Zach Brown figures he’s in the right place at the right time.
The well-traveled NFL linebacker has been an Eagle for a month now and he’s got his sights set on big things – contributing in a big way with a defense that preaches attacking, something he loves, winning the NFC East, and becoming a World Champion.
“I’ve only been around here for a little while,” Brown said on Monday at his locker at the NovaCare Complex after the team’s Organized Team Activity practice, “and it’s easy to pick up on the attitude here. It’s very positive, upbeat. The building has a winning culture.”
The Eagles signed Brown – a veteran free agent after Washington released him in March – on May 3, hoping he adds to the winning culture. In his eighth season in the league, Brown is aiming for his first postseason experience. While Brown has accomplished outstanding things individually in the NFL – he made the Pro Bowl in 2016, as an example – he has yet to play beyond the regular season. Now, Brown is working hard to integrate himself into Jim Schwartz’s defense and learn his way around the locker room.
Brown has already laughed with right offensive tackle Lane Johnson, with whom he engaged in a social media “feud” in 2017 when Brown played with the Washington Redskins. He’s buried his head in the playbook to learn a scheme that could have him playing any one of the three linebacker positions.
It's only been a month, but Brown already feels like an Eagle.
“It’s a good thing. I feel like I’m in a good place,” he said. “The Eagles, we know all about them. They won the Super Bowl two years ago, went back to the playoffs last season. They play hard football. That’s how they do things around here.
“Now I’m part of it and I’m happy to be here. It’s good to feel wanted.”
The last time the Eagles saw Brown on the football field, he recorded 11 tackles – 9 unassisted – in Philadelphia’s Week 17 win at FedEx Field. Brown is a physical presence at 6-1, 250 pounds and he finds the football. He expects to pick up the terminology and the nuances of this defense in plenty of time to open the 2019 regular season against the team that cut him, Washington.
“That’s all they talk about there. ‘The Eagles, all this and all that,’" Brown said. “The Eagles, they’re worried about – we’re worried about – winning a championship here. There’s nothing wrong with a little revenge, but … it’s different. It’s a different mentality as far as that goes, it really is.”
Brown said that last year “wasn’t a good experience for anybody” in Washington. He says “everything is night and day” as far as differences between the two teams. The focus isn’t on Washington and the Redskins, though. Brown has to take care of his business. He has a defense to learn and a role to understand.
As easy as that might sound for a veteran, it really isn’t all that simple one month into the job. Brown isn’t “easing” into his time with the Eagles. He’s going full speed.
“I’ve got a lot to do, but I’m excited about it,” he said. “We’ve got a great group. I’ve been around a lot of defensive coordinators and once you learn the words and what they mean to you and to the rest of the defense, you can kind of go from there. Then it’s football. It’s making plays. It’s helping the team win games.
“That’s what this is all about. I think we’re all working hard out there trying to get better. This is a team that definitely approaches things the right way. We’re here to win. We know it’s going to be a battle every week.”
The Eagles are still working through all kinds of personnel groupings in the spring, so Brown’s position isn’t even locked in at this point. That’s why he has to learn all three linebacker spots, just to be ready to help across the board. It’s a great challenge, the kind an eight-year veteran loves knowing the pot of winning gold that he expects to be waiting for him at the end of the season.
“I’m here with very positive excitement. I can feel it in this building,” Brown said. “I just keep working and making myself better every day and the rest will take care of itself. I just want to win and I think we have that kind of team here. Can’t wait to get it going.”