Analysis: Eagles secondary needs immediate improvement

Dave Uram
October 14, 2019 - 8:45 am
Eagles vs. Vikings

Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There's no reason to sugarcoat it — the Eagles secondary was awful in Sunday's 38-20 loss to Minnesota

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins lit them up for four touchdowns, with three of them going to wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Cornerback Rasul Douglas simply couldn't keep up with Diggs, as two of his scores happened on 62- and 51-yard passes. 

Fellow corner Sidney Jones had a rough afternoon as well.

Defense needs work

The Eagles won't go anywhere this season if they can't fix their pass defense, which was exposed against Minnesota. The biggest takeaway from the loss for Merrill Reese, the voice of the Eagles, was the poor play of the secondary.

"You fix it with personnel," Reese said. "You know what you have back there, and it's just not working. Now, you're going to get Jalen Mills back, maybe this week. I think he's better, but the thing about Jalen Mills is he hasn't played in a football game since last Oct. 28. He got hurt in London. 

"So what can you expect for somebody playing in a game for the first time? But, hopefully, he will come along. And as far as Ronald Darby, I don't know when he's coming back. Maybe there's something in the offing in the way of a deal. Maybe the Eagles just have to go out and make a trade with somebody, even if it's giving up a high draft pick to get somebody who can help that secondary."

In Reese's Monday morning conversation with KYW Newsradio's Dave Uram, the two also discussed linebacker Zach Brown's ill-advised pregame comments about Cousins, missing DeSean Jackson, and Doug Pederson's questionable decision to try a fake field goal. 

Listen to the full conversation below:

Sidney Jones is lacking confidence

One of the more curious cases of the Eagles secondary woes is cornerback Jones, a second-round pick in 2017, who was actually regarded as a first-round talent before a serious Achilles injury prior to that year's draft.

Jones missed most of his rookie season recovering from that injury, and since 2018, he's dealt with various other injury problems, most recently a hamstring issue. Jones insisted he was fully healthy after the loss to Minnesota, but he still struggled.

It's still early in his young career, and he is more than capable of turning it around, but facts are facts. Jones hasn't been the corner everyone thought he would be before his Achilles injury coming out of the University of Washington.

"Anybody that saw him play in college knows that he has talent, but right now in his third season, he's playing with no confidence," WIP Sportsradio's and NBC Sports Philadelphia's Ray Didinger said Monday morning. "You have a veteran receiver like (Vikings wide receiver Adam) Thielen out there and they take advantage of that.

"When he has had the opportunity to play with the Eagles, he has not played well. And I think right now for the first time in his life, he's lost his confidence. He was a guy that when he played at Washington was absolutely played with a total swagger. He was guy that week after week covered the other team's best receiver and shut him down. At least at the collegiate level, in the Pac-12, he was a shutdown corner and he hasn't been that in the NFL ... and he doesn't even look like the same guy — and it's all from confidence. I really do believe that."

The Eagles should be getting healthier at corner as soon as this upcoming game against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night. Mills could very well come off the physically unable to perform list and bolster that depleted unit. Hopefully Avonte Maddox will return soon as well from his neck injury and concussion.

However, regardless of whether the Eagles get healthier at corner, or even if they make a trade of some sorts, Jones and fellow corner Douglas will need to perform better if this team will make any kind of run. It's on them, the pass rush and the safety help behind them to make their assignments much easier than they were Sunday against Diggs and Thielen.

"The only way (Jones) can get back to being that other player (he was in college) is if he has some success, and the Eagles gave him an opportunity yesterday," Didinger said. "They really needed him to step in and play, but that was a tough situation."

Didinger and Uram spoke on many other issues from Sunday's loss, which you can listen to below: