Vinny Curry: 'When you belong somewhere, you belong'

Vinny Curry: 'When you belong somewhere, you belong'

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.

More on the Eagles

Learning more about Rich Scangarello’s role in Eagles’ offense

Learning more about Rich Scangarello’s role in Eagles’ offense

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s a pretty ambiguous title.

The Eagles earlier this month hired former Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello as a senior offensive assistant. But if Doug Pederson is the play-caller, Press Taylor is the passing game coordinator and Jeff Stoutland is the run game coordinator, it begs a pretty obvious question:

What the heck is Scangarello going to do?

At the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, Pederson finally answered that question with at least a little bit more depth than we previously heard.

“He’s going to be able to bridge the gap,” Pederson said Tuesday. “He’s going to be able to bring together the run division and the pass division. With a blend of formations and plays and things that really tie everything together. He’s going to have his hands all over the game plan as well. A lot of communication. A lot of film study. Yeah, he’ll work with the quarterbacks, just like I do. He’ll have a chance to have some input there."

OK, so we don’t exactly know how Scangarello will fill every minute of his work days but we’re starting to get a clearer picture.

Pederson said he and Scangarello bonded over their early backgrounds in the West Coast offense but it’s Scangarello’s close ties to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan that the Eagles found most intriguing. Scangarello worked under Shanahan in both Atlanta and San Francisco and the Eagles are hoping to blend some of those concepts with the offense Pederson is already running.

Namely, the Eagles are hoping this hire really helps Carson Wentz. That’s the No. 1 reason Scangarello was hired.

In addition to the time Scangarello will spend actually coaching the quarterbacks, the idea of QB movement is key. For whatever reason, the Eagles seemed hesitant to move Wentz in and out of the pocket early last season but once they did, he thrived.

That movement, throughout Wentz’s career, has always seemed to get him in a rhythm. And the Eagles are finally ready to lean into that.

“It was important for me,” Pederson said. “I think when I look back at our season and how we kind of finished the season, the thing Carson excelled at was basically those two elements. The play action, the QB movement stuff, the screens were important. And the run game ties into all that.

“This was what was intriguing with Rich, the background, what he’s learned. He studies this game now. You’ll learn when you get to speak to him. This guy has spent a lot of time studying the game. Now helping us, helping our offense. That’s why he was so intriguing to me.”

Despite finding a relatively high level of success with rookie quarterback Drew Lock in Denver, Scangarello lasted just one year as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator.

After the season, head coach Vic Fangio fired Scangarello and replaced him with Pat Shurmur. There’s plenty of smoke around the idea that Fangio and Scangarello didn’t have the strongest of working relationships.

Check out this exchange I had with Fangio on Tuesday morning:

What were some of Scangarello’s strengths?

“Rich is a good football coach. He knew the system well that he came from, does a good job with quarterbacks. I think Rich has got a bright future.”

What specifically did you like about Scangarello as a coach?

“I think for the first year in there, he did a good job. We played with three quarterbacks, so that has some stress to it. He did a good job of handling that.”

So why didn’t it work?

“That’s a long answer to a short question. I’m not going to get into that.”

See? Plenty of smoke.

Fangio did say on Tuesday that he wanted his offense to be more aggressive in 2020, so perhaps that’s another reason they elected to make a switch.

The word out of Denver is the area where Scangarello struggled was on game day, calling plays. On the flip side, he seemed to excel in preparation and game-planning. The good news for the Eagles is that Pederson is probably never going to give up play-calling responsibilities, so they won’t need Scangarello to do much on game day anyway. They’ll be able to utilize his strengths without worrying about his weaknesses.

Only Pederson really knows the logistics of how this new offensive structure will really work. It’s rare for a team to not have someone with an offensive coordinator title but it’s not unheard of. And the Eagles even thought of deviating from the norm back in 2018 when they promoted Mike Groh.

If this structure doesn’t work in 2020, that failure will belong to Pederson. But if it does work, Scangarello will be a big reason why. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

How Andy Reid’s life has changed since winning the Super Bowl

How Andy Reid’s life has changed since winning the Super Bowl

INDIANAPOLIS — If you were expecting Andy Reid to win his first Super Bowl and turn into a different guy, you don’t know Andy Reid.

At the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, Reid spoke to a huge gathering of reporters at the first big NFL event since his Chiefs beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

And guess what?

Not much has changed for Big Red.

“I stay in the office, so I’m isolated a little bit that way. There’s not much change there. I’m sure the players, if you talk to them, they’re out there and being recognized as world champs. 

I have gotten a couple free meals. That was nice. But I’m not out there that much to where I’m affected by it too much.”

Gotta love when Andy plays the hits.

Reid said he and his staff enjoyed the Super Bowl for a few days. They had a parade and reveled briefly but then it was back to business as usual. The focus then had to immediately switch to free agency and the draft in what was now a suddenly short offseason.

“Maybe someday when we get a little older and we’re out of the game, you can sit back and go, hey, you know what, we did pretty good there,” Reid said. “But right now, it’s buckling down and making sure we take care of business."

During the Chiefs’ run to the Super Bowl, Reid was very aware of the support he was receiving from Philadelphia, where he spent 14 seasons as head coach. Not everyone was rooting for him but it seemed like a large portion of Philadelphians were happy to see Reid hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

On Tuesday, Reid was asked if he’s heard from folks in Philly since winning the big game.

"Yeah, I’ve talked to all those guys. I’ve stayed close to the organization,” Reid said before scanning the crowd in front of him. “Guys like Les (Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Les Bowen) I’ve stayed close with.”

Les gave a wave.

“There are a couple other guys here that are Philadelphia here,” Reid continued. “I spent 14 years there. I appreciated every bit of it. Jeff Lurie, I appreciated him being at the game and supporting me there, too."

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles