Perhaps Byron Maxwell and this town simply don’t mix.
He was great the year before he played here.
He was, in his own opinion, the best cornerback in football the year after.
But Maxwell never lived up to the shutdown corner money the Eagles gave him before the 2015 campaign.
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And he wasn’t particularly good Monday, when he returned to Philly for the first of two joint practices between the Eagles and his Dolphins.
Maxwell gave up at least three touchdowns in practice, including two to Torrey Smith.
“You're going to see different receivers game day,” Maxwell said. “You get used to the guys you go against in training camp, just their body language, how they run their routes. It's good to see different receivers and how they run routes. Different plays too. Keep in mind, you pretty much know what they're running in training camp. It's good.”
Maxwell will have two more chances — practice on Tuesday, and then an exhibition game Thursday — to demonstrate to his old employers that they made a mistake in dealing him.
And make no mistake, that slight fuels him.
“I would be lying if I told you I don't want to do better than the Eagles,” Maxwell said. “I do. I want to win more games than them. I want to prove them wrong.”
The Eagles sent Maxwell and Kiko Alonso — plus the No. 13 draft pick in 2016 — to Miami for the Dolphins’ first rounder that year (eighth overall).
Philadelphia used that pick to move up six more spots and take Carson Wentz, the quarterback who roasted Maxwell (and the rest of Miami’s defense) on Monday.
Maxwell said “it was obvious” why Philadelphia dealt him. “You needed a quarterback.”
He began to sense that Doug Pederson didn’t want Maxwell on the Eagles roster when the new coach never called the veteran cornerback after taking the job. The two men didn’t talk then, and they didn’t talk again Monday.
“If you've been in business long enough, [and] you don't win, they're pretty much getting everybody out,” Maxwell said.
Alonso said essentially the same. The linebacker, who also resurrected his career in Miami, half-expected that the Eagles traded him.
“Given the year we had, I wasn't that surprised,” Alonso said. (The Eagles fired Kelly after going 7-9 in 2015.) “I didn't really get caught up in that. I was just like, I go with the flow. They traded me. I was like, 'All right, going to Miami.'”
Maxwell and Alonso together did something they couldn’t as teammates in Philadelphia: be part of a winning team. And Maxwell acknowledged he grew as a person and a player after an early-season benching in Miami. He bounced back and played up to expectations (if not beyond them).
Should the Dolphins are going to return to the postseason in 2017, Maxwell and Alonso again will likely play significant roles.
But again, there wasn’t much to celebrate Monday from the entire defense. They jumped offsides no fewer than five times, and Eagles receivers regularly ran free. Smith had a big day, but so did Alson Jeffery.
The pass rush, which is supposed to be the cornerstone of the defense, was non-existent.
The Dolphins will try to do better Tuesday, when these teams practice again.
And Maxwell will have another chance to show Pederson and the rest of the Eagles’ brain trust they made a mistake.
“That's just what I do,” Maxwell said. “You can call it petty. I don't know what it is. But that's what I do, that's how I feel. Realistically, I know what it is, but I still want to do better than my own team. When they get rid of you, you do better.”