Philadelphia Eagles News

Greg Lewis Is Ready For WR Challenge

The steps he's taken to reach this point are orderly: Non-drafted rookie makes the NFL, plays eight seasons, yearns to cross the street into coaching and becomes a coaching intern for his former head coach. Greg Lewis has climbed the coaching ladder step by meticulous step.

He's back in Philadelphia now, the full 180-degree journey complete as he returns to the team that signed him out of Illinois and now hired him as the wide receivers coach. Lewis made it to the NFL because, in addition to talent, he took coaching well, he worked hard and he absorbed everything and never let anyone tell him he was too small or too slow and too anything to stay and prove himself in the NFL.

"Well, I always considered myself bigger, faster and stronger than all those people," Lewis said on Tuesday, "so I thought I was a very good player. The reason I feel I made it is because I was dedicated to what I was going to do and I was going to do whatever it took to get the job done and to be noticed and to be seen and to contribute in any way, shape or form."

Lewis got his taste of coaching in the NFL's coaching internship program with Andy Reid and the Eagles in the summer of 2012 and then he moved on to coaching stints at the University of San Diego, at San Jose State and then at Pitt before latching on with the New Orleans Saints as an offensive assistant coach last season.

He joined Doug Pederson's staff and now has the job of helping a wide receiver group that had its ups and downs, its bobbles and big plays and its too-many-dropped-passes performance in 2015 and make it better. Collectively. All together now.

"It's a good group of receivers that are presently here. I'm excited to get an opportunity to work with those guys," Lewis said. "I really don't want to make it about 'when I was here playing and what I did (in the NFL).' It's more about what I've learned and what I believe in as a receiver coach and impart that wisdom and that knowledge on these guys and get them to maximize their potential.

"I can't wait to get my hands on them and get them out here."

That doesn't happen until April when the offseason program begins. Until then, Lewis is watching film and studying the receivers from the 2015 team. He's going to stress the fundamentals to his room and he's going to be demanding. The technical skills are what helped Lewis catch 136 passes in his six Eagles seasons (he played two more in Minnesota). The dedication to the game is huge. Lewis wants to see players who love the game, who love the Eagles. He's got that with Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor. He's got an explosive talent in Josh Huff. He has the hard-working Riley Cooper. Jonathan Krause ended the season on the active roster. 

As Lewis looks through the 2015 tape, he sees what we saw: Too much inconsistency. Too many drops. Missed chances for a lot of big plays.

"Catching the ball is big to me. I prided myself, when I played, when I coached, on guys catching the ball. I'd rather have a guy who can catch and runs a 4.9 than a guy that runs a 4.2 and can't catch," Lewis said. "We drill that consistently, daily -- eyes, hands, fingers, focusing on the ball and making plays when given an opportunity.

"The drops ... it will be improved. Not 'can be.' It will be improved."

Lewis likes the explosiveness that Huff brings to the table. How can he help the third-year receiver harness that physical talent and be a consistent playmaker? Lewis interviewed Agholor prior to the 2015 NFL draft and loved him, and he also admired what he saw on film and in the workouts. Now Lewis says he is "blessed to work" with Agholor here. Matthews is a "beast," says Lewis, and he could find himself in the slot or outside, and the third-year receiver certainly has the skill set to play anywhere in the formation.

"This group has a good work ethic and good talent," Lewis said. "It's a matter of fine tuning some of the details to improve their consistency and productivity."

Who knows if the Eagles will add to the receiver group or what they're looking for next. When Chip Kelly was here, the receivers had to have long arms (at least 32 inches) and he wanted starters who were 6-feet or taller. He liked Matthews in the slot as one of the biggest slot bodies in the NFL. The Eagles used a first- (Agholor), a second- (Matthews) and a third-round draft pick (Huff) at the position, and the consistency just wasn't there last season as Kelly cut DeSean Jackson prior to the 2014 season and had Jeremy Maclin leave in free agency prior to 2015.

Lewis has the job now of pushing the wide receivers to a much higher level than the room played in 2015. He is already hard at work learning as much as he can about his players. When April arrives, the real work begins as Lewis builds his relationships and learns as much about his receivers as they will learn about him and what he wants. It's a neat cycle Lewis has had in the NFL, and now he's back where it all started, this time as the one offering the lessons for the receivers to build their careers.

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