Sidney Jones Made His One Snap Count

Ed Kracz

Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones played one snap in Monday night’s overtime win over the New York Giants and gave one dynamite quote in the postgame locker room.

“Rasul (Douglas) started cramping, and then coach was looking around and he said, ‘Craig James’, and then he said ‘Sid’,” said Jones. “It was my only snap. Efficient.”

Jones’ words may pack some punch, but his play this season has not. The second-round pick from 2017 has been tilting more toward bust than boom.

He began the season as a starter, became a rotational player, but did not get onto the field against the Patriots and Seahawks in back-to-back week, and was inactive against Miami before playing that one snap against the Giants.

Still just 23, Jones has one more year left on his rookie contract and, presumably, that one year will be spent with the Eagles, though that is not a foregone conclusion.

“I can imagine this has been a frustrating year for him,” said safety Malcolm Jenkins in the early Tuesday morning hours after the Eagles’ win. “Not necessarily the time that he wants, but you never know in this league when your numbers going to get called and you have to be ready to go.”

Jones’ one play was impactful. On third-and-three after the Eagles had just tied the score at 17-17 with 1:53 to play in regulation, New York quarterback Eli Manning went right at him after Douglas went out.

Receiver Darius Slayton ran a quick inside route right at Jones. Slayton had beaten up the Eagles all day long, with touchdown catches of 35 and 55 yards and would finish the game with five receptions for 154 yards, a 30.8 yards per catch average. On this play, though, Jones was able to get a hand on the ball and knock it away while not being called for pass interference.

“That was an important part of the game,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz on Wednesday. “Third-and-3, number One, is a tough down defensively, and then coming in cold the way he did. But it didn't surprise me at all. It didn't surprise us at all because Sid has worked really, really hard in this last month or so.

“His role has decreased, but that hasn't affected his work ethic, that hasn’t affected his preparation or his attitude. All those things have been good, and that's going to serve him well as he goes forward and as we go forward.”

As for calling on James first, Schwartz said: “We had different personnel groups. Cray (CB Cre’Von LeBlanc) was going on the field for his package. Craig was coming on saying, ‘Hey there's a corner that's out’, whatever. It was a timeout. We had plenty of time. We got the group we wanted out there.”

Schwartz on Ronald Darby

Schwartz took the blame for the first touchdown Darby allowed to Slayton, which came on a third-and-13 from the Eagles’ 35. Slayton caught the ball around the 28, but Darby missed the tackle and Schwartz had dialed up a blitz so there was nobody behind Darby to track down Slayton, who ran untouched into the end zone and a 7-0 New York lead.

“That first touchdown is 100 percent on me, it's not on him,” said Schwartz. “We had a third-and-13, I'm trying to keep him out of field goal range there. It looks like it's going to be a low-scoring game, we have some weather situations coming in and maybe points are going to be at a premium. I don't want to let them get five yards or seven yards to get into field goal range.

“But if we're in zone defense there and we have more guys at that thing, they make a 10-yard gain and kick a field goal, and all of a sudden we lose by three, you're sitting there saying, ‘Man, we should have been more aggressive to try to get them out of field goal range in that situation.’ But that's where we were. (Darby) is coming for the interception.

“Eli made a really good throw throwing to the backside hip there because Darby is driving to the break point of that route and Eli saw him, threw the back hip, he was able to make the catch, and then spin out of that tackle and we paid for the touchdown. But I don't view that at all on Darby. I view that 100 percent on me.”

Schwartz didn’t take the blame for the missed tackle, though, choosing to say nothing about that.

Schwartz on Josh Sweat

Second-year Defensive end Sweat has played in 32 percent of the Eagles’ snaps this season and has collected 20 tackles, three sacks and 23 quarterback hurries. He was the one who applied pressure on Manning after the flea flicker that Manning had to check down to Saquon Barkley rather than having that extra second to unload to Golden Tate, who was running free down the field poised to catch a 67-yard touchdown.

“He's been productive tackling,” said Schwartz. “Of the rotational defensive ends, he's been tackling probably at a higher rate than a lot of those guys that we've had in those roles in the past and he’s rushing at very similar rates. He's a young player and I think he's improving. He's made some big plays for us this year and I think he's made the most of the reps that he's had the chance to get.”