Philadelphia Eagles: Is it finally time for a Rasul Douglas reunion?

Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia Eagles‘ decision to waive Rasul Douglas in 2020 was a mistake.

While the team clearly felt confident in their depth at the cornerback position – even if that confidence ultimately proved unearned – the decision to waive Douglas and his 2017 draft classmate Sidney Jones in favor of players like NRC, Cre’von LeBlanc, and career special teamer Craig James proved a big reason why the team had to rely on players like Michael Jacquet and Kevon Seymour down the stretch.

Are the Eagles better positioned now to weather an injury in their starting three? Sort of. With Josiah Scott and K’Von Wallace in place, Jonathan Gannon certainly has adequate depth on the interior for nickel and even dime situations, but is heading into the regular season with only Zech McPhearson as depth on the outside really a wise call?

Considering how thoroughly he was picked on by Cam “The Checkdown King” Newtown in the Birds’ second preseason contest of the season, that might not be the best call moving forward.

*sigh* if only there was a veteran cornerback who was just released to the market with a long history with the team, pre-existing relationships with many of its players, and a Super Bowl 52 ring for good measure.

Rasul Douglas could be the Philadelphia Eagles’ answer to Cameron Dantzler.

More from Section 215

In Minnesota, both during Jonathan Gannon’s tenure and in the years preceding his move to Indianapolis, the Vikings have found success with cornerbacks of all shapes and sizes.

From ultra compact contributors like Captain Munnerlyn all the way to prototypical man-press cornerbacks like Xavier Rhodes – who, funny enough, also played for Gannon in Indie – if you can cover opposing receivers somewhere on the field, Mike Zimmer and company would make it their responsibility to put you in the best position to succeed.

In 2020, the Vikings drafted an incredibly talented cornerback out of Mississippi State with a putrid 40 time by the name of Cameron Dantzler and transformed him into a 10 game starter with two picks, a forced fumble, and 46 total tackles to his credit.

But how? On paper, Dantzler and Douglas are virtually identical, and yet, the former shined in his debut season with the Vikings, while his New Jersey-born counterpart was constantly picked on during his initial run under Jim Schwartz. What the heck gives?

Simple: Zimmer played to Dantzler’s strengths.

In a defense predicated on using a pair of safeties over the top far more often than at any point in Schwartz’s career, Dantzler was afforded an opportunity to muck things up with opposing receivers, play his tough, physical brand of coverage within five yards of the line of scrimmage, and do so with the confidence that if he falters, a player like Anthony Harris or Harrison Smith would surely have his back.

Douglas, by contrast, would routinely get thrown to the wolves on an island sans any sort of over-the-top support and then get roasted both on and off the field for his lack of deep speed.

If you’re an offensive coordinator with a speedy outside option, why wouldn’t you line them up on Douglas and just call go routes if Schwartz isn’t going to provide safety support? If even two of those throws connect, you’re looking at an easy 100-plus yards and a touchdown at minimum.

In a league where wins are hard to come by, that feels like a “Punch Drunk Love”-esque loophole to spam easy yards without much effort.

If, however, the Eagles would have given Douglas support over the top and called coverages tailored to his unique set of skills, the team would have been treated to one of the most statistically efficient ballhawks in the league playing sans the gun shyness that kept him from reaching his top-end ceiling.

Under Gannon, the Eagles would surely look more like the latter than the former.

In a reserve role playing – or, fingers crossed, not playing –  behind Darius Slay and Steven Nelson, Douglas would give the Eagles a viable veteran option with 66 games under his belt and 31 starts to his name. While Douglas’ insertion into any given game would surely limit the coverages Gannon could call in any given contest, as previously stated, the only thing worse than a limited list of viable plays is having a walking turnstile on the field who gets attacked play after play after play.

Remember Michael Jacquet’s performance against Dallas last December? Do you want that to happen again to Zech McPhearson if he’s thrust into action early on and has his confidence shattered midway through his rookie season? If Douglas’ presence could just avoid that disaster scenario, it’d be worth the price of admission.

Next. Only trade Derek Barnett for C.J. Henderson. dark

At this point in his career, Rasul Douglas is what he is. He’s a


low-end CB2 depending on the scheme who could really thrive as a first outside cornerback coming off the bench. For a team like the Philadelphia Eagles, who lack a proven backup outside option, that’s just fine. Remember, not every signing has to be a home run. While re-acquiring a Cameron Dantzler-level performer would be a Travis Fulgham-esque get at this point of the season, even landing a viable backup would be much appreciated, especially if either Steven Nelson or Darius Slay miss any time this fall.