Eagles Wake-Up Call: ‘I Can Take Your Head Off With A Smile’
Byron Maxwell got a text from his mom following Thursday’s 45-14 loss to the Lions, concerned over an article she read suggesting her son had lost his confidence.
“I was like, ‘Man, y’all gotta stop reading the papers. I didn’t even see that one,'” the corner joked.
“I’m like, ‘You know me better than that.’ That’s one thing I probably won’t ever lose.”
It would be understandable if Maxwell were a little shaken by how things have gone down since leaving Seattle for Philly. Ever since a rocky opener against the Falcons, he has faced a steady stream of criticism that has only intensified since the season hit the skids.
Maxwell was brought in to stop the bleeding. Was given a six-year, $63 million ($25 million guaranteed) deal in the hopes he would help do just that. Big expectations come with such an exorbitant salary, and the season has definitely not gone according to script. The 27-year-old South Carolina native, though, does not appear rattled. In fact, he says his play is actually a notch above what it was with the Seahawks, and that the higher degree of scrutiny just comes with the territory.
“The price tag, it brings that. Your game might not have changed, it’s just the price tag on you went up and that’s what it looks like, they expect more. That’s how the game works,” he said.
So you feel your game is at the same level as when you were in Seattle?
“Yeah. My game has definitely…I elevated, my game has definitely gone up. The scoreboard don’t say that, but I feel like I’ve been playing pretty good.”
Maxwell did appear to be settling in, and strung together some quality performances after a bumpy start while acclimating to Billy Davis‘ system. Things have gone south over the last couple weeks, though, right along with the rest of the team.
According to Pro Football Focus, Maxwell was targeted a team-high 11 times against Detroit and allowed six catches for 72 yards. All six resulted in first downs. He yielded three completions on as many targets for 51 yards against the Bucs, including a floating TD pass from Jameis Winston to running back Charles Sims that Maxwell wasn’t able to make a play on.
Beyond coverage, Maxwell’s tackling has been a sore subject among Eagle faithful, mainly because he seems preoccupied with knocking the ball loose as opposed to securing the stop.
“I go for the ball a lot,” he acknowledged. “But me, I’m trying to make that play…It’s all about the ball, truly.”
“They can question it, but I can tackle. I tackle well.”
Much has been made of the Eagles’ body language and fraternization with players on the opposing team during the losing streak. Maxwell often wears his large, disarming grin on the field, including sometimes when things aren’t going right.
“That’s how I play the game. I have fun when I’m out there,” he said. “I’m going to be giving my all regardless but that’s how I play the best, I feel like. I feel like I get the most out of me when I’m enjoying the game — every aspect of it. I love to compete. Some people, they’ve gotta get mad to do it. Me personally, I can hit you and smile in your face. That’s what it is.
“I can take your head off with a smile.”
Eagles fans would certainly welcome a little of that. An overhauled secondary hasn’t quite cured the blues that have surrounded Eagles defenses for years on end, and much of the frustration is pointed in the direction of the $63 million man. Maxwell said he understands why the heat is on him.
“I saw it with Sherm [Richard Sherman], they expect more because you get paid more, which is not a bad thing but that’s part of the game,” he said. “They talk about you way more when you’re making a lot more money. That’s just how it goes.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I let him know that I got his back no matter what.” Brandon Graham asserts his support of Chip Kelly.
After three straight losses, Malcolm Jenkins expressed concerns with his team being accountable.
“I think it’s time for him to go out there and see what we have.” The Eric Rowe era is upon us.
Replete with mediocrity, the NFC East remains up for grabs with five weeks to go.
“That was a disaster. There’s no excuses.” A look at the Birds’ linebacker breakdowns.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Billy Davis hears the calls for his job, writes Reuben Frank.
Davis said before practice Tuesday all the speculation about his future doesn’t bother him. He’s too focused on getting things fixed to worry about it.
“I know the league, I’ve been here long enough,” Davis said. “You lose three in a row, everybody’s looking for heads. You win three in a row, people are talking about you as a head coach or something. I get that part of it.
“The thing that’s most important to me is the players and how they are handling the adversity, sticking together, staying with the plan. … Everybody’s frustrated. I think this is a great group and we do hang together, but that’s my biggest focus. Are they hanging together?
“Come up to my office, I’ll take all opinions, I’ll listen. I just want the right way to win. And if I have to come off my spot, I will.”
At this point, it’s going to take a borderline miracle for the Eagles to make the playoffs. The Daily News’s Sam Donnellon asks if the Birds can pull it off.
THEY ARE one game out of first place.
When you say it like that, it doesn’t sound so bad. Forget the Eagles’ 4-7 record, forget how their last two games played out and flip those easily avoidable losses to the Dolphins, Redskins and the Falcons, we might even be talking about repairing this thing in time to fend off the rest of the miserable slop that inhabits the NFC East Division.
But really, what level of insanity does it take to believe they have a chance to beat the mighty Patriots Sunday? Even a wounded edition.
That they could win even two of the next three games against New England, Buffalo and Arizona before embarking on those final two winnable games against Washington and New York?
Kelly will address the media at 10:50.