When free-agent linebacker Zach Brown got the call from his agent that the Philadelphia Eagles, the team he’d faced for two games a year while playing for Washington for two years, was interested in signing him he immediately said he wanted in.
And he’s quickly learned that not all NFC East teams are created equal.
Tired of losing
Brown, a second-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2012, was just tired of losing: in seven seasons with three teams, not only has a team he played for never made the playoffs, he’s never been on a squad that finished above .500.
He’s been close — Buffalo in 2016 and Washington the last two years were all 7-9 — but in that time he watched the Eagles win a Super Bowl and make it to the playoffs again last season.
Now 29 years old, Brown wants a chance at a title.
“Being here, it feels good,’’ Brown said Monday via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It feels good when you walk into the building. It’s a different mentality [than in Washington]. Everybody comes to work. You might be joking around on the sideline, but everybody pays attention to their job.
“Last year, even though they had a lot of injuries, they still went far. This year, they’re trying to win another ring. They’re trying to get back to the [Super Bowl], and I’m trying to get there, too.”
‘It’s different here’
Brown led Washington in tackles in 2017 with 127 despite missing three games to injury. In March 2018, he agreed to a three-year, $21 million extension with the team, but the good feelings didn’t last long.
Washington cut Brown only a year later, with his play having taken a step back and the former North Carolina standout having issues with the coaching staff. After a loss to Atlanta in Week 9, Brown felt the coaching staff’s criticism was unfair, and tweeted his displeasure.
He deleted the message, but things continued to deteriorate.
Brown is loving the Eagles: He’s a fan of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and his scheme, and he is enjoying the locker-room atmosphere, which he says is completely different than it is in Washington.
“It’s different here,” he said. “It’s a different mentality. Last year wasn’t a good experience for nobody down there. This place is night and day compared to there.
“Everybody’s cool here. Everybody talks to everybody. The offense talks to the defense. This locker room is so different from the one I came from. In Washington, there were cliques. Here, I can go over there and mess with the offensive linemen. The running backs are right next to me, so I always give them crap. I give the receivers crap, too. You couldn’t do that there.”
There is one new teammate Brown has to mend some fences with: outspoken offensive tackle Lane Johnson.
In a post for The Players Tribune in 2017, Johnson wrote that the Eagles would “whup some ass” against Washington in the season opener. Brown responded on Twitter, taking a shot at Johnson, who had served two suspensions for performance-enhancing substance use.
“We don’t need PEDs to win,” Brown wrote.
He said he’s already reached out to Johnson.
“He was here last week,’’ Brown said of Johnson. “I was messing around with him. I said, ‘Hey, we need to sit down and have a pow-wow and talk it out.’ It wasn’t anything personal. He’s a good person. But I had to stand up for my boys.”
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