Jalen Mills hoping for better days ahead

Mills heard all of the criticism and tried to focus on the field, but admitted to having a slow start this season.

Ed Benkin
October 15, 2018 - 10:11 pm
Sep 23, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Jalen Mills (31) reacts after making a play against the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) - Jalen Mills has never lacked confidence, but the Eagles' third year cornerback could hardly tune out the wave of criticism directed at him early in the season.

Mills struggled over the first five games as the Eagles slipped to a 2-3 start. There were cries from fans to bench Mills as he continued to be beaten by pass receivers.  Mills heard all of the criticism and tried to keep his focus on the field, but even he admitted to having a slow start when asked to grade himself on his performance in 2018.

"On a grade scale I'd give myself besides Thursday a C-minus," said Mills. "I wasn't playing great at all early in the season."

Mills played much better Thursday night in the Eagles win over the Giants.  Many believed it was Mills' best game of the season as the Eagles rolled to an easy victory.  Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz has never wavered in his faith in Mills, and Schwartz was especially happy with Mills' play in the red zone last Thursday night.

"I think all our corners play with a pretty good technique in the red zone," Schwartz said.  "It's about having vision on the ball.  Quarterbacks like to throw it.  He does a good job of visioning the ball and he's strong.  I think both of those things serve him well."

The life of an NFL cornerback can be a roller coaster. It is one of the most heavily criticized positions by both fans and analysts. Cornerbacks are often on an island against opponents and one mistake can lead to disaster. For Mills, another difficult challenge awaits this weekend when Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers come to town. Newton is just as dangerous with his legs as he is with his arm and Mills and his teammates will have to stay disciplined to avoid giving up game-breaking plays.

"He's a dual-threat quarterback," said Mills.  "We have to protect both the pass and the run when it comes to that type of guy. "

One of the keys to being a successful cornerback in the NFL is amnesia. Corners have to quickly forget about mistakes or risk getting burned again later in the game. Mills has always had mental toughness and bounce back ability, but that mindset has been put to the test more often than ever in 2018.  Perhaps Thursday night's game was a sign of better days ahead. For Mills, the knowledge that players, coaches and management are standing by him has helped him push through a rough start to the season.

"I play with a lot of energy," Mills said.  "Guys have my back and I have theirs.  I know the guys have my back.  It's the guys upstairs, Coach Schwartz and Coach Pederson, Howie (Roseman) and the guys in this locker room."