Eagles Wake-Up Call: Hicks’ Hands-On Approach To Health
It might be bad luck. There might be more to it than that. But there’s no denying that a pattern has developed, and Jordan Hicks is doing everything in his power to try and put an end to it.
Last season started out brilliantly for the third-round pick out of Texas. Through eight games, Hicks racked up 50 tackles, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, a sack, and enough impact plays against the Cowboys to earn him free drinks in Philly for a solid decade.
— NFL (@NFL) November 9, 2015
But late in the game against those Cowboys on November 8, Hicks suffered a torn pec while tackling Cole Beasley and was lost for the year. The Eagles’ linebacking corps never recovered.
It was not the first significant injury of Hicks’ career. He missed the Longhorns’ final 10 games in 2012 with a hip flexor injury. He returned in 2013 and started the first four games before tearing his Achilles. In the spring of 2011, he sustained a broken bone in his foot.
Hicks knows that many injuries are out of his control to a degree, but he decided to take a proactive approach to see if there’s anything more he can do on his end to prevent them. So he set off on a mission this offseason to learn more about his body, seeking out a number of doctors — including a specialist out in California — to gain insight into how he’s uniquely wired.
“It was something that I wanted to do. It wasn’t really anything that [the Eagles] had asked me to do. It was something that I wanted to do personally,” said Hicks. “I felt like I’ve had so many different things and a lot of them are ligament or some type of tendon or something like that, so I wanted to check and make sure [I’m doing everything right] and put that confidence in my head to know I’m working towards getting to be a better me.
“Since I’m doing so much, I’m doing it real slow. There’s times where there are certain foods I have to eat to see if I’m allergic to them or having a tolerance to them, or going and getting blood tests…I’m doing it little by little throughout this entire offseason. For me, I think it’s going to be huge just to understand my body, actually investing in myself and figuring out what I can work on because at the end of the day, everybody has their different things that they need to do.”
Hicks has moved from rookie surprise to centerpiece of the linebacker unit in a snap. With DeMeco Ryans gone, the second-year ‘backer will be in charge of making sure Jim Schwartz‘s newly-installed defense runs smoothly. With little proven depth currently behind him, it’s critical that Hicks stay on the field.
The 23-year-old has sought a number of veterans and coaches seeking advice, and the same counsel has come back to him: invest in your body. So that’s what he’s doing in hopes of breaking the cycle.
“I wanna prove to myself that this is a place that all my injuries are gone and all my injuries are in the past,” said Hicks. “Obviously it’s football, it’s a rough sport and [some of it] is out of your control, but I’m doing everything I possibly can to learn about myself, to understand my body, to tackle that side of it so that when I am on the field, I don’t have anything to worry about.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
A look at the highly-opposed graduation rule’s impact on offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo and two other Eagles rookies.
“It’s not just because he’s a great athlete — the way he conducts himself is pretty special to see.” Make sure to check out Josh’s terrific feature on Wentz.
Paunil dives into the specifics of Bradford’s holdout in yesterday’s Wake-Up Call.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Andrew Kulp of CSN Philly compiled a list of unanswered questions the Eagles failed to address this offseason. His number one question?
Is Jordan Matthews a No. 1 receiver?
Matthews is quite possibly the most underrated player on the Eagles. Yes, dropped passes were a major issue last season, and no, he didn’t reach 1,000 yards receiving. Yet had a wide receiver accomplished what he has in his first two seasons during almost any other period, people would be over the moon. In fact, you probably should be anyway.
Only four receivers in NFL history have produced more than Matthews’ 152 receptions, 1,869 yards and 16 touchdowns over their first two seasons in the league — Odell Beckham, Marques Colston, Larry Fitzgerald and A.J. Green. Take catches out of the equation, and only go by the pure production of yards and scores, then just 17 others have exceeded those totals.
None of which answers the question posed, which is whether Matthews is a true feature receiver. There’s a feeling the 23-year-old’s numbers are inflated somewhat from playing in Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense. Matthews has also been utilized almost exclusively as a slot receiver, and hasn’t been tested by many elite cornerbacks, or very often, even defensive backs his own size.
It’s fair to say Matthews has to prove he can post similar or better numbers on the outside. Then again, there’s little reason to doubt he can. At 6’3″, 212 pounds with 4.4 speed, the 2014 second-round pick has the build and athleticism to succeed anywhere on the field. And no matter how Matthews came about his numbers, the stats are undeniable. He might not be Antonio Brown or Julio Jones, but the Eagles could do worse for a No. 1 receiver.
Dave Spadaro talked to Joe Douglas about his new role:
Fifteen seasons, two Super Bowl rings and hundreds of players’ reports later, Douglas was hired by the Chicago Bears as their director of college scouting. One year later, he’s in Philadelphia, hired along with assistant director of player personnel Andy Weidl by Howie Roseman, who has full accountability of the team’s personnel department.
“The team fit is the most important thing,” Douglas said, “because I see the scouting staff as an extension of the coaching staff. We need to get the right type of people and players for them, to help them succeed on the field.
“The Eagles’ job was very attractive to me because I know what kind of people Mr. (Jeffrey) Lurie and Howie are. I heard so many good things about those guys. We have a lot of former Eagles in Baltimore — coach (John) Harbaugh, (offensive line coach) Juan Castillo … quite a few. They couldn’t say enough great things about this place, this organization. Not just at the top, but everywhere. It got me real excited.”
Rookie camp begins. We’ll talk to Wentz at 12:30.