Eagles fans, I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that you’re hosting the NFC Divisional Game tomorrow. The bad news is that’s the end of the good news. Because just about everything else isn’t good news. You’re the top seed in the NFC and you’re an underdog at home. You won’t have Carson Wentz – you already knew that. And you will be facing Julio Jones – you already feared that.
Jones has been dealing with a bad ankle, but after being held out of practice Tuesday and Wednesday, he returned to practice yesterday and by all indications, he’s going to play. And if he plays, there won’t be any excuses from Jones.
“The thing with being injured is really just blocking it out. Don’t use it as an excuse. If you say you’re going to go, go. Don’t bring it up in the middle of the game like, ‘Oh, this hurt.’ Like, we know that. … So don’t let your mind be negative. Just stay positive. If something’s hurting or anything like that, I never relate back to it like, ‘Oh, it’s…’ Well, I know it hurts. You don’t want to talk about it and bring that stuff up during the game. If I suit up, I’m going. I’m not saying anything about it. It is what it is. I’m out there.”
And if he’s going to play, that’s great news for Atlanta and terrible news for Philadelphia.
In last season’s meeting, Jones had 10 receptions for 135 yards. Philadelphia still won that game, but I’m guessing they’d rather not see him get double-digit receptions and triple-digit yards tomorrow. Although they might have to settle for that if they can hold him to zero touchdowns.
And even knowing that past and what Jones can do, the Eagles corners aren’t backing down. And I respect that. You can’t enter the game with fear in your mind or in your heart. Ronald Darby wasn’t an Eagle for last year’s meeting, but he is for this year’s and he wants everyone to know, he’s not scared. “Nothing scares me. Can’t have no fear at all. Every receiver can do the same thing he can — catch the ball and score.”
Well, not exactly, Ron. Every receiver tries to do the same things he can – catch the ball and score, but there aren’t too many who actually do it as well as Julio Jones does. That’s why he’s Julio Jones and everyone else is not Julio Jones. He’s 6’3, 220, with absurd feet and hands.
But the Eagles still feel confident that they’ve learned from watching film, especially film of the New Orleans Saints and Marshon Lattimore. Darby explained: “You have to know how to play different receivers in different ways. But you can press. Go back and watch film. A lot of people press. [Lattimore] from the Saints did it. A lot of people get up in his face. You just have to know what comes with it. Bleep up, and it’s going to be a big play.”
One problem – Jones had 12 receptions for 247 yards against the Saints this year. So maybe Lattimore hasn’t exactly cracked the Julio Code the way everyone wants to believe.
About the only silver lining is the fact that he’s not 100 percent healthy. But he hasn’t been 100 percent healthy all year and he still had more than 1,400 receiving yards. What I’m saying, Eagle fans, is that even a banged-up Julio Jones is still a dangerous Julio Jones. Give him short stuff, that’s fine. But whatever you do, you cannot allow him to run free in your secondary and kill you over the top. Because the last thing you want to do right now is get into a shootout when your gunslinger is Nick Foles. There’s a reason you’re a dog at home, even though you’re a one seed and the Falcons are six… Just as there’s a reason I said right when Wentz down, if you’re asking me if I’m taking Nick Foles or the field, I’m taking the field, even though the field in the NFC is about as weak as it’s ever been… I’m not coming off that… I know it’s in your nature to always fear and expect the worst, Philly Fan. And you should, but never more than you should right now.. I’d love to tell you everything is going to be just fine. But it won’t. But you knew that already. And don’t at me, and don’t be looking to kill the messenger. I’m not the one who put that shot on Carson Wentz. Mark Barron did.