Wake-Up Call: Kendricks’ Search For Consistency

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Mychal Kendricks was in the midst of a rough patch and in need of a boost back  in mid-September when his phone rang.

“I was getting a massage and I picked up…and it was my Pop Warner coach,” Kendricks  told Jim Rome last week in New York. “And he just told me, ‘Man, just go out there and own the field like I know you can. Get that pep in your step. When you take the field, know that you own it.’




"It was good for me, man. Every game I went into after that, I just told myself, 'Take the field with confidence. Own this [thing].' "

It's fair to say that Kendricks is still trying to find himself as an NFL player. He is chock-full of talent and has flashed brightly at times, but has been unable to harness his star qualities consistently. In his defense, the degree-of-difficulty has been pretty high. The Cal product joined the Eagles during an organizational low point, when the team all but quit on Andy Reid and the 2012 season. An emotional player, he was told by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to mute his enthusiasm and, being a rookie, followed instructions. It wasn't until this season that Kendricks became his normal, vocal self on game day.

The 23-year-old came into the league just as the Eagles were getting set to push the reboot button, and was forced to learn a brand new scheme this season.

His youth got the better of him along the way. There were times this year when Kendricks would get caught up in personal statistics. If his tackle numbers were down after a half of play, for instance, he would sometimes focus on the numbers instead of letting the game come to him, which led to mistakes.

“He was always in the game, [asking]: ‘How many you got?’ I’m like, ‘Man, let’s go play. We’ll see how it [comes out] at the end of the game,’ " said DeMeco Ryans. "It’s not something you worry about. You go out and do your job and plays will start coming to you. When you try to force things, that’s when it seems like it’s the hardest to make a play.”

Around the time he got the call from his Pop Warner coach, San Diego tight end Antonio Gates had just taken him to school.

"This game can do a lot of things for you, man. It can do a lot of things to you," he said.  "And when you're not balling out like you know you can, like you know you should be, yeah, you question yourself. But the confidence is there. I'm in the NFL, I'm here, too. I'm here for a reason. I put my pads on just like the rest of these guys, and that's basically what he was trying to let me know."

Kendricks rebounded nicely. While he may not have been the model of consistency, the former second-round pick was a productive playmaker, finishing with 137 tackles, four sacks, three interceptions and four fumble recoveries. He arguably has as high of a ceiling as anyone on the Eagles defense. It's just a matter of putting it all together.

"I know for a fact that I'm [Pro Bowl] caliber," he said. "No doubt in my mind."

WHAT YOU MISSED

Will the Eagles have a new starting outside linebacker in 2014? We discuss.

From Peter King: "I think they love Chip Kelly as much in year one as they loved Andy Reid in any of his 14 years."

Sheil dives into the Eagles schedule to see if it's as daunting as everyone is making it out to be.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Where will Michael Vick end up? Bill Polian gives his take. 

 I can see him as a starter in 2014. His most likely suitors will be teams without a QB and looking for a bridge to a young player drafted this year or one they expect to draft in a year or two. Jacksonville could be one spot, but, really, any team that fits that description is a possibility. They won't give him a big contract or a long one, but he is capable of being a starter and buying time to develop the next guy. He could also be a good backup candidate for a team like San Francisco or Seattle because he fits the mold of those offenses pretty well. As a third option, other teams might pursue him as a change-up QB for a different look in games.

Chris Steuber has the Eagles selecting Fresno State wide receiver Davante Adams at No. 22.

Drafting a defensive difference maker with this selection would seem to be the right choice, but the Eagles have to make some decisions at wide receiver. It’s possible that the Eagles could move on from two of their top four receivers, and the need for another perimeter playmaker becomes a major focus. Adams (6-2, 212) has good size, speed and a knack for the big play -- his skill set and what he was asked to do at Fresno State fits well with what Chip Kelly wants in a receiver.

COMING UP

We'll continue our offseason outlook series.

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  • BleedGreenJames

    As idiotic as I was early in the season about Kendricks, he became one of my favorite players on the roster by the year’s end. The flash he showed to the ball carrier was so exciting and has been so absent from this defense since Dawkins, really. Another year under Billy D and maybe a mammoth to plug in at NT to let him roam more freely and this guy can be really special.

    • G_WallyHunter

      Ya and add a safety to shore up the back end for him to roam EVEN MORE, jeeze, hear ya, his ceiling is real high and he’s got the attitude necessary to tap into it, can’t wait

      • Maggie

        Is the most important quality in a safety some experience, for now, to help develop a young player? Along with some talent? for your consideration: Jordan Babineaux. He is the safety who was replaced by Earl Thomas. Won some awards in college. Known for some big plays. He’s 31, but with the sports science program could play a year or two. And he was very good on STs.

        • G_WallyHunter

          good point. Ya I don’t know who should go back there, but yes someone with experience would be much better for the safety group.

    • Bdawkbdawk

      Above average player with good potential. But I could do without these three epiphanies a season. Just get out there and play. And for god’s sakes, stop over-running players in the flat.

  • Kev_H

    More evidence of what the football media doesn’t get about Vick. Just google “Mike Vick Raleigh”. The whole city is in an uproar over him making an appearance. Who is going to want to deal with that for a back-up, stop-gap QB? Jax is struggling to sell tickets as is. You think they will risk alienating 25% or more of their fan base?

    • Maggie

      Wow. The whole city. You mean more than the usual foaming-at-the-mouth semi-professional protestor types who run around without bathing and expect someone else to work at real jobs to pay for their drugs? More than the rabble-rousing media trying to sell more advertising? I doubt it. Most people have a life.

  • Avril111

    my Aunty Julia got silver Volkswagen Beetle Convertible by
    working parttime off of a home computer… Look At This B­u­z­z­3­2­.­ℂ­o­m

    • G_WallyHunter

      U serious?
      I can work from a computer and get what I’ve always wanted?!?! A Beetle convertible?!?!? In yellow?!?!
      Get the hell outta here ya bish

      • Chris
        • G_WallyHunter

          HA!

          • Chris

            not as good now that the comment is gone haha

          • G_WallyHunter

            Lol nope

      • NickS1

        “You mean like the back of a Volkswagen?”

        • Richard Colton

          someplace uncomfortable?

          • G_WallyHunter

            Who the hell keeps downvoting me lol targeting

          • Richard Colton

            The Sochi identity thieves have infiltrated 24/7

          • G_WallyHunter

            Hey as long as I can distract them from any other distractions they might be planning in the upcoming weeks

          • Mikeq

            I think someone was pissed you spelled “paycheck” the Canadian way, above. Sent them into a down-voting rage.

          • G_WallyHunter

            Haha down-voting rage, good one, jeeze, never knew there was Canadian way of spelling it, considering cheque and check have 2 different meanings. Learn something new everyday, eh?

  • Andy

    That exchange between DRC and Kendricks still burns me up. DRC is a waste of talent. He’s considering retiring at age 27 and is in absolutely no conceivable way in this or any universe ever contemplated by man, beast, or machine in anything remotely resembling a position to give rookies advice on the appropriate level of intensity with which to play the game.

    • G_WallyHunter

      Very GD well said… Exactly… Shut up DRC just because he doesn’t show the type of passion that you show (which is, well, none)
      Hilarious how he retracked and said he wants to play long term, after clearly displaying his lack of passion by saying he may retire, just screams GIMME THAT BIG PAYCHEQUE!!! So I can lose passion midway through the next year…

    • Ark87

      that’s why it’s so important to establish a good locker room. You got a jaded vet telling a young guy with the passion to be one of the best to turn it down. Man, young guys look to vets for precedence. Can’t have guys like that ever again. They don’t have to be a saint, but they better want to play ball.

      • Dominik

        DRC and Kendricks have one thing in common, though: all the talent in the world.

        Fortunately, Kendricks seem to have a far better work ethic. Let’s just hope he doesn’t freak out about his stats anymore, because that can seriously hurt his game.

  • Justin

    Mark my words, this kid is going to be a force to be reckoned with. When I look at him, I see him laying out guys like Dawkins did.

  • JofreyRice

    He was putrid in the beginning of the season, but improved down the stretch when they had him attack more, and drop less. Fantastic athletic ability, and nice aggressive personality, but really needs to work on the mental aspects of the game to become a “pro bowl” caliber player.

    • Token

      He could be good. But hes got a way to go. It still seems like he thinks to much. Doesnt just flow off instinct. He didnt seem that way in college. He has the ability to be that all over the place guy that can destroy plays in the backfield. I hope he gets there. As I said in the other thread tho, if hes the guy at one ILB spot id like to see Ryans replaced with a more solid stop gap presence in the middle.

      I dont like the idea of Logan at NT with these same ILBs. Id like one of the ILB to be more of a monster. A attacker. Too often Ryans is a chase down tackler instead of a guy able to step into the hole and blow up a play.

      • Ark87

        Depends. In coverage, he be be thinking too much, he isn’t playing as fast as you know he can play, particularly in the reaction department. Against the run (and screens and pitches and short dump offs) he was playing out of control. Shooting gaps to early, flying to a play and then over running it. Sometimes looking for a statement hit and missing rather than making a tackle. He was, in his words, “Looking to kill it”. Experience should help him fix both issues. He definitely improved as the year went on, that’s really encouraging. Tons of potential, glad to have him.

    • GEAGLE

      Don’t worry, you won’t be able to deny it much longer. it’s Coming!!!

  • morgan c

    Really hoping for a Kendricks “leap” year next year, as many had expected / hoped for last year. He showed flashes in Year 2, but as most of us know, was still terribly inconsistent. I look at guys like Kuechly, and Bowman, and Lavonte David, and even Bobby Wagner, and say “why can’t Kendricks be that kind of player?” And the truth is, he can. But he’s got to change his mental approach, and hopefully he will.

  • Maggie

    Just saw where Asante Samuel has been released by Atlanta, in spite of his statistics. Making too much money? Bad attitude? Not playing within the system? Too old?

    • Justin

      Per Rotoworld:

      Samuel turned 33 last month and was relegated to backup duties at the
      end of the season so the Falcons could get looks at youngsters CBs
      Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant. The move clears over $4 million in
      2014 cap space. Samuel is a four-time Pro Bowler, but his best days are
      obviously behind him. Pro Football Focus graded Samuel out as its No.
      57 corner out of 110 qualifiers in 2013.

  • GEAGLE

    Big Time year coming for Kendricks, but by the time our Super Bowl hunt 2015 year comes, he will be a Perrenial MONSTER!!! Doubters will have to change their tune very soon, Just wait til you see him and Meco year two in this d!!! It’s gonna be dirty dirty!!