March 12, 2016 |
Rodney McLeod walked up to the podium wearing a crisp white shirt buttoned to the top, Steve Urkel-style, and a jacket with a polka dot handkerchief peaking out of the breast. His torso barely cleared the lectern, while coach Doug Pederson, who spoke just moments before, towered over the stand. The new Eagles safety isn't known for his size - he's listed as 5-foot-10, 195 pounds - but he looked even smaller in person. He answered questions eloquently, spoke in measured tones, and smiled a lot. McLeod didn't appear to be anywhere near the intimidator the Eagles have lacked in the secondary for nearly a decade.
November 20, 2015 |
BUCCANEERS rookie quarterback Jameis Winston has never been to Philadelphia, but he surely followed the Birds while growing up in Bessemer, Ala. "I'm an Eagles fan," said Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in 2015. "Randall Cunningham was my favorite player of all time. I loved Brian Westbrook, Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb, Jevon Kearse - all the guys in the 2000s. " Winston, 21, wasn't even born when Cunningham was in his prime, but that's beside the point. Lots of people grow up idolizing Mickey Mantle or Wilt Chamberlain or even Michael Jordan without having seen them play.
October 23, 2015 |
First there were Quintin Mikell and Sean Jones in Sean McDermott's Jim Johnson-cloned defense. Then there were Mikell and Nate Allen. Then Allen and Kurt Coleman for two years behind the "wide nine. " Then Allen and Patrick Chung in Bill Davis' completely new scheme. And then Allen and Malcolm Jenkins last year. Interspersed as starters in that six-year span have been Macho Harris, Colt Anderson, Jarrad Page, Jaiquawn Jarrett, David Sims and Earl Wolff. It's been seven years since the Eagles and Brian Dawkins parted ways, and for the first time since his departure, the team has two more than competent safeties and a scheme that matches their skill sets.
October 21, 2015 |
Memories were low-hanging fruit here. They always are when the Eagles play the Giants, or any NFC East team. That the Eagles chose this particular night to induct Brian Westbrook into their Hall of Fame was natural, given that Westbrook turned around the franchise's 2003 season with that stunning punt-return touchdown in East Rutherford. So there were Donovan McNabb and Brian Dawkins strutting out of a tunnel before Monday night's game, familiar faces inspiring familiar thoughts. Hours earlier, former Giants coach Bill Parcells had answered questions for 15 minutes on a local sports-talk station, and the relish returned to his voice when he spoke about the teams' rivalry of the mid-to-late 1980s - Randall Cunningham and Lawrence Taylor and the banana republic at Broad and Pattison that was Veterans Stadium.
September 2, 2015 |
SO, ABOUT THAT test the Eagles' secondary was going to face this preseason . . . Andrew Luck played 11 snaps. Joe Flacco played 19. Aaron Rodgers played zero. Hey, it's not their fault that preseason football has reached a farcical level of meaninglessness. Still, it would have been nice to see the group in action against somebody other than Brett Hundley and Jeff Janis. In three games, the Eagles' secondary spent 15 snaps in pass coverage against starting wide receivers (Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Randall Cobb)
August 2, 2015 |
Walter Thurmond watches Malcolm Jenkins in practice. He has emulated former teammates Earl Thomas and Antrel Rolle. It's part of his acclimation to a new position, but it's no coincidence those are safeties that Thurmond says he admires. Jenkins and Rolle entered the NFL as cornerbacks before switching to safety. Thomas made the change in college. They all experienced what Thurmond went through this spring, when the Eagles decided to move Thurmond, a career cornerback, to safety. "I have my white belt on," Thurmond said during the spring.
October 30, 2014 |
Nate Allen continued to receive staunch support from the Eagles' coaching staff on Tuesday, when defensive coordinator Bill Davis said he is "absolutely confident" in the safety. The trade deadline passed without the Eagles acquiring a safety. It was further evidence that the Eagles are behind Allen, who was at fault for a 75-yard touchdown pass that helped decide the Eagles' loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. "I watch every play Nate had. Nate had a very good game. He had one bad play," Davis said.
August 29, 2014 |
Safety became associated with a lot of four-letter words to Eagles fans that March day in 2009 when the team let its most beloved player sign as a free agent with the Denver Broncos. What the - insert your own four-letter word here - were they thinking when they let Brian Dawkins leave? When the - again, use the four-letter word of your choice - are the Eagles going to find a replacement for Dawkins? This is the Eagles' sixth season without Dawkins, who is retired and being paid to express his NFL opinions on ESPN.
June 2, 2014 |
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - When the Eagles started defensive meetings in April, Earl Wolff sat behind new Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. Wolff glanced over Jenkins' shoulder at Jenkins' notebook and was astounded at the level of detail. So Wolff started sitting next to Jenkins, and he has shadowed the Eagles' top defensive addition since. It's the same notebook former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel remembers Jenkins carrying around when Jenkins was an all-American for the Buckeyes. The Eagles' dogged pursuit of Jenkins had much to do with the way he plays safety, but it was also because of the intangibles they wanted from the player they expect to lead their secondary.
May 8, 2014 |
BEFORE BRIAN Dawkins came along, most NFL safeties were one-trick ponies with Mack truck hitting ability and Mack truck speed to match. They were mini-linebackers who could send you into never-never land with a hit and hold their own in zone coverage. But cover a wide receiver in space? Uh, no. Dawkins changed that. The 1996 second-rounder out of Clemson wasn't a one-trick pony. He was the complete package. He was a bone-rattling safety with cornerback speed who could cover any receiver on the field, inside or outside, and became one of the key components in Jim Johnson's ultra-successful blitz packages.