The Strange Case Of Jerome McDougle

Jerome McDougle was supposed to be a key to the Eagles. Last season, after suffering a gunshot wound, McDougle missed the entire season and his absence was pointed to as a key reason for the Eagles' defensive struggles. Now, the defense is prospering without McDougle.

How has Jerome McDougle gone from a guy that the Eagles moved up 15 spots in the draft to take to a guy who is a forgotten name? Injuries certainly haven't helped as McDougle missed parts of each of his first two seasons because of injuries. Then, he was shot just prior to the start of training camp last season and missed the entire season. This year though, McDougle was on a mission. He was ready to show that he belonged in the NFL.

Monday night, McDougle's season hit a low; in what was perhaps the biggest game of the season for the Eagles, McDougle was a spectator. Meanwhile, players like Trent Cole and Darren Howard are playing and prospering well ahead of McDougle on the depth chart. Younger players, who weren't as highly touted coming out of college are seeing substantial playing time at other positions on the Eagles' defense.

If McDougle thought he had hit a low on Christmas night, wait until after the season when the Eagles will unceremoniously release McDougle.

McDougle started the season well, making a couple of key plays for the defense. Slowly though, his playing time has decreased and when he has gotten into games, he hasn't been very effective. Actually, more than his quality of play, McDougle's attitude has been his downfall. McDougle assumed that he was going to play. He assumed that his spot on the defense was solidified. Under Andy Reid, that's one thing that you don't want to do.

Odds are that McDougle will catch on elsewhere and possibly turn things around for himself. After all, there is talent there, but it's untapped, mostly because McDougle isn't allowing it to be tapped. This is a classic case of a guy both needing to hit rock bottom before working his way back up and then needing a change of scenery.

When it's all said and done, Jerome McDougle's career in Philadelphia will have been one of disappointment. He'll be considered a draft mistake. For now though, the Eagles will keep him around just in case he's needed. Unless McDougle is needed and responds in big fashion, the end of his Eagles' career will be coming.

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