You can look at some of the new roster additions which are obvious Joe Douglas maneuvers and you might be tempted to shrug them off with a “meh”.
I’m talking about the lesser known guys, not the “big splash” guys. Looks to me like the prevailing thought is to bring in some guys who are still hungry, who want a taste of what the Big Bang Theory is all about while they still have maybe two or three years left in their NFL half-life.
For instance, the Eagles added another “lesser-known” veteran linebacker with starting experience on Tuesday when they agreed to terms with Paul Worrilow on a one-year deal. The 27-year-old Wilmington, Delaware native played in 13 games (8 starts on the outside) for the Detroit Lions last season. He posted 30 tackles. He played his college football for the U. of Delaware.
Worrilow (6-0, 230) spent his first four seasons in the league with the Atlanta Falcons where he was a decent contributor on special teams as well as defense. In 2013, Worrilow became the first undrafted rookie to ever lead the Falcons in tackles with 137. He followed that up by pacing the Falcons again with 142 in his second season.
Then the team agreed to terms with veteran TE Richard Rodgers on a one-year deal.
A third-round pick in 2014 out of Cal, the 6-4, 257-pound Rodgers has 120 catches for 1,166 yards and 13 touchdowns in 63 regular-season games (24 starts). He also has another 13 grabs for 138 yards and two scores in seven playoff games. One of those touchdowns knocked the Dallas Cowboys out of the postseason in 2014. He also has a Hail Mary touchdown to beat the Lions in 2015 on his résumé.
Rodgers split reps as the No. 2 tight end for the Packers last season after the team signed Lance Kendricks and Martellus Bennett. He played 305 snaps on offense (29 percent) and another 108 on special teams (26 percent).
In 2015, Rodgers was an emerging talent at the position with career highs in receptions (58), yards (510), and touchdowns (8). He was one of only four tight ends in the NFL that year with 55+ receptions, 500+ receiving yards, and at least eight touchdown grabs.
Despite the reduced role in 2017, he was a role model inside the locker room as the team dealt with plenty of adversity following the injury to quarterback Aaron Rodgers that derailed Green Bay’s playoff hopes.
“He’s been put through a lot,” wide receiver Davante Adams told Packers.com. “I think now he’s stepping into more of a leadership role. You can see it. You can see him trying to help other positions, helping me out. We talk about football a lot outside the building as well. I know it means a lot to him, and he’s definitely another guy who cares about the details a lot.”
With the draft just over three weeks away, the Eagles take care of one of their most notable gaps on the roster – depth at tight end – with the addition of Rodgers. Maybe…
Notice the common theme here— guys who were not drafted high, guys who are scrappy enough to play special teams and embrace that role, guys who have never had a big payday, but also guys who believe in their upsides as contributing players on defense or offense.
These are the kind of guys Joe Douglas loves—they’re the ultimate “personnel”, because they’re hungry and still basically play for the love of the game. Either one of these guys may in fact fail to make the Eagles final roster in September, but they will sho’nuff bring that spirit of competition to camp that will insure against the staleness factor which bugs so many defending champions.
Worrilow is not an exotic playmaker at linebacker, but he is solid and usually in the right place on most plays. He won’t commit the big mistake. Rodgers is slow and not a particularly good blocker, but he can leverage his size to create enough space to get his hands around a contested catch. Both guys bring that “want to” to their workouts and practice reps which can become contagious to maintaining a winning culture.
Make no mistake, adding these guys will ratchet up the competition in training camp. There will likely be a tight end and a linebacker or two drafted (or signed as undrafted free agents) by the Eagles within the next few weeks. There are already hungry guys on the roster like linebackers Kamu Grugier-Hill, one of their core special teams players, as well as a couple of young players, Nathan Gerry and Joe Walker, who are going to have to ramp up in the offseason to gain traction in the LB rotation. At tight end, you have some guys on the roster who are fighting for survival like Adam Zaruba (6-5, 265, age 27), Joshua Perkins (6-3, 235, age 24) and Billy Brown (6-5, 255, age 25).
The Joe Douglas theory of personnel is you bring in some experienced guys just as hungry to make it from outside the roster, and you shake up any sense of complacency which may understandably settle in among the previous guys considered “incumbents” for the job.
The concept of “Tenure” does not apply to the Joe Douglas School of Personnel.