Mills Bounces Back After Rough Start to Season
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - A week after being vilified for coming down with a bad case of Fitz-Magic, Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills responded by playing the kind of tough, physical game that has made him a Jim Schwartz favorite.
The former seventh-round pick, who developed into a Pro Bowl alternate by his sophomore season, Mills is often singled out by the more emotional Philadelphia fans for a penchant of biting on double moves.
Through the first two weeks of the 2018 campaign Mills struggled, grading out as No. 98 of the 103 cornerbacks who played enough to be evaluated by ProFootballFocus.com.
His inability to handle DeSean Jackson on the first play in Tampa, even though Malcolm Jenkins was supposed to help over the top, had the social-media trolls out in force and even had the typically upbeat Mills responding in kind.
Things were much better during Philadelphia's 20-16 win over Indianapolis on Sunday, however, even when you add in 51 yards of PI calls because penalty yardage is quickly becoming a built-in metric for defenses in the 2018 NFL.
“The flags (Sunday), obviously, he has to get his off hand - he has a right or left hand going for the ball - and the off hand is in a position where he’s hooking," coach Doug Pederson explained on Monday. "He has to be cognizant of that, aware of that, and try to get it off, but he’s always in position."
According to PFF Mills was the Eagles' second-best defender against the Colts behind only star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, bouncing back from an awful day in coverage against Jackson and Mike Evans to handle his business against the lesser duo of T.Y. Hilton and Ryan Grant.
“Jalen has actually been playing extremely well,” Pederson assessed. "... It seems like he’s right there to make a play. He’s physical, he’s tough, he can come up and make tackles. He’s been solid quite honestly.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen