Barrett Brooks

Why Michael Irvin is the ultimate Eagles Villain

Why Michael Irvin is the ultimate Eagles Villain

All week at NBC Sports Philadelphia, we're debating the biggest villains in Philly sports history. Today we begin with Eagles. Here's Barrett Brooks' argument on why Michael Irvin is the biggest villain in the history of the Birds. You can vote here

Damn that dreaded Dallas Cowboys star! 

The Cowboys would be the ultimate villain to Eagles fans. But the one player who personified the Cowboys in the 90s was Michael Irvin. 

Nicknamed “The Playmaker,” Irvin was the frontman for the Big Three. Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith, and the flamboyant Michael Irvin made the Cowboys the team to beat in the early '90s. They were the measuring rod of offenses. They controlled the pace of the game by running the ball with consistency, but when a big play was needed, Aikman would pull the trigger, going to the “Playmaker.”  

Michael Irvin was never a fast wide receiver. He set himself apart by using his big frame and large catch radius to bully defensive backs. What made him a Philly villain was the constant flamboyant play and how much he talked to defenders as he pushed and sometimes fought CB during games. 

I can't say I ever really hated anything in my life, but being drafted by the Eagles in the second round in 1995, you learn early the dislike for that Dallas star!

Today: Eagles Villains 
Reuben Frank on Norman Braman 
Derrick Gunn on Jadeveon Clowney 
Dave Zangaro on Chip Kelly 
The Eagles Villains honorable mentions 
• Vote here

In that same draft, Bobby Taylor was also taken in the second round. He was 2a, and I was 2b. Head coach Ray Rhodes dubbed him the "Michael Irvin Stopper." Taylor had the perfect size and attitude to put a stop to the boastful and bragging Irvin. Those were classic battles between them, Taylor being 6-3, 215 and Irvin at 6-2, 210.

Irvin played 12 years and played in 20 games vs. the Eagles. During his career, he was 10-10 against the Birds. Irvin had 64 catches for 1,047 yards and 5 touchdowns. It was always a battle when he arrived in Philadelphia at Veterans Stadium. During my tenure with the Eagles, I always looked at Irvin as the catalyst for that Dallas team. If we could apply pressure on Michael (the head), the rest of the body would fall! 

I remember Coach Rhodes telling Bobby T, "If you stop Michael from talking to you, he will start talking and taking that frustration out on his teammates!"

 

Even now, no matter how much Cowboy players say that during the 90's the Eagles were not their biggest rival, all you have to do is listen to Irvin and his analysis during the season … then see Cowboy vs. Eagles week! Look at the attitude and hype that surrounds that week! He is still the villain, even in his broadcast career! We are still bitter enemies.

Vote here! 

Barrett Brooks breaks down how Brandon Brooks has been so dominant for Eagles

Barrett Brooks breaks down how Brandon Brooks has been so dominant for Eagles

Update, Nov. 11: The Eagles signed Brandon Brooks to a four-year contract extension.

There are five reasons the Eagles' offense has started to finally develop an identity and those five reasons are the offensive line. The right side, including center Jason Kelce, might be the best in football and lately it's showed in the running game.

The Eagles should now be identified as a power running team. They should make a living running between the tackles. 

As a former offensive lineman in the league, I played with some greats. I played with Alan Faneca with the Steelers and he is a Hall of Fame finalist this year. From across the playing field, I witnessed the best guard to ever play the game, Hall of Famer Larry Allen. 

But I must admit that I'm now covering a great one for the Eagles in Brandon Brooks, who is making his case as one of, if not the most dominant guards in the game today. Both pass blocking and run blocking, he is dominating his opponent.

During last week's Chicago Bears game, Brooks destroyed the backside blocks on inside zone running plays, which allowed Jordan Howard an opportunity to cut back and go untouched until reaching the secondary. Just watch the inside zone run play below on 1st & 10 with 13:15 in the first quarter. Watch how Brooks and Lane Johnson totally crush the entire right side of the line of scrimmage, allowing Howard to run for 12 yards.

Even on pass plays, Brooks stones defenders at the LOS, passes off stunts, and is mobile enough to get out on screen plays. One play that blew me away happened on a 1st-and-20 at the Eagles' 35-yard-line with 9:42 in the first quarter. Check it out below.

On a slow screen play (inside screen to the back), the first OL out in the screen blocks the defender that is responsible for covering the RB. 

The second OL out in the screen blocks the force defender, who is on the numbers or hashes. 

The third OL out in the screen blocks the defender that is trailing the screen behind the RB. 

Brooks is the second OL on this play and he destroys a little defensive back that thought about making the play. He rolled him up and pancaked him!

Brandon Brooks is a monster and it's time he gets his hype. At times it sucks being an offensive lineman — the only time your name is being called is when you are in trouble, with either a holding call or false start. And forgive us all if we give up a sack! But it's time Brandon Brooks gets his praise.

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Brett Brown serving as interim GM good for Sixers' current players, free agents

Brett Brown serving as interim GM good for Sixers' current players, free agents

As I watched the 76ers navigate through the resignation of Bryan Colangelo, it made me think about how the players often get lost in translation.

I can remember not knowing what direction the Detroit Lions team I played on was going when head coach Bobby Ross resigned from the team midseason. As a player, losing your head coach when the team was still in the thick of things for the playoffs was weird, but interim head coach Gary Moeller — the team’s defensive coordinator — was a solid replacement.

Coach Ross knew it was time to go. He had lost the players. We didn’t trust his ability to lead us as a team and the relationship with the players was compromised. Lions owner William Clay Ford said, “Bobby Ross had nothing left to give.” As a player, trust with the coaching staff, the front office and the players themselves is paramount.

Players are huge on relationships, so they depend on coaches and upper management to navigate the direction of the team. Communication is vital and it defines the team’s culture. For example, Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson have created a team-first culture. No one is more important than the team. This allows the next-man-up mentality to flourish in the locker room because players believe that they all are important cogs in the total machine.

Sixers managing partner Josh Harris and Brett Brown — who will run the basketball ops on an interim basis — will now have to maintain this young Sixers team and get ready for free agency and the draft. Current players on the team are often the biggest sellers of potential free agents on the market. Joel Embiid has tried to influence probable free agent LeBron James for years. If players already on the Sixers’ roster don’t trust the front office, there is no way they would endorse the services of friends in the league.

The Sixers made a great move by making Brown the interim GM. This is a move that stabilizes the culture of the team. Now the philosophy he’s introduced will remain and Brown can be a liaison to the front office for the players. At this point, none of the players know what to think about what just happened with Colangelo.

I believe the young core that has been under Brown’s tutelage knows where the coach is coming from, but players on the outside will need more to be convinced to make Philadelphia their home in the near future. The Sixers' management will have to do some flattering and very good convincing to lure premier talent to the City of Brotherly Love.