the final play of a Week 4 game in Green Bay earlier this season.

“(Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas) started cramping and then coach is like looking around,” said Jones. “Instead of Craig James, he said ‘Oh, Sid.’”

Jones was ready. Understanding the situation and seeing how the Giants offense lined up, he had a good idea what might be coming.

“It was two-by-two formation,” said Jones. “They had run it earlier in the game, double slants on one side and slant-flat on the other side, and I think that’s what they did this time, so just being cognizant of what you’re gonna get throughout the game.

“It was 3rd-and-short, so those were the routes I was prepared for.”

He may have known what was coming, but he wasn’t necessarily ready physically. Coming off the bench late on a rainy December night, Jones admitted he didn’t even have a chance to get loose before the play.

“We had confidence in him,” said Jenkins. “To come off the coach cold and to make a play like that was big.

Widely considered a top-10 talent in the 2017 draft, Jones suffered a torn Achilles during his pro day workout, perhaps altering his career trajectory permanently. He appeared in one game as a rookie and nine games last season before injuries cropped up again.

Coming off a strong offseason and training camp, Jones appeared poised to take the next step in 2019. Instead, he’s found himself on the bench or inactive list in the second half of this season.

Clearly, Jones is still preparing as if he’s going to make an impact in any given week.

“I can imagine this has been a frustrating year for him not necessarily getting the time that he wants,” said Jenkins. “But you never know in this league when your number’s gonna get called, and we of all teams know anybody could come in on any play.

“His number got called for one play and he made a huge one.”

As for whether Jones actually knew the ball was coming his way though, he didn’t say exactly.

“Expect anything, honestly,” said Jones. “At that point, you’re fighting, scrapping.”

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Eagles reportedly have a new secondary coach

Eagles reportedly have a new secondary coach

Marquand Manuel is the Eagles’ new secondary coach, according to a tweet by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

The 40-year-old Manuel replaces Cory Undlin, who had served in that role since 2015, first under Chip Kelly and the last four years under Doug Pederson. Undlin was named Lions defensive coordinator two weeks ago.

Manuel and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz go back a ways. Manuel played for the Lions in 2009 when Schwartz was their head coach.

Manuel was not in the NFL this past year. He spent the previous four years under Dan Quinn with the Falcons, two years as secondary coach and two years as defensive coordinator before getting fired following the 2018 season.

The Falcons reached the Super Bowl in his second year in Atlanta, losing to the Patriots in Houston.

Before Atlanta, Manuel spent three years working under Quinn with the Seahawks, holding a variety of titles on the defensive staff.

Manuel, who played for Steve Spurrier at Florida, was the Bengals’ 6th-round pick in 2002 and spent eight years as a safety in the NFL with six different teams — the Bengals, Seahawks, Packers, Panthers, Broncos and Lions.

He played in 116 games, starting 58, with two interceptions and a pick-6 while he was with the Packers in 2006 off Jon Kitna of the Lions.

The Eagles also reportedly interviewed Browns defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker for the position.

The Eagles already have a safeties coach on the staff, former Eagle Tim Hauck. He was Pederson's teammate with the Eagles in 1999 and has been on Pederson's staff since 2016.

Quinn had this to say about Manuel on the Falcons’ web site back in 2018:

From the time I've met him from now, one thing that's cool to see that has stayed consistent is the energy and enthusiasm he has for players. He made the transition from player to coach really seamlessly because he knew the boundaries of coach, but he also stepped across to say, I can push you. That's not easy to do. He's always had mental quickness of a quarterback or someone who gets concepts really quickly. That transferred into this coaching fast. He can communicate concepts and ideas quickly to people on the run, in the moment, that's a really valuable asset as a coach.

The Eagles still have openings to replace the three assistant coaches Doug Pederson fired: offensive coordinator Mike Groh, wide receivers coach Carson Walch and defensive line coach Phillip Daniels.

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Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Just a few days ago, it seemed like the Eagles weren’t going to lose Vice President of Football Operations Andrew Berry because it looked like the Browns were going to hire someone else.

Well, that someone else has dropped out of the race.

Vikings assistant GM George Paton has taken himself out of the running to be the Browns’ next general manager, which means Berry is now the new favorite, according to Cleveland.com

This is certainly an interesting turn of events.

According to Cleveland.com, “Paton was reluctant to accept the initial interview because he assumed the job would go Berry.”

Now it might.

It would have made plenty of sense for the Browns to hire Paton, who has a long-standing relationship with new head coach Kevin Stefanski from their time together in Minnesota. But according to reports over the past few weeks, it seems like Berry has been a favorite of ownership and the front office.

While Berry and Stefanski have never worked together, they did get to know each other during the coaching search in Cleveland a year ago. After that search, the Browns hired Freddie Kitchens and Berry left for Philly. But now, Berry and Stefanski might actually get a chance to work with one another.

The Harvard-educated Berry, 32, was with the Browns from 2016-18 as their Vice President of Player Personnel before he joined the Eagles last season in a role they created for him. Berry initially came up in the Colts franchise, first as a scouting assistant and finally as a pro scouting coordinator. He’s been a quick-riser in the NFL world.

Earlier this offseason, the Eagles reportedly denied a request from the Panthers to interview Berry for a Vice President job. The reasoning from the Eagles was that it wasn’t a general manager position and he wouldn’t have had final say on personnel matters.

Final say is something Berry will likely never have here in Philadelphia. Despite a few missteps in recent years, Howie Roseman has pretty solid job security and he isn’t going anywhere. If Berry is going to become a GM, it’s going to be in another city. And it seems like that day might be coming soon.

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