Two weeks ago, Craig James was on the Eagles’ practice squad, and Orlando Scandrick was at home on his couch. On Sunday, they played 57 and 35 snaps respectively in a win.
Along with Rasul Douglas, who began 2019 in a cornerback rotation, the trio did its part to limit Jets quarterback Luke Falk to 120 yards passing. And James and Scandrick have now made arguably the two biggest plays by Eagles defensive backs this season in consecutive games.
So who needs Jalen Ramsey, right?
The current Eagles regime seems to have a knack for cobbling together quality play from largely unheralded corners, even when it’s least suspected. Last season, Douglas, Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc took charge of an injury-depleted unit and helped propel the team to the playoffs. In 2017, the Eagles won the Super Bowl with Darby, Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson, which nobody saw coming.
All of these players, save for Robinson, are still on the team, by the way.
There’s no question a trade for Ramsey or another Pro Bowl-caliber corner would represent a clear upgrade over the current bunch. But after James sealed a victory against Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay with a pass breakup in the end zone, and Scandrick ripped the ball away from Falk and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown Sunday, and after the past couple seasons of watching oft-criticized secondaries become quality units ... one might begin to wonder if cornerbacks in the Eagles’ defense are almost interchangeable to some degree.
The Eagles won’t make the mistake of putting too much stock in their performance against a pathetic Jets offense down to its third-string quarterback. Yet, the outcome does serve as a reminder of how much better any defensive back looks behind a steady pass rush.
The front four has been the engine that runs the Eagles' defense, but through four games, the line produced just two sacks. Not surprisingly, the secondary struggled as a result as well, even when healthy.
On Sunday, the line registered eight sacks, and the secondary was barely challenged. There were so few attempts downfield, you may not have noticed James, who entered the game with two career snaps on defense, was on the field 97 percent of the time.
If the front four is finally coming around — a story for another column, though there’s reason to believe it is — the cornerbacks naturally will improve, too.
They’re also going to get healthier. Darby, Sidney Jones and Maddox are all week-to-week, Mills is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list after Week 6, and LeBlanc is eligible to come off injured reserve after Week 8. Douglas has been solid all season, and James and Scandrick got the job done for the last 62 minutes of football.
Provided everybody gets back to 100 percent at the same, the Eagles will soon have more corners than they know what to do with.
None of which is to say the Eagles shouldn’t pursue somebody like Ramsey, a young, All-Pro player who could quickly be locked into a long-term contract through his prime.
Then again, if the Jaguars or any team wants the moon for their star corner, there’s no need for the Eagles to make a move out of desperation. Time and time again, they demonstrate they can get by with what they have.