Jalen Mills key to Eagles defensive success
While many people feel that Mills is the weak link in the Eagles defense it will not change the fact that the Eagles must continue to trust in the green goblin. I believe Mills is the key for the Eagles defensive success going forward.
As the saying goes you are only as strong as your weakest link. In the early stages of camp Mills has really stood out as he aims to lock down a starting role. If the LSU alum can take his game to the next level this season the Eagles chances to repeat will greatly improve.
A year to forget
The Eagles selected Mills in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL draft. Originally slated as a second pick Mills fell due to off-field issues.
With the secondary in flux Mills found plenty of playing time early on. However, that didn’t mean good results. The former Tiger ranked dead last with a PFF grade of 31.8. He was also the most targeted cornerback as opposing quarterbacks locked in on the secondary woes. As a result, Mills would be targeted 91 times allowing 848 receiving yards.
Nowhere to go but up
In year two the green goblin began to round into form. With the injury to the newly acquired Ronald Darby in week, one against the Redskins Mills was trusted with being the teams top option at cornerback. And while there were some ups and downs the goblin was ready for the opportunity.
Jenkins great coverage on Reed, then Schwartz brings the heat on 3rd down, leading to Cousins overthrow and Mills interception pic.twitter.com/r7rLDMmA2N
— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) September 10, 2017
In 2017 Mills PFF grade jumped up to 77.1. He also allowed just 18.2% of targets 20 or more yards downfield to be caught a markdown from 44.2% in 2016. He finished the season with 64 tackles three interceptions including a pick six.
Super Bowl run
The Eagles defensive success carried over into the playoffs and Mills shined. In the Divisional round against the Atlanta Falcons, Matt Ryan Targeted Mills four times completing just one catch for 12 yards.
"We were able to recognize that before they even came out of the huddle."
— NFL (@NFL) January 18, 2018
Ryan had just a 39.6 passer rating when targeting the green goblin. With the season on the line, the Eagles trusted Mills against one of the best receivers in the NFL in Julio Jones and Mills came away with the winning play. The confidence that Mills displayed accepting the challenge of Jones with no safety help proves that the former seventh-rounder has that attitude you need from your players in big moments.
Third years the charm
This year look for Mills play to jump to the next level. The Eagles defensive scheme results in a lot of one on one matchups. While it may not always be pretty if the Eagles are able to leave Mills on the outside and have him hold up it makes this defense even more dangerous. If the green goblin can continue to improve his play the Eagles defense as a whole could jump to elite status and cause nightmares for opposing quarterbacks.
Jalen Mills picks off C.J. Beathard and takes it to the house.?pic.twitter.com/KsbZnGg0OS
— LeadingNFL (@LeadingNFL) October 29, 2017
Featured image via Flickr by Jose Diaz.
All stats provided by profootballfocus.com and NFL.com.