Sidney Jones

Sidney Jones' reaction to people saying his confidence is shot

Sidney Jones' reaction to people saying his confidence is shot

Sidney Jones knows people think his confidence is shot. 

He says it isn’t. 

“I know that’s a whole big thing going on,” Jones said to NBC Sports Philadelphia on Wednesday. “It’s been said in the media here or there or whatever. It is what it is. It’s out there, but I know what I got at the end of the day. It’s all about me and where my focus is. Nothing else really matters. If I believe in myself, that’s all that matters.”

After Jones said that, I wanted to clarify that he still has confidence. 

“Of course,” he said. “I’m telling you I got it.” 

Now in his third season, the 23-year-old has definitely not had the type of career the Eagles were hoping he’d have when they snagged him with the 43rd pick in the 2017 draft. A pre-draft Achilles injury dropped Jones out of the first round, so the Eagles hoped they were getting a steal, a first-round player in the second round. 

But even after the Achilles injury, Jones has struggled to stay healthy. And even when he’s been on the field, he’s struggled with consistency. 

So you’d understand if his confidence was beginning to waver. 

Earlier this season, Jones was a starter, but on Sunday, he didn’t play at all. In fact, former practice squad member Craig James played before him. Doug Pederson said that was the plan in that game; Jones was the backup nickel corner. 

Jones admitted it was tough to not play against the Cowboys but knew his role going into the game. 

On Wednesday, I asked Pederson where Jones’ confidence level is right now. After saying that was a question for the player, Pederson offered this: 

After watching him in practice last week, coming back from injury, he's battled injuries pretty much his whole career here. My observation of him, and this is just mine, is that he's in a good place and he's ready to get back out there and perform.

That’s good news, because the Eagles might need Jones to play this week. 

Jones was their backup nickel cornerback against the Cowboys and the Eagles cut their starting nickel, Orlando Scandrick, on Monday. The Eagles have some other options — Malcolm Jenkins or even Rudy Ford — but Jones seems like the most obvious choice to fill in at that role until Avonte Maddox (neck/concussion) or Cre’Von LeBlanc (foot) are ready to return. 

“I played [the nickel] all last year,” Jones said, “so I’m prepared.”

In fact, some of Jones’ best tape came early last season when he was playing the nickel spot with Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby outside. That could very well be the starting three on Sunday in Buffalo. 

“I feel like he’s gonna do a good job,” LeBlanc said. “I feel like he knows what he has to do and understands the playbook and he’s been the type of player for us who can play inside and outside. I feel like he’ll do a real good job.”

Back on Oct. 15, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke bluntly about Rasul Douglas and Jones after the loss to the Vikings. Schwartz always stresses the importance of cornerbacks’ putting bad plays behind them and said Douglas and Jones had been doing that “inconsistently.” 

And then Jones didn’t play a single snap in the next game. 

For what it’s worth, Eagles confidence king Mills doesn’t think a lack of confidence is the problem for Jones. In fact, he still thinks the 23-year-old can have a bright future in the NFL. 

“No doubt. No doubt,” Mills said. “He’s a 6-foot, 6-1 corner, he’s not a small guy. At the end of the day, we play a position I feel is the hardest in the league. Sid is always growing and he’s getting better for sure.”

And if you take his word for it, Jones is still confident too.

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With Orlando Scandrick released, Cre’Von LeBlanc not eligible to return from Injured Reserve until Monday and Avonte Maddox still in concussion protocol, Jones is the only logical candidate to play in the slot for the Eagles Sunday against the Bills.

Yes, the same Sidney Jones who was benched Sunday in Dallas and never got off the bench.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz met with the media on Tuesday but declined to confirm that Jones will be the Eagles' starting slot corner Sunday in Buffalo.

"We’ll see," Schwartz said. “He can play that position. Obviously, Malcolm (Jenkins) can play that position … and then sometime we’ll ... get Cre’Von and Avonte back too, so we’ve got a lot of different players who can play in that position, but Sid started last year in that position and was able to hold that position, so we have confidence that whoever we put in there will be able to accomplish that role.

To recap:

Jones began the season rotating with Rasul Douglas opposite Ronald Darby.
He started three games after Darby got hurt.
He left the Packers game early with a hamstring injury.
He missed the Jets game with the hamstring.
He had a nightmarish game in the loss to the Vikings.
He was benched Sunday for the Cowboys.

Now he’s most likely your slot. Temporarily.

Jalen Mills and Douglas started outside Sunday night in Dallas with Scandrick in the slot. But the Eagles released Scandrick on Monday.

On Sunday, Mills and Douglas or Darby will start in Buffalo. Douglas and Darby don’t play in the slot, and Jones and Craig James are the only other healthy corners on the roster.

How far has Jones fallen in the Eagles’ cornerback hierarchy?

In the Cowboys game, it was James who got a handful of snaps outside while Jones — active and in uniform — stayed on the sidelines.

"He was in a backup role," Schwartz said. “We had an injury outside just for a couple plays. Craig was backing up the outside and he was backing up the inside, so he still had a role.

So Jones, the 43rd pick in the 2017 draft, is now behind an undrafted 23-year-old street free agent who has had two stints on the practice squad this year and has already been released once this year by the Eagles.

And after playing 175 snaps of outside cornerback the first month and a half of the season and 52 snaps outside just seven days earlier, he apparently suddenly lost the ability to play outside corner because he practiced inside during the week.

Jones wasn’t in the locker room on Tuesday while it was open to the media.

Jones is only 23. His career has been marked by inconsistency, injuries and now a benching. 

Now he’s a backup at a position where the Eagles’ two best options are about to return in the next couple weeks, and he’s not even practicing at the position he began the season.

This isn’t trending in the right direction.

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A blunt assessment from Jim Schwartz on Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas

A blunt assessment from Jim Schwartz on Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas

Cornerbacks always talk about how crucial it is to put bad plays behind them.

Gotta be confident. Gotta have a short memory. Gotta forget about it when you get beat.

Every cornerback gets beat. The great ones bounce back quickly.

Fair to say Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones didn’t bounce back quickly Sunday.

I asked Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz Tuesday how Douglas and Jones have handled having a short memory and putting bad plays behind them, and his answer was surprisingly blunt.

Inconsistently,” he said. “There have been times that they have, but you know like a 3-3 team, we’re all striving for consistency and I think that those guys are striving for that.

Douglas has played fairly well much of the season, although he’s been inconsistent. Jones has struggled both on the field and to stay on the field.

On Sunday, both struggled through their lowest moments. Kirk Cousins victimized both young corners to the tune of four touchdowns and 333 yards in the Vikings’ 38-20 win at U.S. Bank Stadium.

This was the first time Schwartz has spoken this bluntly about Douglas and Jones and their confidence issues.

I don’t know that any of those were lack of confidence or [not] putting a play behind them, but whether it was a penalty, whether it was a physical error or a technique error or a communication error, another bad play ended up rolling up on them and that’s the life they live,” he said. “There were a lot of technique errors, there are a lot of miscommunications in every game with D-linemen and linebackers and everything else, whether you win the game like we did against the Jets or you lose a tough game like we did against the Vikings.

But generally those don’t get the attention that the cornerback position takes, and that’s part of the job description. That scrutiny. Kickers. Quarterbacks. Head coaches. It’s just what we deal with, and corners need to be able to put bad plays behind them, and we’ve been inconsistent doing that.

Jones is only 23 and Douglas is 24, and both come from big-time college programs and were high draft picks in 2017 — Jones in the second round and Douglas in the third. 

The Eagles clearly are hopeful both can go on to become high-level long-term starters.

But Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby could both be back for the Cowboys game on Sunday or, if not, soon after.

We all know both of them have allowed their fair share of big plays, but they’ve also started for a Super Bowl championship team, and nobody has ever questioned their confidence. They’ve both shown a knack for bouncing back.

Who’s going to wind up starting when everybody’s healthy? 

Too early to answer that. But if you’re a coach and you have two cornerbacks who have confidence issues and two who don’t? Who would you play?

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