Listen to Orlando Scandrick answer a few questions and you understand how in nine days the Eagles cornerback managed the head-spinning transition from his couch to significant playing time in Sunday’s win over the New York Jets.
The 32-year-old exudes a Zen-like calm. He speaks slowly and thoughtfully, his voice -- and likely his heart rate – rarely fluctuating.
“My goal,” he droned Tuesday while assessing his first game as an Eagle, “was just to continue to make plays and continue to execute my assignments. My goal is to carve out a permanent role on this team.”
The fact that he not only survived but played extraordinarily well -- two strip-sacks, a touchdown on a fumble recovery, and coverage that limited the Jets’ Jamison Crowder to just two catches for 10 yards -- was one of Sunday’s biggest surprises.
“He’s a savvy guy,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, “a smart football player that’s been around. He did a good job in coverage … and I thought tackled pretty well for us also.”
The cornerback-depleted Eagles signed the veteran Scandrick in July but released him in training camp’s final cut a month later. A day after Avonte Maddox was hurt in Green Bay, he was re-signed. Nine days later, as the third corner against the Jets, he was on the field for 35 snaps.
His 44-yard scamper into the end zone with a ball he stole from beleaguered Jets QB Luke Falk produced the final points in his team’s 31-6 victory. It came, unsurprisingly on one of the 16 blitzes -- on 36 pass plays -- Schwartz called.
“I came off the edge,” Scandrick recalled. “They actually had it blocked up. I could have probably had a better pass-rush there. But the quarterback held on to it thanks to the coverage.”
The Boise State product, now in his 12th NFL season and with his fourth team, said the down period between camp and Week 5 was spent working out and spending time with his children.
Once he got back to Philadelphia last week, he re-immersed himself in a defensive system he learned this summer.
“That’s what this league is about,” Scandrick said. “It’s just doing whatever you’re called upon to do. … I was staying in a hotel all last week because I didn’t have a place to stay yet. So it was just football and study. … But it was the same defense. That’s what makes this defense great. Simplicity. It allows you to play extremely fast.”
Scandrick was asked if he found any motivation after getting cut and then, when some of the players who took his spot last summer got hurt, being called to return for a rescue. He said he didn’t take it personally, understanding his release had more to do with the $1 million-plus, one-year contract than with roster spots or talent.
“Negative things don’t motivate me,” Scandrick said. “I know I can still be productive, I know I’ve still got the talent to be a good player in this league. I went through a little rough patch there in preseason.”
For most of his playing time Sunday, Scandrick shared the field with another short-time Eagles corner. Craig James, here less than two weeks himself, played 57 of 59 snaps and, according to Schwartz, more than held his own.
“He had a tough start,” Schwartz said, “missed a tackle against Le’Veon Bell, had a pass interference. You could tell they were going to try to test him as much as they could. But he settled down after that. With corners, you’re always on display and you can’t let a couple of bad plays affect you. He lived that on Sunday. It didn’t shake his confidence.”