Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby needs to bounce back. He has a great opportunity to do so this week against the Falcons.
Lately, the Philadelphia Eagles have done a stellar job against the Atlanta Falcons. In the Doug Pederson era, which dates back to 2016, Philly is undefeated against Atlanta. Out of three matchups with the Falcons, the Eagles came away victorious, but each game was a close one.
Being that Atlanta has a show-stopping wide receiver in Julio Jones, he always tends to get the best of the Eagles secondary. At this point, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz likes to utilize the ‘bend but don’t break’ method when it comes to playing Jones and the Falcons.
Last year, Jones’ matchup against Philly was no different from others. He was targeted for a game-high of 19 times and caught ten passes for 169 yards. Not the most encouraging stat line for the Eagles secondary as they look to face him again this week.
And after seeing the Eagles’ defensive backs struggle against a weaker wideout unit with Washington, the Eagles could be in a world of trouble on the road playing on Sunday Night Football. Their corners must bounce back. One, in particular, could benefit from this matchup.
Darby’s off to a slow start
Last week, Ronald Darby returned from his ACL injury, which he suffered back in December. Being that he was on a ‘pitch count’ for the Eagles, he didn’t get full-time minutes as he typically would.
It’s unclear if that will change this week or not, but if he’s up for the challenge, the Eagles should consider letting it happen. Last year, Darby was inconsistent for the Eagles at cornerback.
As we’ve mentioned before — sometimes he looked like a real number one cornerback who plays lockdown in coverage. Other times, he struggled to cover wideouts and force incomplete passes. Last week, his performance was best described as the latter.
Darby allowed a completion percentage of over 60 when Case Keenum threw his way. Not to mention, his tackling was lousy. It’s understandable that Darby could’ve been shaking off the rust since he’s missed a majority of the offseason practices. Soon, he has to bounce back, though.
Can Darby redeem himself?
The hope is that Darby seeks redemption this week. Many may believe that Darby could be in for a long night against Atlanta, but the truth is, he played some of his best football against the Falcons last year — specifically against their number one wideout, Julio Jones.
Looking at Jones’ stat line doesn’t tell the entire story. That game, most of his success came on the other side against Jalen Mills. However, when Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan was throwing in Darby’s direction, he wasn’t nearly as successful. In fact, he was hardly successful at all.
Out of 11 targets, Darby only allowed four receptions for 77 yards. He forced the second-lowest catch percentage of the season with a whopping 36.4-percent. Not to mention, he forced Julio Jones out-of-bounds in the end zone on the final play of the game in one-on-one coverage.
The chances are that the Eagles utilize the ‘bend but don’t break’ method once again as they will have their hands tied with Atlanta’s wideouts. But this week, Darby could garner more reps as he can be trusted against Atlanta. Obviously, the hope is that the Eagles defensive line will give Ryan a hard time as well, so the Eagles defense will have to entirely be on their A-Game.