Last year was one of the worst years of Vinny Curry's career. This year has been one of the best.
Curry, now 31 and in his 8th NFL season, has come out of nowhere to record 5.0 sacks this year, including 4.0 in the last four games.
"It is what it is, bro, I just play hard," Curry said. "I'm getting the opportunity. I'm getting opportunities to rush the passer on third down and I'm trying to take full advantage and help the guys out and try to help us win some games. I approach every game the same way and it's paying off right now."
Curry has been in the league since 2012, but his 4.0 sacks in December are the most he's ever had in any month. He had 3.0 in both November and December of 2014.
Brandon Graham leads the Eagles with 7.5 sacks, Curry is second with 5.0 and Fletcher Cox has 3.0. Those three are best friends and have played together since 2012 with the exception of last year, when Curry was briefly a Buccaneer.
"It's crazy man because even last year I talked to those jokers every single day," Curry said. "Especially Fletch. I talked to him on my way to work every single day."
The Eagles cut ties with Curry in a cap-savings move soon after the Super Bowl, and he signed a three-year, $23 million deal with the Buccaneers.
He got hurt, didn't have a great year, missed four games, didn't produce and got cut.
"The only reason you leave is because you have a family to feed," Curry said. "Felt out of place down there, but you have a job to do and I tried to make the best of it. But you know how it is with injuries. When you get hurt and you're not playing, you can really really feel out of place even more. It wasn't my style of defense, it didn't fit my attributes, and at the end of the season the feeling was mutual. Everybody's living their best life."
It never felt right.
It wasn't Philly.
"When you belong somewhere you belong," Curry said Wednesday. "When it feel right it feel right. It's been pretty cool. Being back here, able to go out there and practice every day with some of your best friends and then go home and be the family man. It's been great. … Just really enjoying the whole process. Got a smile on my face, go out and do my job another year."
Curry, a 2nd-round pick in 2012, didn't play much his first couple years, then had that big 9½-sack breakthrough season in 2014 playing in Bill Davis's defense.
The next few years his role gradually morphed, from an outside pass rusher to an inside force playing more on running downs than passing downs.
He had just 11 sacks in 78 games through this past November, but he's got the 6th-most sacks in the NFL in December.
"He's just been tenacious," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "His sacks have been effort sacks, and that's always been a hallmark of Vinny. He's a tough player, he gives great effort, and he's been rewarded with that on some of those plays. Some big plays for us."
With Michael Bennett and Chris Long gone, Curry returned to the Eagles on a one-year, $1 million deal, and at 31 years old he's having as much fun as he's ever had playing football.
"Just to be back out here and having fun and really smiling and bringing a lot of energy? It's been great," he said. "You know how I am, a hyper dude. It just feels good to be balling again. It's something special to me and my family. I'm just enjoying the moment, enjoying being back."
Curry only had one sack through 11 games before this recent flurry.
As his production has increased so have his reps. He averaged 19 snaps per game through the end of November but has averaged 30 per game in December.
His reawakening has mirrored the Eagles' three-game winning streak that's brought them to the brink of the NFC East title.
A win over the Giants Sunday sends the Eagles to the playoffs.
"Still playing at a high-ass level," Curry said. "Worked my tail off, bro. Still going, still doing my thing, still healthy, taking care of my body, feel great. At the beginning (of my career), let's be honest, I didn't even play anyway so I don't have that many miles on my body."
Remarkable that three guys the Eagles drafted while Andy Reid was the head coach remain the heart of their defensive line nearly a decade later.
And remarkable that a guy like Curry, who's been counted out so many times, is right in the middle of this improbable late-season resurgence.
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