Jaiquawn Jarrett Interview: On Juan Castillo, Mike Vick, Fabolous and His First Game in the NFL

Jaiquawn Jarrett Interview: On Juan Castillo, Mike Vick, Fabolous and His First Game in the NFL

With just a few days left before the team's 2011 kick off, we had the opportunity to sit down with Eagles rookie safety Jaiquawn Jarrett Thursday afternoon. We've been covering the Temple Owls here on the site the past couple seasons, so we thought it would be good to check in with Jaiquawn as he prepares for his first game in the NFL.

Inside the Novacare Complex, Jarrett's locker is flanked on either side by those of fellow safeties Colt Anderson and Kurt Coleman. Anderson was listening and watching for the better part of the interview. You'll see why that's important later on.

Nick: First off, there's the obvious question. You're now just three days from your first game in the NFL. How's it feel?

Jaiquawn Jarrett: You know, It's exciting. But, it's still a long process just to get ready. Right now I'm just focusing on the game plan, learning the game plan. And then I'm doing my best in practice to go out there and execute that plan, so I can be ready when the time comes to get in there, whenever that may be.

Nick: We'll sort of start back in March and move our way forward. Prior to the 2011 Draft, how aware were you that the Eagles may have been interested?

Jaiquawn: Really, I wasn't too aware that the Eagles were interested in me, but I'm definitely glad and excited that they did select me. I'm excited that I'm able to play college ball and my professional ball here in Philadelphia. It's a good thing. I'm glad it worked out.

Nick: Once you were drafted, head coach Andy Reid called you the most intimidating hitter in the draft and then went on to compare you to Brian Dawkins. What does it mean to you to compared to a player like Dawk?

Jaiquawn: Brian Dawkins, man, Brian Dawkins is one of the best players to ever play this game. He is going to go down in history as a Hall of Fame safety. There's no doubt. Really, I'm just learning right now. You know, I've got a lot to learn. But I can definitely learn a lot from him. And I can obviously learn from the safeties I'm surrounded by in this locker room.

Nick: After the draft, what did you do to stay in shape and improve during the lock out when you weren't allowed access to the team or its facilities?

Jaiquawn: I worked out at Temple. I worked out at Temple numerous times with the strength coach, coach P [Frank Piraino], and my old strength coach, coach [Tony] Decker. So, I was always lifting and running.

Nick: Once you were allowed back, did the veterans hit you with any of the traditional rookie "chores?"

Jaiquawn: Oh no. You know, there's really no rookie chores here. None of that stuff, believe it or not. [Pauses — Smiles] But we do, uh, we do provide away game meals. But that's not really a big issue.

Nick: Well, you know it has been on other teams.

Jaiquawn: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah. I know. I've heard about that.

Nick: As a second round draft pick, there was some early talk that you and Nate Allen could make up a very young starting safety tandem. Now, those spots are filled by teammates Jarrad Page and Kurt Coleman. Do you feel the lockout and not being able to attend mini-camps or OTAs in any way hindered your progression, and that if you had a normal training camp things might have turned out differently?

Jaiquawn: I'm not too sure. You know, I really don't know about that. If there wasn't a lockout…I probably would have learned a lot more. But, I mean, I'm learning now. And I'm going to continue to learn. And I'm going to go out there to compete. And I think if I can go out out there and try my best to become a good team player, that I'll pick it up.

Nick: It's your coach Juan Castillo's first season in the league as a defensive coordinator. What is your impression of Juan in that role having gone through an entire training camp?

Jaiquawn: Juan Castillo is a great man. He's a great man. He's exciting. He's always got a lot of enthusiasm. He's always got a lot of energy. He's just great that way. Definitely keeps us going.

Nick: Other than the coaching staff, from whom, thus far, have you learned the most?

Jaiquawn: Colt! [Laughs] Colt Anderson's helped a lot. We roomed together a lot. Roomed together at the hotel, in training camp. So definitely Colt. Kurt [Coleman]. Kurt helps a lot. Just about the whole safety core. [Smiles] We're all pretty tight around here."

Nick: As a part of the secondary who gets to see these guys in action quite a bit, what's been like to watch the Eagles "big three" corners on a daily basis?

Jaiquawn: You know, each of them has their own different traits. Each one has their own way of doing things. But, they're all talented. They're all great corners. And every day, every single day, they're out there making plays, whether it's practice, or preseason, or whatever. Everyday they're making plays. For me, it's just exciting to watch how Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame corners go about their business everyday. It's great to watch, great to learn from."

Nick: Prior to joing the Eagles, I'm sure you, like the rest of us, consumed quite a bit of the media coverage surrounding quarterback Michael Vick. What's it been like to meet him and interact with him everyday as a real person, and not just "that guy" who did "that thing?"

Jaiquawn: Mike is a real down to earth person. Honestly, being around Mike Vick is just like being around anybody else. He's down to earth, you know? He's really easy to get along with. He's just a good guy. Simple as that.

Nick: Switching over to college, you said you worked out at Temple over the summer. How much have you gotten to know coach Steve Addazio and what is your impression of what he can do for that program going forward?"

Jaiquawn: [Smiles] Ohhh, Steve Addazio. Coach Addazio has a lot of, a whole lot of intensity, man. [Laughs]. He's a real good man. And he's been letting the seniors who have graduated come back to work with the team, work out with the team, run with the team. I'm excited for them. I heard about their big win over Villanova. I'm looking for big, big things out of them this upcoming season."

Nick: And how about your old head coach, Al Golden? Have you had any contact with coach Golden, especially since all that came out about the University of Miami's football program?

Jaiquawn: Nah, you know, I really haven't had the chance to speak to coach Golden. I know he's got a lot on his plate right now. But, I'm pulling for him. I know he's gonna turn that program around."

Nick: Alright, two easy ones and then we'll let you go. We've been covering your career at Temple the past couple years so we have to ask, not counting the cafeteria or the SAC, what's your favorite spot to eat on Temple's campus? We'll give them some free advertising."

Jaiquawn: "Well, I always liked to go to City View! But I was definitely always eatin' Rita's, as well, though."

Nick: Finally, we hear it's pretty common for guys to listen to music before taking the field. Marshawn Lynch refers to it as "getting that last little bit of juice."

Jaiquawn: Mhmm.

Nick: What will you be listening to Sunday morning?

Jaiquawn: Sunday morning…well, I always listen to Fabolous.

Nick: Yeah? Any specific song? We'll put it on the website.

Jaiquawn: [Laughs] "Gangsta Don't Play" [Continued laughter].

--

Thanks to Jaiquawn Jarrett for taking the time to talk to us, and for making it through what Colt Anderson called "the longest interview I've ever heard." And now, Fabolous...

Photos with thanks to the Philadelphia Eagles, Associated Press, Express Times and GCobb.com

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Tuesday night he'd still like another veteran bat in addition to Howie Kendrick, though he understands the front office is conscious of not blocking young prospects.

The Phillies need offense and the clearest area to upgrade is an outfield corner. But don't expect to see the Phils go after Jose Bautista, Michael Saunders or anyone of that ilk, because those players will require multi-year guarantees and everyday playing time. If you sign one of them, you're basically telling two of Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr that they won't be needed much the next three years. 

That would be unwise. The whole point of rebuilding is filling a roster with young, inexpensive talent and then eventually supplementing that core with established players who fit. Look at what the Cubs did. Look at what the Astros are doing now, adding older players like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Nori Aoki and Josh Reddick to fill in the holes around Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.

For that reason, a player like Seth Smith would be a worthwhile addition for the Phillies.

Smith, 34, makes $7 million in 2017, the final year of his contract with the Mariners. When Mackanin discusses "professional hitters," Smith is the type. He has one of the better batting eyes in baseball, chasing about eight percent fewer pitches outside the strike zone the last three years than the league average.

He's a career .261/.344/.447 hitter who averages 29 doubles, 16 homers, 56 walks and 102 strikeouts per 162 games.

The left-handed Smith can play both outfield corners, and he's always been very effective against right-handed pitching. He has a .272 career batting average with an .827 OPS against righties compared to .202 with a .594 OPS vs. lefties. 

Smith is a fit for the Phillies for several reasons. They need more offense from the corner outfield. Logically, that outfielder should be a left-handed hitter because the Phillies' projected middle of the order has four right-handed bats in Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp and Kendrick.

Furthermore, Smith, unlike Saunders, for example, does not require everyday playing time. Smith shouldn't start against lefties. That would provide opportunities to Altherr and Quinn in 2017, while protecting against ineffectiveness from Altherr and another injury to Quinn.

And lastly, Smith is not going to cost anything meaningful via trade. He's a 34-year-old platoon player in the final year of his deal. The Phillies could likely land him for an insignificant prospect, perhaps a pitcher who had a high strikeout rate last season in the low levels of the minor leagues. 

For Seattle, it would be more of a salary dump. The Mariners' 2016 payroll is already $20 million more than it was last year, and per reports, they seem willing to spend to improve their starting rotation.

Smith is not a game-changer, that's not the argument here. He's not J.D. Martinez, a much bigger name and better player. Martinez would also fit the Phillies as a one-year option, and they'd likely be interested in keeping him around longer if they could acquire him. But any trade with the Tigers for Martinez wouldn't be nearly as painless for the Phils as acquiring Smith. 

So perhaps more than other available outfielders, Smith would be an offensive upgrade and a player who fits the Phillies' goal of improving without stunting a top prospect's growth.

Connor McDavid, Oilers' speed, skill present Flyers with 'real good challenge'

Connor McDavid, Oilers' speed, skill present Flyers with 'real good challenge'

VOORHEES, N.J. — They are among the very best – and highest scoring — lines in the NHL this season.
 
And they’re gunning for the Flyers on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
 
Connor McDavid’s unit with Milan Lucic and Leon Draisaitl have a combined 30 goals and 78 points worth of offense. 
 
Among them, the lightning quick McDavid leads the NHL with 36 points. All 11 of his goals are even strength. 
 
He doesn’t have a single power-play goal, but is tied for the league lead with several players, including Claude Giroux, with 10 power-play assists.
 
You can expect to see Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s unit with Chris VandeVelde and Dale Weise against this line with defenseman Ivan Provorov drawing McDavid for the first time this season.
 
“Speed and skill that Edmonton has up front presents a real good challenge for our team,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “We have to be better with the puck tomorrow. 
 
“We didn’t do enough when we had the puck. Gave it up a little too easily and because of that, you end up playing defense a lot of the night and that’s what happened last night to us.”
 
Bellemare, who had his share of forward battles with Jaromir Jagr in Tuesday, likes to analyze the matchups against McDavid.
 
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Bellemare said of the 19-year-old McDavid. “It’s tough not to be excited when playing against a guy who plays like this. He competes every second he is on the ice. That line is an impressive line.”
 
The Flyers better have some bad, choppy ice to slow McDavid down. Edmonton has some of the fastest ice in the league and the Oilers use it to their full advantage. 
 
Asked of McDavid’s tendencies, Bellemare said, “Is that a tendency? To be super fast?”
 
Yes it is. 
 
“When you play against them, he is a kid who is freaky fast right from the start,” Bellemare said. “Against that line, you saw [against Buffalo] that everyone knows how fast he is and he still had two breakaways.”
 
Which means the Flyers need to watch their turnovers, especially in the neutral zone where McDavid can go 60 feet in a flash.
 
“Even blue line to the top of the circle, you can’t turn the puck over,” Bellemare said. “Or he’s gone. This is a tendency we have to be careful of. All of the ice, you can’t give him any time or space. The less time you give him, the bigger chance you have to frustrate a player like this.”
 
Bellemare did some talking with Jagr a couple times in Tuesday’s game. So did Provorov. Bellemare says it helps to add psychology to the mix.
 
“You try to be in his face,” Bellemare said. “If you can win that battle against that line and our first line can win the battle against their fourth line, then it’s a win-win situation. I was trying to be in [Jagr’s] face.”
 
Jagr actually got angrier at Provorov and it showed with his hooking calls. But when Bellemare and Jagr went into the corner, Jagr got testy with his stick there as well.
 
“He was trying to give it to me a little harder,” Bellemare said. “Exactly what I need. If he is less focused on the puck, then maybe I have a chance to win that puck.”
 
McDavid’s focus will be solely on the puck.
 
“McDavid has been playing some pretty good hockey,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “They’re a high-tempo team. A smart team. We’ve got to be ready.”
 
Loose pucks
Boyd Gordon came off long term injured reserve onto the active roster to give the Flyers 13 forwards. In doing that, Matt Read (oblique pull) went on injured reserve. … Defenseman Michael Del Zotto will sit against the Oilers while Radko Gudas returns from an illness. Gudas will be paired with Mark Streit, as Ivan Provorov remains with Andrew MacDonald for now. … Steve Mason, who did not practice Wednesday, will start in goal.