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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