Eagles Felt Brown Didn’t Fit
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - While the party line is that the Eagles need more production from their linebackers, the sudden release of veteran linebacker Zach Brown had more to do with personality than anything else.
Much like Michael Bennett last season, the often blunt Brown wasn't a tailor-made fit for a locker room with clearly defined leaders.
On Tuesday defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz mentioned the production part of the equation and head coach Doug Pederson backed that up on Wednesday morning when discussing Brown's exit from the organization.
“We always do what we feel is in the best interest of our football team,” Pederson insisted. “I appreciate everything that Zach did for us. I think Jim alluded to the fact that we needed more production out of that group, and so we made the change.”
The issue comes with timing. Brown was released days after popping off about Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
“Cousins, I think every defense is going to want that guy to throw the ball," Brown said before what turned out to be a 38-20 drubbing. "For me, that’s probably the weakest part of their offense is him. Everything else is good. They’ve got a good running game, probably one of the best in the league. They’ve got real good receivers. You just want them to pass the ball. You want Kirk Cousins to get it in his hands.”
Bulletin-board material around the NFL is usually overrated a bit by fans and even the media but the perception after Cousins lit up the Eagles for 333 yards and four touchdowns with a 75.9 percent completion percentage and a 138.4 passer rating was set in stone.
Pederson, however, claimed the release had nothing to do with the controversial comments about Cousins.
“Obviously, we’re based on performance,” Pederson said. “I’m not going to get into a lot of the ‘whys,’ as to why we did it, but we need more production there.”
Whatever the percentages were between personality and production with the release the page has now been turned and interestingly Pederson mentioned undrafted rookie T.J. Edwards first when discussing potential replacements followed by the recently-acquired Duke Riley.
“This gives us an opportunity now to give T.J. an opportunity and give Duke Riley an opportunity,” Pederson said. “So we’ll just keep working those guys in.”
With starting middle linebacker Nigel Bradham dealing with an ankle injury from last Sunday's game and listed as “day-to-day,” Nate Gerry and Kamu Grugier-Hill could take the majority of the work against Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7. Gerry's emergence could also shift Bradham back to his more natural SAM role moving forward.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen