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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