Philadelphia Eagles: At this point, what more can Sidney Jones do?

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

After turning in one of his best performances as a pro, what more can Sidney Jones do to earn a starting outside corner spot with the Philadelphia Eagles?

In the Philadelphia Eagles‘ Week 2 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Sidney Jones was the team’s best cornerback.

While things haven’t always been easy for the once-dominant Washington Huskie, who saw his career partially derailed by a Pro Day Achilles injury, Jones has seemingly put it all together in the dawn of the 2019 season and even recorded his first career interception on Philly native Matt Ryan.

And yet, much like in Week 1, Jones had to split time on the outside with fellow 2017 draft classmate Rasul Douglas – to pretty much the same results.

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Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a good idea that Jim Schwartz has found a way to get snaps for all three of his rookie contract corners, as they have one more player than they have positions to fill, but it has become increasingly ineffective to have Jones outside on one drive, in the slot the next, and on the sideline the following.

Progress comes from repetition.

Progress also comes from confidence, and it can’t be all that encouraging to watch Douglas soak up outside corners snaps over Jones despite his now-well documented struggles against speedy receivers (more on that here).

Despite being named a starter, and repping WU in-game, Jones actually earned seven less defensive snaps than Douglas – a stat that is as confusing as it is maddening when you consider just how much Darby struggled on the other side of the field.

To accurately judge Jones’ abilities with a contract extension looming as soon as next summer, the Eagles need to get him on the field, and not in the slot.

While Jones was a fine slot corner in 2018, he was ultimately supplanted by Cre’von LeBlanc – a far less prestigious player, but one with a more natural body type for the position – down the stretch.

While the team could once again commit to playing Jones in the slot if they believe Douglas is far and away their second-best outside option, they would be doing so at the expense of his long-term potential; compromising the shut down outside pedigree that lead to Jones being drafted 43rd overall in the first place despite an injury that would hold him out for his entire rookie season (save Week 17).

Who knows, maybe the Eagles are optimistic that Jalen Mills will soon return (post-Week 6) and they don’t want Jones to get too comfortable on the outside in his absence, but one could argue that Sidney should still get the nod on the outside over Philly’s favorite Green Goblin.

Jones is taller, more athletic, and faster than Mills, with broader shoulders and tighter hips that make him a natural outside cornerback. While the duo are equally comfortable pressing at the line of scrimmage, Jones has the recovery speed to make up for blown coverage in a way that Douglas and Mills simply can’t – and as we all saw in Week 1 when Douglas was torched for two long touchdowns against 21-year-olds, recovery speed matters.

Furthermore, Jones is a beast of a tackler in open space, leading all corners with six against the Falcons on Sunday night, including a crucial drive saver in the first quarter while in Schwartz’s signature prevent defense.

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Sure, none of these individual accolades make Jones a certified star in the making, but his overall package is tantalizing, and at 23-years-old, the potential is there to keep getting better for years to come. With some additional seasoning, Sidney Jones could become the Philadelphia Eagles’ best outside cornerback, and after two ugly outings littered with mistakes from a motley platoon of rotational cornerbacks, the team should strongly consider giving him the reigns once and for all on the right side.