2019 Eagles vs Super Bowl 52 Championship Eagles: Defensive Edition

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Eagles
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /


To wrap up the secondary, let’s take a look at the Eagles’ cornerback group. In 2017, Philly had Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, and Jaylen Watkins taking up the corner spots.

Darby came to Philadelphia via trade with the Bills in 2017 for Jordan Matthews and a draft pick. Although Philly wanted to upgrade their secondary by acquiring Darby, he would only play in eight games due to an ankle injury.  However, in those eight games, Darby was able to snatch up three pics, knocked down nine balls, and recorded 30 solo tackles of his 34 combined. Darby would be able to play in the 2017 playoffs and got himself 16 solo tackles, and six passes defensed in the span of those games.

The second-year player at the time Jalen Mills stepped up from his time as a rookie in 2016 starting and playing in 15 games in 2017, pulling in three interceptions – one of which was returned for a touchdown -14 passes hit to the ground, and 51 solo tackles. Mills also played well in the postseason, tallying up 10 solo tackles and five passes defensed in the three games.

One player that made a one-season stop with the Eagles was Patrick Robinson, who signed a one-year deal before the start of the 2017 season. Robinson would play the full season for Philly but only start in half the games. Still, he managed to pull in four passes, knocked down 18, recover a fumble, record a sack, and tallied 45 total tackles. Although he was mostly quiet in the playoffs, Robinson did secure himself a fifty-yard pick-six against the Vikings.

Rasul Douglas was a rookie in 2017, but that didn’t matter for him or the team, as he played in 14 games with five starts. In his rookie campaign, Douglas was able to pick-off two passes, knocked down 11, and get himself 22 solo tackles. Even though his play was ideal, Douglas was silent in the playoffs, but don’t allow that to skew judgment on this young defensive back.

Jaylen Watkins may not be a name fans think of much these days but he did play 12 games in 2017 all be it with only one start. In those games though, Watkins only managed tackling statistics, recording 16 solo and 17 combined.

Following an injury burdened 2018 season, all of Philadelphia is eager to see a healthy secondary unit in 2019. Although Darby suffered an ACL injury in 2018 that would make him miss the back half of the season he still played in nine games pulling in an interception, knocking down 12 passes and recorded 39 solo tackles. Following two seasons of injuries, people have every right to worry how healthy the corner will be or if he’s lost some of his edge. Regardless Darby is still a very talented player that any team would be delighted to have on their side and should hopefully be in for the very least a routine 2019 season.

The Eagles will (probably) also roll with a homegrown talent, who was on the team in 2017, in the starting role with Mills. Mills, like Darby, is coming off a foot injury that only allowed him to play nine games in 2018. In these nine games, Mills was able to bat away nine passes and tackled the ball carrier by himself 36 times. Mills is only going into his fourth season in the NFL and barring any injuries or setbacks from the previously mentioned injury possesses a very high ceiling to cement himself as a true reliable starter for Philly this season.

Another player that saw the field in 2017 that’s returning for 2019 is Douglas. Though Douglas is only going into his third season, he’s still a player fans should keep their eyes peeled for. In his NFL sophomore season, Douglas got to play in every game with seven starts gobbling up passes, getting three interceptions as well as recording 48 solo stops. Douglas is a perfect back-up option that could possibly fight for a starting spot, making him an exciting watch for 2019.

One hidden player on the 2017 roster was injured rookie Sidney Jones. Jones may have only been able to get into one game in 2017 but was able to give a peek of what he can be in his nine games (due to injury) and four starts in 2018. Jones hit two passes to the turf and racked up 21 solo tackles in his limited time. Jones is a highly coveted player but has questions surrounding his injury history – being injured before the draft and in the 2018 season. Still, Jones is a must-watch player this season, especially with him speculated to start at nickel.

Another corner that’s noteworthy is second-year corner Avonte Maddox, who played in 13 games with nine starts. In his rookie season, Maddox was able to step up when needed snatching two passes out of the sky, knocking down four passes, forcing one fumble, and gathered 28 solo tackles. For the upcoming 2019 season, Maddox is a viable back-up and special teamer to have, of course, Maddox is a great option but since injury will most likely give him the most playing time fans respectfully won’t want to see too much of him.

After winning it all in 2017, the Eagles were met with injuries in the secondary that easily frustrated fans and surely team execs alike. However, when the dust settled that year of growing pains seemed worth it. Coming out on the other side with a strong secondary unit (on paper) with a healthy amount of young(er) talented corners with high ceilings should excite fans going into this season. A starting set consisting of Darby, Mills, Jones, and a mix of Douglas may just edge-out 2017’s set of corners making the 2019 season that more tantalizing.