Paul Worrilow

Eagles failed trying to duplicate Super Bowl blueprint

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Eagles failed trying to duplicate Super Bowl blueprint

When you look at the Eagles’ Super Bowl roster, it’s remarkable how much of an impact older veteran acquisitions made on that team.

They were Band-Aids, but they were really, really good Band-Aids who all wound up riding a float up Broad Street.

Most were only here briefly. Most were near the end of their careers. Most are out of the league already or playing minor roles with their new team.

But they contributed in a huge way to the Eagles’ first championship in 57 years.

During the three-week period from March 10 to April 4 of 2017, the Eagles acquired Nick Foles, Stefen Wisniewski, Chris Long, Torrey Smith, Patrick Robinson and Tim Jernigan. LeGarrette Blount arrived in May, Corey Graham and Ronald Darby in August, Jay Ajayi in late October.

It’s no secret the Eagles’ drafting has been uneven since 2014. And uneven is putting it nicely.

But general manager Howie Roseman and the Eagles’ pro personnel department nailed those veteran acquisitions. The impact those guys made was enormous. 

Foles was Super Bowl MVP. Wiz started at left guard. Long was one of the team’s best pass rushers and locker room leaders. Robinson held down the slot and made one of the biggest plays of the postseason. Smith gave the offense a dimension of speed and was huge in the playoffs. Blount and Ajayi led the NFL’s No. 3 rushing offense. Graham and Darby were key parts of a top-10 secondary. Jernigan was a force in the middle.

Without those guys? There is no Super Bowl. There is no 41-33. There is no parade. 

The Eagles cut ties in some way, shape or form with every one of those guys, although they did bring back three of them — two of whom are still here.

Ajayi, Blount, Graham, Long and Smith are all out of football, although Ajayi hopes to play again.

Robinson is back with the Saints but is barely playing. Foles is hurt in Jacksonville. The Eagles brought Jernigan and Darby back this offseason, but both have been hurt and neither has been productive since 2017. Wisniewski came back for a bit but was released and is now with the Chiefs.

But the poor drafting has continued. The Eagles have drafted one Pro Bowler since the Lane Johnson / Zach Ertz draft in 2013, and that’s Carson Wentz, who didn’t even play in the Super Bowl.

The Eagles this past offseason again tried to use the Super Bowl blueprint, stockpiling free agents to offset the lack of homegrown talent.

The results have been dramatically different.

Consider these names: Paul Worrilow, Malik Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Vinny Curry, Zach Brown, Blake Countess, Orlando Scandrick, Cody Kessler, Johnathan Cyprien, Charles Johnson, Andre Sendejo and L.J. Fort. Along with Wisniewski, Jernigan and Darby.

Brown, Countess, Kessler, Cyprien, Johnson, Fort, Worrilow and Wisniewski are gone. Scandrick was released, then brought back out of necessity. Malik Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Darby and Jernigan have all been hurt. Curry and Sendejo are here but haven’t exactly made a big impact.

Jordan Howard has been fine and Hassan Ridgeway is eating up a lot of snaps at defensive tackle with Jernigan and Malik Jackson out. 

You can’t totally blame the front office for injuries, but when you rely on a 32-year-old as your speed receiver and he gets hurt, or when you rely on oft-injured guys like Darby and Jernigan and they get hurt, it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Some of these failed moves didn’t cost the Eagles a penny. Most of them did.

But the bottom line is the Eagles’ pro scouting evaluations this year have been nowhere near what we saw two years ago, and it's reflected in their record.

Instead of forming the nucleus of a Super Bowl champion, this year’s crop so far has done very little on a 3-3 team struggling to find its way.

Let’s take a look at the Eagles’ Veteran Class of 2019.

Zach Brown: The Eagles paid Brown a guaranteed $1.4 million and made him a starting linebacker. He was released on Monday. The full $1.4 million counts against their cap.

Blake Countess: The Eagles claimed their former draft pick on waivers in May and released him in August. He counts $180,000 against their cap.

Vinny Curry: The Eagles’ one-time second-round pick returned after a year in Tampa. He counts $2.1875 million against this year’s cap.

Johnathan Cyprien: The Eagles signed Cyprien early in training camp and traded him to the Falcons a few weeks ago for Duke Riley. He counts $151,764 against the cap.

Ronald Darby: Darby was a free agent when the Eagles re-signed him to a one-year contract. He played two games before getting hurt again. He’s only played in 23 of a possible 43 games since coming here. He counts $2.825 million against the cap.

L.J. Fort.: The Eagles released Fort after the Packers game, and he signed with the Ravens, where he’s now starting for the NFL’s No. 6 defense. He counts $1.335 million against the cap.

DeSean Jackson: Jackson had a huge opener against the Redskins but got hurt a few snaps into the Week 2 game in Atlanta and hasn’t played since. The Eagles do expect him back soon, but he's been ruled out for Sunday. He counts $3.164 million against the cap.

Malik Jackson: Suffered a season-ending injury just 32 snaps into the season. He’s signed through 2021 but will be 30 in January coming off a season-ending foot injury. Cap figure is $2.8 million.

Tim Jernigan: Hasn’t played since the Atlanta game but is expected back at some point. Cap figure is $1.25 million, but he still also counts $6 million in dead money from when the Eagles declined his contract option in March.

Charles Johnson: CJ2 had caught 670 balls for 834 yards for the Vikings, but he ultimately made less of an impact than CJ1 and didn’t survive training camp. Minimal cap hit of $50,000 in dead money.

Cody Kessler: He was supposed to compete with Nate Sudfeld for the No. 2 QB job. Turns out he can’t throw a football. Counts $127,058 against the Eagles’ cap.

Orlando Scandrick: Eagles released the veteran cornerback as part of final cuts then re-signed him two weeks ago. He counts $787,647 against the cap. Because his initial deal didn’t have a bonus, he doesn’t have any dead money counting against the Eagles’ cap.

Andre Sendejo: The veteran safety is a favorite of the coaches, but he’s made more of an impact injuring his teammates than anywhere else. He has a $1.3 million cap hit.

Stefen Wisniewski: Wiz’s first go-around with the Eagles ended with a Super Bowl ring. His second ended with $958,334 in dead money.

Paul Worrilow: After missing all of last year, Worrilow rejoined the Eagles in January but was released in August with lingering knee issues. He did work out for the Eagles recently so he could be back. Because his 2019 contract didn’t have a signing bonus, he doesn’t count against the Eagles’ cap.

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Paul Worrilow's bid to return from torn ACL is over as Eagles release linebacker

Paul Worrilow's bid to return from torn ACL is over as Eagles release linebacker

Paul Worrilow had a pretty good idea he was running out of time. Turned out he was right.

Worrilow, who suffered a knee injury on the first day of OTAs last spring, was released Sunday.

The veteran linebacker never played a regular-season or preseason snap in an Eagles uniform. 

Worrilow tore his right ACL on May 18, 2018, missed all of last year, then missed a good chunk of training camp when he experienced swelling in the same knee.

He finally got back to practice last week, but didn’t play in the Jaguars preseason game.

The last game he played was the Lions’ 2017 finale against the Packers at Ford Field in Detroit.

People always say you don’t know when your last game is going to be, and that could be it for me," he told NBC Sports Philadelphia last week. "Hopefully not, but if it is, it is. You never know. That’s the cool thing about this sport, man. You’ve got to take advantage of it and appreciate it while you still can. I have no complaints. Went from no scholarship offers out of high school to trying to make it through my seventh year in the NFL.

Worrilow, 29, spent four years with the Falcons and one with the Lions before signing with the Eagles before last season. 

Worrilow had hoped to use the Eagles’ depleted linebacker situation to his advantage, but he repeatedly experienced knee swelling when he tried to return to practice.

And with Nigel Bradham returning to practice on Sunday and appearing likely on track to play in the opener, the Eagles ended Worrilow’s comeback bid.

Worrilow was not heavily recruited out of Concord High in Wilmington, Delaware, and spent a redshirt year at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas before returning to Delaware and playing for the Blue Hens, where he was a first-team all-conference linebacker.

In the NFL, Worrilow played in 72 NFL games, starting 52. He has 415 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles, 11 pass knockdowns and two interceptions.

With Worrilow gone and Kamu Grugier-Hill out indefinitely with a knee sprain, the Eagles have Nate Gerry, Alex Singleton, Asantay Brown, Zach Brown, T.J. Edwards and L.J. Fort on the roster at linebacker in addition to Bradham. 

Only Gerry, Bradham and Grugier-Hill were on the roster last year.

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Eagles linebacker Paul Worrilow knows he's running out of time

Eagles linebacker Paul Worrilow knows he's running out of time

The last time Paul Worrilow played football was New Year’s Eve 2017, when the Lions closed out the regular season with a win over the Packers at Ford Field in Detroit.

He’s spent most of the 19½ months since trying to get his right knee healthy enough to play again.

Worrilow tore his ACL during an indoor OTA practice in the Eagles’ bubble in May of 2018, soon after signing with the Eagles.

He missed all of last year, finally returned to practice when training camp began and … got hurt again.

When he thinks back to that Lions-Packers game, he knows that could wind up being the final football game of his life.

No doubt that’s in the back of your mind,” Worrilow said Monday. “I’d be lying if I said I never thought about that. People always say you don’t know when your last game is going to be, and that could be it for me. Hopefully not, but if it is, it is. You never know. That’s the cool thing about this sport, man. You’ve got to take advantage of it and appreciate it while you still can. I have no complaints. Went from no scholarship offers out of high school to trying to make it through my seventh year in the NFL.

After participating in the first two sessions of training camp back in late July, Worrilow’s surgically repaired knee swelled up again.

Back on the shelf.

“Just like in OTAs,” he said. “Went through a couple practices, swelled up pretty bad where running really wasn’t an option.”

With a month left before roster cutdown day, Worrilow knew he was running out of options. Running out of time. So the Eagles’ trainers tried a different, more aggressive form of treatment.

His knee finally responded.

After missing 14 days, Worrilow returned to practice on a limited basis Saturday, got more work Sunday and on Monday got his first work in team drills this summer.

And no sign of swelling.

I went after it a little harder, because with the season coming up I can’t really take my time with it, and it responded way better than it did before," he said. "It was great getting team reps today. At this point that’s what I really need. I haven’t played football with pads on, team drills, since I was in Detroit. That’s a long time, so I definitely feel the sense of urgency to get back out there and really get into the flow of things.

Worrilow, 29, spent four years with the Falcons, starting 44 games, before that 2017 season with the Lions, when he made eight more starts.

Considering the Eagles’ linebacker issues — Kamu Grugier-Hall and Nigel Bradham are both out indefinitely — Worrilow knows he has an opportunity here.

The Eagles are scrambling at linebacker and a smart, physical, experienced veteran could come in handy.

You definitely see that,” he said. “Be lying if I didn’t see it as an opportunity, but that’s every year. That’ll never change. There’s always going to be injuries and there's always going to be opportunities for other guys. If that opportunity presents itself and I can go out there and play, I’m going to go for it.

Worrilow wants to play Thursday night against the Jaguars, but it might be too soon.

If he’s good through next week, he should be out there the following Thursday night against the Ravens.

I miss it a lot,” he said. “You’re either competing or you’re not. It’s hard to simulate that. You can compete in the weight room, in offseason stuff, but it’s not the same. It’s just not. When you’re not going through the practice, you’re not dog tired, you’re not hurting, there’s a piece of you that kind of craves that in a weird way, that camaraderie with the other guys. Putting it all out there every day. You want to be in it with them. You don’t want to be nursing a little injury while they’re out there grinding. You definitely want to be out there with your guys.

Now he is back out there with his guys. But for how long?

He’s trying to be aggressive and make up for lost time without putting too much stress on that knee.

It’s a tricky balance.

“Last thing I want is another setback,” he said. “But I don’t live my life that way. I just push, push, push, push.”

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