When Sidney Jones was drafted in 2017, there was an understanding in the Eagles front office that Jones wouldn’t be ready year one. The value/talent in the second round at pick 43 was too much to pass on. Fast forward three years, Jones has underwhelmed and heading into the 2020 season, Jones has to perform.
Throughout his first three seasons with the Eagles, Sidney Jones has dealt with a bevy of injuries (mainly hamstring) and inconsistent play. However, there have been flashes of the talent that warranted all the hype Jones received coming out of the University of Washington in 2017. Specifically, Jones’s late game heroics vs the Dallas Cowboys and both games against the New York Giants last season. In the 2019 season, which was Jones’s healthiest, he allowed a passer rating of 67.9 on 31 targets, allowed a 51.6% completion percentage and gave up 2 touchdowns. Jones’s talent is evident but it’s the health side of things that has hindered him from living up to his full potential. The 2020 season is the time for Jones to put it altogether and one man holds the key to the first step for Jones: Ronnie “Real Truth” Braxton.
Braxton is a well-respected cornerbacks trainer who has worked with pro-bowlers and top NFL cornerbacks such as Chris Harris, AJ Bouye, and Aqib Talib. Braxton has also worked with players, Bradley Roby and Morris Claiborne.
Braxton’s training has been referred to as “cornerback bootcamp” by Chris Harris Jr. While researching Braxton’s training and workout methods, it was stated that one of his main objectives in his workouts was to continuously cause “muscle confusion”. Muscle confusion is defined as a form of cross-training designed to achieve maximum results which allow muscle groups to improve continuously during phases of controlled yet unfamiliar movements. Braxton is said to be a very creative mind in designing his training methods. Braxton uses a combination of yoga, pilates, track and field workouts, along with hill sprints, swimming, agility ladder drills, pole vaulting mats, as well as boxing and even kick boxing, to improve the mental aspect and instincts of being an elite level NFL cornerback, in his training. The drills are designed to improve instincts, footwork, stamina, strong hands and eye placement/coordination as a cornerback. Braxton’s three main attributes to have as a corner are footwork, speed and mobility.
Morris Claiborne said on Braxton,”He hit a switch that changed my whole mindset about my game, about myself. He turned me around.”
Newly signed Eagles safety, Will Parks said, on Braxton,”it ain’t your everyday training.”
Eagles General Manager, Howie Roseman was quoted , speaking on Jones earlier this offseason, “It’s time for him to go prove it.” Jones is aware as he said “it’s a prove to me like, what have you done for me lately league.” Braxton is also said to be working with Jones mentally, specifically according to Jones, “training for precision, and training for the 4th quarter, to be as sharp as you were in the first quarter.” To be able to have the mindset to keep up your confidence, even if you get beat, is essential as a cornerback. The mental aspect of being a corner maybe the most important trait for a corner to have outside of technique and ability. The ability to have unwavering belief and confidence in self is key.
Jones play on the field will also be helped by the addition of former all-pro and 3-time pro bowl cornerback, Darius Slay. The addition of Slay could not have come at a better time for Jones, who will no longer be tasked with covering opposing team’s number one wideouts. I think the biggest upgrade for Jones, as well as the entire Eagles secondary, however, will be simply having Slay in the building and on the practice field. Being able to see a top 10 corner in the league and how he prepares, how he works and how he goes about handling his business will do wonders for the cornerbacks. You can argue, that Malcolm Jenkins has provided Eagles secondary members with the same luxury (I would agree), however Slay will give the Eagles first hand exposure to how a number one corner in the NFL works and prepares, which will do wonders for Jones.
Throughout his first few years in the NFL, the talent that warranted the hype Jones received leading up to the 2017 draft has flashed at times. However, he has yet to put it all together and stay healthy. Ronnie Braxton may just be the perfect trainer for Sidney Jones because the things Braxton focuses his workouts on align with the things Jones has to improve on. For example, the muscle confusion aspect which will help Jones due to the hamstring injuries he’s suffered. Going into year four and the last year of his rookie contract, the pressure is on and the time is now for Jones to put everything together and in Howie Roseman’s words, “prove it”.
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