Wondering who the veteran leaders are in an Eagles locker room filled with only a small handful of players age 30 and over? One of them is clearly Quintin Mikell, who explained during a candid interview with The Burlington County Times' Reuben Frank that the roster overhaul was for the best, and delivered a scathing review of some of his teammates' attitudes and motivations. It's a great article, one you should really read for yourself if you haven't done so already (it's dated on Sunday), but there were a few items that were especially interesting. Mikell does not paint a pretty picture of the Birds' locker room last season, describing a scene filled with selfish behavior amid a negative overtone.
"We've never been a selfish team, where guys were more worried about what they did individually than how we did as a team. But we had guys who were more concerned about how the game plan affected them. It was, 'How am I going to get my sacks if we're doing this,' instead of, 'Hey, let's go out and do whatever it takes to win the game.'"
One of the things I love about the game of football is it takes 11 guys doing their jobs in sync to produce maximum results. If somebody is not performing up to standards, if he's out of position, it's going to have a domino effect on everybody around him. Obviously the Eagles had some holes on defense last season they simply weren't able to fill, but Mikell makes it sound like too many players weren't buying into the system. Could a change in the unit's resolve be just as important as upgrading certain positions?
Mikell also paraphrased some anonymous defensive players who at times were also unhappy with how the offense was playing. Is this a veiled statement against Donovan McNabb?
"Now, it was, 'Well, we had to keep going out there (because the offense wasn't getting first downs),' or, 'They had great field position,' or whatever. I don't care if we have to go out there 20 million times, let's go out there 20 million times and stop the other team."
First of all, love that fire. Second, can you imagine anybody in that locker room referring to the offense's inability to move the ball in even that minor amount of detail if Donovan were still here? Much was made over the lack of players who spoke up in McNabb's favor over the months leading to his eventual trade, but this seems to suggest there might be something to that angle. If there were guys complaining about the offense, they were in essence complaining about the quarterback. I don't mean to imply the entire roster wanted to see a change, and for all we know, it was nothing more than a few isolated grumblings in the heat of the moment. One thing seems for sure though, and that's nobody would be alluding to the offense's inability to pick up a first down to the media if Five were still here.
No matter which angle you want to take on it, Quintin Mikell had a lot on his mind last season, and he's speaking up now that they apparently got rid of some bad apples. Q's play could really use some improvement this season as well, but it's nice to hear somebody stand up and put some guys in their place. When you look at it from that perspective, the youth movement makes more sense than ever. For what it's worth, Mikell is confident with the direction this team has taken.
"We're really close," he said. "We lost some guys - losing Sheldon and Chris (Gocong) is going to be tough - but when it comes down to it, I believe in our coaching staff and I believe in the way they've done things around here. They'll bring in guys who can play ball. They always have."