Ronald Darby Stresses Short Memory: ‘You're Going to Lose Some Battles'

Sitting in the corner of his locker stall late in the evening after Thursday's game, Ronald Darby helped finish a reporter's sentence. 

We always hear the most important part of being a cornerback is ...

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"Short memory," Darby interjected, nodding his head. 

After pulling in an interception in his Eagles debut last week, Thursday night against the Dolphins wasn't Darby's best showing. Now comes the important part. He has to forget and move on. 

"I critique myself a lot," Darby said. "But I've been doing this a while and you have to have a short memory. You're going to lose some battles, but my goal is to always win most of them. At the end of the day, I want to win more than I lose."

The problem for cornerbacks is that even if they win more battles than they lose, one or two plays can ruin a game. That's what happened to Darby on Thursday night. He was responsible for two big plays from the Dolphins that led almost directly to 14 points. 

In the two weeks Darby has been with the Eagles, his aggressiveness has been pretty obvious. He's not on the field to tackle receivers after they catch balls in front of him. He wants to make plays. 

And even when he gives one up, he claims that aggressiveness won't waver. 

"When I get beat, I try to just come back and play harder," Darby said. "Make every catch after that harder to catch on me. I just compete at the end of the day. You ain't going to be perfect. It's football. And once you understand that, you can go out and play freer." 

In the first quarter Thursday night, Darby lost in a 1-on-1 battle to DeVante Parker, who is four inches taller. On that play, the Eagles' newest cornerback, who came to them in a trade on Aug. 11, had pretty tight coverage. But he mistimed his jump and Parker was able to pluck the ball out of the air before turning and running for a 72-yard gain. Jay Ajayi punched in a two-yard touchdown on the next play. 

"It was just a good throw and catch," said Darby, who admitted that he should have been able to make the play. "I'm going to watch film, critique myself and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Then, on the first play of the second quarter, Darby gave up another big gain. This time, he was called for a defensive pass interference that gave the Dolphins 42 yards and set up a one-yard touchdown pass. Darby was covering Kenny Stills, who beat him on a double move. 

Darby used his 4.3 speed to recover, but placed his hand on Stills' shoulder as he tried to make a play on the ball. 

"I got there," he said. "I had in my mind, once I get there, I'm just going to go up, play the ball. I could have been a little more patient. I tried to jump around him to read the ball. I didn't really try to yank him. It was just that hand being on him that caused it."   

Maybe it's unfair to treat Darby like some sort of savior. After all, this is just his third NFL season and he's been good in the league; not great. But based on what the Eagles had at cornerback before his arrival, it's hard to not treat him like the man. For this team, he needs to be. 

In the first two years of his career, Darby lined up on the opposite side of Stephon Gilmore, who was a Pro Bowler in 2016 and signed a $65 million contract this offseason. The two remain close and talk daily. 

But this season, Darby has a chance to step out of Gilmore's shadow. For the first time in his career, he's the unquestioned best cornerback on his team. A lot of times, that means traveling to face top-tier receivers ... and the Eagles will face plenty of them in 2017. 

Darby doesn't know if he'll travel to face guys like Odell Beckham Jr. or Dez Bryant or Terrelle Pryor. All he knows is that if that's his job, he's ready for the challenge. 

"If you want to get that label as a lockdown corner, yeah," he said. "I'm not afraid to lose battles. At the end of the day, my goal is to make more [plays] than I lose."

He's not going to win all the time. Knowing that is half the battle; the other half is forgetting. 

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