All the elements for Ronald Darby's breakout debut performance manifested right in front of the fans at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night.
After a near interception during the first few minutes of the game, Darby firmly got his hands on the football the second time around. On a pass intended for Bills receiver Anquan Boldin, Darby managed to snatch the ball away clean before running 48 yards in the other direction. The Eagles, who had just turned the ball over on the previous possession, found themselves in the red zone.
"It was a blitz, tried to get hit with a double move. I just played it right, got high shoulder, and just went up, attack the ball," Darby said on his interception.
Darby was a Buffalo Bill just one week ago. The plays and routes his former teammates ran, although slightly altered, were still fresh in his head.
"They were running a lot of routes that looked similar. They had receivers stemming at me and running different things, so I was just being patient with everything and just cutting off him," he said.
Darby's performance was truly impressive considering that he's barely had a chance to familiarize himself with the team's defensive scheme. Luckily, Darby joins a cast of Eagles which include former teammates at the collegiate level and during his time in Buffalo. It certainly doesn't hurt either when his supporting cast features guys like the safety duo of Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.
"Those boys behind me, Jenkins and those guys helped me out a lot," Darby said. "They were communicating with me and everybody else so they helped me out a lot."
McLeod had this to say about Darby's debut performance.
"So far Darby has been good. He's only been here for a couple of days and he's already making big plays in the secondary, so it's good to have him over here," McLeod said. "Since he's coming from Buffalo, we have to make sure he understands our communication. Every team might play the same coverage, but the terms that you use are different. We welcomed him with open arms and you see he's making his mark here in Philly already."
The crowd erupted during Darby's big play letting him know that they expect big things from the third-year corner.
"It feels like prime time you know. It's like a great feeling. You get a lot of energy," he said.
Prior to Thursday's game, head coach Doug Pederson already planned on getting the corner some reps against Buffalo. To see Darby make good on those limited reps certainly brings added assurance to the secondary.
"Yeah, it's very impressive. Very exciting. Encouraging, obviously. He's definitely going to help us there in the back end," Pederson said following Thursday's game. "You kind of credit some of the throws, too, to our defensive line. The pass rush was there tonight and disrupting some of the timing offensively. Our guys were in position to make plays. Mychal Kendricks, again today, and then Darby had the other one. You know, it's great to see. It's great to see our defense come up with takeaways and put the offense in good situations."
Darby seems to be fitting right in and standing out simultaneously. After the game, Darby received the game ball from his new Eagles teammates.
"It's a great feeling to do well against a team you were just at," Darby said.
The Eagles faced the Bills in their preseason home opener, and took home a 20-16 win.