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.
May 6, 2014
FIRST ROUND Van Buren? Third?: In his later years, Steve Van Buren would have this running comedy act with Chuck Bednarik. Van Buren was the Hall of Fame running back, the star of the Eagles' 1948 and '49 championship teams. Bednarik was a kid on the '49 team and the veteran who played both ways on the 1960 championship team. And so it went . . . Steve: You were the best. Chuck: No, you were the best. The conversation would continue, wander. Stories would be told and retold.
March 14, 2014 |
Malcolm Jenkins' flight from Columbus, Ohio, to Philadelphia was delayed Wednesday afternoon, which was just about the only delay in this free-agent process for the Eagles' new safety. The Eagles targeted Jenkins once free agency opened Tuesday, and Philadelphia quickly emerged as the destination for the former Saint. Jenkins conceded that he was not in the Saints' plans, and New Orleans replaced him by making Jairus Byrd the highest-paid safety in the NFL. But Jenkins also embraced a new start with the Eagles, where the converted cornerback believes his skill set is aligned with the vision the Eagles have for safeties in their defense.
March 5, 2014 |
OCCASIONALLY, circumstances dictate that several lesser issues be plumbed at once. And, so . . . If the Eagles do, in fact, pursue a top free-agent safety when negotiations begin Saturday, it will be a marked departure from the philosophy they have followed in the nearly 20 years Jeffrey Lurie has owned the team. Yes, they signed Brian Dawkins to a 7-year extension after the 2002 season, but Dawkins was their own: a second-round pick in 1996, in the prime of his career, with impeccable character and an unmatched skill set. He was the most professional person in the franchise and the key to Jim Johnson's fearsome defensive scheme.
January 30, 2014 |
NEWARK, N.J. - When Tony Carter first met Brian Dawkins as a Broncos teammate, he was too timid to remind him that they had met years before. Carter was an undrafted rookie cornerback and Dawkins had just signed a free-agent contract after 13 seasons with the Eagles. But they had met years prior in Jacksonville - their native city - when Carter was still in high school and Dawkins was his hero. "I was probably too embarrassed to say that. But he knew who I was," Carter said. "And soon as we met each other he said, 'Duval County!
January 24, 2014 |
MOBILE, Ala. - There's a gaggle of good-sized safeties here practicing for Saturday's Senior Bowl. You have to squint really hard to see any of them as a future star, though; most project as midrounders. That's partly because the top two safety prospects in this spring's NFL draft, Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor, are underclassmen and aren't in Mobile. And it's partly because the demands of the safety position in the NFL of 2014 are extreme, much more about coverage instincts and quickly sorting through what you're looking at than wrestling ballcarriers to the turf.
January 17, 2014 |
Howie Roseman saw Brian Dawkins at the Eagles' postseason game on Jan. 4, and the sight of the retired safety only reaffirmed to Roseman how difficult it has been to replace him. The Eagles have been looking for safeties for five years. They're still looking. "You really appreciated it when he was here, but the longer he's away, you really get more and more appreciation for what a great player he was," Roseman said. "A Hall of Fame-caliber player at a position that's hard to find.
November 5, 2013 |
OAKLAND - The last guy heading out of the locker room area toward the Eagles' bus to the airport yesterday evening was Nick Foles, who slouched through the empty O.co Coliseum hallways silently, as if he were headed to film review. Had Foles ever thought about throwing seven touchdown passes in a game, before he did it? "I haven't. I always just think about what it takes to win the game," Foles said after gaining a prominent piece of NFL history, and completing what might have been the most amazing start-to-start turnaround in the history of football.