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Podcast Recap: Runyan Changed History

Posted Mar 13, 2016

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Brian Dawkins helped the Eagles land Jon Runyan in 2000.


Dave Spadaro caught up with Runyan on Episode 7 of the Eagles Live podcast to recount the process that led to the right tackle leaving Tennessee for Philadelphia.

Runyan had come off a Super Bowl appearance with the Titans and wanted to play for a contender. Runyan also entered the league as a fourth-round pick and "didn't hit the jackpot out of college." He knew this was his one opportunity.

Based on need and salary cap space, Philadelphia was a perfect fit for Runyan's talent. But what about the fact that the Eagles were coming off a five-win season under a first-year head coach in Andy Reid?

Runyan's agent, Ben Dogra, also represented Dawkins. The safety was able to provide an inside perspective into what was going on in Philadelphia.

"You could see the makings of (a winner)," Runyan said.

Tennessee wasn't going to let Runyan go without a fight and offered a fair contract to come back. However, Runyan recognized that the team was always right up against the salary cap and had to renegotiate the contracts with its top players on a regular basis.

"Do I really want to deal with that in a year or two?" Runyan asked himself.

Runyan signed with the Eagles. It solidified the right tackle position through the 2008 season. During that time span, the Eagles went to five NFC title games and a Super Bowl in 2004. Runyan played 144 regular season games, which ranks fifth in franchise history among offensive linemen and 14th overall. Tough as iron, he suited up despite a fractured tailbone in the 2007 season.

Jeff Fisher, the Titans' head coach when Runyan left for Philadelphia, thought that the tackle would regret the decision between the Veterans Stadium turf, the fans and the team's struggles. Fisher was wrong.

"It was the best decision I ever made," Runyan said.

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It’s been a busy few weeks at the NovaCare Complex, especially with regard to the Eagles’ quarterback situation. The team re-signed Sam Bradford to a two-year deal earlier last week and then added Chase Daniel on a three-year contract on Thursday.

The position was a top priority for the organization and for head coach Doug Pederson, a former quarterback himself. On the latest Eagles Insider podcast, Fran Duffy, Chris McPherson and Alex Smith delved into the position and uncovered some interesting parallels between Bradford and Chiefs’ signal-caller Alex Smith.

“Alex Smith had seven years in San Francisco, barely had a winning record at 38-36-1. His touchdown-to-interception ratio wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either,” Smith said. “He didn’t have a winning year in San Fran until 2011. That was his sixth season in the NFL. That year, the Niners went 13-3. Smith, he only threw for 3,100 yards but led them to the 13-3 record and took them on a deep run in the playoffs as well.

“One of the comparisons is that this will also be Sam Bradford’s sixth season. Last year, he was finally able to get to that .500 mark at 7-7 as a starter. He still hasn’t been able to get that winning record as a quarterback just yet, but another one of the interesting comparisons is that Smith’s career year in 2011 was Jim Harbaugh’s first season with the Niners. A new head coach, a new system.

“A lot of times people say there’s going to be an adjustment period while he transitions into the new scheme and results may not come right away, but for Alex Smith they did. A former quarterback in Jim Harbaugh, a guy who’s played the position comes in and Smith really flourished under him. I think the same thing can happen with Sam Bradford under Doug Pederson. He mentioned in his press conference how great it is he’s got a head coach who’s played the position, who knows the game through the quarterback’s eyes.”

Smith did note the differences between the two quarterbacks. However, Bradford’s skill set may actually allow for more flexibility.

“I think overall Bradford, at least physically, has more tools than Alex Smith does,” Smith explained. “I think the Eagles’ offense could be molded to what Alex Smith did in Kansas City, a lot of screen passes and crossing and timing routes and things like that, but I also think that Sam Bradford gives you a more vertical, deep passing game than what Alex Smith can bring you.”

Also on the Eagles Insider Podcast:

Three-And-Out at 0:44
Mailing It In at 13:15

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On the newest edition of the Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast, Fran Duffy talked with former NFL general manager and current Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage, touching on none other than the free agency period.

According to Savage, while those initial days are filled with deals and trade and signings, all transactions are the result of months of work and research done by the teams’ personnel departments.

“When I was a GM, we of course did all of our evaluations during the fall, during the football season and then we would have our first pro-personnel meeting sometime around Thanksgiving, either that week before or right after,” Savage said. “That would be again to forecast which players might really be available and how much are they going to cost? You start with a wider net of candidates, obviously. Over the winter, some players sign extensions, some players end up retiring, some players end up falling by the wayside, so the list has been narrowed.

“By the time the season is over, you get the coaches involved usually after the Senior Bowl. It’s usually in the month of February when you give a list to the offensive line coach or the running backs coach or whomever. Now, you’re beginning to integrate the coaching staff into it. Ultimately, by the time you go to the Combine and everybody gets the chance to see most of the players that are going to be available in the draft, when you come back that interim week is in essence when you lay out exactly your Plan A, your Plan B, your Plan C in terms of which players you’re going to target, who you’re going to go after.”

When all is said and done, the decisions during free agency and on draft day are a collaborative effort by the front office personnel and the coaches in the hopes that they’ll strengthen their team for the coming season.

Also on the Eagle Eye in the Sky Podcast:

Two-Technique with Matt Tobin at 22:53
Saturday Scouting at 25:12

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Pro Days are in full swing and the Journey to the Draft podcast crew noted six players who have a lot of prove at these workouts.

1. LB Myles Jack - Jack was recently cleared to resume full training after suffering a torn meniscus which prematurely ended his final season at UCLA. He was unable to perform agility drills at the NFL Scouting Combine. He will still have to clear the medical recheck in Indianapolis before the NFL Draft.

"If he's able to move as well as he did while at UCLA, he's definitely going to be a Top 10 pick," Chris McPherson said. "It's just a matter of where he goes in the draft."

2. CB Rashard Robinson - A physical talent who had trouble staying on the field at LSU. In fact, he was suspended by the team in November 2014 and missed all of the 2015 campaign.

"He went into the Combine boasting that he would run the fastest 40 of the entire event," Fran Duffy said. "With a 4.49, he obviously did not reach that. That 2.62 10-yard split, however, that's worse than offensive tackles."

The fact that he was still invited to the Combine in the first place shows that decision-makers believe Robinson has NFL potential. Tony Pauline reported that Robinson was ill at the NFL Scouting Combine which factored into his performance. There are no excuses now.

3. WR Laquon Treadwell - One of the highly touted receivers in this year's draft class, Treadwell did not run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. Treadwell switched agents and training centers in the middle of the draft process. Therefore, Treadwell didn't feel fully prepared to post a good time in the 40. He did, however, perform in the on-field workouts. The fear is that Treadwell will run a 4.6 or slower which will make it hard to justify a potential top half of the first round selection.

"That's the one knock on his game right now - his speed," Alex Smith said. "It's not necessarily the biggest part of his game. He's more of a physical wide receiver who can catch the ball at the point of attack and use his physicality to win the matchups."

4. QB Christian Hackenberg - The consensus among draft experts is that the first three quarterbacks who will come off the board are going to be Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch and Carson Wentz. Who will be No 4? McPherson believes that Hackenberg can be that guy with a strong Pro Day. Hackenberg is working with former NFL quarterback Jordan Palmer, who is now a quarterbacks coach. He helped former No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles in the pre-draft process in 2014. Palmer will script Hackenberg's Pro Day workout.

"If he can fix some of the mechanics that were undone by working with James Franklin over the last couple of seasons, maybe he's in the mix to be the fourth quarterback to come off the board," McPherson said.

5. WR Aaron Burbridge - The perception with Burbridge is that his stock is down after a poor showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. He exploded onto the scene as a senior with 85 catches for 1,258 yards and seven touchdowns earning first-team All-Big Ten honors in the process.

"I think he's a good player. I think he's a good wide receiver, but I really think he needs a strong Pro Day to get back to where he was before the Combine," Smith said.

6. CB Michael Jordan - The small-school product didn't have the chance to make a name for himself at the NFL Scouting Combine. He wasn't invited which "shocked" Duffy.

"He's got instincts and outstanding ball skills. He's a competitive player. We saw him up close and personal at the East-West Shrine Game," Duffy said of the Missouri Western player. "The speed is the big question with him, the overall athleticism is the big question with him."

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