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Monday, March 30, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles Invented the Game of Football

The Philadelphia Eagles invented the game of football. Oh no? You say that they didn’t invent the game of football? Well, my friend, the three amigos of Andy Reid, Joe Banner, and Jeffrey Lurie would lead you to believe otherwise. The self-proclaimed gold standard, the Eagles have failed to acknowledge some very important things about their organization. And this is what will do them in at the end.

First, the Eagles need to remember that professional football is based on a fan driven economy. And much like the real world economy, it can have its ups and downs forming a cyclical path that in some cases can be predictable. It wasn’t twenty years ago when the team couldn’t sell out, and required a local TV station to buy up the tickets so that it wouldn’t be blacked out. Then, the team was bad and there was a disconnect between then owner Norman Braman and his customer base. Stars like Reggie White and Seth Joyner were great a hit in the pocket book and were allowed to leave. Since Lurie and Banner took over, they have had a nice run of success both on and off the field. But, again, like the economy there could be a fall coming….and like I said, it can be predictable. First, Dawkins was allowed to leave…then Tre Thomas…, and like Reggie and Seth, were barely replaced. Could this be the precursor to a downturn for the gold standard of the NFL?

The Birds administration have had a chronic issue with arrogance, from the pretentious Boston born owner and his evil little henchman to the non-answers begrudgingly provided during every post-game press conference. They put off the notion that they think very little of the fans. They are a three headed monster that think the people paying them hard earned money are crazy for not bowing down to their god-like status in the world. Perhaps I am crazy, or maybe we all are for not realizing what we really have; a football dictatorship. We are told, by them, how to root for our team. We are disregarded, by them, when we speak. And we are those who have been taken advantage of from the onset. Perhaps it time for a revolution. We can have a Boston Tea Party and dress up like Redskin fans and begin the process of regime change.

But just as every notable dictatorship has condemned the masses to their rule, the three headed monster also gave themselves the ability to rewrite history; and their good at it too, not Stalin good, but good. Every year during the state of the team address, it is almost as if they are trying to convince us that not only did they win last year’s Super Bowl, but every Super Bowl since 1996. I could swear I saw a Football Prospectus photo with Lurie hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. They should really wait a little while more, until all of the fans are completely brainwashed, before they start officially changing the history books. I’ll provide an example. After the Baltimore blowout, otherwise known as the game Coach Andy benched Donovan, Reid said that he didn’t know who was going to start the next week, mentioning Kolb and McNabb by name. More recently, he stated that McNabb was always the guy and that there was never a question about it. Soon the whole Dawkins saga will disappear into a new season and that story will change. Old photos of the Eagles great will then be superimposed with those of Quintin Demps even though he was in grade school when Dawk joined the Birds. And they’ll expect us to believe it without question.
I don’t mind an owner making business decisions, that’s part of life when it comes to being a sports fan. What I don’t want is to be spoken down to, to be told how to behave when I pay to behave how I wish (within reason). I don’t want to be told what is good for me when the actions taken eat me alive. And I do not want someone in charge of something that I love dangling my precious in front of my face and saying it is not mine. The Eagles belong to me, me and every other Philly fan around the globe. We want honesty, a sense of reality, and the knowledge that ownership will truly improve to reach the next level. Not say that they’ve tried and that it’s not their fault; that our expectations are too high. We don’t want to here that they’ve won however many games and that they are just as good as teams who’ve brought home the glory. The Phillies gave us the taste of a winner and now the Eagles are in trouble, because it is their time to bring the next championship, and they better get ready for the criticism, second guessing, and foul-mouthed venting every time they fail to win it all. Because unbeknownst to the three headed monster, they didn’t invent the game of football, they just invented a new way to disenfranchise the fan.

Breaking Down the NL East: Rightfielders

In my humble and uninformed simpleton opinion, this year’s crop of NL East right fielders is the weakest of any and all positions with the possible exception of Catcher. On that note, there is an inkling of a potential star in Jeff Francoeur, but everyone else is slightly above if not average. Long gone are the days of Daryl Strawberry, Dave Justice and….and….Von Hayes? Boy that list went downhill fast. Boy, Bobby Abreu being one of the divisions best rightfielders of the past thirty years doesn’t say very much for the position. In any case, here is this year’s bunch of guys…in order of rank.

First (Score 1.875): Don’t let the score fool you. The Philadelphia Phillies' Jayson Werth is a good player, but he probably isn’t the best in this group. A serviceable fielder who became the starter following the departure of Bobby Abreu was a solid hitter with some pop in his bat. He hit career highs in dingers and RBIs, mainly due to the increase in playing time. I think he has consistency issues, but when he’s on, he’ll provide good protection to any of the lefties he hits behind. This year I project him to hit .285/21/73 as he’ll bat fifth or sixth depending on the opposing pitcher.

Second (2.5): The New York Mets’ Ryan Church has been in the league now for a couple of years and would be a good fourth outfielder for a contending team. Unfortunately for him and the Mets, he is the starting right fielder really due to a lack of options. As with leftfielder Daniel Murphy, his job this year is not secure by any means, and if either of these two should perform poorly early, then they just might get replaced. He has decent production when he plays, but playing will depend on his health and how he fares in April and May. I actually expect the Mets to make a trade for an outfielder sooner than later and Ryan might be the odd man out. It will be .275/15/53 for Ryan Church in 2009.

Third (2.875): Jeff Francoeur of the Atlanta Braves had a down year in 2008 and after two straight 100 RBI years in ’06 and ’07 finished with a mere 71 last season. Maybe it was the Andruw Jones factor and the added stress affected his game. Last year I would easily have put him first, and almost did this year, but I have a nagging feeling that ’08 was the real Francoeur. I’m not sure how much better he’s going to be since the lineup outside of Chipper and Brian McCann is mediocre. But for the time being I see him hitting .264 with 13 home runs and driving in 76 runs.

Fourth (3.5): When I first heard about Jeremy Hermida I though he was going to be the next star coming out of the Florida Marlins farm system, best thing since sliced bread. And he had a promising year in 2007. 2008 however was far from his coming out party. He had the same power numbers, but he couldn’t hit the .250 mark by season’s end. That’s o.k. if you are Ryan Howard hitting 45 round trippers, but if you are anyone else, you are a notch below average. This year he’ll need to do more since the Fish dropped more power off the pier and I think he will. He reach 18 home runs, 72 RBIs, and bat around .270 in 2009 for a Marlins team that will battle for the 3rd spot in the East.

Fifth (4.25): In his two part-time years in the majors, it is unclear just how good the Washington Nationals’ Elijah Dukes really is. The thing that has been holding him back in the past was his attitude and who knows if he can really exorcise whatever demons he has so that he can realize his full potential. But the “high risk” term is doubtful to leave him as he enters his second season in the nation’s capital. He does show some power and the ability to drive in runs, as long as he keeps his strikeouts down. Barring any injuries, I expect him do keep Austin Kearns out of a starting job; .257/18/62 for Elijah in 2009.

I might have done Jeff Francoeur some injustice here, but I don’t mind being wrong at any point. None of these guys have shown superstar potential and may wind up being nothing more than role players on their respective teams. I wouldn’t be surprised however if one or two of these guys aren’t replaced by midseason and I may have to revisit these projections then. This ends the projections for the position players. Next time I break down the NL East I will look at the starting pitching, then the relief crew to wrap up the series.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Is Jay Cutler the New Brett Favre

When Brett Favre was retiring, then unretiring, then retiring again only to play for the New York Jets he was constantly in the news. ESPN was camped out on his lawn, wearing Wranglers, and hoping that the Ragin' Cajun would give them a glimpse for what they came. Now, Favre is gone to be Brett Favre, at least for the time being, and the sports minds that be must have very little to focus on. In comes Jay Cutler.

Jay Cutler wasn't setting the media world on fire through last season as he was viewed as an up and coming star as the franchise quarterback of the Denver Broncos. But when Mike Shanahan was let go and Josh McDaniels brought in as coach, oh boy, they gave 'em somthing to talk about and the Denver soap opera began.

Reports were coming out that McDaniels didn't want Cutler as his QB, that he wanted his good buddy Matt Cassel. That made Jay cry and want to leave. That made the Broncos say that they like Jay Cutler and that Cutler and McDaniels are BFFs. One text leads to another. Jay Cutler and Josh McDaniels aren't talking 'cause Josh asked Jay's girl to the prom....and so on. And in the meantime, Brett is walkin on crawdaddys wondering where all the cameras are.

Neither McDaniels nor "Big Baby" Cutler are as big a media hound at Favre, but they're both quick growing pups. If Jay wants to save his reputation for being a man, not the man, just a man, he should quit whining and get ready to do his job. If it wasn't for the drama, essentially caused by him, then sports media outlets wouldn't portray him as someone who want to grab his balls and go home because he's not happy. He needs to understand that a coach wants to put in his people if he can but generally has to work with what he's got and if all he's got is an insecure, super-privileged, Brett Favre-like egomaniac at quarterback, then so be it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Eighteen Weeks of Football Still Aren't Enough

With the NFL Commissioner and team owners going through the state of the league, making rule changes, and whatever else they do, the concept of an 18 week season came up. Intriguing as it may be, cutting off two preseason games at the beginning and pasting them on the back end and calling it the regular season, still needs to be approved and sanctioned by the players association. I think it’s a good idea for several reasons, and state them as I see them.

First, it provides the country with what it really needs, more football. With perhaps the 2008 season being an exception due to the Phillies’ championship, the Eagles run the show in Philadelphia from September through January. Sports talk radio is engrossed with Eagles talk, blogs run amuck, and people drown in water cooler conversations. It helps treat the football jonesing that goes on consistently year round but cutting two more weeks of non-football out. Now, instead of talking about the 76er’s Samuel Dalembert mailing in another game, Philly fans can discuss why Andy Reid threw the ball 87% of the time in a blowout against the last place Cowboys (prediction? I think so).
Second, will be the advantages to teams fighting for the playoffs. It will give those teams on the bubble two more weeks of getting in and it won’t take away from the funky scenarios that got the Eagles in this year. The excuses of teams running out of time will go by the wayside as good teams should start to separate from the mucker and grinders of the league. Sure, some mediocre team will make it in, but with two extra weeks added to last season I’d bet that the New England Patriots would have been in over the Miami Dolphins.
Third and this may not necessarily be a good thing, will be the setting of new plateaus for single season and career records. Football records do not hold the same weight as baseball as players are considered great more by their impact on the field, so seeing more 2,000 yard rushers; maybe a 2,000 yard receiver would be more fascinating. Maybe we’ll even get a few 1,000-1,000 guys. Fact of the matter, we’ll start seeing new records set, like when the league went from fourteen to sixteen games and impact players will still be impact players. Would Jim Brown be less great if he played more games? I don’t think so.
The potential for burnout might increase as the season moves on but who cares? It eliminates part of the boredom-filled gap between the Super Bowl and March Madness and MLB Spring Training, and anything that can do that is alright in my book.
There are some negatives if this initiative goes through. Risk of injury is probably the biggest one since adding two more regular season games puts a player out there all the more, considering they probably wouldn’t have played in the last two preseason games. This might open up the possibility of an expanded rosters, it may also lead to better contracts for the players, that’s all up to the league and the new NFLPA boss, DeMaurice Smith.

Regardless of which side of the fence you might be on regarding this issue, I am hopeful that my opportunity to watch more football becomes realized. Sixteen weeks aren’t enough and in the spirit of keeping it real, eighteen weeks aren’t enough either. The NFL keeps itself in the news all year round already, but the actual action of the game is relegated to a mere six months. Why not keep it going through March? Then the Super can be played in places like New York and Philly. The fans would enjoy it, and then teams can take a couple of weeks off until the NFL Draft in April.

Does The Phillies Season Rest On Cole's Left Arm?

When news came down that Cole Hamels felt some discomfort in the throwing arm, people were getting themselves ready to jump off of the Ben Franklin Bridge in total and utter despair. Well, yesterday he threw in a minor league assignment and all went well so far, but that led to a question. Does the Philadelphia Phillies season rest in Cole’s left arm? He is possibly the most important individual to the team, but does his health determine how far the Phillies can go? I don’t know. Last year we saw the team struggle without Jimmy Rollins, yet succeed to a modest degree when Ryan Howard struggled. The team also seemed to go get by with Chase Utley’s bad hip, but through it all, the pitching staff remained intact.

Cole Hamels is easily the ace of the staff, but he pitches once in every four or five games. That can be vital in the role of the stopper, but the more important player for winning may be the closer. Brad Lidge nailed down every game he played. He took the possibility of winning a game and made it a certainty. Look at the Mets last year. The reason they didn’t win was not how Pedro or Johann pitched, but through the implosion of the bullpen and their inability to keep a lead. That was what got the Phillies into first place. Well, that and the fact the Howard went on an unbelievable September tear.

While Cole would be a great loss, it is easier to fill the void of an injured starting pitcher than a closer. One could juggle the rotation, throw J.A. Happ in the back end of the starting staff and although the potential for winning would be decreased a bit, it wouldn’t evaporate. Take away Brad Lidge, particularly early in the season, and who’s going to be the closer? Ryan Madsen? Perhaps, but regardless of who comes out of the bullpen in the ninth inning, it wouldn’t be the same. Madsen did become a pretty good setup guy down the stretch, however I doubt many would say that he wouldn’t have blown a save all year.

This isn’t an argument for the ages, so I won’t beat it into the dirt. I will say however, that if the Phillies lose a starting pitcher, even the already immortalized Cole Hamels, I think the team will manage. Now, if Lidge is lost…well, that’s a different story. I won’t go diving off of Big Ben, but I’ll certainly think about it when I drive over Betsey Ross.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Eagles Rumors....

Braylon Edwards is not the only name that has recently been connected in rumors linked to the Philadelphia Eagles. Jason Peters, Pro Bowl offensive tackle of the Buffalo Bills possibly has a higher chance than Edwards to be a Bird next season. The Bills and Peters have been in an ongoing dispute over his contract and he would fit in nicely on the Eagles offensive line answering any questions as to who will fill the void left by Tre Thomas’s departure. Philly had shelled out a good deal of money for Jon Runyan when he was a free agent, so they might be willing to redo Peters’ contract to give him a deal he’s satisfied with. Whether that contract will be anything close to the 6 year, 60 million dollar deal Jordan Gross received from the Panthers is only known to Joe Banner.

Tony Gonzalez is back in the news wanting a trade again, and again the Eagles are a potential landing point for the Pro Bowl tight end. If the Chiefs are asking for a fifth round pick for Tony, then the Eagles might listen, anything else would be too much. Gonzalez, who is 33, is still a viable offensive option, reaching 1,000 yards receiving last year. Obtaining Gonzalez would give Brent Celek another year to progress and would open up a day one draft pick for the Eagles at least for 2009. Tony’s age and salary could be determining factors in whether the Eagles make a trade for the Chief or look to get a tight end in the draft.

Of the three guys, including Edwards, Peters is the guy most intriguing. I have read a lot negative comments from Buffalo fans regarding just how good he is but I am not all that familiar with either his contract situation or his play on the field. On paper, he looks like the best of the three to pick up, but on grass he has the greatest potential to be a mistake.

Another Eagles Receiver Rumor

First it was Marvin Harrison, then it was Anquan Boldin, now, it seems that Braylon Edwards might be the next wide receiver to be joining the Philadelphia Eagles. They have apparently joined the group of teams that are looking to deal for the guy. It would be a great thing for the Birds to acquire a top-notch wideout, but as far as I can tell, Cleveland would demand a first round draft pick (unless they get desperate), and Edwards would want a new contract. Neither of these two things would go well with the Eagles administration, and the possibility of them trading for Edwards, in my opinion is between nope and not gonna do it.

Let’s start by looking at the receivers they have. The tandem of Kevin Curtis and DeSean Jackson is the best they’ve had in the Andy Reid era. Yes, T.O. is the best receiver in Eagle green in the past 10 years, but I would say the Todd Pinkston devalues that duo. Adding Braylon Edwards would certainly upgrade the corps, but not enough in the Eagles’ eyes to justify the price tag that would come along with him. Sure, the team has plenty of money under the cap, but they would have to view Edwards as enough as an upgrade to warrant the spending of cash. He made over 10 million dollars, including bonuses in 2008 and could look for as much in a new deal. Generally he would be worth it since he may be one of the top five receivers in the league however if anyone knows how Joe Banner works, he low balls players, then pays based on future production, not on what someone has already accomplished. Curtis made less than six million last year.

The Eagles do certainly have two first round draft picks and it is possible that one could be used to obtain Edwards, but it is also possible, more likely even that they will use both picks to fill glaring needs at offensive tackle and either tight end or running back. There will be no way that Edwards will have the opportunity to catch balls thrown at his feet if the QB is on his back all day due to a revolving door on the offensive line. There was some talk of a stop-gap solution putting Todd Herremans or Shawn Andrews at the spot vacated by Tre Thomas so that would free up one of the picks that could go for Edwards. In addition, the Eagles have something like eight second day picks and one or two of those could get a deal moving as throw ins.

Joe Banner is the maker or breaker of this deal for Edwards. Instead of looking at Edwards 2007 season when he scored 16 touchdowns and caught 80 balls for 1289 yards, he is bound to base any trade value on his 2008 stats when he scored only three TDs with 873 yards receiving, indicating that this may be Edwards’ potential on his team, adding in the number of drops Braylon is credited with as well. All this may be true, and it is unfortunate because Banner won’t look at the big picture. Does this make my wide receiver corps better? He will put Edwards in a particular spot, say in Curtis’s spot on the field and ask, “is this guy worth four million dollars more?” The answer will be no and he will cite “value” at the position. Forget asking if Edwards is better than Reggie Brown or Hank Baskett.

It won’t be a shock if the Eagles are able to obtain Edwards. They did get T.O. and speed racer Donte Stallworth via trades so it isn’t unprecedented. The big difference here is that T.O. was an upgrade over James Thrash to the Nth degree and Stallworth was there only to fill the massive whole that Owens left. But if they do decide that Edwards is worth the price it would take to get him, then perhaps kudos would be deserved. Right now, I’ll reserve the right to skepticism as I wait for Braylon to be traded elsewhere and Banner to say they tried….just like they tried to get Randy Moss and resign Brian Dawkins.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Breaking Down the NL East: Centerfield

The NL East Centerfielders are a varied bunch. There is a power hitting, run producing machine, a Flyin’ Hawaiian, and former prospect coming into his own, and two youngsters cracking a major league lineup. In this group, only really two stand out, with the potential for a third growing with each season. All five of these guys, however, will have something to prove this year. Here they are.

First (Score = 1.375): The New York Mets' Carlos Beltran has not provided the dividends that the team and its fans were hoping for. The idea of bringing him in, winning a bidding war and paying him a ton of money, was to get them over the hump and consistently into the playoffs. Well, that hasn’t happened once. It isn’t necessarily Beltran’s fault. He’s driven in over 110 runs each of the last three years, so he’s doing most of what he can. I say most because it doesn’t appear he has that intangible that turns a good player into a great player, a competitor into a winner. He is in essence a younger version of Bobby Abreu. This upcoming season it will be more of the same for Carlos. He’ll see .279/37/114 for a second place team.

Second (2.25): Before last season there were question surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies as to whether or not Shane Victorino could be an everyday outfielder but by the time September rolled around, there was no doubt that he was the best centerfielder the team had had since Lenny Dykstra. His series in the playoffs against Milwaukee was amazing, supplying the sparkplug that made the Phillies engine go. Last year on the whole he mixed some power with good speed and although he won’t be called upon to hit a grand slam, he will hit .284/10/47 in the second spot in the Phillies lineup in 2009.

Third (2.25): The National’s Lastings Milledge loses out to Victorino in a tie break mainly because of the impact each has made on their team and at this point in his career, Milledge has shown he can hit major league pitching but not be an integral part of a winning team. Milledge has a very nice junior year in the show hitting .261/14/61 and getting some full-time experience. Can he do it again? There is no reason to think otherwise. As long as he stays healthy, this year will tell whether he is doomed to mediocrity on bad teams or whether he is a star in the making….on a bad team. He will reach .255/16/59 this year as he comes of age as an average ballplayer.

Fourth & Fifth (4.375 & 4.625): The juries are still out on Atlanta Braves’ Josh Anderson and the Florida Marlins’ Cameron Maybin. They have played a combined total of 93 games in the majors and project so close to each other, I might as well surgically connect them at the hip. Both likely to hit just above the pitcher in the lineup, Maybin has the better shot at helping his team. With the Marlins pitching and the organizations propensity to field good young players (Uggla, Cabrera, Willingham, Beckett, & Willis just to name a few) Cameron will show why the Fish wanted him in that blockbuster trade that sent two Marlin stars to Detroit. This is not to say that the younger Anderson in the Brave outfield won’t have a chance to shine; I just expect Maybin to shine brighter a bit faster. Same projection for both, despite my obvious bias toward Maybin: .283/7/43.

I realize that in my opening paragraph I put Victorino in the same category as Carlos Beltran and that might have been getting ahead of myself. Beltran is a better all-round hitter, hands down, but what he brings to the Mets and what Victorino brings to the Phils cannot be compared, in my opinion. The two slot of the Phillies’ lineup is his and he is just about the perfect guy to hit behind Jimmy Rollins. He can be kind of a slacker at times, but the energy he brings to the everyday batting order is why he is more important to Philly than Carlos to NYC.

The World Baseball Classic Is Finally Over

Now that the World Baseball Classic has ended in dramatic fashion, fans of Major League Baseball can finally get their players back and get back to some form of normality. This Phillies had rented out a couple of players to the international set of teams, and some of these guys were pretty important to their big league club. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, J.C. Romero, Matt Stairs, not to mention about a half dozen or so minor leaguers were playing for their respective countries.

I am not going to get into whether or not I think they should play for their country. But I will discuss what the MLB team should do to protect themselves from a disaster should one of the league’s stars blow out a knee or an elbow. In future contracts, place a proviso where the team is not on the hook for the player’s salary for injuries incurred during exhibition play. This will include the World Baseball Classic, and if the Olympic Committee puts baseball back on the list of games, that too. This will of course, force the players to carefully consider their participation.

Now luckily, no one was seriously injured and those who felt tweaks or strains, pulled out when they could. It would be difficult to imagine the uproar if J.Roll would have pulled up lame. How could the Phillies be compensated for losing their star shortstop? They couldn’t. Instead they would have to deal with it when every other team in their division is at full strength.

Injuries can happen at any time and that has been an area of concern for the other professional sports too, so it is time for baseball to follow their leads and give the ability to the teams to disallow players from participation. Otherwise clubs could be looking at a situation where some guy from the Netherlands or China ruins a teams chance from winning a championship.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Goodbye To My Favorite Knucklehead

Even though his legend will lie within a bloody sock, I will always remember Curt Schilling as a guy who drove Phillies fans nuts. He was traded to the Phillies on April 2, 1992 by the Houston Astros for a future journeyman in Jason Grimsley. He almost instantly became ace of the staff going 14-11 in his first year in Philadelphia. He then led the crusade with guys like Dykstra, Daulton, and Kruk to reach the World Series in 1993, where he proceeded to go 1-1 after winning the NLCS MVP. The Series went to the Blue Jays that year but the future looked bright for "Schill."

He was a man that everyone wanted on the mound but no one wanted in the clubhouse, mainly due to his big mouth. He was a bit overbearing at times and even though he drove then Phillies manager Terry Francona up the wall, he was one of the best pitchers to wear the uniform. His 101 wins as a Phil ranks sixth in franchise history, but he also places in strikeouts (4th), games started (6th), and holds the team's single season record with his 319 strikeouts in 1997.

These few words here can't describe how he tried to carry a bad Phillies team year after year following that 1993 run, nor can it truly show how missed he was when he was traded to Arizona. But no matter how many red cell/ketchup soaked socks he may have placed upon his feet, no matter how many championships he won elsewhere, he will always be a greater Phillie then he will be a loud mouthed, crazy headed, yet golden armed lunatic member of the Diamondbacks and Red Sox

The Philadelphia Eagles One Year Deal Wonders

The Eagles have made a smart move signing fullback Leonard Weaver to a contract. This ensures that the Birds will not have to start Dan Klecko in the backfield and can put him back on the defensive line where he can be more effective until the Eagles decide to cut him. The contract to Weaver is a one year deal that has a base salary of 1.75 million, but can get to 2.5 Mil with incentives that are probably so far out of reach Leonard couldn’t get to them in a spaceship.

The Eagles have been very fond of one year deals this offseason. They signed safety Sean Jones for one year, then safety Rashad Baker for one year. They signed restricted free agent linebacker Tank Daniels for one year as well. Add in Weaver’s contract and that makes four contracts out of five, with Stacy Andrews getting the only multi-year deal from the Birds thus far. It’s a bit peculiar and it may call into question their long range plans.
First is the potential for a lockout between owners and players after the 2010 season. The media has been discussing it already and the Eagles may be financially preparing themselves should a standoff occur. This way they don’t have a lot of money tied up in signing bonuses and salaries when everything is settled. And you know what that leads up to….one year deals for next year’s free agents. There’s no good reason to go into each season with the same question marks, but next year the Eagles will go into the 2009 offseason needing to sign a fullback, a safety, a wide receiver, all of the things they needed to pick up this year. This type of consistency is not a good thing.The Birds could be looking at the potential of the players they have on the roster now, or plan to draft this April. Something tells me they’re going to love Quintin Demps more than his own mother just so they can feel justified for letting Dawk go and signing Sean Jones for only one year. Maybe they’ll draft a fullback, or sign a rookie free agent and pay him the minimum. They’ll save money and if they find some guy off the streets that will do it for less, it’s easier to make that move than it would be if you had a guy who could play a little, like Weaver. It doesn’t say much for depth at any position though.

They only other reason that comes to mind is that the Eagles were expecting something better and it didn’t work out. The problem with that statement is that they didn’t go after anything better. Dawkins was probably the best safety for this team and they let him go to Denver. Weaver is a pretty good player and perhaps, like Jones, wants to see how everything plays out for one year before they start talking long term. Unfortunately for the players, they will probably be low-balled to the point they want to leave. I am not saying either side needs to agree to a five year deal, but three for a player with a decent track record isn’t necessarily a bad idea, unless of course, that third year is a lockout year.

Whatever the Eagles due, it will probably warrant criticism. Almost everything that comes out of that camp does nowadays. The administrative branch of Reid, Banner and Lurie has become a focal point of frustration that has eaten away at the average fan and the flow of bad press has left the image of a cheap organization with the mindset of Ebenezer Scrooge. I don’t think they need to worry about the customer base though since there is a waiting list for season tickets and their merchandise sells well. But it’s only a matter of time before their mismanagement of the Philadelphia Eagles will make Norman Braman the Philadelphia patron saint of football.

An Early Exit For Temple

Dionte Christmas (left) played one of his best games at the collegiate level, but unfortunately this was the game that Semaj Inge (right)decided to try to become a shooter for the first time in four years. Christmas shot 8-16, including five three pointers to lead all scorers with 29 points. Inge on the other hand shot 0-10 with his two points coming in the form of free throws. Why, on this date, Semaj wanted to score is beyond me. He did average nearly seven shots a game this season, but there is no way that he is considered anything more than a fifth option when he is on the floor. I could certainly understand it if Christmas was being shut down, but Dionte was seemingly having his way with the ASU defense, but beyond that Sergio Olmos and Lavoy Allen were more viable offensive options. Fran Dunphy should have nipped that in the bud. I cannot blame the entire loss on the poor shooting Inge, but if that ball got spread around a bit more, particularly in the first half, I think the Owls would have pulled off the upset.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Assassination Of The Philadelphia Eagles By The Coward Andy Reid

This week Andy Reid finally spoke up on the state of the Philadelphia Eagles, including the departure of key veterans from his roster. He didn’t speak to the general media of course. Instead, the Eagles own website lackey was handed the responsibility of grilling Coach Andy with softball questions on topics like the Brian Dawkins saga, the wide receivers, the draft, and free agency. This is a quick rundown on what he said.

When questioned regarding Brian Dawkins, Coach Andy did indicate the great job he had done for years, but that they had made an attempt to keep him but that it didn’t work out. Perhaps it was because Coach Andy and Joe Banner didn’t want to work it out. Andy said this in regards to how much money they had 40 million under the cap and how they go after free agents, but I think this is how he and Banner truly felt about Dawk and why they didn’t resign him.
"You can say it's a conservative approach or you can just say it's smart. People are hesitant to say that, but … Because you have the money, you just don't go blow it on something that you don't think is good enough quality to put on the Eagles uniform.”

Well, apparently they didn’t really feel that anyone was worth putting in an Eagles uniform except the brother of an AWOL offensive lineman, a backup safety, and another safety as a stop-gap replacement to the Pro-Bowler he let go.

Andy Reid thinks that Reggie Brown and Hank Baskett are starting caliber players, for which teams, I’m not sure. Maybe he is right, but only if DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis are both suffering from broken legs. His talent evaluation processes have killed this team time and time again, especially when guys like Greg Lewis took up roster spots from guys who could actually make a contribution, like a punt returner or a fullback. He put players in like Mark Simoneau and pretended he could replace then Pro-Bowler Jeremiah Trotter. He’d rather have Brown and Baskett instead of the likes of Houshmandzadeh, Bouldin, and anyone else out there with a bit of skill.

That leads into the draft where they have the potential to pick up 12 more guys that will fail to make a contribution. But at this point, where they got rid of quite a few guys, they will need a good deal of those picks to select replacements in order to maintain the general roster. Andy is looking for fourth and fifth round picks to make an impact, probably because they guys they’ll be backing up were last year’s fourth and fifth round picks. He wouldn’t say whether they will use all twelve picks, but if there is a Winston Justice in this years draft, Andy might just trade up to get him.

Another thing that was brought up was that, according to Tra Thomas, departed offensive tackle, the Coach needs to have a better relationship with his players. But Andy Reid has a big head. I’m not saying that because of the actual girth of his noggin, but rather the arrogance and the pompous attitude he lays down on the Philadelphia Sports media at large and the Eagles fans. This is the foundation why he didn’t personally bench Donovan, didn’t answer questions about Dawkins, and doesn’t feel that he needs to answer to anyone but Joe Banner and Jeffrey Lurie. He may know more football, I will give him that, but does he know better? I don’t think so.

Most of what was discussed got bogus Andy Reid answers. He needs to do a better job in the Red Zone, he’s not discussing the McNabb situation, What this B.S. interview does is give Andy an out every time a real reporter or journalist wants to ask him a question. He doesn’t want to open himself to criticism because he doesn’t think he deserves it. Instead, he will respond by indicating he already put out his answer on the B.Dawk issue and will treat it as if it is old news. The problem there is that he never spoke about it before and when he finally did it was with a guy who will get fired if he even thinks about considering any critical words against his employer. I don’t know, maybe Coach Andy’s in the same boat. If that’s the case, we’re all sunk.

Breaking Down the NL East: Left Fielders

It’s been difficult to find time to complete my Breaking Down the NL East series, but I have managed to get to the left fielders, of which we have a couple of old guys, a couple of young upstarts, and a man who appears to be stuck, going nowhere in mediocrity. Garrett Anderson and Raul Ibanez move in from the AL West to try their hand at NL pitching, Josh Willingham has been unable to find his way off horrible teams, and Daniel Murphy and Cody Ross look to solidify themselves in everyday roles as each of their teams try to topple the Phillies. So, here is my ranking and projections of the NL East Left Fielders.

First (Score 1.625): Raul Ibanez has played on a team with some potential however the Seattle Mariners are struggling to find an identity outside of Ichiro. Now, with the Philadelphia Phillies, Raul has the opportunity to hit behind one of the most prolific power hitters in years and despite his age and contract, should be an upgrade over the departed Pat Burrell. Ibanez is unlikely to drive in as many runs as he had in Seattle, mainly because of the guys in front of him, but he should still protect Howard in the batting order. Again, aside from his age, the only other issue facing Ibanez, but really the Phillies in general; are the number of left handed bats that will be populating the everyday lineup. I see Raul hitting .290 and 27 home runs in Citizen’s Bank Park and driving 104 adding only more offense to the most offensive team in the league.

Second (2.625): This may be a bit of a surprise, but Cody Ross of the Florida Marlins has quietly become a solid major league hitter driving in 22 dingers and 73 RBIs in 2008. This year he should be a full time player and the only thing that will hold him back will be the other guys in the Marlins lineup. He has also been the most clutch performer in his short career, slugging over .600 with runners in scoring position. I don’t expect a drop off for Ross, but as he becomes the focus of opposing pitchers, he may have a hard time getting a pitch to hit. Cody is going to go for .284/33/86 in 2009 for an anemic offense.

Third (3.25): The Washington National’s Josh Willingham was a guy I had high hopes for a couple of years ago, but with an injury and really lackluster play, I’m afraid he has become simply an adequate player who is not going to wow anybody at this point. A platoon player on most teams, for the Nationals he will be a starting player. He comes in third here not for what he will potentially do as much as what he has done the past couple of years. Taking into consideration that he was hurt, he will see better offensive numbers, but I don’t project him having a blockbuster year like I would have back in 2006. The National left fielder will reach .271/24/80 and he will be happy he did.

Fourth (3.5): The new Atlanta Brave, Garrett Anderson was one of the Angel’s most consistent hitters in the last decade and was instrumental in getting the Halos their first World Series Championship. He is now, clearly, on his way out of the game as I think he was just looking for a place he can play everyday. His 3 year average of 16 home runs and 85 RBIs won’t blow anyone away in the NL East, but it should keep him in the top half of the batting order. That being said, he is not going to bring the glory back to Atlanta and he should probably be no more than a stopgap for a year or two until the Braves can find a younger replacement. He is projected right at his averages .283/16/83 because there is no reason to think otherwise.

Fifth (4.0): Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets could be the next Dale Murphy or the next Murphy Brown. It is just too soon to tell. But based on the short amount of time he got last year, he should be no less than a platoon player for the Metropolitans in 2009. He was decent in the clutch with anything less than two outs, but again, I emphasize that that could all change as he gains the major league experience. This year, I do expect him to struggle a little bit, especially if he starts off hot and opposing teams start gathering data on Murphy. Should that happen it will be interesting to see just what kind of hitter he can turn himself into. This season I don’t expect him to hit like Dale, but certainly better than a fictional television news anchor. Right now I will lowball him with .250/5/45, but that could get better with playing time.
This is not necessarily a weak group of left fielders, but it is not one that will be fighting for MVP votes to be sure. I am looking forward to seeing how well Murphy does in New York, although I would rather see him flounder than do well against the Phillies. Additionally interesting will be how well Ibanez fits into the Philadelphia lineup and if Cody Ross can continually build on his last three seasons to become the next Marlins player to get traded to a contender.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Philadelphia Eagles Free Agency Update: Bargain Hunting

The Eagles have expressed interest in former Buffalo Bill linebacker Angelo Crowell who missed all of last season after having arthroscopic surgery on his knee last August. He was only going to be out for four weeks but the Bills decided to put him on IR anyway, forcing him to miss the entire season and solidifying his chances of playing for another team next year.

This is not so much of breaking news but last week the Eagles signed a back up defensive back, Rashad Baker, who played in 10 games with Oakland in 2008. He did have three interceptions while covering for an injured Michael Huff, and that possibly made him more marketable to the Birds. This move however is strictly to replace Sean Considine.

The Eagles like looking at these fringe types of guys especially those with questionable health. Coming off an injury like Crowell, or even their big free agent signing to date, Stacy Andrews who is coming off knee surgery, puts the Eagles in a position of leverage where they can either undercut the player in pay or years of contract. This has worked out for them in the past. A few years ago in 2002 then Redskin, Shawn Barber, signed a short-term deal, played well, and then got a good deal from Kansas City. So we’ll see if they are able to strike it rich again with some of these bargains that they are looking for to fill roster spots. Where would their sense be in actually trying to improve a position when you could throw what you hope is a healthy body out there and get the same results as if you know there’s a healthy body out there? I think it’s funny that they will justify not signing Tra Thomas because he has had back problems, but they’ll sign other guys despite red flags in the health history because they can get them on the cheap.

The Philadelphia Eagles Billionare: Jeffrey Laurie

Congratulations to Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Laurie for being a new member on the Forbes magazine billionaires list. Perhaps he should celebrate by taking Joe Banner out to dinner and releasing him of any and all duties he has in regards to the operation of the football team. Banner, the over-controlling yet ever loyal employee to Laurie, has completely changed the football financial system and how it relates to the salary cap, and now Banner’s version of the system is essentially what is used around the league. Laurie should understand this and identify and reward his right-hand man with something wonderful…like a nice severance package. Banner is a man who has made himself obsolete in the business. Banner is a shrewd guy, but now he’s not the only one who can do the job.

Laurie should also realize just how he became a Billionaire. Yes, it was through the ownership of the Philadelphia Eagles, but it was through the toiling and hard work of Eagles fans, buying the tickets, concessions, and merchandise. And now with the apparent disregard for the fan, and in some cases his affect on the quality of product the organization is putting on the field, give him a warm pink slip laden send off. I know there will be those who will say that the team has gone to five NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl. I will retort with the fact that the money values that they put on certain positions have hindered them from winning it all. For instance, they will spend money on the offensive and defensive lines. They will not spend money on linebacker, although they have been lucky with the young guys they have. They will spend money on the cornerback, but not come close to signing any of the bigger named wideouts when they become available. For years it has been argued that the Eagles would have won at least one if they had better guys than Pinkston & Thrash, and a guy like T.O. for more than one season. Dante Stallworth was a pickup in a trade, but they didn’t consider him worth signing after the season was over. To sum up the position on the receivers, they will spend many dollars on covering the best receivers in the league, but do not want the best receivers on their team. That is a Joe Banner decision, and if Jeffrey Laurie wants to win the Lombardi trophy, those decisions need to be made be someone else. It will be a fan friendly move that will not necessarily endear Laurie to the Philly fan, that will be difficult to do since he is one of those high brow types, but it will inch him in the positive direction.

Outside the Banner issue, Laurie also needs to step up a bit and settle with the city of Philadelphia regarding a petty battle of a mere eight million dollars. Laurie claims he lost that much due to a canceled preseason game a few years back, and the city claims that the Eagles still owe that amount for agreeing to build luxury boxes in Vet’s Stadium. That deal was with the previous regime, but Laurie took that debt on when he bought the team. Incidentally, it has been argued that eight million dollars would enable the city to keep multiple libraries, slated for closure due to budgetary constraints, in operation.

Laurie was a rich guy before he bought the team, now he is richer. He doesn’t need money and he has his share of fame. What he needs is love. Love from the city he relies on. Love from the people who helped put him on the billionaire list. The amount of good grace and a sterling public persona he would receive would undoubtedly outweigh the actions it would take to receive such accolades. Whether he cares, I do not know. What I do know is despite his new billionaire moniker, it won’t take him as far in the eyes of public appeal if he doesn’t do what it takes to properly thank the city and fans of the Eagles for what they helped him accomplish in the city of Philadelphia.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Eagles Free Agency Update

The Eagles aren’t exactly burning up the Free Agent Trackers around the web, signing on a few guys to replace long time Eagle players that the administration has decided to jettison. To play the potential role of Correll Buckhalter’s stand-in will be Eldra Buckley, a 5-9 running back claimed off waivers, who has spent the past two seasons on the Charger’s practice squad and has gained zero game experience. If he even makes the every day roster Buckley will be nothing more than a special teams body and will do nothing to the actual run game. Now, to be fair, I could be mistaken and this guy could be the second coming of Heath Sherman, but in actuality Brian Westbrook can rest easy knowing that his job is secure, unless Heath decides to come out of retirement.
n other news, the Eagles are expected to talk with former Seattle fullback Leonard Weaver. Weaver is considered one of the best, if not the best fullback on the open market. Last year he rushed for 130 yards, but more importantly in an Andy Reid offense, caught 20 balls for 222 yards. The 2008 Eagles had no true fullback to lead block for B.West as they tried defensive tackle Dan Klecko in the role. I like Klecko, but he should stay and add depth to the D-Line and let a real fullback play. This would be a good pickup for the Birds and I hope that this is not a case where Weaver will take a Philly offer back to the Seahawks and resign with Seattle. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. Then, of course, the Eagles will come out and say that they tried to sign a fullback but he decided to resign with his current team, so they’ll have to try, um, Jason Avant at fullback. It will be Randy Moss all over again and the contentious combo of Andy Reid and Joe Banner.

More talk is being made about how Andy Reid is handling the loss of veteran starting players from his team. Generic statements have been released to the media, but anyone who believes that those are Andy’s words are fooling themselves. Previously during the Stacy Andrews welcoming party, Reid refused to discuss the Dawkins departure. More recently, Tra Thomas has come out and said that he hasn’t spoken to his former head coach since just before Free Agency started up. No one expects Andy to be handing out hugs, but his communication skills or lack thereof only will only add to the public image dilemma the Eagles are facing in the real world outside the Novacare complex.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles Are In Trouble

The Eagles are in trouble, plain and simple. They have purged themselves of not one or two, but four starters and two important backups this free agency season and have found the administration the focus of negative media coverage from every direction. They have done little to garner public support in their decision making and have replaced replaced their losses with what looks to be a decent safety and a potentially decent offensive tackle. The depth chart is beginning to wear thin in a couple of areas and the Eagles have failed to produce any more viable options to show that they can remain competitive going into next season and fewer reasons why the fans shouldn’t run ownership out of town.

Tre Thomas, the eleven year vet and the only man who has truly protected Donovan McNabb’s blindside has agree to terms with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The next guy in line would have been Winston Justice, but if anyone has heard of him, it is because he was manhandled and abused by the New York Giants defensive line. If he is the man for the job, the Kevin Kolb will be the starter by the time the bye comes around because Number 5 will be broken and near dead. Behind Justice, there was last year’s 7th round pick, King Dunlap, who may or not be a player. Dunlap was a monster for his first couple years in college, but fell off the face of the Earth in his senior year. If he can regain some semblance of a NFL tackle, he will take the place of Justice on the roster when he invariably gets cut.

Then there is the case of running back. It is no secret that Brian Westbrook is the team’s best player at that position. Now, there is no question that Lorenzo Booker is not as good as Correll Buckhalter, and thereby an inadequate backup. If the Eagles expect B.West to last the season, they will need to get someone, either via the draft or free agency, to spell him from time to time. The organization claims that Brian will be better on the field since he will be overall healthier than he was in 2008, but how long can that last when he is the only ground option.
Jeff Laurie, who only speaks when the team is either doing well or there is exceedingly good news, has been in an ongoing battle over an eight million dollar suit from the city of Philadelphia. The Eagles have a counter-suit going saying that they lost eight million dollars when a Pre-Season game with Baltimore was canceled because the field at Veteran’s Stadium was in shambles. The political action group, ACORN, has a small rally outside Laurie’s suburb home, fighting for city. It turns out, that eight million dollars would help keep the libraries that are forced to close due to budgetary constraints open.

Joe Banner, went on talk radio last week and essentially lied his way through an interview regarding the Brian Dawkins saga. He stated that he wished he only had a chance to talk to Brian and maybe he could have swayed him to stay or that a deal still could have been worked out. Brian said his agent was in contact with the team three times before he signed with the Broncos and that there was never an indication that Banner wanted to talk or change the deal he had put on the table. Sunday night, Banner said just that, that he wasn’t going to match the offer Denver made, which tells me that Banner had no intention of giving Dawkins a better deal and was only doing a media tour because of the public backlash of Brian’s departure. Oh, by the way, no one has heard a peep from Coach Andy Reid during this whole mess.

And now, most recently a story has come out about just how weasel-like the organization can be read to see how they fired a part-time employee with a disability because he loved the team he worked for. If every company was like this, unemployment would be 75% and the remaining workers would be so frightened little robots. For six years, Dan Leone, who suffers from a potentially debilitating illness called transverse myelitis, was an exemplary worker. Then the Eagles let Brian Dawkins leave for Denver, and to vent Dan vented on a Facebook page. One of team’s upper management saw this posting and well, one thing led to another and Dan “could no longer be trusted.” The post wasn’t even up that long as Dan realized his mistake and removed it, but the wheels to his firing were already rolling. Soon he found out that there would be no warning, no slap on the wrist, and no understanding, just a firing squad from a team with no backbone and the arrogance previously unknown to mankind.

Not only have the Eagles screwed up with their on the field business, they are doing the same off the field. Their PR department must have been bought on the cheap like everything else, because they are slipping into an area saved for those like Marge Schott and Leona Helmsley. All we need now is some insider trading and a sex scandal and we’ll have the most eclectic bunch of guys possible running our team.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Goodbye Greg Lewis

In an unprecedented move, the Philadelphia Eagles traded wide reciever Greg Lewis to the New England Patriots for a 2009 fifth round pick. Thank you, thank you, thank you. There was no reason for G.Lew to make this roster for the past two years. He was a pedestrian free agent rookie coming out of Illinois and he never became more than that during his tenure in Philly. I never saw him as a go to guy, nor did he have blazing speed, but for some unknown reason Andy Reid would send him deep only to have McNabb overthrow him.
At the beginning of the 2007 season, Coach Andy named him the punt returner despite the fact that Lewis never returned a punt. The first game against the showed as he botched it up helping the Eagles lose the game. It wasn't entirely Lew's fault since it was the coach's bad decision to put him in there in the first place. In any case, I bid a fond farwell to one of the last guys on the depth chart and I wish him all the best in New England.

Any bets that Tom Brady will make him look useful?

Philadelphia Eagles Free Agency Update: Sean Jones

The Eagles have nearly backed themselves into a corner at several positions during this offseason. The departure of Pro-Bowl Safety Brian Dawkins has left a void in the Eagles’ backfield no matter how much the Eagles organization tries to convince the public that they are all right at that spot with Quintin Demps. The news that the Eagles are interested in unrestricted free agent Sean Jones is welcomed. Jones is not Brian Dawkins, but he is much better than anyone on the roster at this moment. The scouting reports indicate that he is a decent player who does well around the line of scrimmage. He also has picked up a few interceptions along the way with 14 over the past three years.

Jones was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft, which was the same year the Eagle selected Matt Ware in the 3rd round. He started getting regular playing time in 2005 and by 2006 he was the starter. He wasn’t the problem when it came to the Brown’s pitiful defense, and I think he will make a nice partner for Quintin Mikell in the Eagles secondary.

Whether the Eagles will sign him depends on how desperate they are to fill this position and truly move beyond Weapon X. I think this deal gets done by the end of this weekend because they cannot afford to let another free agent come in, meet with the team and media, and leave. They only have one signing to their names this year, and that the brother of a guy already on the roster. It will also put to rest any rumors that Sheldon Brown will move from his cornerback spot to safety. Possibly freeing him up for a trade for Bouldin?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles: A Fan's Affirmation

For the past five days or so, the average and avid Eagles fan has felt that thirteen years worth of investment into their team has been evaporated, turning Joe Banner into our own personal Bernie Madoff. The emotions that we now must deal with as WE try to move forward will linger far past the draft and the minicamps. The first game of the season will be like that first holiday after a loved one passes on to the next world. Not that Denver is heaven, but I’m sure you get the gist of it.

Over the years we have lost our favorite players, Reggie and Seth, Randall, Trotter and Vincent, but we were all able to maintain our level of fandom. And the days when we feel the hurt with the departure of more family members, Dawkins, Runyan, and apparently Tre Thomas, we must realize will subside. We are Eagles fans, fans of a team that is the championship-less gold standard of their own proclamation. All the spin masters in the world with their puckered lips and brown noses couldn’t blur the reality that the city of Philadelphia possesses no Lombardi Trophies. But no matter how much we know better, and I believe we do know better, the fandom is too great a mountain to bury and before too long we will return to our Sunday ritual.

I have contemplated a self-imposed one year Eagles ban, but I do not think I can go through with it. I have three children and what kind of message would that send to them regarding fan loyalty and the sanctity of what being an Eagles fan is all about. This is not to mean that criticism isn’t warranted in the case of Brian Dawkins, one of the greatest Eagles of all time, nor in any other case that diminishes the quality of product on the field. However, it is an affirmation that I care about the well-being of the team, not necessarily of the ownership and the detriment that Joe Banner has become, but of the team itself.

Whether the Eagles administration completely botch up the McNabb issue more, or screw around with B.West, we must understand that there is a clear separation between the players and management and that our loyalty rests more with the players wearing the uniform rather than with the idiots that charge us to watch them. I affirm my fandom towards the Eagles and must do so more often from time to time. I will read the articles, listen to the talk shows (all except one), and believe that through my will the team will succeed. Even though there may not be as much for me to root for, I will root. For I am an Eagles fan, not a disillusioned fool, and I will want what is best for my team even when the team doesn’t know what is best for itself.

Fly Eagles Fly! I will affirm my fandom ‘til the day I die. I may feel spit on, I may feel disenfranchised, but I will persevere with the resolve of all those fans who came before me and left this life without a glimpse of a Super Bowl Championship. And if I pass before the event of events then my children will be there and I will teach them to bear my burdens for as Eagle fans, it will be theirs to bear.

Thank you and Time’s Yours.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles & The Brian Dawkins Fallout

The world according to Philadelphia Eagles fan has been turned upside down since the departure of Brian Dawkins. Questions upon questions have been raised regarding the reasons he decided to sign with the Denver Broncos, few blaming Dawkins. It is widely believed that the Pro-Bowl safety never wanted to leave the Eagles, but was summarily told by the Eagles administration that the Eagles were leaving him. This picture started to become clear once free agency started. Historically, the Eagles have signed players they wanted to keep, locked them up early before they had a chance to hit the open market. So when the clock struck midnight last Friday and B.Dawk wasn’t under contract it became clear that the Eagles were willing to part with guy.

I remember hearing the news, driving home on Friday, a little after 5 p.m. The announcement made reference to the nearly infamous piece from SF Chronicle indicating that Brian had “agreed to terms” with the Broncos. Panic started to take shape, both within myself, and every other Eagles fan. Since then I clearly went through the five stages of grief. First I denied the fact that the Eagles would actually let him go and that Dawk would leave. I then felt hatred for the man I believed responsible (and still do) in Joe Banner. The stage of bargaining was a very small one in this episode of free agency, I told myself that the Eagles could sign no other free agent and they would be fine as long as they had #20 in the backfield. Depression, yeah, I was depressed, but I don’t want to talk about it. And now, nearly 72 hours after I first heard the news, I have accepted the entire situation. I don’t like it, but I have accepted it.

Team lackeys and media brown-nosing doo doo sellers became obvious as they took the side as the administration, allowing the administration itself to become heard without speaking. They knew it was going to be bad, bad for the fans, bad for them, but all they had to do was survive the initial brunt of criticism. Andy Reid didn’t even address the issue at the big party known as the Stacy Andrews unveiling. Joe Banner and Jeff Laurie have been completely silent, issuing bogus statements saying how much Dawkins has meant to the team. Fact of the matter is this: Banner and Laurie own the team and they run it like a business, they are not fans in the real sense of the word, they do not feel the passion that real fans do, especially in Philadelphia, and they know that Eagles football is a drug, a narcotic that the city needs to survive and that they can do anything they want, no matter how heinous and us junkie Eagles fans will keep coming back.

What could have been the disagreement between the two sides that would have driven the wedge between Brian Dawkins the man and the team he lived and died for sixteen Sundays a year for the past thirteen years? I haven’t heard the terms the Eagles offered their star but I’m guessing that they used a calculator, abacus, and a slide rule, to come up with a lowball number and offer that for a one year deal, not considering how much money they have under the cap. It was reminiscent of Hugh Douglas’s departure, and Jeremiah Trotter’s first exit, when they took an older player, “insulted” them with a bad contract offer, and then talked about how they pay based on how they will play at the end of the deal using verbiage like “diminishing returns.” Denver simply offered Dawkins a better commitment than Banner. Denver valued the player, man, leader, and his experience more that Banner, who would prefer to have a 2nd year Quintin Demps start instead of a Pro-Bowler.

Maybe the economy has hit the big wigs at the Eagles, and that their real financial investments have given nothing but diminishing returns. But Joe Banner has made clear that in the world of football, capology is more important than the fan, because the fan is a constant in his equations. He couldn’t be more wrong. The fallout has occurred and his silence will not be tolerated, cannot be tolerated. He has laughed in the face of children as he took what they loved and sent it away. I am an Eagles fan, and will be forever, but my dedication to the franchise has changed I think. I am not excited about who they may or may not bring in anymore, nor do I care who they draft next month. My guess is that I’m not the only one who feels that disconnect, that numbness that settles in after a dramatic change. How will I feel when camp opens? I don’t know. It will be different and it won’t be as electric as it would have been if Brian Dawkins’ energy was still radiating through the entire defense. My man crush has been crushed and that all I’m gonna say about that. I wish him well, and I wish Bronco fans the best, as they watch perhaps the greatest player in Eagles history.

Someone Needs to Talk!

This entire weekend, we have heard virtually nothing from the Eagles administration regarding the departure of Brian Dawkins. There have been some press releases, but that's it. When Andy Ried was available for questions, he would only discuss the signing of Stacy Andrews. All respects to Stacy, but his signing was completely overshadowed by a shunning of B.Dawk. The fact that Andy wouldn't address it only makes matters worse has it appears that he, Joe Banner, and Jeff Laurie viewed Dawkins as nothing less than expendable in the eys of a salary cap. First, remember that the Eagles were 48 million dollars under the cap, so money was there. The problem was they didn't want to spend it on a Philadelphia icon. Brian got a lot of money over his five year deal in Denver, but for anyone who knows the NFL, it is easily understood that Dawkins is unlikely to fulfill that contract. So in essence, his 7.2 million guaranteed over the next two couldn't be matched by the loser Joe Banner. He'll say it was regarding the dimishing returns or about maintaining a level of competition, but hello?? Dude was a Pro-Bowler last year. But what does Banner care, as long as the games are sold out, as long as the team continues to make tons of money, he bets that fans of Dawkins will forget him and move on. I wish Banner would just move on.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles and Free Agency: Two Days In

The first two days of free agency has passed and the Eagles went ahead and screwed up almost as much as they possibly could. Here is a breakdown of what has happened in relation to Philly and how it impacts the upcoming season.

First, we'll start with Sean Considine, backup safety and special teamer. He has agreed to terms with the Jacksonville Jaguars and will make three million over the next two years. The Eagles will really only miss him as a special teams player, as he was exposed way to often to keep him on the field for too many snaps.

Lito Sheppard is no longer an Eagle, and to be honest, he really wasn't an Eagle for the last 3 weeks of the season and the playoffs as recently re-signed Joselio Hanson moved ahead of him on the depth chart and left Lito the odd man out. He is still a good player, when he's a happy camper. The Birds really won't miss him too much and have three solid CB's. He was traded to the New York Jets for a 2009 fifth round pick and a conditional 2010 pick. He then signed a contract extension for four years and 27 million.

Correll Buckhalter was the first player from the Eagles roster to sign with the Denver Broncos. He signed a four year deal and is a contender for the starting job there in the Mile High City. He was totally underused by the Birds and he should be a lot happier lining up behind Jay Cutler and crew. This is a good signing for Denver and it leaves a gaping hole on the running back depth chart, even though the Eagles rarely use the running back to run the ball. I don't know if he ever get 1,000 yards but he'll get closer than he ever did in Philly.

Then there is Brian Dawkins. I am not going to go into too much detail here, but something will be coming. He officially signs with the Denver Broncos for 5 years and 17 million dollars, but more importantly, he will be receiving 7.2 million guaranteed.

So far, four players lost, one true impact (Dawkins).

The one player they picked up was offensive tackle Stacy Andrews, the older brother of Pro-Bowl Guard Shawn Andrews to a six year deal. He will make Jon Runyan's departure from the team official. For my feelings on this signing please read Essentially, this signing solidifies two spots on the O-Line.

As far as rumors go.....L.J. Smith was supposedly visiting the Atlanta Falcons. The Eagles haven't been visited by TJ Houshmandzadeh. And there is still no word on whether the Eagles will/can resign blind side Tackle Tre Thomas. The Eagles also showed interest in former Arizona Defensive End Antonio Smith, but he is a new Texan. Anything other than that would be news to me.

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