Sidney Jones is 22. He’s basically in his rookie season after recovering from his pre-draft Achilles tear last year. And he’s played most of this year with a nagging and lingering hamstring injury.
Are there reasons to be concerned about him?
It’s just waaaayyyyy too early to call him a bust. Let’s go ahead and pump the brakes on that.
Jones started Sunday’s 29-23 loss in Arlington, Texas, but was hampered by that hamstring injury, saying he was nowhere near 100 percent. He gave up a few big plays and was eventually pulled by the trainers.
But I get it. Even when Jones has been “healthy” this season, he hasn’t been good. We haven’t seen the same guy the Eagles thought they were stealing at No. 43 in last year’s draft. So I get why fans are concerned. I get why, when you see him not get his head around in coverage, you’re thinking “that’s not injury related” and I can’t argue. He needs to get better and I think even he’d admit that. I think everyone knows it.
I was bullish on Jones before the start of this season, saying I thought he has all the makings to become a star cornerback in the NFL. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some folks try to throw that back in my face. I know it’s not everyone who is calling him a bust or a miss, but there’s at least a very vocal minority. And I get that this has been a frustrating season and Jones has been a part of that, but it’s just way too early to make a statement like that.
It’s even too early for the Eagles to evaluate his play. He’s played in 10 career games and has had this hamstring injury almost all season. Here’s what Doug Pederson said about that Monday.
Well, yeah, I think it's hard. It's tough to get a true evaluation. We knew the player we were getting based on what we saw in college. He's a tremendous corner. He's a good cover corner. I think for any player that's dealing with injury, you focus on that just a little bit and it can pull you away from playing at a high level at times.
I think that's where I can appreciate guys, and Sidney is one of them, guys that each week — everybody is a little banged up, a little sore, going through stuff. For them to battle through it, be out there at practice every day, and put themselves out there for the team I think is a credit to each player. Sidney is one of those guys.
I’m not ready to evaluate Jones either. It’s too early. He’s been hurt.
And this is a significant hamstring injury. Although, it is interesting that Pederson mentioned the mental side of injury twice while talking about Jones. There’s an art to playing hurt — not injured — and part of that is avoiding getting hyper-focused on that injury.
By the way, I also get the concern that Jones might just be an injury-prone player. Toss the Achilles aside because it was sort of a freak thing, but he’s dealt with this hamstring injury for months, had an ankle injury in the preseason and even got hurt in his NFL debut in Week 17 last year. You’re probably thinking Jordan Hicks 2.0 and if you feel that way, I can’t really do anything to move you off that stance right now.
But some players grow and blossom at different rates. Remember when Super Bowl hero Brandon Graham was a bust? That was premature and some folks have gotten to that point — using the word “bust” — even earlier for Jones, who is 22 years old and is hurt.
It’s just way too early. I get everyone is frustrated. But we gotta give the kid a chance.