He was awful.
He was a laughingstock as an Eagle. One of those guys Eagles fans unanimously hated.
Just the mention of his name drew disgusted looks, expletives, you name it.
The Eagles thought they stole Chung from the Patriots when they signed him to a three-year, $10 million contract with $4 million guaranteed after the 2012 season.
He was so bad in the 12 games he played, they quickly released him when the season ended.
The cost? $715,000 in base salary, a $2,285,000 roster bonus and $1 million in guaranteed salary in 2014.
That’s $4 million for a guy who didn’t make a play.
As soon as the Eagles released Chung, he signed — where else? — with the Patriots, where he’s established himself as a solid starting safety. He started on a Super Bowl winner last year and has played well this year as well.
The Eagles will get an up-close-and-personal look at the new, improved Patrick Chung Sunday when they face the Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts (see game notes).
How did a guy who looked so lost with the Eagles two years ago get reinvented as a capable safety with the Patriots?
It’s a great question, and Pats coach Bill Belichick spent a lot of time answering it this week.
“Patrick has always been really good — smart, works hard, does whatever you ask him to do, understands the team concept and is a versatile player, so he can do a lot of different things,” Belichick said.
“Whatever you ask him to do he embraces it and works at it and does the best he can. Obviously as we all gain experience it helps us going forward when we can build off those, and I think like any player that’s played a number of years like he has, you learn a little bit every year.
“I’m sure he has done that the last couple of years, but that was never an issue for him like having trouble learning or assignments or things like that. That’s never been an issue with him.”
Chung, unwanted by the Eagles, signed a contract extension earlier this year with the Patriots, a three-year deal worth $8.2 million, including $3.4 million guaranteed.
Belichick said he was disappointed to see Chung go in the first place, but the Patriots weren’t going to pay the kind of money then-Eagles GM Howie Roseman paid Chung in 2013.
“I understood (him leaving),” Belichick said. “I like Pat. Pat’s always been a great person to coach, as a coach. He wants to do what you want him to do and he’ll work hard to do it the way you want it done. However you tell him to do it — you want inside, you want outside, you want high, you want low — whatever flavor you want he’s going to try and mix it up and give it to you. So you really appreciate that about a player. And he’s got a good skill set. He can do a lot of different things. He’s a talented player.
“It just didn’t work out those first four years. I wouldn’t say those four years were bad by any means. It just probably didn’t work out quite to the degree that it has the last two.
“I didn’t want to see him go, but I understood the situation in Philadelphia was probably better for him at the time than our situation was. Then a year later after he was released — he signed a three-year contract in Philadelphia, and then after he was released then we followed back up on the conversation that we had when he left and kind of (said), 'Look, things are a little bit different here.'
“I think there was certainly a good level of trust between the two of us and what he told me I believed, I think what I told him he believed, and we were able to kind of find a better place going forward than what we had before when he was here.
“But to his credit he never complained. He never (said), ‘I should be doing this,’ or, ‘Why am I doing that?’ or, ‘Why don’t we do this?’ or, ‘Why don’t we do something else?’ That never happened one time, so that was never an issue.
“But just overall schematically, I think we’ve been able to utilize his skills better in the last two years than we did in the (first) four. It’s not his fault, it’s not our fault. We weren’t trying to do anything to him. We were just trying to win games. But it’s definitely worked out very productively for him the last two seasons.”
Chip Kelly, who coached Chung at Oregon, had little to say about why Chung didn’t work out in Philly.
Simply, the Eagles like their safeties to play deep in coverage without a ton of line-of-scrimmage responsibilities. Chung’s strength is clearly in the box and not in coverage.
“Just where we were in the secondary and what we were trying to get accomplished there,” Kelly said. “I think Pat understood.”
But the Patriots are happy to have him.
They’re 10-1 going into Sunday’s game against the Eagles at Gillette Stadium.
Although much is made of Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense, their defense is fifth in the NFL in points allowed at just 19.3 per game. They’re fifth in the NFL in yards allowed per pass play under fourth-year defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
“I would say as a player in general the longer you’re in the league and the more experience you have with one system — or in his case back with our system — you learn a lot more of the details, the intricacies of what we’re trying to do and the concepts of what we’re trying to get done,” Patricia said.
“I think just the experience that he’s gaining through his years in the league has helped him to develop as a player. He’s always had a really good skill set. He’s always been very smart. His work ethic has been great. He’s just trying to improve himself every day that he comes in here.”
Chung isn’t the only example of a defensive player that the Eagles released who is thriving elsewhere now.
Another safety released after the 2013 season, Kurt Coleman, is tied for second in the NFL with five interceptions for the undefeated Panthers.
“I think the biggest difference is probably our scheme and what we’ve asked him to do relative to what he did in the four years that he was here,” Belichick said of Chung.
“But again, he’s not I think appreciably different than what he was. His skills, his attitude, his work ethic, dependability, toughness, he’s always been a good tackler, always been a good coverage player, he runs well, he’s a smart guy.
“I just think that his ability to play close to the line of scrimmage, which is what he did very well in college, he’s had more opportunities to do it and has been in the deep part of the field less than he was when he was here in the past. I think it’s more a function of probably us than it is him.”
He was awful.