Vinny Curry: 'Turn the tape on this year and you know what's up'

USA Today Images

Vinny Curry: 'Turn the tape on this year and you know what's up'

Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry has two main goals. First, is to help the Eagles win. 


"My second goal is, when you turn the tape on," Curry said, "you're going to see 75 on there, flashing."

He's accomplishing both of those goals in 2017. 

The Eagles have an incredibly talented defensive line, but Curry isn't the player grabbing headlines. Brandon Graham leads the team in sacks and has been its most disruptive player. Fletcher Cox is on his way back to the Pro Bowl. Tim Jernigan came in a trade and already got paid. Chris Long has brought veteran leadership and has made news for his charity work off the field. And Derek Barnett is the exciting first-round pick. 

Curry? It can be easy to forget about him. 

But Curry is quietly putting together a great season. 

"He's had a tremendous year for us," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "He's played with power. He's played the run extremely well. He's done his job, and I think that's the greatest compliment I can give a player. He does his job. He's there when we need him. ... He's just been steady and consistent the whole year. Plays with toughness. He brings a physical edge to us, and he's done his job when he's called upon, and like I said, I think that's the greatest compliment you can give a player."

Through 11 games, Curry has three sacks, which isn't great, but it's also more than he had in 16 games last season. And his production shouldn't be judged by sacks alone. That would be unfair. Curry also has eight quarterback hits, 16 quarterback hurries and is tied for the team lead with seven tackles for loss. 

"He's done a lot," Graham said. "He comes in focused every day, ready to go. I think he's gotten better in Year 2 (in the defense), as far as what they ask him to do. And now he's just making plays. Now, it's all about getting better each week." 

Curry has also proven to be a huge run-stuffer for an Eagles' defense that is the best run-stuffing team in the league. 

Some think Curry, 29, has gotten better against the run, but he doesn't think so. 

"You never got to see me play the run game," Curry said. "That's an illusion that people were led to believe. People never saw me play the run game. I came in on third downs. Right now, I'm playing first and second downs now and you can see it. I'm just trying to do my job to the best of my ability and not let the guys down on my part."

In 2016, Curry was the first defensive end off the bench after Graham and Connor Barwin. The Eagles actually tried to give Curry the chance to win a starting gig, but Graham got in there and played so well they couldn't take him off the field. 

During last season, Curry battled through injuries, including an MCL sprain, and played just 43 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps. 

Curry's disappointing 2016 season came sandwiched between his signing a $46.25 million extension and the Eagles' bringing in Long and Barnett this offseason. Curry didn't pay it any mind though. 

"You've been around me a long time," Curry said. "Every year there's another story out about Vinny and something else. You know how it goes. I don't really get into none of that. I just come in and do my job. If last year, people were judging me on that, then shame on them. You feel me? Turn the tape on this year and you know what's up."

Curry, who was a second-round pick in 2012, had never started an NFL game before this season. He has started all 11 games this season as the Eagles have jumped out to a 10-1 record. Perhaps more importantly, Curry is playing a career-high 54 percent of the defense's snaps. 

In a way, Curry's role has flipped this season. He's playing more first and second downs, where he used to come in as a third-down specialist. Curry said it's just important for his unit to check their egos, something he said isn't difficult at all, especially when the team is 10-1. 

These days, Curry gets his playing time cut because the Eagles need to get Barnett into the game. The first-round pick already has 4½ sacks this season. It's a lot easier for Curry to accept the rotation because of how well Barnett is playing. 

"I ain't mad for five minutes," Curry said. "That man can play." 

But so can Curry. And he's proving it again this season. 

More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

USA Today Images

More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

The Eagles have given veteran defensive end Chris Long a raise, but according to one report, Long is concerned enough about his playing time with the Eagles that he's mulling his options regarding his future.

What is certain is that at some point before March 15, Long signed a new contract with the Eagles that increases his 2018 base salary from $1 million non-guaranteed to $2½ million fully guaranteed.

However, NFL Network's Michael Silver reported Monday that Long may decide he doesn't want to accept the new contract — which he already signed.

According to Silver, Long is concerned about how many snaps he would get as a third-down rusher following the addition of Pro Bowl pass rusher Michael Bennett.

The Eagles officially acquired Bennett on March 14, although the deal was reported a week earlier. Long's new contract was filed with the NFLPA on March 15, but there is a good chance he agreed to it and signed it before the Bennett acquisition.

Whether or not Long knew Bennett was coming to the Eagles when he signed the restructured deal is unknown. But at some point Long knew about their interest in Bennett and even gave Bennett a "glowing recommendation" when the Eagles asked, according to an interview Long gave to SBNation.  

Long wouldn't appear to have many options. He could retire, in which case he would have to return the $500,000 bonus he received from the Eagles last week.

He could request a trade, which would be bizarre for someone who signed a contract extension just a few days earlier.

Or he could simply play under the terms of the contract restructure and pay increase, which was first reported by Field Yates of ESPN and confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia with a source familiar with the renegotiation.

As for the contract itself, including that $500,000 roster bonus — which was also in the previous version of the contract — Long would receive $3 million guaranteed this year instead of $1.5 million non-guaranteed plus $750,000 in easily achieved roster bonuses.

Long had five sacks and forced four fumbles last year as a rotational defensive end. He wound up playing 496 snaps, 10th-most on the defense and only about 10 per game fewer than starter and Pro Bowler Brandon Graham and five per game fewer than starter Vinny Curry, who the Eagles released.

Long, who turns 33 next week, has 63½ career sacks. His 5.0 sacks last year were his most since 2013. He's won back-to-back Super Bowls the last two years with the Eagles and Patriots.

What happens next?

Long has demonstrated that the money is secondary to him. He donated his entire 2017 base salary to charity.

At some point very soon, the Eagles will need him to decide whether he's even going to have a 2018 base salary.

Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

AP Images

Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

A day after we found out that Brian Dawkins picked Troy Vincent to introduce him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony this summer, Terrell Owens has picked his presenter. 

No surprise: It's not Donovan McNabb.

After alienating many people in the league throughout his tremendous career, Owens picked a name from his early days. Longtime NFL assistant coach George Stewart, who was Owens' receivers coach in San Francisco, will introduce T.O. at the 2018 induction. 

In a video released by the Hall of Fame, Owens said Stewart "knew what to get out of me."

Now special teams coordinator and assistant head coach for the Chargers, Stewart has been an NFL coach for three decades. He began his time in San Francisco in 1996 (Owens' rookie season) as a special teams coach but was their wide receivers coach from 2000-02.

"Things that George Stewart may say, it may be shocking to a lot of people, but not to him because he knows who I am," Owens said. "... To know who Terrell Owens is, you really have to spend some time with him. Fast forward, George Stewart became a father figure to me."

The first season Stewart became the 49ers' receivers coach, Owens went to his first of six Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro for the first of five times in his career. Owens was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in all three of the seasons that Stewart held the position in San Francisco. 

Of course, Owens' growth under Stewart led to his becoming one of the biggest stars in the NFL.

Eventually, Owens forced his way out of San Francisco and got to Philadelphia. With the Eagles, Owens had a short and tumultuous two seasons, but was also dynamic on the field and nearly helped them pull off a Super Bowl win over the Patriots. 

Owens averaged 93.5 receiving yards per game during his time in Philadelphia, the highest average in franchise history. It wasn't his play that led to his downfall in Philly. It was his beef with McNabb, along with his attempt to strong-arm the Eagles into a new contract. 

Owens was a divisive personality for his entire career. It's likely the reason it took him three tries to make it into the Hall of Fame. Because his numbers don't lie: He's one of the best receivers of all time.