In what was supposed to be a promising young position core, the Eagles secondary — cornerbacks in particular – have been a glaring issue to the team’s up-and-down start to the 2018 season.
At the center of the secondary struggles is Jalen Mills.
Though Mills has made some really big plays for the Eagles defense in his first three seasons, he continues to also be susceptible to giving up the big play, which is more of the case this season.
There have been times he’s just been plain beat for big plays.
But he’s also been the victim of pass interference or holding calls against him that leads to chunks of yardage for the opposition – all from simply not trusting himself.
That’s what’s the most concerning.
When you’re in your third year, that shouldn’t happen.
Ever since he was drafted, Mills has gotten plenty of game reps, which should help any player keep developing those instincts you need to become a good player in this league.
He’s clearly lost some of that through the first four games this season.
On virtually all those pass interference or holding calls against him, Mills can be seen being in position to make a play on the ball, but then grabs his man, leading to the flag.
That’s a sign of him panicking.
Nine times out of 10 on those plays where he’s in position, all he needs to do is knock the ball away or jar the ball loose with a clean hit on his man.
All of this combined gives the green light for teams to “pick on him,” which continued in Sunday’s loss to the Titans.
In Sunday’s game alone, Mills gave up a 28-yard pass to Corey Davis, and then was called for pass interference mid-way through the third quarter. He then gave up a 51-yard pass to Davis again in the fourth that eventually led to a go-ahead touchdown for Tennessee.
Head coach Doug Pederson had this to say about Mills Monday, “These corners are on islands a lot. I think too, I look at it from an offensive perspective. That when you see a guy that maybe you can attack, you attack.”
While Pederson is absolutely right in saying this, he also needs to make sure Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz and his staff are putting Mills in better position to succeed.
The first thing is getting Mills and the rest of the secondary more focused. That’s part of the issue.
But the overall defensive game plan has to change, and in-game adjustments have to be better, which was something this coaching staff on both sides of the ball did well last year.
The biggest change could be perhaps more safety help, depending on the opponent, and maybe not playing so much off the ball. The Eagles gave the Titans receivers so much of a cushion.
Whatever adjustments need to be made need to be done quick, as the Eagles get ready for a dangerous Minnesota Vikings receiver core this upcoming Sunday.
And it starts with getting Mills right.