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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles: It's Time to Start Cutting

Now that the draft is over and the first mini camp has taken place, it’s time for the Eagles to start purging themselves of players they no longer need. This will stop the team from wasting time on players that will not make the roster come training camp, allow them to focus on and prepare the new arrivals for the upcoming season. Of course I understand that getting rid of these guys so early may lessen the environment of competition within the camp setting, but it will get younger players much needed practice reps so that their game readiness will come all that much faster.

The first guy that comes to mind is the much maligned Reggie Brown, who in three years has gone from a NFL starting wide receiver, to injured backup, to someone who is completely and utterly expendable. Everyone had hope for Reggie coming out of Georgia and he actually looked good with Jeff Garcia throwing him the ball. Unfortunately, he has underperformed at every other point in his game. He is currently behind DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, and Hank Baskett on the depth chart. And for a guy who doesn’t play special teams, I think it’s time to say goodbye. As of this past mini camp however, one would think that the Eagles love Brown, having Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg praise him for catching the football during practice. We’ll see how long this lovefest lasts.

The Winston Justice travesty can go on no longer. Once a potential 1st round draft pick out of USC, Justice has been nothing short of a disappointment. The only memory that any Eagle fan will have of Winston Justice is the number of sacks he gave up to the New York Giants’ Osi Umenyiora: Four, all by himself. In that fateful game on the 30th of September in 2007, the Giants sacked the QB a total of 12 times, so it wasn’t just Justice. To Osi, it was like a video game. To Winston, it was the end of a one time promising career. It had been rumored that Justice was being shopped in a potential trade for Anquan Boldin. I can only imagine what the Cardinals thought they were getting.

Why the Eagles traded a fourth round pick for Lorenzo Booker still goes unexplained. The Eagles and Andy Reid say it was because it was like getting a third rounder and there was some value in the trade. I say they really wanted Brian Westbrook-lite. Too bad Booker is more like Ryan Moats-lite. The Eagles have B-West, they have Shady McCoy, and that third RB spot can go to some undrafted rookie like Rashard Mendenhall’s brother, Walter who has 2 inches and twenty pounds on Westbrook. There is absolutely no need for Philly to keep Booker on the roster, unless they put off admitting they were wrong. He wasn’t great on special teams, and he doesn’t add anything to the passing game so….see you later.

These guys could make a team somewhere else, so they should be given that opportunity sooner than later. In fact, I hope that Justice gets a job in the NFC East. They are still under contract with the Birds, to the organization can do what they will with them. Regardless, the writing is on the wall and their names have been removed from their lockers, so let’s forget about the past and move forward, with better players, a better team, for I doubt Eagle fans will be regretting any of them go a year from now.

A-Rod Is Becoming More Like Rodman Every Day

Can Alex Rodriguez become a bigger mess than he has already become? What happened to that pampered phenom that came up through the Mariner organization that made people forget about former Seattle legends like Al Davis, Mark Langston, and Harold Reynolds? I’ll tell you what happened. Dude was weird to begin with. He just hit a ton of home runs so that no one would notice. Now that he’s gone to New York, a little visit to Madonna has become the most normal thing he’s done in years.

There is the steroid issue, the strange photos that include him standing unusually close to himself in the mirror, and now a book has come out about how he really is and all of this stuff just this year. Never mind that A-Rod has distanced himself from his WBC Dominican teammates, or that he apparently can’t handle the Yankee/Red Sox pissing match, or that despite his talent, he has failed to help his team to a championship, A-Rod just can’t seem to be un-ridiculous anymore.

I haven’t read the book that’s recently come out about the slugger, nor do I plan to. I just think that this guy is becoming a mess and that his personal clutter is going to cover up the fact that he is a great ballplayer. Although the fact that there are allegations of him using what are now banned substances, the fact that he is a great ball player has even become tainted to some degree. It’s up to historians to decide whether or not whatever Rodriguez took really enhanced his play. I think it did a little, but I think the guy probably wouldn’t have profited from the stuff as some other last man on the bench type of player.

The worst part of it all is that he is still relatively young. Maybe he will grow out of his eccentricities, but then again maybe they’ll grow. But the guy had to be screwed up to get this ball rolling so perhaps with the use of some top notch state of the art therapy, he can move past the need to become baseball’s Dennis Rodman. That’s where he’s headed, only for a different reason. Dennis realized relatively late in his career that he didn’t have the cash required to retire for life, so he made himself into a spectacle in order to generate some interest in him. If you remember, while Rodman was in San Antonio, he began dying his hair. Then by the time he was playing with MJ he was in full wacko mode. He started slow, and built it up. Kind of like what A-rod has done. And where Alex now? Well, he’s loving his reflection, literally.

At this rate, it is only a matter of time before A-rod throws on a white wedding dress, or starts keeping a pet tiger cub in the locker room, or even better, legally changes his name to A-rod. It’s a real shame though, that his book is gonna make the author dirty rich by making A-rod look real dirty, but I guess that the way it is when you are more than just a pop icon, baseball player superstar who appears to be living a psychedelic and surreal life.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Blow Up The 76ers, Please!

If any team is doomed to stay in the NBA’s version of eternal purgatory, it is the Philadelphia 76ers. For two years, they have succeeded, yet failed and are destined to repeat this outcome year after year for the foreseeable future. They have made the playoffs two years in a row, and got bounced in the first round. They have talent, yet no stars. They have a coach, yet they don’t. They are in essence good enough only not to be bad. And now, after years of consecutive success and failure, it appears that they are spinning the wheels of mediocrity and will continue to do so until something drastic occurs. That time is now.

Andre Miller (right) wants to be gone. Fine. Samuel Dalembert wants out too. Better. In fact, anyone who wants to leave, go ahead and good luck. Most of the guys on the roster, with the exception of Miller would either have a hard time finding a role on their team or finding playing time ‘cause they stink. Andre Miller is a good point guard for a team who can convince him that he doesn’t need to shoot the ball. He hadn’t requested a trade, probably because he wanted to see how things would turn out in Philly. Now he can predict that the opportunity for him to win is most likely elsewhere. Samuel Dalembert anyway, could even get a job with the Canadian National Team, so I don’t know who’ll take a big stiff with no heart with a bigger contract and lesser skill.

The rest of the team is a rabble of athletic guys who are more of a mish-mosh of talent than a solid team. Andre Iguodala, although young, is not a guy who is ever going to develop into a go-to, take the last shot, star. He hit a big shot against Orlando this year, but no one would have been even slightly surprised if that ball rimmed out. Thaddeus Young (left) I like a lot, but he doesn’t really have a position to call his own. Since Iggy can’t play the two guard, the whole team gets screwed up trying to put Andre and Young on the court at the same time. Either Thaddeus gets stuck behind Andre at the three or he is forced to play the small four. It doesn’t help the team in either case. One has got to go, either one, but whoever it is…make sure they take Willie Green with them.

Then there is the case of Louis Williams (right), who was drafted out of what seems like junior high school. He is one of those tweeners, half point, half shooting guard who can look promising or compromising depending on who he is matched up against. He is still young, but guess what, in five years he’s going to be the exact same player and not so young. Better see where he can be moved in order to get a bona fide point guard now that Miller is on his way out.

The last main piece of the debacle called the Sixers is Elton Brand. All I will say about him is that he makes the Sixers look more like the Clippers every day he is on the roster.

So, let’s take stock. We get rid of Dalembert, Iguodala or Young, Willie Green, and Lou Williams, Miller walks as does anyone else on a one year deal. That’s four starters, so yep, that constitutes a blow up. Whoever the coach is going to be, whether it’s Tony DiLeo or some new guy, shouldn’t they be given the opportunity to have a team that they can lead into the second round of the playoffs before getting their ticket home? Please, at least for the fan’s sake, let make it happen.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Mets Are Losers: Plain and Simple

Going into tonights game with the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Mets are 9-12 and 4.5 games behind the Florida Marlins. This must be a disappointment to Mets fans as the bullpen was viewed as the anchor that took the team down and out of contention last year. It appears that even with the addition of two solid relief pitchers in K-Rod and JJ Putz, that the problem wasn't relief pitching.
The Mets have stars on the team, that there is no doubt. David Wright is a great third baseman who can put up numbers that will rival the greats of the game. Delgado, Reyes, and Beltran are all bonifide hitters although Jose is over-rated and streaky at best. What these four cannot seem to do is get their team to win due to lack of heart.

Unlike their opponents this evening, these great yet gutless players in the Mets lineup are, for lack of a better word, losers. The Phillies' Jimmy Rollins willed his team to the playoffs in 2007, while Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are clear leaders for their club. And no matter what the Mets try to do to improve, whether its spending a ton of cash for a starting pitcher or using the manager as the scapegoat for the team's lack of winners, they will fail.

This weekend, all should be revealed. The Phillies do not have their best pitchers on the mound and they won't need to. The Phillies have the Mets' number and by the time the Mets leave Philly, that number will be 0, as in the number of wins they will have against the Phils. New York, since 1986 anyway, has been wannabes. They have had some mild success, but only due to a weak division. Now that their rivals have gotten better, they can be seen for what they are: a sub-.500 team that will fall short when the going gets tough.

Thank you and have a nice day.

What Will Jeremy Maclin Look Like?

Snapshot of what Jeremy Maclin will look like in an Eagles uniform in the upcoming 2010 edition of Madden Football.

The Philadelphia Eagles: Sticking With McNabb?

The Philadelphia Eagles are consistently moving forward, or at least that is what they’d like us to believe. Last weekend’s draft may have been an indication that they are doing just that, but not in the way that would make Philly fans particularly happy. It could be very well possible that the Eagles are gearing up for the post-McNabb era by drafting young players that will be well ingrained in the system when they turn the reigns over to Kevin Kolb. Or maybe the Eagles are willing to let McNabb remain in control and are simply surrounding him with more offensive options. In either case, one of the two QBs will probably be on another roster come the 2010 season.

Let’s first look briefly at what they have done this offseason. They replaced the two offensive tackles on the offensive line. They added a much needed fullback. They picked up a safety to replace a local legend. They added a wideout, a running back, and potentially a decent tight end through the draft in addition to picking up an established cornerback through a trade. One might say that the Eagles addressed their needs, but didn’t go all out to go for it all. This is a valid point considering that they could have had Tony Gonzalez and/or Anquan Boldin on the squad for a couple draft picks. The fact that they didn’t leads fans to believe that the team is getting ready to move on without McNabb.

But are the Eagles really ready to give up on winning with McNabb and give the ball to a guy who has played virtually the same amount of NFL football as my grandmother? That would be one of the biggest leaps of faith any franchise could take. It’s not even clear if it’s worked out in Packerland with Aaron Rodgers. So if the Eagles are looking to go that direction, 2010 ain’t lookin’ so good. First of all, Kolb’s contract is going to be up and they’ll have to give him a new deal, with starter’s money. He won’t get the 100 million dollar contract, but either way, he may not be worth whatever salary they’ll pay him.
The additions of Maclin & McCoy surely points to a youth movement, but I think they will end up with McNabb as their guy in the end. The Eagles need the experience and the skill to put up as many W’s as possible, and Kolb can’t do that for them. So the Birds add to what may be a more defined running game, the throw in a guy that can only enhance the receiving corps and at the same time take some pressure off the team’s new star in DeSean Jackson, and they address the issues that possibly held them back last year. Should it happen again, they probably won’t have Quintin Demps trying to cover Larry Fitzgerald.

This isn’t rocket science, or brain surgery. It’s even easier than trying to manage the salary cap. This is all simple common sense. The Eagles want to at least compete and maybe, just maybe, even win. They’re not going to blow things up, even though at some point they should. Instead they want to transition. They want to go from Westbrook to McCoy (right), McNabb to Kolb, just like they’ve done with the linebackers and defensive backs in the past. The problem with the current plan though is that McNabb and B-West might still be too good to transition away from. So what do you do in the meantime? Do you resign Kolb and let him sit or do you let him go and draft a replacement later on? McCoy we know will at least get some playing time and Brian knows that it is his job to keep LeSean off the field.

Regardless what the Eagles’ plans are, it won’t change much this year. McNabb and Westbrook will both be the starters and McCoy and Maclin (left) will play their roles, whatever they might be. Kolb, though will be lucky if he gets any meaningful snaps and might be looking to find a job he can really compete for. But should he stick around we might end up having a Philly style Montana-out-Young-in, albeit a poor man’s version.