Brown: Eagles Have Team ‘Chemistry’ Issues
By Lance Epstein
The Philadelphia Eagles finished the season on a sour note and inside the locker room, it apparently was not the ideal situation either.
On WIP radio in Philadelphia, former Eagles cornerback (traded last week) Sheldon Brown said that the team had chemistry problems last year due to acquisitions of new players replacing hardworking teammates.
"No, I am not going to say that [on Dawkins leaving]," Brown said. "But sometimes when guys come from other places and you feel as though some guys have been working hard and you feel as though they are not being appreciated. And in any workplace there is going to be a problem."
The player that Brown could be hinting at was the side of the Eagles cornerback tandem. Asante Samuel replaced his former teammate and best friend on the team Lito Sheppard two years ago. This might have been another reason that Brown was willing to go public with his demand for a raise or to be traded. He could've known that it would eventually lead to his exit.
Again Brown did not specifically name Samuel, but his earlier quote in the interview about listening to defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and questioning the front office was almost a dead giveaway.
"I don’t think the atmosphere was different. I just think, we as a football, the guys just need to believe in coach McDermott," Brown said. "He is a good coach and believe in his plan. And not have any doubt about what is going on around the organization."
Remember last season at the end of the year, reports surfaced that Samuel stopped listening to McDermott's game plan. Furthermore, head coach Andy Reid has called him out earlier this offseason about trying to become better. Samuel responded by blasting the front office about getting better as well. Of course, maybe Reid was implying to Samuel that he must work on becoming a team leader, not just the physical aspect of football such as tackling.
Another question that Brown was asked is if he was shocked that the Eagles decided to go in another direction and trade their franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb. He said he was not too surprised and even sounded off at NFL Network's Brain Baldinger for stating he was overrated.
"I did not think it would be Washington, but I kinda felt like there would be change," he said. "I think Kevin has a bright future. I think it was a situation where they drafted Kevin and they felt like it was time for him to step in and start playing.
"Donovan, someone has said he is overrated or something like that, that is nonsense. He is the winningest quarterback in Eagles history and he has done a lot of great things. I will say this, if they would let Dawk go, they would let anybody."
Speaking of departed Dawkins, Brown discussed his presence in the locker room and how he and Troy Vincent helped him reach the level of success in his career by talking to him and showing him the ins and outs of the NFL.
"I think it is just a locker room presence," Brown said talking about the veteran presence of Dawkins. "It is great to just have a guy like that in the locker room, where a younger guy can come in and see how it is supposed to be done. Dawk was a guy that showed you.
"I can go back to Troy now. I learned from Troy and Dawk. They showed you how to play through injuries, how to tough it out and how to fight. They sit down and talk to you as a young buck and tell you what it is going to take for you to achieve the goals they have achieved. That locker room presence is huge."
Besides talking about playing for the Eagles organization, Brown spoke about how he loved playing in Philadelphia due to the fans, even though it was a very difficult place due to the negativity by the local media.
"I am not going to say they [fans] think to negative, but I think the media market is so tough that you hear more about the controversial stuff then the things that are being positive to the football team," Brown said. "Sometimes I think that can be mentally draining. You have to balance that and the performance on the field. You can play a heck of a game, but if you make one mistake everyone wants to talk about the one mistake. No matter what position you play. And that can be tough at times, but the fans pay.
"They pay to see greatness and I love the atmosphere. I have no complaints. I think they are probably one of the most loyal fans throughout the National Football League. It is more of a college atmosphere and deservingly so, they spend their money. "
One regret that Brown has is not bring home a Lombardi Trophy especially since they had such great teams that let opportunities slip through their fingers.
"It is tough," Brown said. "It is really tough because we were so close and so many years. It is hard to think of that and not just for myself. We had so many good players on those football teams. To come up on the short fall all the time, it hurt but gave you that motivation to go back every offseason to get better and achieve those goals because it was one of those situations where you really knew you had an opportunity to do it."
The final question Brown answered sent a message to the Eagles fans about putting all the blame or success on the quarterback position. Brown reiterated that it is a team game and if the team falters with Kolb, it is not just his fault, but also the entire team. In addition, he declared that Kolb has the ability to do great things because he has all the tools necessary.
"Donovan had a lot of great defenses too now," he said. "Don’t think Donovan did it all on his own. Don’t think a football player does anything on his own. So I think it is important for Kevin to make sure he continues to not only better himself, but better the defense and motivate the defensive guys because it is such a team sport, which you already know.
"If one guy is out there screwing it up then no one is going have success. I think that is more important than this guy is better then this guy. I Kevin is not doing well, it is because the team is not doing well. He has the tools to do well."
While Brown's tenure with the Eagles has ended, he has given the fans some memories that will last a lifetime. The hits on Reggie Bush and Steve Jackson might be two of the best hits of the decade.
However today, he gave us a little bit of insight on what exactly is going on behind the scenes. Talking about the chemistry issues that no one would have thought were going on in the locker room, as the team was one game away from a first round playoff bye. Also, fans complain that the Eagles did not make a big splash in free agency to get over the top, but Brown told about those current Eagles not liking that and it disrupting the team’s chemistry. His eye-opening news gives another rationale on why the draft is a much better option then going through free agency and why the Redskins have failed over the years.
Obviously though, the most important issue that comes up out of his interview is about Samuel. Samuel has been the center of a lot of controversy over the offseason. Like stated before, Reid has called him out and Samuel fired back with comments back about the front office needing to get better too.
His locker room leadership, or lack thereof might have been a reason why the New England Patriots let the ultimate playmaker go. Now, we are just finding out that maybe it is the reason that they let him walk. Moreover, the front office might have recognized it as well considering reports came out from PFT.com saying the Eagles would entertain trade offers for Samuel. Before analysts and expert did not believe the report of a McNabb and Samuel trade for Nmandi Asomugha and a draft pick, but it is starting to look like their could be some truth to that rumor. It is beginning to feel like the 29-year old cornerback, could be the next Eagle to be traded out of the nest.
Here are some more quotes from Sheldon Brown's WIP interview:
On Not Being with the Eagles:
"I am ok with it. It is something where the business part caught up with both sides of it. I love every opportunity that the Eagles gave me. I have talked to everyone there and they have talked to me. I think we have been working on it for a while, but we decided to keep everything in house. It was just better that way."
"It was just one of those situations where the guys I have been with throughout the years were no longer there. There are something’s that happened from a locker room standpoint. It was just a time for change I felt for myself and family."
On the Chemistry Issues and Being with Cleveland Now:
"I rather not get into all that to be honest with you, but I am happy where I am at and it is over and done."
"I think Tom is probably one of the guys that had a major say-so when they drafted me in 2002. He definitely knows that I am a guy that will be loyal to him. He understood the whole locker room presence. He knows I am a good guy, not only on the field, but off the field. Just being accountable and playing through injuries. I think I was one of the guys that he targeted."
On Playing in Philly with the Media:
"It is kinda of hard sometimes to be in Philly because you get caught up in negativity when the media starts talking about everything negative. There are a lot of positive things going on. A lot of playoff appearances and a lot of wins throughout the years. I think it is important for those guys not to lose sight of that and focus on the positives and not the negatives."