The line of Eagles critics right now is long enough to form an angry ring around Lincoln Financial Field. What's interesting is that the guy at the front of the line sounding the most annoyed is a former player.
Listen to three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Seth Joyner on WIP-FM and Comcast SportsNet's various TV productions and you will get some of the most pointed and poignant opinions about the 4-7 Eagles. He has ripped the play calls of coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis. He has questioned the effort of players and even recently called running back DeMarco Murray a "coward" for sliding at the end of a play in a game against Miami.
The hot topic of discussion Tuesday was about comments Malcolm Jenkins made the night before on WIP. Joyner said he understood why the veteran safety must be frustrated.
"As the leader of this football team, he has no flexibility to see what's going on and to be able to make on-field adjustments," Joyner said. "And when you look at the offense, neither does Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez. The play is called, you run the play, come hell or high water and whatever happens . . . if it works out, great. If it doesn't work out, it's your alls fault because you didn't execute it."
Attempts to reach Joyner on Tuesday were unsuccessful. He flew back to his home in Arizona after his radio show. Ike Reese, another former Eagles linebacker, is on air every Tuesday with Joyner. Reese agreed that some of Joyner's opinions can be harsh, but he believes he has earned the right to express them and that they should be viewed as constructive criticism by their targets.
"I have a chance to talk with him when we aren't on the air and we talk in our football language about how things are going down," Reese said. "With him, we are talking about a player who has been to multiple Pro Bowls and is a borderline Hall of Famer. I never achieved that level of play, so I am mindful of that when I'm talking. But he has the right to say it how he sees it.
"If some of it comes off as rough, I don't think guys should be offended. I think they should take a look in the mirror. We're talking about a guy who was a low-round draft choice who became a special player."
It's not as if Joyner is putting on an act for radio or television. In the time I was around the Eagles during Joyner's playing days, he was the same way in the locker room that he is now on radio and television.
You would think such strong opinions coming from former Eagles would sting more than criticism that comes from other places. That was not the case with Murray. He said he was unaware of Joyner's "coward" comment. He also said he had never heard of Joyner. He added that once he was done playing football he would have no desire to remain in the game as an analyst.
Murray can be forgiven for not knowing Joyner. He's from Nevada and was only 10 years old when the star linebacker played his final NFL snap in 1998. It's hard to believe he did not know that Joyner had called him a coward, and it's disturbing that it does not bother him.
On the other hand, it is probably counterproductive for players to care too much about what is being said about them beyond the walls of the NovaCare Complex. Cornerback Byron Maxwell laughed when asked if it hurts more to be severely criticized by former players.
"No," he said. "They're on the sideline, too. There's a reason they are former players."
Yes, because they retired.
"Yeah, they can't do it no more," Maxwell said. "That's why they are former players."
Maxwell knows he will one day be a former player, too, and he'd welcome the chance to be an analyst.
"Yeah, I'll rip the crap out of somebody," he said. "I'm a fan, so I understand it. Yeah, I could rip somebody. Man, you [stink], bro."
Outside linebacker Brandon Graham admitted that more criticism from within the walls of their practice facility should be welcome and is certainly warranted given what has happened in the team's last two games. But he said anything on the outside is just noise.
"They aren't playing with us," he said. "People can have all kinds of stuff to say. Sure they did it before, but they're not in this actual situation. They don't know what's going on. They know what they used to know, but the league has changed. We can't worry about what people are talking about on the outside."
You suspect, however, that every once in a while something that is said strikes a nerve.
"I shake my head when they try to bury people," Graham said. "It's like beating a dead horse. How much more can you keep getting on them? Let's try to help. If you're a former player and you care about this organization, let's try to figure it out . . . let's not try to bash it. I understand people have a job to do. We can't worry about what people are talking about."
Listen to Joyner and you do wonder why he isn't coaching. His opinions are smart and he would not be the first football coach to show up for work with a rough edge. It plays well on radio and TV, but it would be much more valuable on the field.