Genard Avery is here with a blank slate. What he’s done in the past – a promising rookie season in Cleveland in 2018 followed by a half-year of inactivity in 2019 – stays in the vault. He doesn’t want to talk too much about his experience with the Browns other than, “It is what it is,” as he transitions to the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s a fast transition – Avery says that he’s in the scheme and Eagles fans will see him on Sunday against Chicago.
What they’re going to see is a defensive end acquired on Monday for a 2021 draft pick who plays “wrecking-ball football.” He’s short in stature but tall in burst and speed and aggressiveness. If he gives the Eagles 15 to 20 snaps of energy edge rushing each game, the defense will be better for it.
With Avonte Maddox expecting to play on Sunday, joining outside cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, the Eagles have an improved coverage situation from just a couple of weeks ago. A pass rush that was largely lacking in the first six games has come to life substantially in the last two weeks, and a boost from Avery would be a nice addition.
“I’m here to do what I do,” Avery said on Wednesday after his first practice as an Eagle. “This is an aggressive defense that gets after the passer. They love me here. They welcomed me with open arms. I’m ready to play.”
Avery didn’t hold back when asked what Eagles fans who aren’t familiar with his game will see.
“A monster on the field. A wrecking ball. I’m going to go out and play my heart out,” Avery said. “I’m a guy that loves the game.”
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Avery doesn’t look the part of a “prototype” defensive end. He’s listed at 6-feet, 250 pounds, and while that may be a touch generous, Avery doesn’t care.
“Size is not on the stat sheet when you make sacks,” he said.
With a seven-man group of defensive ends, the Eagles are taking the chance that going heavy there is eventually going to net out a few pass rushers to bank on moving forward for the rest of this season and even into the years to come. Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett have been effective in these last few games. Vinny Curry helps set a great edge and has done a lot of good work. The hope is that Daeshon Hall, Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller, and now Avery emerge. One of them. Two of them. All of them.
A playoff spot could depend on it.
“I just let him know how we do things,” said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox who, like Avery, hails from Mississippi. “I think what was neat, this morning, was when I walked in for breakfast (at the NovaCare Complex) before the team meeting, he came over and asked me how we do things around here, the expectations around here. It kinda shocked me in a good way.
“I told him the way we do things, it’s a little bit different here. We’re all a family. We’re all in it together. That’s the kind of guy who wants to fit in. He wants to be part of what we do here.”
Anyone who says the Eagles did “nothing” at the NFL’s trade deadline, hey, that’s not fair. That’s not accurate. They had a grade on a player they liked two years ago in the NFL Draft and they kept tabs on him. When a team changes its coaching staff and its scheme, sometimes talent shakes loose from the tree. Avery is that talent in this case, with a bend around the edge that allows him to have leverage in getting to the quarterback.
“I’m here with a team that wanted me and I’m excited to get going,” he said. “I have to learn the calls, but it’s football. Football is football. I’m going to give effort to the ball. Effort. Effort. Effort in everything I do, man. I’m going to go wreck stuff, man.”