This past weekend, Byron Maxwell became the second Eagle to ever intercept quarterback Tom Brady during the team's big win over the Patriots. Prior to the victory, many fans were skeptical about the team's chances of defeating New England, but according to the cornerback, he and his teammates knew what they were capable of accomplishing.
"I think guys were just realistic about what could happen on the team," Maxwell explained. "It's not just the coaches on the line. I think players understood that they were on the line, too. We're in this together. We've got to right this ship together and we're very capable of doing it. It was one of those things where, just go back to work and see what happens."
While getting off to a bit of a shaky start during his first year in Philadelphia, Maxwell has come into his own as of late. On the season, he has 46 tackles, 10 passes defensed, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, all of which are similar to his career bests in Seattle.
Before his NFL career took flight in Seattle, the cornerback attended Clemson University, the same college where former safety Brian Dawkins played.
"We're definitely proud of him and what he'd done in the league and the person he is. You're very aware that Brian Dawkins went to Clemson when you get there," Maxwell said. "His aura is there. Not only that, people just know you're from Clemson and that pedigree. It means a lot. It means that, 'Guys like Brian Dawkins went here, let me give Byron Maxwell a chance, maybe. Who knows? He might not be Brian Dawkins but if he's half of that, we've got a great player.'"
Upon joining the Eagles, the cornerback spoke with the Dawkins about what to expect from the City of Brotherly Love. The safety's thoughts were spot on.
"He told me about the fans," Maxwell said. "He was like, 'I got booed here, but when they love you, they love you. Don't make any excuses. Play ball. Give them everything on the field.'"
Also on the Eagles Insider Podcast:
Three-And-Out at the 5:37 mark
Enemy Intel at the 31:11 mark
Game Time at the 37:55 mark
Mailing It In at the 48:00 mark
Each week, Fran Duffy and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell take an in-depth look at the All-22 tape from the week prior, breaking down what worked, what didn't and what lies ahead for the Eagles. In this week's Eagle Eye in the Sky Podcast, the two keyed in on some notes from Philadelphia's 35-28 road victory over the defending-champion New England Patriots and previewed the team's upcoming home meeting with the Buffalo Bills.
One of the major storylines in the win over the Patriots was the return of quarterback Sam Bradford, who had missed the Eagles' last two games with a concussion and an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. Because of the dynamics of the game, which featured three defensive and special teams touchdowns for Philadelphia, the veteran signal-caller didn't get a lot of reps against New England, but Duffy and Cosell said they saw some promising signs regardless.
"When you play New England, you have to be able to win against man coverage," Cosell explained. "And when you say, 'win against man,' it's not just the receiver. The quarterback has to be able to make tight throws at the right time. ... Sustainability was the best part of the offense to me."
But Cosell was more impressed with the team's play on the defensive side of the football, and a handful of players stood out to him, but perhaps none more than Malcolm Jenkins. The veteran safety made perhaps the play of the game, intercepting Tom Brady at the goal line and returning the ball 99 yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles their first lead of the game. But beyond that play, he was also second on the team with seven tackles and played a big role in holding Tom Brady to his lowest passer rating on the season, 71.4.
"I think he's in many ways the glue that holds the secondary together, and he's a pretty consistent player on a week-to-week basis," Cosell said of Jenkins.
"He made so many headlines a week ago, talking the talk, saying the things that needed to be done. And then he goes out, and he walks the walk on Sunday," he said. "A very good game for him."
Looking ahead to the Buffalo Bills, the two focused much of their attention on the dynamic playmaking ability of quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who has thrown for 2,174 yards on 64.9 percent passing with 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions while also rushing for 318 yards in 10 games. Cosell noted that even when he hands off the ball, Taylor's presence forces opposing defenses to account for him, in case he's running a keeper play.
"They're kind of an old-school team, with a bit of a new-age approach, because they have a quarterback who can run by design and improvisationally," he said of the fifth-year signal-caller. "Over the last month or so, he's looked really, really good on film. He is dynamically quick, we know how shifty and elusive he is ... and because of Tyrod Taylor they're able to attack the perimeter in a way that's different from normal teams that run a sweep."
At the 27-minute mark of the show, Duffy was joined by running back Kenjon Barner. And to close things out, Duffy and producer Bryan Thomas chatted about the NFL Draft and the upcoming Senior Bowl. That begins at the 31:20 mark of the podcast.
On a new episode of the Journey to the Draft Podcast, Alex Smith and Fran Duffy highlighted six of the best players who won't be playing in bowl games this year, with an eye ahead to the 2016 NFL Draft. Here's who they chose to highlight:
QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota
Carson Wentz was putting together a masterful senior campaign before a wrist injury put him out of commission for 6-8 weeks. Through six games this season, the 6-6 signal-caller had amassed 1,454 yards with a 63.7 percent completion percentage while tossing 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He is a projected mid-round selection in this year's draft by experts, and it is possible that he makes his return to action this Saturday against Northern Iowa in the FCS quarterfinals.
WR Nelson Spruce, Colorado
Senior Nelson Spruce is coming off his second consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season, and the 6-1 wideout is hoping to climb up draft boards as we close in on April. A precise route-runner with very good hands, he's projected as a mid-round pick currently.
DE Eddie Yarbrough, Wyoming
Defensive end Eddie Yarbrough has been one of Wyoming's most impactful defensive players since his sophomore season. This past year, he notched 62 tackles, 10.5 of which were for loss, and seven sacks in 12 games. He, like the two aforementioned prospects, is currently considered a mid-round prospect.
DT Jihad Ward, Illinois
A native of North Philadelphia, Jihad Ward spent two years in junior college before making the jump to Illinois, where he's notched 104 tackles, 13 behind the line of scrimmage and 5.5 sacks in two seasons. At 6-6 and 290 pounds, Ward projects as a nose tackle at the next level.
CB Sean Davis, Maryland
A converted safety, Sean Davis brings a noticeable physicality to the cornerback position for Maryland. As a senior, the 6-1 defensive back led the Terrapins in solo tackles with 70, also picking off three passes and notching 4.5 tackles for loss. In both his junior and sophomore seasons, Davis broke 100 tackles playing primarily as a safety.
CB Maurice Canady, Virginia
Blessed with ideal size (6-2, 195 pounds) and length for the cornerback position, Maurice Canady is coming off a senior season in which he was able to largely keep opposing quarterbacks from throwing in his direction. After defending 12 passes and eight as a sophomore, he tallied six this season. He was also used sparingly as a punt returner, doing so on five occasions but putting up 126 return yards and a touchdown.