Eagles Wake-Up Call: New DBs Go From Foe To Friend

You can tell that Kenny Phillips isn’t able to just flip the switch. He was drafted by the Giants, played five years for them. He was wired to hate the Eagles, and now he is one.

“Yeah, it’s weird. It’s definitely weird,” said the veteran safety at his introductory press conference. “I can’t say I hate the Giants. When I was with the Giants I kind of disliked the Eagles. I guess I’ll learn to hate them.”

And the Eagles receivers?

“I didn’t like them,” said Phillips with a smile. “I respected every single one of them. I thought they had a great team.  [Jeremy] Maclin and [Brent] Celek and DeSean [Jackson], you had to respect those guys because they went out there and made plays. Practicing against them should be fun. I enjoyed playing against them — I just can’t hit them now. We have to be best of friends.”

Sitting directly to Phillips’ left was Cary Williams, who also has also shown a distaste for Eagles’ wideouts. He got into a skirmish with DeSean Jackson last season when the Eagles and Ravens locked up. Tempers flared. Punches were thrown.

“We haven’t spoken,” said Williams. “But me and him spoke after the game and during the game after that whole situation went down. DeSean understands where I’m coming from, I understood where he was coming from. It’s football — it’s two guys trying to help their team win.

“I think DeSean will welcome me with open arms, I think this organization believes in me, and I look forward to building relationships with my teammates.”

Switching allegiances is par for the course in the modern-day NFL, but these examples remind us that the blending of the old and the new, the free agents and the homegrown talent, is a process. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Steve Smith, as an example, never fully assimilated. The 2011 free-agent crop overall is a warning about the dangers of adding players that do not mesh.

Howie Roseman likened free agency to an arranged marriage.

“You have never lived with the person, you never really dated them, you’ve seen them from afar. That’s the tricky part about free agency,” said the Eagles general manager.

The Eagles are hopeful that they have learned from their past mistakes, and gave the chemistry issue greater consideration this time around. They targeted players largely from winning organizations that approach football in a similar way —  players they believe can help be “tempo-setters” as they try to enrich the culture.

“We’re going to go into this as a family,” said Williams. “That’s what I got from the eight guys signing, we all got a taste of that success. We know what it takes to be successful. And I think Coach [Chip] Kelly sees that in every one of us, and that’s why we are here today.

“Part of life is transition. I’ve been dealing with transition for the majority of my life, so this is no different. I feel blessed and honored to be in this position, and I just want to come here and play football. I’m an Eagle now.”

And so is Phillips, who is coming around to the idea.

“Once I got here, speaking with the coaching staff and speaking with Chip, I can honestly say that I feel right at home,” he said. “The Giants are a great organization but I’m really happy to be here right now, surrounded by great people and great players.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

What will the the defense look like with all the new pieces? We took a stab at it.

Williams modeled his game after Nnamdi Asomugha’s (the Oakland version).

The Eagles are receiving praise for their offseason moves to date.

Connor Barwin addressed his dip in production last season.

The Eagles made a trade for a wide receiver. Kapadia has the details.

A look at what the training camp switch means for you.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

After three book signings were cancelled recently due to threats of violence, Michael Vick held a less publicized charity event/book signing at Victory for the World Church in Stone Mountain, GA over the weekend. He addressed the threats against him and his family. From USA Today:

“Why would you continue to bash somebody who’s trying to help make the world a better place?

“A lot of people are sick and tired of hearing about my past, because there are so many other problems that are going on in this world that need to have attention drawn to them,” Vick said. “People are dying every day, children are being killed, going to jail. Not to say I overlook what I’ve done, but I try to do outreach as a positive. That’s my responsibility. That’s what I’m going to continue to do. That’s what’s important. Those people are not important.”

Todd McShay offers a scouting report from Geno Smith‘s pro day.

One of the first things that jumped out at me was the velocity and accuracy Smith showed on intermediate throws, which is something you see consistently on tape. He looked perfect on seam routes, throwing with low trajectory and good zip, and putting the ball right on the money.

As impressive as that was, what stood out most was Smith’s improvement in terms of velocity and consistent accuracy on throws to the boundary (deep outs, 18-yard comebacks, vertical routes). He wasn’t absolutely perfect in that area, but I saw a significant improvement over the eight game tapes I’ve studied from 2012.

COMING UP

Day 1 of the owners meetings in Phoenix. I’ll be in full stalker mode in the Biltmore hotel lobby while Sheil mans the controls in Philly.

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