Philadelphia Eagles: Rasul Douglas has proven he’s a full-time starter

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Ex-Philadelphia Eagles’ corner Rasul Douglas has found a home in Carolina.

When news broke that the Philadelphia Eagles were planning to waive both Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones in their roster trim down to 53, it nary turned a head in the City of Brotherly Love.

Sure, maybe it was a bad idea to release both of the team’s top reserve outside cornerbacks, especially with Avonte Maddox‘s prospects as a full-time starter on the outside anything but a sure thing. But hey, after signing Jalen Mills to fill a do-it-all defensive back role and giving special teamer Craig James a surprise extension, I guess the front office felt their depth was strong enough to let the duo walk without so much as recouping a future draft pick in compensation.

In hindsight, maybe not the best move.

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Granted, it’s not like the Eagles’ secondary has been horrendous in 2020. Darius Slay has somehow been better than advertised, holding opposing receivers to 360 yards and one touchdown on 48 targets, Cre’Von LeBlanc has continued to flash promise as an above-average slot cornerback, and the team may have even found a diamond in the rough in a practice squad DB out of Louisiana named Michael Jacquet.

Then again, if you happen to switch onto a Carolina Panthers game – for… some reason – and watch a few series, you’ll surely catch a glimpse of a former flame and inevitably imagine what could have been.

You see, since playing 81 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in Week 1, Douglas has become a fixture of the Panthers’ defensive secondary. He started every game since, played an average of 97 percent of the Panthers’ defensive snaps, and all but certainly leapfrogged ex-second round pick, Donte Jackson, as Matt Rhule‘s top cornerback.

Douglas has played so well that the Panthers literally released Eli Apple, the Giants’ 2018 first-round pick that many assumed would start for the team in 2020.

“… alright, so what gives? How did Rasul Douglas go from a part-time player for the Philadelphia Eagles to a legitimate CB1 currently ranked 15th overall by Pro Football Focus?”

Well, *leans in* get this, the Panthers are actually using Douglas correctly.

I know, crazy, right? Who knew that giving a cornerback with 4.59-speed help over the top in a more off-ball, zone-based scheme would allow him to fully take advantage of his ball-hawking abilities and mitigate being burnt like a waterlogged turkey in a deep fryer? I thought cornerbacks were either only allowed to play press-man coverage right on the line or line up 15 yards off the ball on third down?

Boy, this Matt Rhule, who you may recall once called the sidelines of the Linc home during his tenure at Temple, must be a really, really good coach.

While Douglas hasn’t been perfect, as he’s currently missing an average of 10 percent of his tackles and has allowed 24 catches for 237 yards, he’s one of the rare cornerbacks with 40-plus targets and zero touchdowns to his name – an honor that no corner on the Eagles’ roster can currently claim.

And if Douglas continues on this pace, you’d best believe the Panthers’ front office is going to lock him up long-term, as according to Over The Cap, the fourth-year cornerback is playing at a $7.97 million valuation.

Sidebar: In case you were wondering, Sidney Jones is also playing pretty well for the Jacksonville Jaguars since making the active roster in mid-September. He’s started each of the team’s last three games and even hauled in an interception before suffering a back injury in Week 7.

Rookie RB Jason Huntley deserves more snaps. dark. Next

So there you go; as crazy as it may sound, Rasul Douglas went from an almost guaranteed role as a third outside cornerback coming off the bench to the top cornerback on an ascending young defense set to cash in on a contract year. Whether you want to blame that on the Philadelphia Eagles for releasing him, Jim Schwartz for having too rigid a system, or the universe for taking everything good away from football fans in this neck of the woods, you can’t knock the 25-year-old Orange, New Jersey native for making the most of the cards he was dealt.