Zach Brown enjoying Eagles' locker room dynamic which he says differs from Washington in one big way

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Zach Brown enjoying Eagles' locker room dynamic which he says differs from Washington in one big way

Zach Brown admits free agency didn’t go as expected. Who would’ve thought a 29-year-old Pro Bowl linebacker with 64 starts, 633 tackles, 17.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles and 7 interceptions in seven NFL seasons would still be on the street in May?

But once the Eagles became interested, none of that mattered to Brown.

“When my agent told me that the Eagles called, I was like, ‘Cancel everything else. Don’t even take calls from anybody else. I want to go there,’” said Brown after Monday’s practice.

It was the first time Brown spoke to reporters since signing with the Eagles one month earlier, and the first time he practiced in front of reporters during OTAs, taking first- and second-team reps at outside linebacker. He doesn’t know where he’ll be lining up come September, but he’s learning everything and will play wherever he’s needed.

Brown wasn’t as concerned about his specific role as he was landing in a better situation than he came from in Washington.

So far, so good with the Eagles.

“It feels different when you walk into the building,” said Brown. “It’s a different mentality. Everybody comes to work. You joke around on the sideline, but you still paying attention and you’re out there doing your job.”

“They want to win. It’s not, ‘Oh you’re rebuilding.’ Nah. They’re trying to get back to the game, and I’m trying to get there.”

Having never played in the postseason, the opportunity to win was clearly a plus for Brown. He noted the Eagles have one of the best young quarterbacks in the league in Carson Wentz, one of the best tight ends in Zach Ertz and a good offense all around.

Playing under Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in a defense that can pressure opposing passers while rushing four was attractive to Brown as well. It doesn't seem likely that he will be competing with Kamu Grugier-Hill and fellow 2019 free agent pickup L.J. Forte for one of two outside spots alongside Nigel Bradham.

“I like Schwartz because everywhere Schwartz goes he’ll always have a good defense,” said Brown. “Even when he was at Buffalo (in 2014), the defense was crazy. And it’s not like he asks a lot of you to do all this crazy ‘go out at receiver’ or something like that.”

From a desire to win and X’s and O’s standpoints, joining the Eagles was a no-brainer.

Yet, Brown also enjoys clowning around having fun with his teammates. He tried to get a laugh out of Boston Scott while the Eagles running back gave an interview at the locker next to his. He reminisced about Ertz having a big game against Washington last season, but made sure to point out he wasn’t covering the tight end.

The tone is a lot different in the Eagles locker room compared to Washington, which meshes much better with Brown’s lighthearted attitude.

“Nobody has a problem with anybody,” said Brown. “Everybody is cool.

“This locker room is different from the locker room I came from. There’s no cliques. It’s one big clique. I can talk over there and mess with the linemen, talk with them, chit chat, play cornhole. The running backs are right here, so I always give them s***.”

Brown has even settled his trash talk beef with Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson, whose locker is directly across the room from his.

“I was messing around with him all last week,” said Brown. “There ain’t nothing wrong with good competition, but me and Lane, he’s right there so we talk, chit chat every time. Good person.”

Now, the trash talk is aimed in the opposite direction, though Brown said little inflammatory about his former team of two seasons, coming across as more interested in looking ahead with the Eagles.

All Brown had to say is Washington views the division rivalry a little differently than they do the Eagles.

“That’s all they talk about,” Brown said of Washington. “‘Oh the Eagles, oh this, oh that.’ But the Eagles, they’re worrying about — we’re worrying about winning a championship here."

“Of course, it should be known there’s nothing wrong with a little revenge.”

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The real reason this Kansas City radio host's attack on Andy Reid was out of line

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The real reason this Kansas City radio host's attack on Andy Reid was out of line

I get why people are so outraged by the comments made Monday by a Kansas City radio host who linked Tyreek Hill’s off-the-field issues with the death seven years ago of Andy Reid’s son Garrett.

The guy tried to make a case that Big Red’s inability to be a strict disciplinarian as both a parent and a coach was responsible for both. 

“It did not work out particularly well in his family life,“ is what Kevin Kietzman of Sports Radio 810 WHB said. “He’s had a lot of things go bad on him, family and players. He is not good at fixing people. He is not good at discipline.”

Of course, these sort of remarks are irresponsible, hurtful and off-base. But you consider the source and they're probably not all that surprising.

And let's be honest. We all understand you don’t record the eighth-most wins of any NFL head coach in history and the seventh-most playoff wins without being able to discipline players when it’s necessary. We’ve all seen coaches who truly are bad at this stuff, and they don’t have three losing seasons in 20 years. They don’t last three years.

So yeah, this isn’t about that. Andy doesn’t need to be defended. Not about this.

And outrage distracts us from the real point. The real shame of Kietzman’s comments is that he connects a lack of discipline with heroin addiction.

Garrett Reid, Andy’s oldest son, died during training camp in Bethlehem seven years ago from a heroin overdose after a long battle with addiction, and the notion that his death somehow was the result of his father not disciplining him enough shows such a lack of understanding of addiction and substance abuse.

Addiction is a mental health disorder. It’s a disease.

It’s not a weakness. It’s not a character flaw. It’s not a lack of discipline.

Treatment can help, but it’s a long and difficult process. The changes substance abuse cause in a person’s brain, the addictive traits of heroin and other opioids, make recovery difficult and in some cases impossible.

Garrett was a good kid, a smart kid, and he and his family battled his addiction for years.

Here’s part of Andy’s statement the evening Garrett died:

“We understood that Garrett's long-standing battle with addiction was going to be difficult. He will, however, always have our family's love and respect for the courage he showed in trying to overcome it.”

This guy doesn’t know Andy and the battle he and his family fought to try and help Garrett through that battle.

Addiction and substance abuse have become such an epidemic in our communities. Big city. Small town. Everywhere. All of us know someone who’s lost a family member. All of us have either directly or indirectly felt that pain.

What Kietzman said is wrong in so many ways, but worst of all is how he trivializes addiction by implying that a little parental discipline would have saved Garrett Reid’s life.

This was a horrible thing to say for a lot of reasons, and it’s been nice to see so many of Andy’s former players rallying behind him on social media.

No parents should have to go through what Andy and his family went through seven summers ago at Lehigh. No parents should have to go through this either.

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Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at defensive tackle?

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Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at defensive tackle?

The Eagles bolstered the defensive tackle position in free agency, through a trade and by re-signing one of their own, but whether the unit is better or worse in 2019 largely falls on one player.

Key additions: Malik Jackson (free agent, Jaguars), Hassan Ridgeway (trade, Colts) 

Key departures: Haloti Ngata (retired)

Why they could be better: Fletcher Cox gets some help

Cox was basically a one-man show in 2018, lining up for 80 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps. The next closest defensive tackle on the club: a way-past-his-prime Haloti Ngata (Ngata... Ngata... not gonna be here anymore) at 35.5 percent. Of returning interior linemen not named Cox, only Trayvon Hester was on the field more than 8 percent of the time.

And, incredibly, Cox set a new career-high with 10.5 sacks and finished second in the NFL with 34 quarterback hits. Opponents knew the guy next to him was either washed, a defensive end moving inside or just a body, and it didn’t matter one bit. Couldn't stop him. So what happens when Malik Jackson averaging 5.5 sacks over the last six seasons is occupying the space next to Cox? Tim Jernigan returns, too, and Hassan Ridgeway — acquired for a seventh-round pick — provides a veteran challenger for Hester’s spot. All of a sudden, this is a deep, dangerous group.

Why they could be worse: Cox’s injury

Up to this point, all indications are Cox’s offseason foot surgery was not serious and the four-time Pro Bowl selection will be ready to go for training camp. Great. When it’s July 25 and he’s practicing with his teammates, this immediately becomes a non-issue.

Honestly though, the only argument for the Eagles’ defensive tackles taking a step back in 2019 is if Cox isn’t 100 percent going into this season — and don’t act like it can’t happen. Every year in camps all across the league, there are players who were to be “ready for camp” who don't come back until late August, even after Week 1. Again, there is no reason to assume that will be the case with Cox, but on the off chance he’s not himself come September, any dip in performance, let alone absence, would be felt by the entire D-line.

The X-factor: Jernigan

Thanks to the Jackson signing, the defense probably won’t need to depend on a whole heck of a lot from Jernigan. Yet, imagine if he’s healthy and providing a high-end starter's level of talent off the bench, at a position where the Eagles were literally plugging in journeymen like T.Y. McGill last season. Yes, that is a real person who wore midnight green in ’18.

Jernigan basically missed all of the previous year with a mysterious back injury, pretty much only making a few bit appearances in the playoffs. But just one year earlier, he was a regular on a Super Bowl-winning defense, recording a respectable 2.5 sacks, 9 tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits. He posted even bigger numbers with the Ravens before that. Now, he’s the No. 3, playing on a team-friendly one-year deal, with much to prove. If he’s healthy and motivated, the Eagles may very well field the best interior in the league.

Are the Eagles’ defensive tackles better or worse?

There really isn’t much to add at this point. As long as Cox is healthy, it’s a no-brainer. Jackson is an upgrade, Jernigan is healthy as far as we know and there’s competition for the other roster spot. BETTER

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