Eagles Coach Reveals Why Jatavis Brown Retired, Evaluates ‘Energetic’ Linebackers

TJ Edwards

Getty T.J. Edwards earned an 83.4 overall grade on 100 snaps) from Pro Football Focus in 2019.

You can’t always coach heart or rekindle someone’s passion. For Jatavis Brown, he was emotionally drained.

Brown, who abruptly retired from the NFL on Sunday, was signed in March to bolster a young, inexperienced linebacker group in Philadelphia. The 26-year-old simply lost his fiery spark and will to win, according to head coach Doug Pederson. It wasn’t going to be fair to either Brown or the Eagles’ organization to put him out on the football field. So Brown decided to call it a career, with no hard feelings from anyone.

“In Jatavis’ case, listen, everybody goes through different things in life,” Pederson told reporters on Wednesday. “There are times when you just come to a point where maybe you just don’t have the passion, the drive. It’s unfortunate because he’s a great kid. He and I had a great conversation last week. I understood where he was coming from. I have a lot of respect for Jatavis and wish him all the success and all the best moving forward.”

The Eagles will now rely on second-year linebacker T.J. Edwards and veteran Nathan Gerry to anchor the unit, along with third-rounder Davion Taylor and sixth-rounder Shaun Bradley competing for snaps. Special-teams ace Duke Riley and preseason standout Alex Singleton should push for playing time as well, with undrafted rookie free agent Dante Olson desperately breathing down their necks. The group is raw and unpolished — and that’s exactly the way the Eagles drew it up.

Pederson revealed that’s the direction he and GM Howie Roseman wanted to go in after losing team captain Kamu Grugier-Hill in free agency. They are excited about letting their “energetic” young linebackers run loose over the next few weeks.

“I think highly of our linebackers,” Pederson said. “‘m really excited for this group. It’s a young group and it’s a very energetic group, something that we focused on — ‘we’ being Howie, our scouts and our personnel department — we focused on through the offseason, through the draft and whatnot.”

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Eagles Made Point to ‘Add Speed’ at Linebacker

There are moves to be made if the Eagles really wanted to improve the linebacker position. They could seek a trade with Detroit for either Jarrad Davis or Jalen Reeves-Maybin, two unfounded rumors making the rounds. Or maybe the Eagles could pull off an unlikely blockbuster for Zach Cunningham.

The above options don’t seem plausible, not for a franchise that has never fully valued linebackers. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz admitted that the unit doesn’t have a lot of “household names” but they have invested time, energy and draft picks into the position over the years. It’s time for that commitment to be rewarded.

“I think as far as household names, there’s not a lot of that at that position,” Schwartz told reporters. “But we’ve had a lot of guys who have put a lot of time on the grass and in the meeting rooms, in our program, and it’s time for us to see those guys play.”

One thing you can take to the bank is them being fast. Extremely, lose them in the blink-of-an-eye, quick. Hopefully, that translates to big plays and fundamental tackles.

“We made a point to add speed and I think we’re a faster group than we’ve been in the four years previous,” said Schwartz who joined the coaching staff in 2016. “So I’m excited about that and I think there’s going to be great competition in training camp.”

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