It’s always a strange feeling when you bump into a former colleague, friend, or partner. A former teammate? That’s a whole different discussion. A former teammate who helped you win a Super Bowl in the most miraculous underdog story of all time? You can work it out.
The Philadelphia Eagles travel to Raymond James Stadium this week to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and while their defense is battered and bruised on the backend, there are two familiar faces up front in the way of Vinny Curry and Beau Allen. Neither of whom waited long to make an impact.
Curry recorded a sack on Drew Brees in his debut as a Buccaneer and his running-mate Beau Allen, played in 48% of defensive snaps. The Bucs have completely rebuilt their defensive front and the initial steps have been promising after completing battering the Saints in week one. One of the more underrated aspects of this week’s fixture however, will be that both Allen and Curry have an edge. They spent two years in the Jim Schwartz defense and two full offseason practicing daily against Pederson’s offense. They know the terminology, the tricks, the style, the threats, better than most.
“It’s something we take into consideration.” Doug Pederson told reporters earlier this week. “The other thing we take into consideration is that they have to focus on their job. And two great players that we owe a lot of credit and gratitude for helping us win a championship last year, but they’re focused on their jobs, too.
We keep it in mind. We just have to execute and be sort of mindful of when they’re in the game. But there will be some things that we have to change up just because they know the terminology up front; try to help give ourselves an advantage.”
The advantage goes even further than just being former teammates. Curry and Allen were both members of the Eagles second-team defense and Nick Foles was obviously the backup QB. This meant that during two vigorous training camps, Allen, Curry and Nick Foles got to know each other very, very well.
“Nick can do a lot of different stuff,” defensive tackle Beau Allen said. “He’s a smart football player and I think he knows what his strengths are. He’s got some awareness in the pocket. He can get out and throw on the run and stuff like that but he does a good job of avoiding pressure within the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield. He’s got a lot of confidence when he makes good throws. It kind of seems like when he makes one good throw, they keep coming. I think he’s a good quarterback.”
It may have been all love just a few short months ago, but there’s a Football game to be played where the monster within has to take over and emotions need to be left at the gate. Allen stated that much.
“It’s definitely not chummy this week. We have a football game to play, and I want to beat them.”
It’s not just the Super Bowl winners either. DeSean Jackson made his name as one of the NFL’s most electric wideouts in an Eagles uniform and while he’s burned the Birds on a couple of occasions since in different uniforms, he’s shown no signs of slowing down. While most of the team who spent time with Jackson have moved on, the focus on his presence has not.
“DeSean Jackson has always been a guy that can take the top off the defense.” Schwartz said after Jackson caught 2 touchdown passes and racked up 146 receiving yards in week one. “We played him in a game two years ago and he made a lot of big plays like that. Took us a while to get adjusted to it.”
That’s three players who know this team extremely well and three names who bring very different things to the table. It will be down to Pederson and Schwartz to gameplan accordingly and ensure that any ‘mental’ advantage those players have is completely neutralized.
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports