Monday Morning QB: Ronald Darby makes Eagles D that much better

As the Philadelphia Eagles keep getting better while the rest of the NFC East (except the New York Giants, who are now officially out of playoff contention) keep getting worse, here are the top three things that jumped out from their 37-9 romp over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. 1. So much for any concerns about Ronald Darby fitting in. The Eagles cornerback, acquired in a preseason trade with Buffalo, hadn’t played since the season opener because of an ankle injury suffered during that game. His long-anticipated return in this game prompted many questions. Because the secondary played so well in his absence, could his return actually mess up that chemistry? How will his body hold up? Can he be a good tackler again right away? What would his stamina be like? Everything was answered positively, as Darby made the defense that much better. He not only broke up two passes, but he intercepted another and finished as the Eagles’ leading tackler with eight — all solo. 2. Doug Pederson is not Andy Reid. Repeat: Doug Pederson is not Andy Reid. After a miserable first half from its offense, Pederson and his staff calmly refocused the team at halftime and came out with a masterful plan of actually running the ball more. As a result, quarterback Carson Wentz finished with just 27 passes attempted. Had the Eagles been losing at halftime to any team under any circumstance under Reid, the over-under on that number would have been 50, which rarely leads to a win in this league. 3. Homefield advantage throughout the playoffs is probably not a necessity for this team to reach the Super Bowl. Winning a game like this in a hostile environment against an opponent whose season was basically on the line is proof. Furthermore, they won in a blowout despite lots of things going haywire, including Wentz not being able to hit water if he fell out of a boat for most of the first half and losing their kicker for the last three quarters. That’s not to say the Eagles, Continue Reading

Eagles trade Jordan Matthews to Bills for CB Ronald Darby

PHILADELPHIA — The speculation that Jordan Matthews could be traded turned into reality on Friday, when the Eagles dealt their starting wide receiver to the Buffalo Bills for cornerback Ronald Darby. The Eagles also surrendered a 2018 third-round pick, paying a steep price to try to rectify shortcomings at cornerback.Darby, 23, was a 2015 second-round pick by the Bills who started 29 games the last two seasons. He has two career interceptions and 33 passes defended. The Florida State product is 5-foot-11 and 193 pounds and instantly upgrades the Eagles' secondary; he will start at cornerback. He also has two years remaining on his contract, which was part of his appeal to the Eagles.Howie Roseman, the Eagles' executive vice president of football operations, didn't think there would be opportunities this summer to find a young, starting outside cornerback who was not a pending free agent. That made him willing to pay the price.“It goes to the player that we got, the position that we're acquiring, and how difficult it is to find those guys,” Roseman said.But the Eagles had to move on from Matthews, who arrived in 2014 and has been productive since day one. In three seasons, Matthews, 25, totaled 225 catches, 2,673 receiving yards, and 19 touchdowns. He was the team's top receiver the last two years and is respected in the locker room for his work ethic and character.“Hard to pull the trigger on a trade like that when you're giving up that kind of player and person,” Roseman said.Multiple Eagles sent messages on social media about Matthews' departure, including quarterback Carson Wentz, who wrote “couldn't ask for a better teammate & friend.” Tight end Zach Ertz wrote, “honestly don't think a teammate had a bigger impact on my life.”Matthews is a free agent at the end of the season, and his name has been in trade rumors since the combine in March. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former Eagles scout, left Continue Reading

Eagles’ CBs Darby, Mills overcome big plays against them

PHILADELPHIA – For a cornerback, the memories have to be short because the wide receivers keep coming.In that respect, Eagles cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are quite forgetful.Darby had an inconsistent game against the Giants on Dec. 17, a performance he called "one of the worst of my career," as he was burned for a touchdown and got called for two holding calls before breaking up a pass near the end zone on the Giants' final drive.Yet there Darby was on Monday night against the Raiders, intercepting Derek Carr's pass with 46 seconds left in a tie game, giving the Eagles the ball at midfield, and eventually leading to the game-winning field goal."You can’t dwell on a bad game," Darby said. "Just like this week, I can't dwell on a good game. I did good [against the Raiders], but that's over with. It’s all about next week and the weeks after that."Mills is going through that now as the Eagles close out the regular season against the Cowboys on Sunday.Mills fell badly for Amari Cooper's double move on a slant-and-go route. Cooper turned that into a 63-yard touchdown reception. Mills would have also been beaten on a jump ball by Cooper, but that 45-yard pass was negated by a Raiders' holding penalty.Mills also dropped an interception on a deep pass to Michael Crabtree midway through the fourth quarter. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was asked about his message to Mills, the team's seventh-round pick in 2016 who became a full-time starter this season."Don't be overly aggressive, and then also don't be overly conservative," Schwartz said. "I think you can coach a guy into some bad things. When I say that, if we're murdering him for giving up a play, then all of a sudden he plays too soft and gives up a million plays in front. If we're murdering him for giving up plays in front, then all of a sudden we get too risky on the outside part of the field."He's been a good player over the course of Continue Reading

All aboard! Magnolia Hotel train and village help raise money for local Ronald McDonald House

The Magnolia Hotel Omaha is on a sugar high after creating a unique gingerbread train and village that will serve as a welcome for guests and a donation spot for the local Ronald McDonald House. The locomotive, coal car and 11 other rail cars took the Magnolia "elves" 150 hours to create and will be on display in the hotel lobby during the holiday season. The display includes a pond, sailboat, dock, gingerbread Christmas trees and four cottages. The “MagnoLine” runs on top of a Kit Kat rail system and uses black licorice to power the engine. “This is our fifth year creating such an awesome visual piece of art for our hotel, our guests and the community,” said Tim Darby, Magnolia Hotel general manager. “The guest feedback has been amazing, and we are very excited with the donations that are being made to support the local Ronald McDonald House.” Chef Sarah Perkins served as the head creative elf and provided the overall design. Ingredients for the gingerbread creation include: » 154 pounds of frosting » 36 pounds of gingerbread » 7 pounds of colored sugars » $200 worth of candy » 30 pounds of brown sugar » 154 Kit Kat Bars » 30 dozen eggs » 210 cups of flour » 150 man hours Continue Reading

Ronald Darby on groping accusations against Jameis Winston: ‘Just not true’

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby says he was in the Uber with Jameis Winston nearly two years ago and that accusations Winston groped the driver “are just not true.”Winston, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback, is under investigation by the NFL for allegedly grabbing the female driver between her legs on March 13, 2016, after she picked him up in Scottsdale, Ariz.Darby, who played with Winston at Florida State in 2013 and 2014, released a statement Sunday, via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. "I felt the need to come forward and clarify some inaccurate accounts of the evening of March 13, 2016 when myself, a friend and Jameis Winston took an Uber ride in Arizona," Darby said. "There were three of us in the car, not just one as has been reported. Myself and Jameis were in the backseat. I am confident that nothing inappropriate in nature happened in the car that evening and Jameis did not have any physical contact with the Uber driver. The accusations are just not true." More: NFL investigating Bucs QB Jameis Winston over alleged assault on Uber driver According to the initial report from BuzzFeed News, the woman claimed that Winston was the only passenger and sat in the front seat.“He sexually assaulted me, and I have every right to tell the damn truth about it,” she told BuzzFeed.John Clune, a lawyer retained by the woman, reiterated the claim that Winston was the sole passenger. When asked by USA TODAY Sports, the NFL declined comment on whether Darby would be investigated. The woman, identified as Kate in the story, did not go to the police, but did file a complaint with Uber."The behavior the driver reported is disturbing and wrong,” an Uber spokesman told the Tampa Bay Times. “The rider was permanently removed from the app shortly after we learned of the incident."Winston has denied the allegation."The accusation is false, and given the nature of the allegation and increased Continue Reading

Eagles without starting CB Darby, LB Kendricks vs. Redskins

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Eagles were without starting cornerback Ronald Darby for the fifth straight week and starting linebacker Mychal Kendricks for Monday night's game against Washington.Darby practiced this week for the first time since he dislocated his right ankle in the opener against the Redskins. Darby was listed as inactive and might be ready to play Sunday against San Francisco.Kendricks (hamstring) had 17 tackles in Philadelphia's win against Charlotte. Najee Goode will start for Kendricks at weak-side linebacker.Joining Darby and Kendricks on the inactive list were wide receiver Shelton Gibson, defensive tackle Justin Hamilton, defensive end Steven Means, defensive tackle Elijah Qualls and guard Chance Warmack.The Redskins got a boost with cornerback Bashaud Breeland in the lineup. Breeland had been questionable with a knee injury. Cornerback Josh Norman (ribs) was inactive. Also inactive for the Redskins were safety Deshazor Everett, linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons, guard Tyler Catalina, offensive tackle Ty Nsekshe, tight end Jeremy Sprinkle and defensive lineman AJ Francis.___More AP NFL: and 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Continue Reading

Halfway to ending 17-year playoff drought? Not sure, but Bills better than expected

ORCHARD PARK – The mere mention of the word “tanking” makes Sean McDermott cringe because if we’ve learned anything about the new Buffalo Bills coach, it’s that there’s no way he’d ever allow it to happen on his watch.You want to talk about a deal breaker? My guess is if the Pegulas ever asked McDermott to be patient during a tank similar to what their top Sabres lieutenants endured a few years ago, he would have told them to find another coach.The former national wrestling champion has no concept of not giving your all, of not doing everything humanly possible to win, be it football, hockey, or Call of Duty.Tanking? How could anyone have thought such a thing?“It’s probably just more of what’s been said about these guys outside of this building, what was said in preseason, where we’re tanking,” McDermott said recently. “All along we’ve said we’re building a team. We’re not tanking. I think guys, they embrace that. They embrace that underdog mentality, they embrace that underdog role. A lot of guys in this room have been told, myself included, that we’re not good enough.”They sure weren’t good enough Thursday night during a disappointing 34-21 loss to the Jets which dropped their record to 5-3 which, as we are all acutely aware, looks much different than 6-2. The Bills have been 5-3 several times during their 17-year playoff drought, but they haven’t been 6-2 or better since 1993.► LeSean McCoy:  Questioned Bills intensity vs. Jets► Maiorana:  Loss to Jets one for the trash can► Roth:  Bills haven't earned anything yetAs much of a downer as that loss was in New York, 5-3 is way better than the “tanking” prognostications that were being tossed around back in August when general manager Brandon Beane traded Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby on the same day. Sure, it’s tough to deny that the Bills Continue Reading

Bills make big splash again, acquire WR Kelvin Benjamin from Panthers

ORCHARD PARK – At about 1 p.m., as Bills practice was wrapping up for Tuesday, Brandon Beane was walking off the field just as the media was being ushered in.The affable general manager stopped to chat, and I asked him, point blank, if anything was cooking with the NFL trade deadline just three hours away.“Never say never,” Beane said. “If someone calls and gives me an offer I like, I’ll listen. But nothing is in the works.”Well, Beane apparently grew tired of staring at a silent phone because according to Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney, Beane called him to discuss Kelvin Benjamin, and the two sides hammered out a deal that brings the wide receiver to Buffalo in exchange for third- and seventh-round picks in the 2018 draft.Beane confirmed that he made the call Tuesday to Hurney about 2 p.m., after his denial to reporters that something might be imminent. At that time, nothing was happening, but he admitted he had had conversations with Hurney for a couple days. “At today's practice, I really didn't sense that anything was going to go down … by 3:40 p.m., it got pretty serious (with the deadline looming),” Beane said. “You're always looking to make a move to win today and win tomorrow, and I think that answers both of those.”The third-round pick going to Carolina was the Bills’ original, and the Bills retained the third-rounder they received from the Eagles in the Ronald Darby trade in August. The seventh-rounder was the choice that came to Buffalo as part of the Cardale Jones trade to the Los Angeles Chargers in July. The Bills are now down to five picks in the first three rounds of the 2018 draft.The Panthers picked up Benjamin’s fifth-year option, so the Bills can retain him in 2018 before he’s eligible to hit free agency. They will absorb a salary cap hit next year of $8,459,000 if they decide to keep him. The option is guaranteed against injury only. To Continue Reading

Upon Further Review: Sean McDermott, Bills setting the standard for rebuilding in NFL

Someone forgot to tell Sean McDermott and the Buffalo Bills that rebuilding projects are supposed to feature hard-to-watch defeats, apparent steps backward and more questions than answers.The first-year coach led his team to a 35-14 blowout victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, improving his record to 5-2 on the season and 4-0 at home. It’s the Bills’ best start since 2011 and their first 4-0 opening at home since 1995.Up in Western New York, the long-suffering fan base is holding its collective breath, unsure if this success is for real. Every week, McDermott’s postgame news conferences feature questions from local reporters asking why they should believe this team is different from years past, as the franchise holds the longest active postseason drought at 17 years.As he repeated on Sunday, McDermott won't compare his squad with its predecessors. He is concerned only with building this team and laying a foundation for success in years to come.And he appears to well on his way toward doing just that.The foremost priority has involved changing the culture. The former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator has convinced players to buy into his “One-11th” mantra, which means each member of a unit has to focus on doing his respective job while remembering that he is part of a group, and his contribution leads to the greater good. More: Seven NFL trades that would make sense before deadline More: 40 things we learned in Week 8 of the 2017 NFL season Working alongside another former Panthers figure in first-year general manager Brandon Beane, McDermott hasn’t been afraid to make unpopular decisions. He opted against re-signing cornerback Stephen Gilmore and linebacker Zach Brown. He traded wide receiver Sammy Watkins, defensive back Ronald Darby and, most recently, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.Leaning heavily on defensive coordinator Continue Reading

NFL Draft 2015 preview: UConn cornerback Byron Jones’ stock is soaring

The explosiveness. The power. The blink-and-he’s-gone speed. Anthony Poindexter, UConn’s defensive coordinator, didn’t need a stopwatch or a tape measure to notice these qualities in Byron Jones. All he needed to do was watch the freakishly gifted cornerback glide across the practice field every day. RELATED: NFL DRAFT '15: TEN BEST 1ST-ROUND CBs OF LAST DECADE “If you just came out to practice one day and watched the kid, you could know nothing about football,” Poindexter said of Jones. “But you’d know, ‘Oh, this kid is a great athlete.’ ” These days, everyone in the NFL knows that. No player has used the predraft testing process to enhance his status for next week’s NFL draft more than Jones. Once considered a talented corner with plenty of upside, he’s used two months of breathtaking workouts to sky-rocket into the first-round conversation. Michigan State’s Trae Waynes remains this draft’s top coverage prospect, but no corner has showcased more athletic potential than Jones. A well-built 6-1, 199 pounds, he already had the frame teams covet in the era of Richard Sherman. Then he went to February’s NFL Scouting Combine and set a world record (yes, a world record) of 12 feet, 3 inches in the broad jump. A 44.5-inch vertical leap followed. A month later, Jones clocked a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at UConn’s Pro Day, and his stock soared. Jones has visited a host of teams, including the Eagles, 49ers, Bills and Bears, and it’s a near-certainty that a club will reach for him midway through the first round. “I don’t think he’s nearly as good of a football player as his testing numbers might indicate,” said one longtime NFC scout. “But he will get overdrafted because his numbers are so good.” Jones is far from a perfect prospect, but he’s not Continue Reading