Avonte Maddox is Ready for the Double Moves
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Like any predator NFL play-callers are ruthless when they perceive a weakness on the other side of the football.
Rewind back to Nov. 18 and Sean Payton felt he had something with Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones, the oft-injured young player who was making his first start on the outside of the Philadelphia defense while pressing through a persistent hamstring issue.
From Payton's perspective, Jones was a player who struggled in run support, something acknowledged to an embedded Pater King.
"We gotta run right at 22 [Jones] and we gotta throw at 22," Payton said as told via King's Football Morning in America column. "We’re gonna make him defend the run on the first play. We’re going after him on three of the first eight plays."
The first play Payton called was indeed a Mark Ingram run to Jones' side and sure enough the second-year player missed the tackle, allowing Ingram to scamper 38 yards, the tone-setter in what turned out to be a 48-7 Saints rout.
Jones ultimately handled only 22 of Philadelphia's 70 defensive snaps in the disaster before tapping out to an aggravated hamstring.
Since then the Eagles CB situation has gotten more settled with Avonte Maddox and Rasul Douglas handing the outside and Cre'Von LeBlanc holding down the slot position so Payton's plan will not be the same during Sunday's rematch in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Doug Pederson, a somewhat frequent golfing buddy of Payton, understands something is coming, however.
"The thing is with Sean, he's going to exhaust the film, like most coaches, but I think he definitely goes above and beyond to exhaust the tape," Pederson explained. "He's going to find something that he can exploit on our defense. And he's a great play caller, tremendous play caller, and the communication he and [Saints QB] Drew [Brees] have is something that we strive to have here with our quarterbacks. It's important, I think that they are on the same page that way, and they have been doing that for a long time and it's paying off."
After Philadelphia's 16-15 Wild Card Weekend win in Chicago, the most likely option for Payton might be the rookie Maddox and the double move.
The Bears found something in the second half by allowing QB Mitchell Trubisky to pump fake while veteran wideout Allen Robinson did his magic on the back end against Maddox, who has been playing lights out until Chicago coach Matt Nagy found a flaw.
Ultimately, Robinson was the lone bright spot amongst the Bears' playmakers, amassing 10 catches for 143 yards Sunday, 121 of that coming after intermission.
Because of that Maddox is aware of what's likely in store for him in New Orleans.
"Definitely, definitely, I know it's coming," Maddox joked when asked about the double-moves. "It's a copy-cat league. I already know it. And they already ran a lot of double moves before that anyway."
More so, as good as Robinson is, the Saints' top wideout Michael Thomas is on the short list of those who can credibly claim to be the best receiver in the game.
All corners in this league get beat and caught on double moves at times. The key is learning from your mistakes and being able to put the bad plays in the rear-view mirror and focus on the next one. The Eagles have raved about Maddox's football IQ as a player as well as his mindset and short memory, a necessity to survive at the position.
"It's football. You play corner and you're not going to be perfect. Certain things are going to happen," Maddox explained. "It's all about how short your memory is and mine is short. ... When those times happen it's what you do the next play to make up for it. I definitely don't dwell on it."
Things should improve in New Orleans despite the upgrade at QB.
Although he hasn't played like it Maddox is still a rookie who was agonizingly close to picking Trubisky off on two occasions in the first half last weekend. That success fueled an aggression that the Bears turned on Maddox. Brees is on a different level than Trubisky and the willingness to gamble isn't going to be on the table to start.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen