Sidney Jones

The 10 Greatest Eagles Mysteries

The 10 Greatest Eagles Mysteries

These are the things that keep me up at night. The things I get asked about more than anything else. The things I just can’t figure out.

These are the 10 Greatest Eagles Mysteries.

Let’s dive in!

1. Why can’t Doug hire a good WRs coach?

By most measures, Doug Pederson is an excellent judge of talent. His football instincts are off the charts. The dude won a Super Bowl, toppling Belichick and Brady. But for the life of him he can’t find a competent receivers coach. He’s had four in four years and fired all four, although he didn’t fire Mike Groh until after he spent two years as offensive coordinator. Andy Reid had one WRs coach in 14 years. Whoever Pederson hires this time around? He should keep that resume updated.

2. Why so many injuries?

This might be the biggest mystery surrounding the Eagles. How can an entire team be on IR? And why do so many of the injuries linger longer than expected? Or take strange unexpected twists and turns? And it’s not just because this was an old roster. The young guys have gotten hurt just as much. They’ve changed trainers, they’ve changed doctors, they’ve changed the way they practice. They’ve changed everything but the strength and conditioning staff. Which very well could be next.

3. Why isn’t Eric Allen in the Hall of Fame?

You’d think 58 interceptions and 9 pick-6’s would be enough to get Eric Allen into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he’s never even been a finalist. Aeneas Williams got in on his fourth try. Aeneas Williams was a very good cornerback. He wasn’t in Allen’s class. Why does the Hall keep snubbing E.A.? Maybe because those Eagles teams underachieved in the postseason. Maybe there’s a perception that defense was just Reggie and nobody else. Whatever the reason, it’s inexusable. We finally got Harold in. Now we gotta get Eric in.

4. What the heck is going on with Sidney Jones?

I’ll be honest. When Sidney Jones had those late-game flashes late in the season, I really thought he was turning the corner. I did. He finally looked healthy and confident and just maybe that 2017 2nd-round pick wasn’t going to be a waste. Then comes the playoffs and … Jones didn’t play. Not a snap on defense. He’s going into Year 4 and who is he? That guy who finally started making plays at the end of the season? Or the guy who got benched for the biggest game of his career?

5. Why did it take so long to cut Mack Hollins?

I’ll never understand how the Eagles could keep sending Mack Hollins out there to catch zero passes while averaging 27 snaps over an eight-game span while Greg Ward – who’s been here since 2017 – gathered dust on the practice squad. I get that Mack was mainly an outside guy and Greg is mainly a slot, but Hollins had no catches for two months. Ward finally gets a chance and catches 28 passes in his first six NFL games. How on Earth didn’t they know Ward > Hollins?

6. Why does everybody call Mike Mamula a bust?

You know who was a bust? Jon Harris was a bust. He was a 1st-round pick and had two career sacks. Marcus Smith was a bust. He was a 1st-round pick and had 6 1/2 sacks. Mamula was a 1st-round pick and had 31 1/2 sacks in five seasons. He played hard, he played every down when he really should have been a 3rd-down pass rusher and to this day he has the 6th-most sacks ever by a DE the Eagles have drafted. He averaged one less sack per year for his career than Trent Cole. Mamula was never a star, but he wasn’t a bust.

7. Why is the music at the Linc so bad?

The defense runs on the field in a pivotal situation. Game on the line. Players jumping up and down trying to work the crowd into a frenzy. And out of the massive speakers at the Linc comes … dance pop! Because what better way to fire up a crowd of drunken obsessive Eagles lunatics on a cold football Sunday than that “I drove my car into a bridge” song! It’s 20-17 in the fourth quarter and the defense needs a stop! Give me some Sabbath! Give me some AC/DC. Give me some Zeppelin, Scorpions or Aerosmith! Don’t give me Icona Pop.

8. What really happened to Nelson Agholor?

Nelly at his best is a good receiver whose whole game is incumbent on confidence. When he’s confident? When he feels good about himself and his game? You get nine catches for 84 yards in a Super Bowl, three first-down catches on the game-winning drive. A solid guy. When the confidence goes? It really goes. He can’t function. Then factor in a knee injury and you get what we saw this year.

9. Why did Doug announce Mike Groh would be back in 2020?

I still can’t believe this happened. It’s possible that when Doug spoke two weeks ago the decision to fire Groh hadn’t been made, but I’m not buying it. I think Doug knew all along he was axing Groh and Carson Walch, but he felt like he needed to protect one of the victims at that point. Because Doug genuinely cares about the people he works with. Even the ones he’s firing. Still, one of the more bizarre moments in Eagles press conference history. Even though we didn’t know it till the next day.

10. Why don’t the Eagles have an offensive coordinator yet?

And the current mystery. The Eagles are playing this close to the vest, so we really don’t know what they’re thinking. Maybe they have the perfect guy picked out and we just don’t know it yet. But the impression we’re getting is that a lot of top candidates don’t want this job. In a way it’s surprising. This is a stable organization, playoff team three straight years, franchise quarterback, elite young running back, offensive line stocked with Pro Bowlers. But it seems nobody wants the job, and it has to be more than just not having play calling duties. A lot of very good OCs work under offensive play-calling head coaches. But the whole situation is bizarre. And if the Eagles tweet out that Juan Castillo is the new offensive coordinator, would anybody really be surprised?

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From healthy scratch to hero, Sidney Jones is the Eagles’ closer

From healthy scratch to hero, Sidney Jones is the Eagles’ closer

Call Sidney Jones the closer.

“Another one,” Jalen Mills said. “Another one.”

Yup, another one.

For the second time in two weeks, the former second-round pick, once thought to be one of the top cornerbacks in his 2017 draft class, has come off the bench to make the biggest play in crucial moments of season-extending wins.

This time, Jones batted down a fourth-down pass in the end zone from Dak Prescott to Michael Gallup with just 1:21 left in the fourth quarter. Jones, who came into the game earlier in the drive, played it perfectly and knocked the ball away. That was the last play for the Eagles’ defense in the 17-9 win.

Just think about how wild Jones’ career and season have been. Heck, three weeks ago, he was a healthy scratch against the Dolphins. And in two of the three wins since then, he’s made huge plays in the fourth quarter.  

“It’s pretty crazy to think about,” Jones said.

A couple weeks ago, Jones made a similar play against Eli Manning and the Giants, knocking down a third-down pass late in the fourth quarter of that overtime win. He played just one snap in that game and after that win, Jones was one of several players in the postgame locker room to get a special shoutout from Doug Pederson.

Watching that video, it was impossible to not be happy for Jones after all he’s been through.

But no one is more thrilled about his success than his teammates.

Their support has been awesome, man,” Jones said. “They know it’s been rough. They know it’s been a little disappointing for myself and everybody else to be honest. It’s just life. It’s adversity. It’s going to come at different times for everybody. Mine just happens to be in this early process of my career. Just battling. You get hit with adversity at the beginning, you can’t fold. You just gotta keep bouncing back.

Back in 2017, Jones was considered to be one of the best cornerbacks in the draft but fell to the Eagles at No. 43 thanks to a torn Achilles. He rehabbed and basically had a redshirt season. But in 2018 and earlier this season, he was hampered by nagging hamstring injuries.

After an encouraging training camp, Jones started four games earlier this year and didn’t play well.

But he claims he never had a moment of self-doubt.

“At the end of the day, I talked to you guys before and it’s always been a thing of confidence or how do you respond, how do you handle things?” Jones said.

“I just come to work every day grinding, head down, grinding. No matter what everybody else is saying. They can say this, they can say that. I’ve had unfortunate injuries and that’s what, I think, has been holding me back. I came into this year playing pretty strong, playing good … but injury. Once I get that consistency, I know I can dominate.”

Jones said it’s been helpful to have teammates like Brandon Graham and Nelson Agholor, who were able to find success in the NFL after early-career disappointments.

Graham for years now has been an example to any young player who gets off to a rough start.

It can be a little tough to come into a game cold and make a play, but that’s Jones’ role right now. He accepts it, even though he admitted it “was frustrating at first” because, as a competitor, he wants to play.

To be clear, these big clutch plays don’t necessarily mean Jones is turning a corner. It doesn’t mean he’ll finally live up to his draft status or ever become a Pro Bowl caliber player.

But it’s still good to see. And it means the next time defensive backs coach Cory Undlin yells “Sid!” on the sideline, we all know Jones will be ready to close again.

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Jim Schwartz marvels over rarely used DB's preparation

Jim Schwartz marvels over rarely used DB's preparation

He hadn’t played defense since October. 

Not a snap.

When he had to? With the game on the line? On a pivotal third down?

Sidney Jones was ready.

“He's had a great attitude and he's worked hard on the practice field,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “And he's worked on different parts of his game. He's worked fundamentally on his game. So when you do that? There's an old adage in the NFL: ‘Stay ready so you don't have to get ready.’ Well, Sid stayed ready.”

After the Eagles beat the Giants Monday night, Jones spoke about his first defensive snap in six weeks.

On Thursday, Schwartz talked about what he’s seen behind the scenes from Jones since he got benched after the Bills game.

“That was an important part of the game,” Schwartz said. “Third-and-3 is a tough down defensively, and then coming in cold the way he did. But it didn't surprise me at all. It didn't surprise us at all because Sid has worked really, really hard in this last month or so.”

The Eagles had just tied the game at 17-all, but the Giants had a 3rd-and-3 on their own 32-yard-line with a minute and a half left in the fourth quarter. Jalen Mills was already out with an elbow injury, and his replacement, Rasul Douglas, had just gotten hurt on second down.

So with 1:35 left in the fourth quarter, out comes Jones.

He lined up on the defensive right side opposite Darius Slayton, who had two long touchdowns in the first half. Like any smart quarterback, Eli Manning went after Jones. But Jones played Slayton very aggressively and got a hand in to break up the quick slant.

It was his only snap. But it was huge.

“His role has decreased, but that hasn't affected his work ethic, that hasn’t affected his preparation or his attitude,” Schwartz said. “All those things have been good, and that's going to serve him well as he goes forward and as we go forward, because we talk about it all the time. We say a lot of times the night before a game, somebody's going to be called upon to make a play in this game and they might only play one play in the game. Well, sure enough, it was true. That was a big play. I don't know if we win that game if he doesn't make that PBU, because it was a tie game at that point in the fourth quarter, had a couple of injuries. He went out cold, they came right at him and he was up for the challenge.”

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