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.

Eagles Rookie Report: Rookies don't make big plays but make impact

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AP Images

Eagles Rookie Report: Rookies don't make big plays but make impact

The Eagles took care of business Sunday by beating the lowly Bears, 31-3, at the Linc (see breakdown).

In recent weeks, first-round pick Derek Barnett and undrafted running back Corey Clement have dominated this space. This week, the rookies weren't as impactful in the Eagles' convincing win.

Here are a few of the highlights from this week's rookie report.

2nd quarter, 11:04, 3rd-and-12 at CHI 20 - Eagles 7, Bears 0
Mack Hollins is lined up in the slot on this play against corner Prince Amukamara. Amukamara gets a hold of Hollins off the line, but the rookie receiver gets a nice release off the line and forces the veteran corner to grab hold on the post route. Carson Wentz overthrows this ball as a result of the hold, but the Eagles do get the call. This is why the Eagles like Hollins. He's a matchup nightmare with the size to beat small corners and the speed and quick feet to beat longer corners.

2nd quarter, 0:38, 3rd-and-5 at CHI 26 - Eagles 17, Bears 0
This wasn't pretty by Clement but it got the job done. Wentz is lined up in the shotgun with Clement to his left. A blitzer comes off the edge from the left clean, with only Clement standing in the way of Wentz. Clement gets pushed back but gets enough of the blitzer to allow Wentz to float the ball out to Torrey Smith. The ball falls incomplete, but the Eagles get a first down because of another hold against Amukamara on Smith (see Roob's observations).

2nd quarter, 0:27, 2nd-and-10 at CHI 21 - Eagles 17, Bears 0
Nothing fancy on this play. Wentz again is lined up in the shotgun with Clement lined up to his right. It's a three-receiver set with Zach Ertz as the only tight end on the field. Clearly the Bears are thinking pass with this formation and just 27 seconds left in the half. Instead, it's a straight handoff to Clement. The formation allows the Eagles to get 1-on-1 blocks all around, including center Jason Kelce getting to the second level to block a linebacker. Clement hits the hole with a good burst and nearly picks up a first down.

3rd quarter, 7:09, 1st-and-10 at PHI 37 - Eagles 24, Bears 3
This is excellent play design from Doug Pederson. Nelson Agholor is lined up to the right in the slot. He motions left to the other slot, then swings back for the fake on the jet sweep. All that motion affects the defense. Clement does an excellent job staying patient then runs a little bubble to the left. All Wentz has to do is float the ball over the defensive end's head. Clement secures the catch and finishes off the play, plowing into two Bears' defenders for the first down.

4th quarter, 2:22, 1st-and-10  at PHI 32 - Eagles 31, Bears 3
Cornerback Rasul Douglas has been relegated to backup duty since the return of Ronald Darby last week. On this play in garbage time, Douglas flashed what made the rookie a solid stand-in during the time Darby missed. Marcus Wheaton runs a 10-yard in. Douglas, playing off coverage, as usual, reads quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's eyes and makes a break on the football. Trubisky's throw is behind Wheaton, which allows Douglas to pick it off. Unfortunately, when Douglas rolls over, he bobbles the ball and it hits the ground. Upon review, it's overturned to an incompletion. But the choreographed Electric Slide/Remember the Titans tribute was excellent.

Analysis
Barnett certainly didn't play poorly. The rookie defensive end didn't have any "splash" plays but was disciplined and did have a couple nice rushes. But as we've pointed out all season, just because he's not getting sacks, doesn't mean Barnett isn't making an impact (see report card).

Clement continues to get reps and be steady in production. After rookie camp, running backs coach Duce Staley told Clement to lose weight, work on his pass catching and — most importantly — work on his pass protection. It's to a point now where Clement is easily the team's best back on third down. This is from a guy that went undrafted in large part because he wasn't effective in the passing game in Wisconsin. He finished with four carries for 27 yards and one catch for 12 yards.

It's fair to wonder if Hollins should see more reps over Smith. While Hollins has perhaps earned it, the formula has been working for Pederson at receiver. Smith has been catching the ball more consistently and provides a veteran presence. Hollins will get his reps and he has to keep capitalize. Hollins finished with two catches for 12 yards.

Eagles Rookie Report: Derek Barnett disruptive, Corey Clement scores yet again

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USA Today Images

Eagles Rookie Report: Derek Barnett disruptive, Corey Clement scores yet again

The Eagles took over the second half of a 37-9 road win Sunday night over the rival Cowboys (see breakdown).

First-round pick Derek Barnett continued to look the part and Corey Clement found the end zone yet again.

Here are a few highlights in this week's rookie report.

1st quarter, 1:15, 2nd-and-10 at DAL 20 - Eagles 7, Cowboys 6
Barnett doesn't record a sack here, but he certainly makes this play. Byron Bell isn't given any help on this play and Barnett beats him badly with an outside speed rush. Barnett arrives as soon as Dak Prescott finishes his drop and forces the second-year quarterback to throw it before he's ready. Safety Malcolm Jenkins gets the tip coming on a delayed blitz. The ball then hits off Terrence Williams and into the arms of safety Rodney McLeod. 

2nd quarter, 2:37, 1st-and-10 at DAL 25 - Eagles 7, Cowboys 6
On this play, Barnett isn't blocked. Bold strategy, Cotton. Prescott fakes the handoff right and bootlegs left. The hope is Barnett will crash down the line, hoping to blow up the run from the weak side. Instead, Barnett stays disciplined and runs straight at Prescott. This is probably Barnett's most impressive success so far this season. He bears down on Prescott, who is extremely elusive, and wraps the Cowboys' signal caller for the sack (see Roob's observations).

2nd quarter, 9:13, 3rd-and-17 at DAL 18 - Eagles 7, Cowboys 6
I'm not sure if Barnett actually affected Prescott on this throw, but I'll give him credit. Lined up in a two-point stance, Barnett initially looks like he might just settle into zone coverage. Instead, it almost works like a delayed blitz. Barnett charges in on Prescott, who then makes a terrible throw and decision to force a ball to Dez Bryant. The errant throw is easily picked off by cornerback Ronald Darby.

3rd quarter, 10:56, 2nd-and-2 at DAL 11 - Cowboys 9, Eagles 7
When the Eagles have needed a big play this season, they've called on No. 30 on more than one occasion. An eight-yard carry by Clement on first-down sets this play up. Carson Wentz in lined up in the shotgun with Clement to his right. The Eagles' were incredibly effective using traps to help mitigate the aggressiveness of the Cowboys' front four. On this play, right guard Brandon Brooks pulls to the left and seals off defensive tackle David Irving. Both left guard Stefen Wisniewski and left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai did an excellent job getting to the second level to take on linebackers, allowing Clement to get into the Dallas secondary. Clement yet again shows off his patience and vision and dives in for six.

3rd quarter, 10:56, Two-point conversion attempt at DAL 2 - Eagles 13, Cowboys 9
With kicker Jake Elliott out with a concussion, Doug Pederson made the decision to go for two instead of having backup linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill attempt a kick. And Pederson pulled something interesting from his bag of tricks on this one. Initially, the Eagles line up fairly traditionally with two receivers to the right, a tight end tight to the left and Clement in the backfield. Then the players all motion out wide to the right in a diamond. Clement is the player in the back. Wentz throws the ball immediately after the snap. The ball is thrown backward so it's actually considered a run. Clement secures the catch and plunges in. This was a fun play design.

4th quarter, 10:37, 3rd-and-5 at DAL 45 - Eagles 29, Cowboys 9
Man, the Cowboys are in an awful lot of trouble without Tyron Smith at left tackle. Barnett just blows right by Bell yet again. The best part of this play is the awareness from Barnett. He sees Prescott wind back to throw and knows he won't be able to make the tackle. Instead, he reaches for Prescott's right elbow, knocking the ball loose. Linebacker Nigel Bradham scoops it up and runs it back for a touchdown.

Analysis
What else can you say about Barnett? Sure, the Cowboys are really struggling without their All-Pro left tackle, but the rookie Barnett took full advantage. He's now up to 4 1/2 sacks through 10 games while being a part-time player. Damn impressive rookie season thus far (see report card).

I'm also not sure what else you can say about Clement. Even with the addition of Jay Ajayi, Pederson still trusts the undrafted rookie. He finished with 50 yards on six carries. He's now up to six total TDs this season.