Eagles

Chris Long Q&A: Charlottesville situation; Doug Pederson's impact; looking up to dad

Chris Long Q&A: Charlottesville situation; Doug Pederson's impact; looking up to dad

This week hasn't been easy for Chris Long.

He's not having difficulty transitioning to a new team in his first season with the Eagles, but his mind has been on his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, where national news has been made because of racial tensions resulting in tragic violence.

Long has made his voice and disappointment heard while focusing on training camp ahead of the 2017 season. The 32-year-old defensive end signed with the Eagles this offseason after winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2016, following eight years with the Rams.

Long sat down with CSN's Quick Slants this week to talk those topics and more. Here's the full conversation:

Quick Slants: The Charlottesville situation. It is where you live right now and I know it hits close to home. Your thoughts on what has gone on down there with all the racial tension?

Long: Well, it's unfortunate, for sure. It's unfortunate to know that subculture exists in America, period. But less importantly, as a resident of Charlottesville, it's really tough to see your city kind of get taken over and for all that hatred to manifest itself right there in your hometown, where you plan on raising your kids and your family, you grew up there. It's a little window I think into what some minorities feel every day, dealing with hate like that. For me, I was just so angry to see it, but this was just one or two days that my hometown's been inundated with hate. I can only imagine what it's like to feel that those people exist all the time.

Quick Slants: OK, on to some football topics now. You come in here as a 10-year vet. Where you stand right now, do you assume the role of leadership or is that still a role that you defer to other players who have been here longer?

Long: I think leadership roles, it's all about leading by example and leading from the front and playing football. So as far as me being a 10-year guy, I plan on playing a lot and I plan on leading on the field. If guys see the way I work and play, and they want to listen to me, the younger players, that's great — I'm always here to help. But make no mistake about it, I came here to play ball and if I can lead along the way, that's great, but this team's got a lot of great leadership.

Quick Slants: How do you like it here so far?

Long: I really like it. Love the city, love the people I've met. The passion, it's palpable — going down to the Linc, practicing a couple times with that big turnout, I love the atmosphere. And we've got good people on this team. We have good people in the locker room and I enjoy the scheme, that's why I came here. Getting to work with guys like [Brandon Graham], [Fletcher Cox], new guys, [Tim Jernigan] coming in with me, young guy like [Derek Barnett]. We really run the gamut of experience and things we've been able to do in this league, and obviously, it's a lot of fun.

Quick Slants: If you can, give us some similarities and differences between the way Bill Belichick and Doug Pederson coach.

Long: Well, I think comparing coaches is like comparing two different players. Their styles are different, the skills are different and their personalities are different. So everybody's different. I learned so much from Bill. That was a special year for me and it was special to learn from him. I've been blessed to have a lot of good coaches, and now getting to see the way Doug works, and as a former player, he gets a lot of things. He's a good person and a good coach. Just today he asked me, 'How are you doing with everything going on at home?' I thought that was pretty cool. He's got high energy and when he walks in the meeting, he makes everybody feel good about working hard — and obviously, he comes from that background.

Quick Slants: Let's talk numbers here, I know you're chasing your dad (Howie Long), he finished with 84 sacks, you've got 58½. The interesting thing is after nine years, you're actually ahead of him, I think 58-55. He got a lot in his later years, had a nine-sack season at like 33. How inspirational is that to you to think that you can keep going strong, as well, late in your career?

Long: Any time you get to be around players that play into their mid-30s — and I've been lucky enough to play with a couple of guys like that — it inspires you because this game is hard enough. As you get older, it becomes harder and harder, and you have to be more of a pro every day. Listen, numbers don't drive everything I do, but you certainly look at those numbers and you're like, 'Hey, I'd love to chase that.' I'll never beat my pops, he's got the gold jacket, but if I can kind of inch closer, that'd be nice. At 32, you never take anything for granted. It's amazing those guys back in those days, did the two-a-days for a month before preseason. They were really tough.

Quick Slants: One final question for you. I know you're a huge "Game of Thrones" fan. You wrote an article for Sports Illustrated and I thought it was deep. How do you like the way the plot is unfolding right now this season?

Long: We were just talking about this — the show is gripping, man. It's almost like you're mad at the show for leaving it where they leave it every week — they have a really good cliffhanger-way of doing things. I thought last week was cool because they were kind of assembling this dream team and you see all of your favorite characters meeting for the first time — it was pretty special. And you couldn't follow that last episode, which was all action, with more of the same — you knew it had to be a filler, but they did a good job.

Eagles Stay or Go — The Joneses

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AP/USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — The Joneses

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Donnie Jones
Roob: Jones turns 38 before camp starts and goes into his 15th NFL season out of LSU next year. Jones, who hasn't missed a game since 2004, is as reliable as ever. Including the postseason, he had 26 punts inside the 20-yard line and just six touchbacks. In five years here, he's established himself as the greatest punter in Eagles history. His 45.3 average and 40.6 this past year were very good. They'll drag a guy in to compete, but Jones is still terrific.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Jones is 37 now but he's a punter and he doesn't show any signs of slowing down. Before the 2016 season, Jones said he wasn't interested in retiring any time soon and there doesn't seem to be much of a reason to stop yet. He had another good season in 2017. Of course, the Eagles proved that no one is immune from the business of the NFL when they decided to go with Rick Lovato over Jon Dorenbos in 2017, but Jones is still a really good punter. During Super Bowl week, Jones got a kick out of hearing he was the only Eagles player who was able to have a legal drink when Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl. Jones joked that's probably what he was doing. 

Verdict: STAYS

Sidney Jones
Roob: 
It'll be fun to see what Jones can do with a full healthy offseason and training camp. Along with Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas and Ronald Darby, he's a big part of the most talented young stable of cornerbacks the Eagles have ever had. Where does everybody fit in next year? We'll see. But I expect Jones to be here and playing at a high level for years to come.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It was probably a pretty good thing for the young corner to get some experience toward the end of his rookie season. Fans should be excited about Jones if he really is back to being the player he was before his injury. Because before he tore his Achilles at the Washington pro day, Jones might have been the very best cornerback in a deep cornerback draft. The Eagles have a little logjam at the cornerback position; what a great problem to have. 

Verdict: STAYS

Eagles Stay or Go —2 big contracts and a fringe player

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USA Today/AP Images

Eagles Stay or Go —2 big contracts and a fringe player

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Tim Jernigan
Roob:
 Jernigan had a very good first half, an OK second half of the season and really didn't do a lot in the postseason, and there's no doubt the Eagles would like to see him maintain his level of consistency throughout the season. But he's certainly not going anywhere, not with $11 million in dead money vs. a $5 million cap hit. Jernigan's talent is undeniable. He just needs to find a way to keep it going through the year.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: I was a little surprised about how little Jernigan played in 2017. He played just 48 percent of the Eagles' snaps and in the playoffs, he played about as much as Beau Allen. Now, I know Jernigan dealt with an ankle injury throughout most of the year, so maybe that played a role. But for a guy who signed a four-year extension worth $48 million during the year, I really didn't see enough. He started off the season really strong, but then seemed to level off some. Maybe the ankle had something to do with that. In any case, he's now signed through 2021. The Eagles need more out of him. 

Verdict: STAYS

Lane Johnson 
Roob:
 We finally saw what Lane Johnson could do with a full season, and it was impressive. Johnson was named first-team All-Pro and made his first Pro Bowl team, and he deserved all of it. Johnson, suspended two of the last three seasons for testing positive for banned substances, was a beast at right tackle. He's not going anywhere for a long time.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: That was the season we've all been waiting for from Johnson. He was a dominant right tackle in 2017 and finally made it to his first Pro Bowl roster. He deserved it. For a long time, there's been a stigma about playing right tackle and that makes sense on its face. Protecting the quarterback's blindside has historically been more important, but defenses have adjusted. That's why guys like Von Miller, DeMarcus Lawrence, Justin Houston and Joey Bosa generally rush against right tackles. Johnson shut down those guys and more last season. It's a big reason why the Eagles didn't move him to left tackle when Jason Peters went down. That was the right call. 

Verdict: STAYS

Marcus Johnson
Roob: Johnson stuck on the active roster all year and got into 10 games, catching five passes for 45 yards. But wide receiver depth is certainly one area the Eagles will try to upgrade this offseason. Johnson will get a long look with the other young receivers in camp, but he faces an uphill battle. He's got good speed, size and athleticism, but can he put it all together and catch the ball consistently enough to stick around another year? We'll see.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The young wide receiver had a great spring and summer a year ago to earn his spot on the roster. He really worked his tail off to get better and the Eagles rewarded him with a roster spot. From there, he carved out a role on offense. He was the Eagles' receiver in their 13 personnel (three tight ends) package for much of the early season. But then in late November, Johnson lost his active spot to Shelton Gibson, who didn't play as big a role on offense but was a better special teamer. That was a shock to Johnson at the time. He'll have a shot to make the roster this year, but losing his job on Sundays in 2017 isn't a good sign. 

Verdict: GOES