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Wake-Up Call: Ronald Darby Calls It A ‘Blessing’ To Be An Eagle

Posted Aug 12, 2017

Wow, it's going to be an interesting scene at the NovaCare Complex today as the team regroups for its first practice since Thursday night's preseason opener against Green Bay. It will also be the first time head coach Doug Pederson meets with the media following the trade that sent wide receiver Jordan Matthews to Buffalo along with a draft pick in exchange for cornerback Ronald Darby. We will carry that press conference live at around 10:45 a.m. here on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and the Eagles Mobile App. Until then, here's what you need to know for Saturday, August 12.

1. Ronald Darby Calls Trade A Blessing

CSN Philly's John Clark was there at Philadelphia International Airport, no surprise there, when new cornerback Ronald Darby arrived Friday night. It remains to be seen whether or not he will practice with the team on Saturday as he gets situated with his new team, but in a brief interview, Darby said he was "surprised" to learn of the move.

"It's a blessing at the end of the day," Darby said.

The 23-year-old with 29 career starts under his belt offered a scouting report for his new fans.

"I'm going to be aggressive, play fast, and get to the ball," he said.

Darby has 32 passes defensed in his first two NFL seasons showing that he, indeed, will be around the football.


2. Howie Roseman Capitalized On Unique Opportunity

The Eagles knew parting with Jordan Matthews, a productive wide receiver and outstanding person in the locker room, was going to be a tough decision. But the depth at the position, with the offseason additions and internal development that to position coach Mike Groh, allowed the Eagles to take advantage of the rare opportunity to add a young cornerback with starting experience.

"You look around the league and it is a corner-deficient league. It's hard to find those guys. It's hard to find guys who have been solid starters in the league and can play at a high level and teams that have them aren't really ready to move them."

Darby is now a part of the youth movement at cornerback with Jalen Mills (23 years old), Sidney Jones (21 years old), Rasul Douglas (almost 22 years old), and second-year corner C.J. Smith (24 years old).

"He's got rare speed," Roseman said of Darby. "His production on the ball, he doesn't have a high interception number, but his (pass breakup) number is incredibly high. He's played a variety of coverages. He won a National Championship at FSU."

3. Nelson Agholor A Big Winner In Trade

The trade was just one of two for the Bills, as they sent wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback E.J. Gaines. Draft picks were also exchanged. But NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal evaluated the deals and called wide receiver Nelson Agholor one of the big winners.

"The trade especially made sense for the Eagles because they were able to fill a major position of need by giving up a guy who already appeared to be the odd man out of a revamped receiving corps," Rosenthal wrote. "Agholor, the team's first-round pick in 2015, was poised to take much of Matthews' work in the slot. The Eagles also have seen youngsters Mack Hollins and Marcus Johnson emerge in camp."

4. Did NFL Network Analyst Know Of Potential Trade?

NFL Network analyst and former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah predicted Agholor's ascension to the slot role in a recent episode of his Move the Sticks podcast.

"At the receiver position, I think they’re in great shape. Nelson Agholor has had a total rebirth. He’s in the slot. He’s going to live in the slot. He’s going to be their slot receiver. I’ll be shocked if he’s not," he said.

He didn't know what it meant for Matthews, but now we do.

5. The Breakdown Of Thursday's Big Score

Rookie wide receiver Mack Hollins epitomizes the change at the position. Expected to be a special teams player in his first year, Hollins scored the Eagles' lone touchdown on a 38-yard catch-and-run showing that maybe there should be a bigger role for him on offense.

Fran Duffy studied the All-22 and this is what he saw on the play.

"This was a post-cross concept from the Eagles, a very common vertical pass play that is prevalent in most offenses in the league. The basic idea is to put the free safety in the middle of the field in a bind. If the safety jumps down on the dig route (run by Mack Hollins on the right), then the post will be open for Torrey Smith on the left," Duffy wrote.

"The safety stayed home, creating a gaping hole in the middle of the field. The Packers run a three-man stunt up front, creating a free run at Wentz for linebacker Clay Matthews. This isn’t Johnny Anonymous coming down the pike at Wentz, it is one of the most ferocious defenders in the NFL. Wentz showed off his athleticism, again keeping his eyes downfield and delivering this throw to the rookie, Hollins, who makes a great play after the catch, running through one tackle and stiff-arming a second defender with authority on his way to the end zone. It was an outstanding play by the Eagles' offense, and (hopefully) a good sign of things to come with this new-look unit."


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