Malcolm Jenkins: 'We deserved all the boos'

Malcolm Jenkins: 'We deserved all the boos'

Oh yeah, they heard.

The boos started raining down out of the stands at the Linc when the Redskins took a 17-0 lead Sunday. They got louder when the Eagles quickly went 3-and-out, losing a couple yards on a 3rd-and-1. And then grew even louder when Dustin Hopkins kicked a field goal as the first half ended to give the Redskins a 20-7 lead.

It’s a sound the Eagles have not heard very much at the Linc during the Doug Pederson Era.

The Eagles came into this season 20-6 at Lincoln Financial Field under Pederson, and only one of those losses — to the Packers on a Monday night in November of 2016 — was by more than seven points.

So there haven’t been a lot of reasons to boo around these parts since the Chip Kelly Era.

But that ended Sunday afternoon.

Leave it to Malcolm Jenkins to give the perfect response. 

We deserved all the boos,” the veteran Pro Bowl safety said at his locker. “We heard them. When you play well, these fans will be with you every step of the way, and they'll love you. But if you deserve the boos, you’ll hear them. That’s one of the reasons I love playing here.

The Eagles scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half while the defense began dominating the Skins, so there was no reason for anybody to boo after halftime.

And if the Eagles keep playing the way they did the last 30 minutes of the game? There won't be a reason to boo around here for quite a while.

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Brandon Brooks will go down as an Eagles all-time great free agent pickup

Brandon Brooks will go down as an Eagles all-time great free agent pickup

Brandon Brooks was a good player.

He wasn’t great until he arrived in Philadelphia. In hindsight, that’s what makes his signing in 2016 so impressive. 

And after Brooks inked a new four-year, $56.2 million extension on Monday morning, it’s becoming clear that he’s going to go down as one of the greatest free agent acquisitions in Eagles history. Heck, he could end up being the greatest. 

He’s already put himself in the conversation with Troy Vincent, Jon Runyan, Malcolm Jenkins and Nick Foles. 

When the Eagles signed Brooks in the 2016 offseason, he was 26 and had just finished up the fourth and final year of his rookie contract with the Houston Texans. He was happy to leave that franchise and start fresh somewhere else. While the Texans clearly didn’t value Brooks enough, the Eagles did. They saw the potential for Brooks to be more than a good player. They gave him a five-year, $40 million deal, which sounded like a lot at the time. Obviously, that ended up being a steal. 

I remember being on Philly Sports Talk the day Brooks signed with the Eagles in 2016. I agreed with the Eagles’ assessment of Brooks. He wasn’t great yet, but he could be. That day, I said I thought Brooks would end up being a Pro Bowler. This is where the bragging portion of this column ends. 

To be fair, at that time, I had a little more knowledge of Brooks than most folks in Philly. I’ve known Brooks since his rookie year in 2012 from my time covering the Houston Texans from 2012-14. I watched as Brooks went from a third-round rookie who couldn’t get on the field to a solid starter and fully expected him to take another step in his career. 

While in Houston, I saw the power, athleticism and untapped potential inside the 330-pound guard. I watched day after day in training camp when he was the only offensive lineman on the roster strong and quick enough to match up with Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. 

And long before his battle with anxiety became public or his recovery from Achilles surgery, I remember the first time I saw Brooks’ ability to overcome adversity. In 2012, Brooks was in a position battle with fourth-round pick Ben Jones. Brooks is a smart guy, graduated from Miami (Ohio), but Jones is somewhat of a football savant. Both were rookies, yet despite Brooks’ obvious athletic advantage, Jones won the job. But after working his way off the inactive list, Brooks began to split reps at right guard and became the starter in 2013. He hasn’t looked back since. 

On Monday, I asked Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland for something he learned about Brooks after the Eagles acquired him. 

What an athlete,” Stoutland answered. “He’s such a big man, but you don’t realize what a great athlete he is. He’s very light on his feet. He’s an extremely athletic individual.

So how did Brooks go from good to great? 

The Eagles helped him to harness his unique blend of size and athleticism and match it with sound technique and great coaching. Stoutland is the best offensive line coach Brooks has had in the NFL. And in Philly, Brooks was plopped at right guard between one of the best centers and one of the best tackles in the NFL. The Eagles gave Brooks every opportunity to succeed and he’s exceeded expectations.  

In two of his three seasons as an Eagle, Brooks has been a Pro Bowler. He’s well on his way to a third consecutive Pro Bowl nod and after playing like the best guard in the league this season, now he’s gonna get paid like it. 

Brooks isn’t good anymore. He’s great. Brooks deserves credit for that, but so do the Eagles. They brought him in and helped bring that greatness out of him. 

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With no need to acclimate, Jordan Matthews ready to produce immediately for Eagles

With no need to acclimate, Jordan Matthews ready to produce immediately for Eagles

Jordan Matthews knows the quarterback. He knows the coach. He knows the offense. He knows the building. He knows the city. 

The only difference is that Matthews has a new locker this time. He was happy to get a stall next to his good friend Zach Ertz. 

After officially signing with the Eagles again on Monday morning, the 27-year-old receiver is now in his third stint with the team that drafted him in the second round out of Vanderbilt back in 2014. 

“There’s not much of that process of acclimating,” Matthews said on Monday afternoon. “Every other place that I’ve gone, it feels like there’s a good two to three weeks where you don’t even know where the bathroom is. 

“But I was able to come back here and it’s just like back at home. See everybody, ‘what’s up?’ ‘What’s up?’ Back to work.”

That’s good news for the Eagles because they certainly don’t have time to wait for Matthews to get acclimated. 

They need him to produce. 

And they need him to produce immediately. 

“The guy has made a lot of plays for the Eagles over the years,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “He has excellent football intelligence. He knows our system. He has familiarity there. I think there's great comfort with him in the huddle. There's rapport and chemistry with he and Carson (Wentz), which is important, so certainly nice to get him back.”

On the 53-man roster, Matthews replaced DeSean Jackson, who had one monster game before an abdominal injury derailed his Eagles reunion. Jackson is now on Injured Reserve after having core muscle surgery. 

Of course, no one is expecting Matthews to come in and all of a sudden replace the best deep threat in the NFL. That’s not realistic. That’s not his game. But Matthews has been a productive receiver in the NFL before and he’s been a productive receiver in Philadelphia. The Eagles are just hoping he can give a small boost to a position group that has struggled mightily in 2019 without Jackson. 

Step in and produce? 

Matthews says that’s no problem. 

“I feel like it’s been that way every single time,” he said. “I feel like when I got drafted here, that was one thing I heard: that we need production from the receiver position. Came in, worked hard and played. And then even last year, I was here a year ago at this time. … That was the same thing. It was like, ‘we need you to come in and immediately produce’ and that’s just what I do. When opportunities are there, I just try to work hard and make plays. The moment’s not too big for me. I just go out and play.”

In 14 games (three starts) with the Eagles last season, Matthews caught 20 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a 37-yard touchdown in the Saints playoff game. 

But after the playoff loss, Matthews signed with the 49ers, who cut him, brought him back and cut him again in late October. Aside from the Eagles, Matthews has now spent time with the Bills, Patriots and 49ers, but he feels like Philly is his NFL home. He was thrilled when the Eagles brought him back again. 

“It was so crazy. I felt like it was kind of unprecedented,” he said. “I heard of guys going back to a team that drafted them once. But twice? It was just crazy. I was just texting all the guys, like, ‘guys, it’s happening!’ It was like a kid in a candy store, man. It was like getting drafted all over again. I was just so happy. I can’t even explain. Picked up my son, ran around like he was Simba. It was a good feeling, man.”

Groh said the Eagles will probably use Matthews as an outside and a slot receiver. It would certainly make sense for Matthews to take some playing time away from Mack Hollins, who has gone five straight games without a catch. 

Even if Matthews can just give the Eagles a slight boost, bringing him back will be worth it. And maybe everyone else will be as happy about the move as he was. 

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