What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Plus: More Buddy Ryan memories.

Jordan Matthews. (Jeff Fusco)

Jordan Matthews. (Jeff Fusco)

This week’s roundup of the best Eagles links around the web, including a few more Buddy Ryan memories.

Is Buddy a Hall of Famer? He faces an “improbable road,” writes ESPN’s Jeff Legwold.

But when it comes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Ryan joins a growing list of former assistant coaches and head coaches who have had a difficult time making it to enshrinement. In fact, coaches who were not former NFL players and have spent the bulk of their NFL careers as assistants have not been enshrined in Canton, Ohio.

Assistant coaches face the biggest uphill climb in the selection process. They are in the same voting category as former players, as well as those who were primarily head coaches, who might have even won a Super Bowl or multiple Super Bowls.

Those are significant hurdles to clear for candidates such as Ryan, who did not have an NFL playing career and did not have the same kind of success as an NFL head coach as he did as an assistant. Ryan’s career as an assistant spanned his time on Hall of Famer Weeb Ewbank’s staff with the New York Jets, including the team’s Super Bowl III win against the Baltimore Colts, to his time with the Bears.

Dan Pompei remembers how Buddy cultivated so much loyalty from some of his players.

He could be brutal.  Routinely brutal.  In Buddy’s caste system, rookies were just below the equipment guys.  Players never were called by name.  They either were a number or a nickname.  The fierce Doug Plank was “Goldilocks” to Buddy.

He had this way of grading players throughout his career.  If the player did his job well, nothing was said.  If he missed a tackle, or dropped an interception, the player was “horseshit.”  If the player made a mental mistake, he was “dumbass.”  If the player made multiple mistakes, he as “asshole.”  He also was probably going to need a suitcase soon.

Buddy made his players want to prove themselves to him.  And once a player survived Buddy’s battering, proved himself and earned trust, Buddy would go to the mat for him.

Ultimately the way he did this inspired fierce loyalty. Many years ago when Dave Duerson accused Buddy of using racist terms, I received several phone calls from Duerson’s teammates disputing the claim.

Former Eagles beat writer Tim Kawakami recalls Buddy as a coach, racquetball player, and someone who once tried playing Cupid.

Buddy actually once offered to try to set me up on a date with actress Nicole Eggert, after he appeared with her on some awards show–why I turned that one down, I will never know.

When he was in a reflective mood, he’d talk about his days in New York, as a Jets assistant coach, roaming the city, stumbling onto great jazz clubs, and he’d tell me that there is nothing like being young in the big city after you win a championship.

He would also talk about his discussions with Al Davis over the years–he knew Al would never hire him as a head coach because Al only hired offensive guys for that job, and Buddy joked that Al was just trying to pick up schemes and learn about players on other rosters…

But Buddy didn’t mind, because, he told me, “hell, he’s smart–I’d do the same thing if I was him.”

At his skills camp, Jordan Matthews said that the Eagles are going with an ‘Us-against-the-world’ mentality, writes Daniel Boyette of AL.com.

“He’s a former Eagle and a former quarterback,” Matthews said of [Doug] Pederson. “He’s been in this city and he understands the city, so we’ve all got his back. We’re just looking forward to going out there with an ‘Us-against-the-world’ mentality and winning some games.”

As for adapting to a new offensive system, Matthews doesn’t anticipate any issues.

“I hope I can fit into any system,” he said. “I don’t care if we’re running the Wing T, I’ll go play running back. I’m a football player, so I’m going to fit in.”

Philadelphia went through an eventful offseason that included trading running back DeMarco Murray to the Titans and drafting North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz with the No. 2 overall pick. Wentz is one of three quarterbacks on the Eagles’ roster, along with returning starter Sam Bradford and veteran backup Chase Daniel.

“Wentz is great,” Matthews said. “I think he’s going to be a great quarterback for us for a lot of years to come. He’s got a great head on his shoulders, a great arm. And his mentality is not that of a rookie. He studies the game and he takes the game serious. He’s a pro in every way, from what I’ve seen. I don’t expect that to change, so I’m looking forward to playing with him in the long run.”

But Matthews doesn’t seem to be a good pick in fantasy football leagues, writes D.J. Foster of FoxSports.com.

Jordan Matthews, PHI

It’s hard to get too worked up about Matthews, especially given Philadelphia’s shaky quarterback situation with Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz. Still, Matthews has the kind of size (6-foot-3, 212 lbs) to be a red zone weapon, and his eight touchdowns in each of his first two seasons provide a nice baseline moving forward.

The issue is that Matthews just isn’t terribly explosive, as his 11.7 yards per catch would attest. If the Eagles go with Wentz at any point, receivers with rookie quarterbacks are rarely appealing from a fantasy standpoint, especially ones that can’t take a 5-yard slant to the house.

Matthews currently has an early fifth round pricetag, which seems a little rich. Find someone with more upside.

Malcolm Jenkins is one of the best slot weapons in the league, according to Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus.

6. Malcolm Jenkins, S, Philadelphia Eagles

There aren’t many safeties that can do a good job of covering the slot in today’s NFL. Several are deployed that way as a response to the [Rob] Gronkowski-type TEs that teams have to try and match up with, but few can execute it with any kind of success. Jenkins in Philadelphia has been different. In 2015, only Chris Harris surrendered a lower amount of yardage per coverage snap from the slot, with Jenkins topping all other cornerbacks let alone safeties.

Center Jason Kelce has the most team-friendly contract on the Eagles, from Mike Sando of ESPN.com.

Jason Kelce, C

The Eagles’ proactive approach to re-signing players pays off. Their six-year, $37.5 million extension with Kelce came together in early 2014, before Kelce hit free agency and before centers such as Alex Mack pushed the market northward. Kelce assumes nearly all the risk over the deal’s final four years.

Meanwhile, Bradford has the most player-friendly contract on the team, pens Sando.

Sam Bradford, QB

Bradford’s career Total QBR (40.5) ranks 27th out of 29 qualifying quarterbacks since 2010, just below those of Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel. He was better late last season, leading the Eagles to give him $22 million guaranteed on a two-year deal. The contract means Bradford will reach $100 million in career earnings by age 30.

Jenkins will be part of a special NFL edition of Celebrity Family Feud Sunday night on ABC, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

The first show pits five AFC offensive players (Jets receiver Brandon Marshall, Patriots tackle Marcus Cannon, Raiders receiver Amari Cooper, Bengals running back Jeremy Hill, and Ravens receiver Steve Smith) against five NFC defensive players (Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, former Washington defensive lineman Terrance Knighton, and Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu).

The second show has five AFC defensive players (former Bengals linebacker A.J. Hawk, Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali, Chargers running back Melvin Ingram, Broncos linebacker Von Miller, and Raiders linebacker Malcolm Smith) facing five NFC offensive players (49ers tackle Joe Staley, Lions receiver Marvin Jones, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Washington receiver Pierre Garςon, and Cardinals running back David Johnson).

The teams will be eligible to win up to $25,000 for charity. Which really isn’t all that much.