Wednesday, September 9, 2009

NFL Preview: AFC

Here is the breakdown of the AFC this season, with the Philadelphia Eagles preview coming later this week:

AFC North: The division will come down to one game: Baltimore at Steelers, Dec 27th. 

1. Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens surprised the league last year, advancing all the way to the championship game behind the play of rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, and rookie head coach Jon Harbaugh. If it was not for the 3 losses to the Steelers, it might be the Ravens who would be defending Super Bowl champions. The Ravens boast a strong running game behind the play of second year player Ray Rice and veteran Willis McGahee. I think Joe Flacco is ready to take the step into league star this season. And the defense? There ok.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers: Its a hard to repeat. Since Super Bowl 1, only 8 teams have managed to win back to back championships. The Steelers return virtually everyone from last years team. Head Coach Mike Tomlin is one of the best in the league, and this is a team that has experience in being defending champions, having won the Super Bowl in 2006. At the end of the day, its hard to continue to dominate a team like the Steelers did to the Ravens last year, and I the Ravens will beat the Steelers this season in the key games. 

3. Cincinnati Bengals: With Carson Palmer back under center, the Bengals hope to rebound from a dissapointing 2008 campaign, where they didn't get their first win until week 9. The combination of Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco should be a dominant one, but the connection has yet to result in wins for this team. This season should be a better one for the Bengals, but at the end of it, Marvin Lewis could be looking for a new job. 

4. Cleveland Browns: I can't remember the last time I saw a team go from so promising to such a mess so quickly. Last season the Browns were a trendy Super Bowl pick. Now? Its  days before their first game, and they havn't even named a starter. Reports are that Brady Quinn will get the nod, and I think he will be decent. But there is to little talent on this roster to compete. And with lame duck Eric Mangini at the helm, this should be another dissapointing season for the Browns. 

AFC South: After running away with this division last season, the Titans show their age  at QB, and Manning shows why he is MVP.

1. Indianapolis Colts: There are a lot of reasons to think this season could be a disapointing one in new Lucas Oil Stadium. After a year of learning the ropes under Tony Dungy, rookie head coach Jim Caldwell will take over. I think rookie running back Donald Brown will be a bust. Saftey Bob Sanders is injured again. So why will the Colts win this division? Peyton Manning is still under center. The real coach of the team, Manning will make a star this year out of Anthony Gonzalez, and should be able to put enough points on the board to lead this team to a division title. 

2. Tennessee Titans: Even though last season ended on a dissapointing note, losing their first playoff game to the Ravens, the Titans surprised everyone last year, rolling all the way to the best record in the AFC. The running back combination of Chris Johnson and Lendale White is one of the best, if not the best, in the league. But this is the season I think Kerry Collins falters. The Titans are paper thing at receiver, and Collins will show his age this year as the Titans miss the playoffs. 

3. Houston Texans: Everyones favorite team this season, the Texans finished up 5-1 to end last years campaign. Rookie running back Steve Slaton showed enough promise to push him up to the top of everyones fantasy football draft board. Wideout Andre Johnson is the best receiver in the game no one knows about. But I am not ready to say Matt Schaub is good enough to lead this team to the playoffs. 

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags upgraded their wideouts this off season, adding Tory Holt to try to help out quarterback David Garrard. Garrard threw an uncharacteristically high amount of interceptions last season, totaling 13 picks to only 15 touchdowns. Maurice Jones Drew is now the feature back with Fred Taylor in New England. The Jags should be better then last season, but this division is to strong for the record to indicate it. 

AFC West: Anyway the Chargers don't go 6-0 in their division? Anybody?

1. San Diego Chargers: This one should be a cake walk for the Chargers. After stunning the Denver Broncos last season to capture the division, their should be little fight from any of the other 3 teams this year. The Chargers boast one of the quickest backfields in the league with Ladanian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, last seasons playoff hero. Quarterback Phillip River's pockets are a lot heavier this year, fresh off 36 million dollers in his new contract. Its Super Bowl or bust this year for the Chargers. 

2. Denver Broncos: It could be one and done for new coach Josh McDaniels. Since his hire, whether you can blame it on him or not, its been nothing but bad news for the Broncos. Franchise quarterback Jay Cutler is in Chicago, leaving the once high powered Bronco offense in the hands of Kyle Orton. The defense was a mess last season, and even more pressure will be on them this year. With that being said, there is enough talent on this team if Brandon Marshall plays to at least finish 2nd. But no playoffs once again. Poor Dawkins.

3. Oakland Raiders: This season is a big one for JaMarcus Russell, as the Raiders will look for the former number 1 pick to finally flash some of the talent he showed at LSU. The Raiders cut Jeff Garcia to make no doubt in Russell's mind that he was their guy. I think Russell, along with Darren McFadden and Micheal Bush, will show enough promise this season to get the group of fans in the Black Hole excited for next year.

4. Kansas City Chiefs: Matt Cassell will be eager to prove that he is not a product of the New England Patriots system. Simply put? He won't. Long year in KC.

AFC East: Tom Brady shows he's human, and the Jets surprise everyone. 

1. New York Jets: If theirs one team that isn't afraid of Bill Belichick, its Rex Ryan and the New York Jets. And if theirs one sports writer that isnt afraid to go out on a limb, its me. Alot has to go right for the Jets to win this division. Mark Sanchez has to play like someone who has more then just 14 starts in him- all on the college level. Leon Washington and Thomas Jones have to take enough pressure off Sanchez to give him time to grow. Rex Ryan has to back up all his talk. The defense has to be great. I think all of that will happen.

2. New England Patriots: Even though they didn't make the playoffs last year, the Patriots enter this season in a familar role- Super Bowl favorites. This is all because of the return of Tom Brady. Brady, who tore his knee up so bad last year there were some rumors he might never play again, is expected to step back in and be the same player who led his team to 18-1 the year before. Why does everyone just assume he is going to be ok? It took Donovan McNabb and Carson Palmer a full season playing before they were the same. Daunte Culpepper never recovered. Is Brady Culpepper? No. But he also isn't superman. 

3. Miami Dolphins: Can the Dolphins ride the wildcat to another playoff berth? Even with the Wildcats wetdream Pat White on the team, the Dolphins still have Chad Pennington under center. Pennington had a solid year last season, but he has not been able to put it together in consecutive seasons his whole career. The division was strong last year, and is even stronger now. The Dolphins are the odd team out. 

4. Buffalo Bills: Its going to be a cold winter in Buffalo. With the off season addition of Terrell Owens, the Bills feel they are ready to win now. Marshawn Lynch and Trent Edwards, along with Owens, do form a nice core of talent, but does anyone believe Owens is going to be quite as he catches from the worst quarterback hes had his whole career? Things could get ugly quick, as the Bills limp to a last place finish. 

1. San Diego Chargers
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. Indianapolis Colts
4. New York Jets
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
6.  New England Patriots

Round 1: Colts over Patriots; Steelers over Jets
Round 2: Ravens over Colts; Chargers over Steelers
Round 3: Ravens over Chargers

AFC Champion: Ravens

Sunday, September 6, 2009

NFL Season Preview: NFC

This week on Philly Stand Up, I'll get you ready for the upcoming NFL Season with a week long preview. Today is the NFC, the AFC tommorw, and then the rest of the week will be focused on the Birds. 

National Football Conference

East: With almost every quarterback in this division on the hot seat, the Eagles emerge from this group of teams that all have big question marks.

1. Philadelphia Eagles- The preseason was not kind to the Birds, as they entered it as a trendy Super Bowl pick, and left it with more questions then answers. The offensive line, linebacker, and secondary is a concern, but in this once strong division, who dosn't have holes? The Eagles have the best quarterback, wide receivers, and running back in this division- and that should be enough. More to come later in the week. 

2. New York Giants- This is the year we will get to see what Eli Manning is really about. After a strong start to last year, the Giants finished the season in a downward spiral. After the suspension of Plaxico Burress, the Giants went 2-3 in the last 5 games, then lost their first round playoff game. While rookie wideout Hakeem Nicks has been impressive in preseason (8 catches, 263 yards, 3 TD), the Giants are paper thin at receiver. The running game and defense will be good, but Manning showed us last year he can't win without Plaxico, and he won't prove us wrong this year.

3. Dallas Cowboys- The pressure will be on the Cowboys this year: with the opening of their new stadium, the departure of Terrell Owens, and the embarising end to last year. The Cowboys should commit to the run this year, as they field an impressive backfield of Marion Barber and Felix Jones. Tony Romo will find that despite the headache Owens gave him off the field, he will get a bigger one on it when he realizes the Roy Williams is no T.O.

4. Washington Redskins- This team is one losing streak away from completely imploding. Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell are playing for their jobs this year. Albert Hanyesworth has bust written all over him. Clinton Portis is getting older, and his relationship with his coach is cordial at best. Its very possible that after this year, Campbell, Zorn and Portis could all be gone. 

South: The Falcons, Panthers, and Matt Ryan try to prove they were no fluke last year- only the Falcons pass the test.

1. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons took everyone by surprise last year, and have "bust" written all over them. They return a second year coach and quarterback, an aging tight end, and an immense amount of expectations to live up to. But this team has to much fire power on offense not to be good again. Couple that with a mediocre division, and that leads to a NFC South crown for the Falcons.

2. New Orleans Saints: The Saints failed to meet high expectations last year, as injuries ravaged their season. Drew Brees, one of the best quarterbacks in the league, has plenty of toys to play with. And he better be ready, because the Saints defense gave up the 2nd most points per game last year. 

3. Carolina Panthers: The Panthers have everything you could want in a team- a powerful running game, solid defense, and a good coach. But this will be the year Jake Delhomme comes back to bite them. He started with his choke artist game in the playoffs last season, and will continue into this one. 

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Theres no much to like when it comes to this team: questions at quarterback, no real play makers at the running back or wide reciever postion, a defense that lost its leader in Derrick Brooks, and a rookie head coach. It should be a long season down in Tampa.

West: In one of the weakest divisions in the league, the Cardinals try to loose the division- but win it anyway.

1. Arizona Cardinals: Coming off a surprising Super Bowl appearance, the Cardinals will try to be the first team in a while to make the playoffs after losing in the Super Bowl the previous season. The Cardinals did address their running game with the addition of Chris "Beanie" Wells thru the draft, and still have the best group of wide outs in the league. Kurt Warner will continue to add to his (gulp) Hall of Fame Career. 

2. San Fransico 49ers: The 49ers ended the season as the team no one wanted to play, finishing 5-2, including impressive wins over the Jets and Redskins. Mike Singletary has this team on the right track, but any team that has Shaun Hill at quarterback is not ready to win in this league.

3. Seattle Seahawks: This is a team that has a lot to prove. Matt Hasselbeck is coming off a season ravaged with injuries, and wants to prove he is once again one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. Jim Mora is back head coaching, and wants to prove that he can get the job done. TJ Housmandzadeh is out to prove his Madden ratings are to low- and that he can be a number 1 wideout in this league. All three will fail.

4. St Louis Rams: What is there to say for this team? New coach Steve Spagnuolo was a good hire? Stephen Jackson is a good back? Kyle Boller is still playing? Another long season for the Rams. 

North: The best division is football features 3 teams that could win it all- Aaron Rodgers passes Favre for the division title.

1. Green Bay Packers: The Packers have come out like gangbusters this preseason, and America should get to know these names: Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Grant, and Greg Jennings. The Packers defense was actually better then the Bears last year, and their offense was better then the Vikings. The Packers lost 7 games by 5 points or less last year, and with another year under Aaron Rodgers belt, they'll win those games this year.

2. Minnesota Vikings: Look at the numbers of Tavaris Jackson last years, compared to Brett Favres: Jackson: 9 td's, 2 int's, and a quarterback rating of 95. Favre: 22 td's, 22 int's, and had a quaterback rating of 81.  Throw is the fact that Jackson is liked by team mates, mobile in the pocket, and not brittle like an old man, and you have to ask: Is Favre really an upgrade? Jackson killed the team last year with being unable to make things happen in the passing game, which Favre might be able to do better. But Favre is also known to throw the ball to the other team at key points in the game- and that will do the Vikings in, just like it did the Jets last year, and the Packers the year before.

3. Chicago Bears: With the arrival of Jay Cutler to the south side, the Bears finally have the quarterback they need to get to the Super Bowl. Only problem? The defense might not be their anymore. The Bears gave up the 21rst most points in the league last season at 21, and Brian Urlacher is only getting older. And while Cutler is an upgrade, if the Bears really plan to use Devin Hester as their number 1 wideout, Cutler could be forcing his way out of Chicago as well by seasons end. 

4. Detroit Lions: The good news is, the Lions can only improve this year, after going 0-16 last season. The bad news? I think they made the wrong call on Matthew Stafford. Bright spots on the team will be Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith, but thats about it. When will they win their first game? Week 8, when the Rams visit. 

Overall Conference Breakdown: 
Do the Eagles have question marks? Absolutely. But what team dosn't. The teams that could compete with the Eagles (Packers, Falcons) have little playoff experience at both quarterback and head coach. The Bears, Vikings and Packers will beat each other up in the regular season, giving the Eagles home field. Brett Favre isn't beating the Eagles in a playoff game. The Cardinals don't win that game last year in Philadelphia. The Giants, if they can get their offense together, are the Eagles biggest threat, and the Eagles went into the Meadowland last year and beat them in the playoffs. So by default, its the Eagles.  

Playoff Seeding:
1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Green Bay Packers
3. Atlanta Falcons
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. Minnesota Vikings
6. New York Giants

Round 1: Giants over Falcons; Vikings over Cardinals
Round 2: Eagles over Vikings; Packers over Giants
Round 3: Eagles over Packers

NFC Champion: Eagles

Thursday, April 30, 2009

To Sheridan: It Isn't Time to Let Sheldon Brown Go

In what is becoming an annual off season event for the Eagles, another play reported to the mini-camp yesterday unhappy with his current contract.

Like Brian Westbrook two years ago, and Lito Sheppard just last year, the Eagles find themselves once again deciding what to do with an important part of their team.

This year its Sheldon Brown, the Eagles most consistent corner over the last several years. After watching money thrown the way of Asante Samuel and Juselio Hanson, Brown finally spoke out about his displeasure with his contract status.

Last week, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan wrote a piece advising the Eagles to get rid of Brown as quick as possible, even resorting to cutting him if they have to. While I respect Sheridan, I could not disagree more with that stance.

First of all, the idea of cutting Brown is crazy. You do not release a Pro-Bowl caliber cornerback, who is not in his prime, but not that far past it. Brown only gave up 1 touchdown pass last year, and that was to Larry Fitzgerald in the playoffs. If your going to release cornerbacks off of that, then theirs going to a lot of corners looking for jobs when training camp rolls around.

Sheridan says that with the acquisition of Ellis Hobbs, the Eagles have a better, younger replacement. I find that hard to believe on a number of levels. First off all, if Hobbs is so good, then why did it only cost the Eagles 2 5th round draft choices to get him? The Eagles got only slightly less for Sheppard, and he didn't play at all last season.

The Eagles defense last season carried this team into the playoffs, with their secondary giving up the thirds fewest yards through the air and 12 fewer touchdown passes then the Patriots secondary. The Patriots secondary gave up more touchdown passes then anyone else in the league last year. While other things factor into that, when you look at those numbers, then put in the fact that the Patriots practically gave him away, it makes you think twice about releasing Brown and putting Hobbs in their.

Sheridan references the Sheppard situation last season as a main reason to let Brown go. He says Sheppard "poisoned the air in the locker room, quit on them, and took up a valuable roster spot." Obviously, Sheridan has more access to the Eagles then I do, but I didn't think that Sheppard poisoned the locker room at all. Sheppard had a bad year, no doubt about that. But if having a bad year means you poisoned the locker room, then Reno Mahe should be dragged out and beaten for letting off so many fumes in that room.

The truth is that the Sheppard situation is completely different then the Brown one. Sheppard was replaced. The Eagles decided Asante Samuel was better then Lito Sheppard. Sheppard had not choice but to ride the bench. Browns situation is different. You could argue that Brown had a better season then Samuel last year. There were many times Samuels was burned over and over by players like Devin Hester. There's a reason Brown was on Fitzgerald in the redzone last year. If Brown wants to, he will be the starting cornerback for the Eagles in week 1. Sheppard did not have that option.

Sheridan then compares Sheldon Brown to Terrell Owens. That is a stretch in almost everyway. Does anyone think Brown is going to start hitting team mates and doing sit ups in his drive way? No. Brown is the ultimate team player, having watched players like Brian Dawkins and Troy Vincent handle themselves like professionals. Brown is one of the leaders on that defense for a reason. Worst case scenario, Brown makes the ocassional, snotty comments after loses.

That brings up another reason why they should keep Brown. Loses. The Eagles will not being doing a lot of that this year. This team is good, really good. The defense and offense are both in the top of the league. They have a good young nucleus surrounding a veteran quarterback in Donovan McNabb. This team is going to win a lot this year. And we all know in sports, winning is the ultimate deodorant. It covers up anything. Do you think that after blowing out teams, and playing the whole game, Brown is going to be complaining out his contract? No. Winning even shut T.O. up. I think it can keep Brown quite. And the truth is, the Eagles have a better chance of winning with Brown on the roster.

That is why the Eagles need to hold on to Brown. Don't pay him. Don't do anything with him. Keep him on the roster, let him pretend to throw a fit, then start him on Sundays.

But don't, by any means, let him go. The Eagles have enough young players on this team already. Don't let another proven veteran walk out of the secondary.

It is in the interest of everybody involved- the Eagles, Brown and fans- that Brown stays.

No matter what Sheridan says.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Eagles Draft Analysis

The Eagles entered the draft needing to fill some major holes. They were: left tackle, wide receiver, running back, secondary, and tight end. 

Check, Check, Check.

Lets look at this past weekend for the Birds, how they filled each hole, and how each move will effect the upcoming season.

1. Left Tackle/ Offensive Line- The Eagles addressed their offensive line in a big way this offseason. While it was not the popular move to let Runyan and Thomas go - I previously wrote I thought they should resign them both- the Eagles let them both walk, leaving  huge holes at both tackle spots. However, with the addition of Stacey Andrews and Jason Peters, the Eagles now have what some consider to be the best offensive line in football. The Eagles absolutely robbed the Buffalo Bills of Peters, giving up their 28th pick for him. Knowing the Eagles had to come out of those first 2 picks with at least one tackle, to be able to use that pick on a young, proven, 2 time pro bowl 26 year old tackle is one great pick. The Eagles were able to make their offensive line from one of their weak points to one of their strongest. 

2. Wide Receiver: The Eagles won a lot of battles this weekend when it comes to the wide out spot. Along with the New York Giants, the Eagles were mentioned in almost every rumor involving either Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards. Many experts believed that when the weekend was over, one of them would be in either midnight green or Giant blue. Which ever team got one of them would instantly become the favorite to win the NFC. 
The fact that neither team ended up with either of them is a victory for the Eagles. The Giants offensive was awful after they lost Plaxico Burress last season. Eli Manning fell back down to earth, and with no passing threat, teams were able to stop the Giants running game. The Giants still have that problem today. This is a big victory for the Eagles.
Another victory for the Eagles was the drafting of Jeremy Maclin. While I, like many Eagles fans, at first was confused and angered by the pick, the more I analyze it, the more I like it. Maclin is 6'0, 200 lbs. Many people projected him going 7th, and ESPN had him ranked at the 2nd best wideout in the draft. His is comparable to DeSean Jackson, which some people don't like. But after watching Jackson last season, why woulnd't we want another Jackson? Maclin will be able to split time with Jackson in the punt return game, which solves a problem the Eagles were going to have to face as Jackson became their number one. Maclin also will be a perfect compliment across from Jackson, as their speed going down the field will open up the middle for players like Kevin Curtis, Jason Avant, or Brent Celek going across the middle. 
Another angle to look at the decision of Maclin over Boldin or Edwards is the effect it will have on Jackson. While their were no problems last season, some considered Jackson to be some what of  a diva coming out of college. The aquistion of Boldin or Edwards would have relagated him to the number 2 spot, and would have stunted his growth. Now, Jackson is paired with another young stud wide out, but one that is unquestionably below him. Going into the new season, Jackson is still our best threat. That is good for him, and good for the team.

3. Running Back: With the departure of Correll Buckhalter, the Eagles needed a running back to play behind Brian Westbrook. The Eagles could have gone two ways with this- they could have gotten a complimentary back for Westbrook, ala Beanie Wells, or a Westbrook clone/ eventual replacement, ala their second round draft pick, LaSean McCoy. 
Getting McCoy as the 53 overall pick was a steal. With Knowson Moreno off the board, the Eagles had the option of either Beanie Wells, Donald Brown, or LeSean McCoy. Brown, at least to me, as bust written all over him. Beanie Wells, while he would have been a nice compliment to Westbrook, has trouble catching it out of the back field, which would have had him glued to the Eagles bench. McCoy, on the other hand, was considered a first round pick until a poor showing at the combine dropped his stock.  And in that poor showing, he actually recorded a faster 40 time then Moreno. McCoy also had more rushing yards and touchdowns the Moreno last season. 
McCoy gives the Eagles what they needed- somebody who can step in for Westbrook and be able to run the same plays as him. When it comes to short yardage situations, a spot that Wells could have been used, the Eagles already have somebody to do that- fullback Leonard Weaver. The Eagles will be able to use McCoy to spell Westbrook, and they can also put them on the field at the same time. Imagine both of them splitting out in the flat with Jackson and Maclin sprinting down the sideline. Those are 4 home run threats right their. McCoy, like Maclin, will give this Eagles offensive more playmaking ability and more options.

4. Secondary- The Eagles defense was not a main priority this off season, with it already being one of the top units in the NFL. However, the secondary has been going through some changes thus far. With the departure of Brian Dawkins and the public brawl Sheldon Brown is going through with the front office, the secondary is a question mark going into this season. The Eagles tried to address that in the draft with the aquistion of Ellis Hobbs. Hobbs was the starting corner back for the New England Patriots. While their secondary struggled last season, to get a player of Hobbs ability with a 5th round pick is a good pick up. Hobbs gives the Eagles some insurance in the event of Brown going off the deep up ala Lito Sheppard and being a non factor this season (which is unlikely) or if Juselio Hanson has a down year or Jack Ikegwuono is not what the Eagles think he is. Hobbs adds needed depth at a position that is facing some big questions going into the season.

5. Tight End- When the Eagles traded up to the 19th spot, many fans were hoping and expecting to hear Brandon Pettigrews names called. Pettigrew was considered to be the best, most complete tight end in the draft. While Brent Celek had a nice year for the Birds last season, he is not a huge threat in the passing game, or a good blocker. Pettigrew was considered to be both. While the Eagles did not end up with Pettigrew, they might have gotten somebody just as good, if not better, with the drafting of Cornelius Ingram. 
Ranked as the second best tight end and 44th best player overall, Ingram missed all of last season at Florida with a torn ACL. However, he was healthy enough at the combine to record a faster 40 time then Pettigrew. In his last full season healthy at Florida, Ingram caught 34 balls for over 500 yards and 7 touchdowns. Last season, Pettigrew caught 42 balls for 472 yards and no touchdowns. Is Ingram better then Pettigrew? Many people will tell you no. But could he end up being the steal of the draft at 153 overall? Yes. 

Overall, this was an amazing draft weekend for the Eagles. They got everything they needed while out doing their division rivals. The addition of Maclin, McCoy and Ingram to Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jason Avant, and Brian Westbrook will give Donovan McNabb a group of players on the offensive side of the ball that will be the best he ever lined up with. The Eagles offensive weapons are young, fast, and home run threats. Leaving the NFL draft, the Eagles have the best group of wide receivers in the NFC East. Whens the last time you could say that? They managed to fill almost every gap they needed to this weekend. Going into next season, the Eagles have to be considered the favorites to win the NFC East. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Eagles Land FB Weaver

Eagles fans can now relax: the Eagles have a fullback. 

The Philadelphia Eagles signed fullback Leonard Weaver today, inking him to a 1 year deal worth up to 2.5 million dollars. Weaver finished with 130 yards on only 30 carries last season with the Seahawks, for a 4.3 average per carry. Weaver is also a threat in the passing game, catching 20 balls for 222 yards, an 11 yard average. 

The signing will help the Eagles in a lot of ways. Third and one was the teams Achilles heel last season, but now with the addition of Weaver, they will improve in that area. Weaver is 6'0, 242 lbs, and is the answer to Eagles fans hope for a big, bruising back. Where Kyle Eckel, Correll Buckhalter and Dan Klecko failed, Weaver will be able to pick up the tough yardage at the end of games. 

Weaver, as stated before, is also a threat in the passing game, which we all know will make him a factor in Andy Reid's offense. With Weaver in the game with Westbrook, the Eagles will be able to keep one of them in the backfield with McNabb and send one in the flat. Both Weaver and Westbrook will be able to win the 1 on 1 match ups with the linebacker, and sending them into the flat will open up the middle of the field for players like Brent Celek, Jason Avant and Kevin Curtis to make plays. 

The timing of this move is a curious one- the Eagles have been rumored to be talking to Weaver for a couple weeks, and it was rumored that they were at one point out of the chase. Is it a coincidence that now that both Beanie Wells and Knowson Moreno are done there pro-day work out, and mere days after Moreno finished his, the Eagle sign Weaver? Could this mean the Eagles decided to sign Weaver, use him as a change of pace back, and go another route with their first round pick? 

That is just speculation, but the real story is that today, for really the first time all off season, the Eagles made a move that the fans could be excited about. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bargain Receiver For Eagles?

With the draft coming up, the Eagles are (hopefully) looking for ways to improve their team, especially their wide receivers position.

Take a look at the breakdown at these two receivers over the last 3 seasons, and decide which one you would rather have:

Receiver 1 Receiver 2

Catches 81 83
Touchdowns 8 6.5
Yards Per Catch 16 12.6
Yards 1,031 1,057

On paper, those two wide outs are almost identical.

However, in real life, the perception of these two could not be farther apart.

Receiver 1 is Anquan Boldin, probaly the man that most of the people in Philadelphia would take a pay cut to get in an Eagles uniform. Boldin is reportedly on the block, and the asking price is being set by the New York Giants, who are rumored to have offered 2 first round draft picks and a 3rd round draft pick. While that is just a rumor, it is a more then generous offer, one that the Eagles would probaly not match.

Receiver 2 is Torry Holt. Holt was released today by the St Louis Rams, and is a free agent. he is 3 years older then Boldin, but has not taken the physical beating that Boldin has. Last season was a down year for him (63 catchs, 3 TD's) , but who on St Louis had a good year in general? Holt has spent years being the number 1 option on the Rams, a role Boldin never had. He has had under 90 catches only once in the last seven years.

But most importantly, Holt will cost you only a contract. Sign Holt, and you get to keep your two first round draft choices. If the Giants sign Boldin, they will be favored to win the NFC. With Plaxico not returning (most likely), Boldin would fill that hole for them. Boldin also would be a better fit for the Eagles, as he is an under neath, strong, over the middle the receiver, a perfect compliment to DeSean Jackson.

Holt is not Boldin, but he is more then just a consolation prize. If the Eagles sign Holt, and keep their two first round draft choices, they could also add a running back like Knowson Moreno through the draft, as well as a tackle that could fill the huge hole on the left side of the line.

Would I match the Giants trade for a 1rst this year, 1rst next year and a 3rs round draft pick for Boldin? Yes I would, mostly to block him from going to New York, and because if the Eagles get Boldin, that first round pick next year will probaly be in the high 20's.

Would I try to out do the Giants and give up BOTH first round picks this year? No, at that point I would sign Holt, keep the draft picks, draft a running back and tackle, and hope Boldin is a flop in New York. Holt is still an offensive weapon, and down field threat.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Eagles Can Still Save Off Season

Much like last season for the Eagles, the off season has not gotten off to the best start for them.

Its been 2 months since the Cardinals ended the Eagles latest run to the Super Bowl, and for Eagles fans, its been 2 months of watching the Joe Banner and Andy Reid trying to make the team better. 

Trying being the key word.

So far, the Eagles has added Stacy Andrews, Sean Jones and Rashad Baker. Needless to say, those names do not make the fans hearts skip at beat. The Eagles have passed on players such as T.J. Houshmanzadeh and Derrick Ward, players that could have helped them this season. 

Meanwhile, the Eagles have let every single free agent of theirs walk except Joselio Hanson. That list includes one of the corner stone of their franchise, Brian Dawkins. It includes the heart of their offensive line, Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan. And it includes the best tight end in the NFL, L.J. Smith (ok, maybe not). 

But as mad as the fans are at the Eagles, take a step back, and look at where the Eagles stand right now.  

They have spent virtually none of their almost 40 million dollars in cap space. Through trades, they have 12 picks going into the NFL draft.  

The Eagles have the ammunition to turn this around. 

Some will get on them for not putting out the money for Houshmanzadeh, but was he really worth the money the Seahawks paid him? has reported that the Cardinals are now shopping Anquan Boldin. Do you think the Eagles would have tried to trade for him if they had already signed TJ? Now, the Eagles have to be considered the favorite to land him, and many websites link him to the Eagles. 

As far as letting Dawkins walk, it was not a good move. There is no denying that he was the heart and sole of this team. But the replacement they have signed, Sean Jones, is better then people think. Over the last 3 years, Jones is 3rd in the NFL in interceptions as far as the saftey position goes. Jones has averaged more tackles and more pass deflections then Dawkins. You could look at that and blame that on the fact that the Browns defense sucks, and he had more tackle oppurtunies, but you could also credit the fact that Dawkins has more sacks and forced fumbles then Jones on the fact that Dawkins plays in a blitz happy defense, and towards the end of last season, played up on the line a lot. 

While Dawkins will be missed in the locker room, on the field, the Eagles defense is just as good, if not better, then it was when the season ends. 

When I wrote my Eagles Off Season Preview article, I said I hoped the Eagles let Correll Buckhalter walk. Not because I didn't like Buck, but because I knew if they resigned him, they would not draft a half back in the draft. Now? Their is a good chance that when the Eagles are on the clock for the draft, they will be debating between Beanie Wells, Donald Brown or Knowshon Moreno as their running back of the future. 

Their have also been reports that the Eagles are talking to Seattle full back Leonard Weaver, a 6 foot, 242 pound pass catching, tough running player. The addition of him to the Eagles offense would be big, because it would solve their 3rd and 1 problems, and would open up holes for Westbrook that were not their for him last season. 

So while many people feel down about the Eagles, look at what they have the potential to due based on their inactivity in the first 2 weeks of free agency: trade for Boldin, sign Weaver, and draft top running back.

If the Eagles take the field week 1 with Boldin, Weaver, and Moreno on their offense, would you call the off season a failure?  I would say that roster makes them the favorite to make the Super Bowl. All of these moves are very possible. 

So even though so far the Eagles have let Dawkins walk, passed on players, and even fired a disabled man, the off season is not over. They have used virtually none of their resources, and due to public backlash, are feeling the pressure to do so. 

Much like last season, the Eagles can turn this around, and I think they will. 

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dawkins Signs with Denver

Its official. Brain Dawkins, the heart and soul of the Eagles, is gone.

After some speculation that the deal might not go through, has received confirmation from Dawkins agent that he has signed with the Broncos. The deal is believed to be a 5 year deal, with 7.2 million guaranteed. 

The Eagles will spin this in their favor, saying that they did not want to pay that much for a 13 year veteran, and that 5 years was to long of a deal for an older player. The Eagles have done this in the past, with players like Jeremiah Trotter, Ike Reese, and Hugh Douglas. They are in the process of doing this with Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas. 

But this is different. This is Dawkins.

You don't let Dawkins walk. You just don't. To make matters worse, has reported that someone in the organization said something to Dawkins that made him upset, and made him test the free agent waters. 

If this is true, it is an example of the disrespect that the Eagles have shown Dawkins. While he is up there in age, it is a fact that he was 1 of only 2 Eagles to make the Pro Bowl last year. Joselio Hanson got taken care of by the Eagles. But they can't take care of Dawkins?

Andy Reid and Joe Banner need to go. This is exactly the type of arrogant, horrible move that has plagued this team. The Eagles have 48 million in cap space, and you tell Dawkins that you don't want to resign him. I believe Dawkins wanted to resign here. The amount of disrespect the Eagles showed him to have him sign in Denver must have been huge.

Dawkins does not want to be in Denver. How many times do athletes stay in 1 place all of their career, then go to another team and succeed. Look at Brett Favre. Allen Iverson. Emmit Smith. Hugh Douglas. 

Dawkins will not have a good year in Denver. That will make the Eagles say that they made the right move by letting him go. But thats not that point. It just shows the way the Eagles operate. Its a sleezy move. 

This casts a dark cloud over the franchise. Do the Eagles really think that the signing of Stacey Andrews is supposed to excite the fan base? So far, the Eagles have lost Brain Dawkins, Correll Buckhalter, Lito Sheppard, LJ Smith, and Sean Considine. 

Their only addition has been Andrews. 

With Dawkins gone, and the status of Jim Johnson up in the air, the Eagles defense will be very different this up coming season. Dawkins was the heart of the team, but especially the defense. 

How can McNabb feel about this? The report earlier in the week was that he wanted the Eagles to build a winner, and that obviously has not been their goal during the first few days of free agency. The vast majority of the top free agents are gone. T.J. Housemanzadeh is the only big name free agent left, and aparently the Eagles have told him that they are not interested. 

So goes another exciting off season under Andy Reid. He has managed to take all of the momentum and hope built up by the late season run by the Eagles and squashed it. He better have another move up his sleeve, because if I'm McNabb, and they Eagles don't do anything else, I want out. Its that simple.

This is a stupid, arrogant, jackass move by Reid. Its that simple. 

I still expect to see a lot of Dawkins jerseys in the stands this season, especially when the Broncos visit the Eagles. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Is Boldin Best Fit For Eagles?

Its the off season, so it is that time of the year again: the time of year when Eagles fans get their hopes up for a number 1 receiver.

Remember last summer, all of the talk about LarryFitzgerald and Randy Moss? How the Eagles were in "serious negotiations" with the Cardinals, and how Andy Reid talked to Moss on the phone trying to get him to come here?

Well, this summer's name will be Anquan Boldin. For the same reason Fitzgerald was supposidly avaible last summer, Boldin is this summer. Many say that the Cardinals will not pay Boldin the same amount at Fitzgerald, and that they are not willing to invest so much money into one position.

Also, Boldin is extremely unhappy in Arizona. He has repeatedly said that he wants traded, and that he will not sign a new contract with the Cardinals, because they have disrespected him. All of this has led people to believe that he is available, and that, surprise, the Eagles are the front runners.

John Clayton of ESPN said that the Eagles are the favorite to land Boldin, givin that they have 2 first round picks, and both of them are higher then the Giants picks (who are also reportedly interested.)

If I were the Eagles, I would trade a first round pick for Boldin in a heart beat. Boldin is a tough, physical player, something the Eagles lack from their wide out group, other then Jason Avant, who is no Boldin. I would also give up 2 first round picks if it ment blocking him from going to the Giants.

Boldin is one of the premier recievers in the league, and last season totaled 89 catches, 1038 yards, and 11 touchdowns despite only playing in 12 games. He missed 4 games in the season due to a vicscious hit he took in a game against the Jets, and required surgery on his face. Boldin is probaly the most physical, touch receiver in the game other then Hines Ward.

So will Boldin end up an Eagle?

The obvious, based on history answer is no. Since the Eagles drafted Donovan McNabb, they have only tried to pair him with a top notch receiver once- Terrell Owens. While no one can dispute that he was great while he was here, the Eagles will be weary of going back down that road. Boldin does not have the attitude of TO, but Owens has to creep into the Eagles heads when they think about this move.

There is one reason tho, I think a deal might be able to get done. The Eagles do have 2 first round picks this year, and I don't think the Eagles will want to pay big money to 2 first round selections. Chances of them trading one of those 2 picks are high. So one of their first round picks are available. If the Cardinals come to them, and say they want a first round pick, coupled with a lower round pick or a player, I think the Eagles do it. If they are going to financially commit to McNabb (which I think they will, like they did with Westbrook last season), then they are committing to winning now. Boldin helps them do that.

There have been talks that the Cardinals will look for something similar to what the Cowboys gave up for Roy Williams- 1rst, 3rd, 6th, and 7th round pick. The Eagles, along with any other team in the league, would not do that. One bad trade by a bad manager (Jerry Jones) does not make that the precident.

In part 1 of my Eagles Off Season Preview, I said that out of all the wideouts supposidly available (TJ, Burress, C. Johnson, Boldin), Johnson was the one I wanted. My reasoning was this- he will cost less, and will bring a swag to them team.

However, that does not mean I do not want Boldin.

In alot of ways, on the field, he would be a better fit for this team. With DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis, the Ealges have two big down the field threats. While Johnson is very skilled, he is the same type of player. Boldin will add a dimension- an over the middle, tough to bring down- that the Eagles lack right now.

Many people want the Eagles to bring in a tall wideout, and I agree. A big wideout in the redzone would help this team alot. But unless the Eagles want to bring in Plaxico Burress, which I'm almost sure they do not, the best option out their is Reggie Williams, who is 6'4. Rich Hoffman brought this up in a recent column, and I agree with him.

TJ Housmanzadeh is not what the Eagles need. He is not tall enough, he is older then Boldin, and has never proven he can be a number 1.

While signing Williams would be a nice move, it would be just that- a nice move. It would not make a big difference in the team. He would not sky rocket expectations.

That is why I think the Eagles should bring in Tony Gonzalez for a red zone precense, and bring the best wide out, not the tallest.

Obviously, that does not mean it will happen. The Cardinals have been sted fast in saying that Boldin signed a contract, and he will live up to it. If I'm the Eagles, and I get an offer from a team for a top flight wide out now (say the Bengals call and offer Johnson for a 1rst), I do it. I don't wait to see how this long stand off between Boldin and the team end ups.

But if I was offered both players at the same time, for the same price (a 1rst and another small piece), I take Boldin.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

NBA Second Half Preview

With the All Star weekend right around the corner, its time to look back at what I said at the beginning of the NBA season, what I ment to say, and how I see the rest of the season playing out:

What I Said: "I see a huge comeback year for (Wade). This is a big rebound year for the Heat"

What I Ment To Say: I ment what I said, and I said what I ment. Everybody was down on the Heat coming into this season, with many publications picking them to finish last in their division. The Heat, however, have Dwanye Wade, and in the NBA, one superstar is all you Wade. Wade has been an MVP canidate this season, averaging 28 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. The Heat have been in playoff contention all season, and if the playoffs ended today, they would finish 7th (however, they are tied with 3 teams for 5th) . I predicted they would finish 5th, and with the possible trade for Amera Stoudamire, they have a real chance to do so.

What I Said: "The Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards will finish 7th and 8th in the East"

What I Ment To Say: Ouch. This one hurts. After making the playoffs last year without Gilbert Arenas, I thought that the Wizards would be able to do it again, picking them to finish 8th. 55 games into the season, they have 11 wins, good for last place in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors, who started out looking like a contendor in the East, have fallen off, there are rumblings of moving Chris Bosh, and are currently second to last in the East. And to think I picked them to make it over the Atlanta Hawks.

What I Said: "The Portland Trailblazers will finish 3rd in the Western Conference"

What I Ment to Say: I knew what I picked the Trailblazers to finish 3rd, I was taking a chance. However, at the time of this post, the Blazers are currently 4th in the West, only 2 games out of 3rd. The Blazers have done it with surprisingly little help from Greg Oden, who has had a dissapoitning rookie campaign, averaging only 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block per game. Brandon Roy has carried this team, and has emerged as one of the best players in the league. Roy is averaging 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assissts.

How I see the Second Half of the Season Playing Out:

Eastern Conference:

1. Cleveland
2. Boston
3. Orlando
4. Atlanta
5. Philadelphia
6. Miami
7. Detroit
8. New Jersey

Western Conference:

1. Los Angeles
2. Denver
3. Portland
4. San Antonio
5. New Orleans
6. Utah Jazz
7. Houston
8. Dallas

Eastern Conference Finals: Cleveland over Boston
Western Conference Finals: Los Angeles ove San Antonio

NBA Championship: Los Angeles over Cleveland

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What If....???

In Sports, there will always be "what if" questions. There have been tons of games that, had they gone the other way, would change the history of sports. What if Portland would have taken Michael Jordan? What if Tom Bradys incomplete pass is ruled a fumble? What if Terrell Owens remains sane, and is still an Eagle?

Those are all situational what if's, but I have come up with some bigger "what if"'s that if they happened, would change sports as we know it.

What If All Athletes Were Paid the Same?

As sports continues to progress, money is becoming more and more the driving force behind sports moves. Players are traded for salary cap reasons, players sit out of camps for more money, and in contract years, players play harder then ever before. Teams like the Yankees are able to sign all of the premier free agents because they know that if they go to New York, they will get the best deal. Remember when Johnny Damon signed with the Yankees, after years on the Red Sox? Only in a sports world where the dollar rules all can something like that happen.

But what if all athletes were paid the same amount?

Imagine a sports world where every player on the team made the same amount of money. in my opinion, something like this would bring many positive things to sports. First of all, it wouldn't make players jump teams all of the time. Players, especially star players, are constantly on the move, looking for the best deal. Do you think Asante Samuel would have signed with the Eagles in the off season if he would have made the same amount of in all other 31 NFL cities?

Imagine when a player was a free agent, and he was deciding where to sign. You wouldn't read headlines like "Sabathia signs with Yankees; says dream comes true". Players would decide where to go based on where they wanted to play, or where they had the best chance to win. It would also make players not want new contracts so that they could be the highest paid player on the team, or at their position. Think Anquan Boldin would want out of Arizona if he and Larry Fitzgerald made the same amount?

Overall, I think a sports world where each player on the team made the same amount of money would be a positive change to the sporting world.

What If The Fans Were the GM's?

Every average joe has an opinion on what there favorite sports team should do. Hours are filled on talk radio with fans calling in and saying what they think what the team should do, who to draft, what free agents to sign, and whether or not the coach should be fired.

But what if they really had control?

Imagine if the Eagles were run by the fans. If all executive choices were made thru an internet poll. On draft day, fans could vote on who to draft. The Eagles lose 4 in a row, or maybe tie a mad team 13-13, the next day, the fans could decide to fire the coach. Should the Eagles give McNabb a new deal? If over 50 percent of the fans think he should, it is his.

There are many different levels to this. First, you would have to make it so that only members of Philadelphia could vote on the Philadelphia teams. Otherwise, a fan from Dallas could vote on something and try to make the Eagles worse. Like "Should the Eagles Re-Sign LJ Smith?" The Dallas fan would vote yes.

Next, imagine how many moves would be made, and how different the teams would be. Charlie Manuel and Andy Reid would not be coaches. Pat Burrell would have been long gone. Do you think Andre Iguodala would have gotten that massive contract with the fans in charge?

It would also affect the fans at the stadium. Could they boo the product they put on the field? If you voted to keep McNabb, then he goes out and throws 4 interceptions, could you rightfully boo the man you thought was best to get the job done?

Also, imagine the civil unrest it would cause. People would hate their friend who voted to keep Andy Reid, only to watch him blow the game on Sunday. There'd be pressure from your friends to vote along with them. Fans could run campaigns to get players out of town. With a whole city deciding on what to do with the team, there would sure to be some disagreement.

It would be interesting to see how the professional teams would look with the fans in charge.

What if Steroids Were Never Discovered?

The biggest story of this sports decade has been the baseball-steroids scandal. Fans have watched their heros stripped and made into nothing in front of their own eyes. Every accomplishment has been met with skepticism about if it was earned fairly. Fans have been taught to watch the game threw the eyes of a fan who can't trust their favorite player.

But what if they never found out baseball players were using steroids?

I think its safe to say that the game of baseball would be completely different if no one found out that players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were shooting up. When Bonds was on his historic streak, trying to break the all time home run record, he was met with boo's and outrage in every city. Now, the all time leading home run hitter is out of a job. If people didn't know that Bonds was on steroids, he would be of the all time heros. Baseball is considered Americas past time, and he would be the king of it.

Look at all the players who have had their amazing careers tarnished. Mike McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and now, Alex Rodriguez. Now, it is fair to say that they did it to themselves, by breaking the rules.

But I wonder, if fans could do it all again, would they chose just to turn their shoulder, and not know anything about any of this? I think they would.

Then again tho, that is a big what if.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Impact of Brand Going Down; 2nd Half Preview

Even though it was already burning, yesterday the Elton Brand experiment officially went up in smoke.

It was announced yesterday that Brand is going to undergo season ending shoulder surgery. In theory, this leaves the Sixers with out the player they brought in to bring them to the next level, the low post presence, and the player that would help them advance in the playoffs.

In reality, they lost done of those things.

The Sixers are better without Elton Brand. This is no fault of Brand's, it's just reality. However, this still hurts the Sixers in many ways. The most important way it will hurt the Sixers is in their pocket. They are now paying almost 14 million dollers a year for what is now a big question mark. Even though this is not the same injury that cause Brand to almost all of last season, this will still be the second year in a row Brand has missed a large portion of the season due to injury.

That is not what you want from a 14 million doller investment.

Another way this will hurt the Sixers in the long run is how the team will grow without him. The Sixers have a young core, and they will continue to grow this year. Players like Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young and Mareesse Speights will grow into better players, and establish their roles on the team. So what happens next year when Brand is forced back into the mix?

These are all huge questions that will continue to hang over the Sixers head well into next season. But for now, the Sixers must move on. The Sixers managed to overcome a bad start to the season, the firing of Maurece Cheeks, and the Brand debacle to stand at 24-24. If the playoffs started today, the Sixers would be 7th in the East, and a first round matchup with the Celtics would be waiting for them.

The Sixers nearly beat the Celtics a few nights ago, and while I think the series would be closer then people think, chances are the Sixers would get bounced out of the first round again if they had to play Boston.

So how do I see the second half of the season playing out?

At the beginning of the year, I picked the Sixers to finish 4th in the Eastern Conference. I made that pick because I thought Brand would be able to take them to the next level, which obviously has not happened. However, I still don't think that 4th place is out of question for the Sixers.

Ahead of them in the standings are the Heat, Pistons, and Hawks. They are currently 4 games out of the 4th spot. Considering you could not have made up a worse way for the season to start, to be in this position says something to me about this Sixers team. I think the Sixers will play much better basketball the second half of the season.

I think the Brand situation was a dark clound over the Sixers head, and now that the solution is clear, the Sixers will be able to play better. If the last fe games are any indication of how the Sixers will play, the future is bright. Iguodala, Miller, and Dalembert have all stepped up their games. I think Speights will start to contribute to this team more and more, and I see the Sixers making a big second half push.

Where will that push lead them? I see the Sixers finishing 5th in the East. The Sixers have a better record then the Heat, Pistons and Hawks in their last 10, and that was with Brand in most of those games. Finishing 5th would be huge for the Sixers, because it will allow them to avoid facing one of the big three (Celtics, Magic, Cavs), in the first round. Could the Sixers advance past Miami, Detriot or Atlanta? To be honest, probaly not. But I like their chances now better then before.

This city has seen the Phillies and Eagles make big second half pushes this year, and I think the Sixers will continue the trend. However, I do not see the Sixers making it out of the first round.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Eagles Off Season Preview pt 1

Well, the NFL season is officially over. It was a thrilling Super Bowl (more on that in a later post), and when it was done, the Pittsburgh Steelers were NFL Champions.

Now, its time for the other 31 teams to play catch up.

Out of all the teams trying to do so, the Eagles might be in the best shape of them all. Armed with almost 36.5 million in cap space, 2 first round draft picks, and a veteran team ready to win now, the right set of moves could find the Eagles in the Super Bowl next year.

Looking at the Eagles roster, there are definitly some areas that need addressed. I think some of them are better fit filling in free agency, and some better fit in the draft. In my opinion, the Eagles need to use the draft to address the running back, offensive tackle, and safety position. Thru free agency and trades, the Eagles need to add a wide receiver, full back, and some help on the defensive line.

In this part of the Eagles Off Season preview, I'll look at choices the Eagles will have to make regarding their own free agents, as well as some players I would like them to sign from other teams.

Re-sign Their Own Free Agents:

Brian Dawkins: He wants to be an Eagle, and from what I can tell, the Eagles want him back. He was a Pro-Bowler this season, when most people said he was done. It would kill the defense to see him in another uniform. They have to resign him. Verdict: Resign.

Joselio Hanson: One bright spot of the debacle that was the Lito Sheppard situation was the emergence of Hanson as a reliable 3rd corner. No need to break what dosn't need fixed, and theres no need to let a young, emerging, solid cornerback walk. Verdict: Resign

Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas: I might be in the minority on this, but I think that the Eagles best move is to draft young offensive tackles in the later round (2nd or 3rd) and let them learn from these tackles. They both had solid seasons last year, and I think they both have more time left. Resign: Resign

L.J. Smith: He has so much potential, and when healthy, he really is a player the Eagles need to get involved. SIKE! He needs to go. The offense will be better in every way with Brent Celek on the field. Verdict: Don't Resign

Hank Baskett: Out of all of the free agents on the Eagles, hes the one I can see a team throwing a lot of money at. I really think the receivers on this team came into their own at the end of the year, and would like to see this unit grow for another year. Id resign him, but not at the expense of matching some crazy contract a team might throw at him. Verdict: Resign

Nick Cole: Injuries last year thrusted him into the spot light on the offensive line, and he passed. Shawn Andrews will be back next year, but really, with his back and depression issues, he is going to be a question mark. He is young, and they can't let him go. Verdict: Resign

Correll Buckhalter: First, let me say that Buckhalter is one of my favorite Eagles. As much as I would love to see him resign here, I think that the Eagles need to draft a back this year. That makes him expendable. I'd love to have him back, but not as the solution to back up Westbrook. I think there's a better chance that Reid uses a two back system with a new, highly drafted running back, as opposed to Buckhalter. It's not fair, but it is what it is. Verdict: Don't Resign

Sean Considine: There's no question that he does not factor into the Eagles plans at the safety position. But as a special teams player, he is valuable. He won't cost much, and he can contribute more then people think. Verdict: Resign

Free Agency/ Trade

This years free agent class features some high name players. Brandon Jacobs of the Giants, Albert Haynesworth of the Titans, and TJ Houshmanzadeh of the Bengals. While they will all hit the market, I would be surprised if Jacobs or Housmanzadeh changed teams. Haynesworth seems to be less then happy with how the Titans have treated him, and he is most likely of the 3 to jump ship. However, the Eagles don't really need him, with the emergence of Broderick Bunkley and Mike Patterson as run stoppers in the middle. If I were the Eagles, here are the players I would target in free agency:

Terrell Suggs, DE/LB, Baltimore: I know he said he dosn't want to leave Baltimore, and he wants to play with Ray Lewis, but I think enough money might change his mind. He would be a perfect fir for the Eagles. While listed as a defensive end, and he can line up as one, his ability to come off the line and into coverage would be another weapon for Jim Johnson to play with. Also, his attitude he brings from Baltimore would only put this defensive up another level. I would throw the bank at him if I were the Eagles, and see if you can't convince him to make the short trip from Baltimore to Philly.

Tony Richardson, FB, New York Jets: While up there in age, Richardson is still considered one of the top full backs in the league, and is the top free agent fullback on the market. Obviously, he is not the long term solution, but if the Eagles could wrap him up with a 2 year, incentive filled deal, he would be a great addition. The Eagles didn't have a full back at all last year, and his addition would help the running game a great deal.

Bertrand Berry, DE, Arizona Cardinals: The Eagles offensive line is young, athletic, and talented already. I don't think adding another young player via the draft is the way to improve the line. Berry will not break the bank to pick up and could add depth at the DE position. Berry totaled 7 sacks last season, and while he wouldn't move the defense to another level, I think he would be a solid pick up.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Kansas City Chiefs: One area the Eagles struggles in last season was the red zone. While Celek is emerging as a possible threat, the Eagles need a bonafide threat right now. Gonzalez would give them that. The Chiefs tried to trade him during the season, and the Eagles were reportedly interested. Despite being old, Gonzalez caught 96 passes and 10 touchdowns last season, with the horrible Cheifs offense. If the Eagles could grab him for a 3rd round pick, I would do it in a heart beat.
Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson: Remember when the Eagles brought in Terrell Owens, for that one amazing year, the swagger that offense had. Owens is confident player, and brought something to this team that Reid sucks out of it with all his might- personality. Now, take Owens, and multiple him by 100. Thats how much personality Johnson would bring to this team He is not the receiver that he used to be- even thought I doubt anyone could put up stellar numbers with Fitzpatrick at quarterback- but he would bring this offense something that no other player could- a confidence that they can do it. The Eagles receivers are good, and they could get by with them. But I think that the addition of Johnson would help them in a lot of ways- on the field and off. Imagine the excitement in the city as Johnson talks about burning the Cowboys DB's, or when he talks about his beef with Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall. He would energize this city, McNabb, and the team.

For Johnson, I would be willing to give up a first round pick and a player. I would not give up both first round picks, but I would do a first and a third. I'd even throw in Sheppard if I had to. Out of all the possibly available receivers- Johnson, Housmanzadeh, Burress, Boldin, Owens- this is the one I want. His combination of swagger and talent will help. Also, he will cost less then Boldin.
1. Resign Runyan, Thomas, Baskett, Hanson, Considine, Cole, Dawkins
2. Trade 3rd round pick for Tony Gonzalez
3. Trade 1rst round pick for Chad Johnson
4. Sign Suggs, Richardson, Barry

Part Two: Looking at the Eagles Draft, coming soon

Friday, January 30, 2009

Possible Elton Brand Trades

Earlier this week, Chad Ford of ESPN started a wild fire of a rumor that Elton Brand, the Sixers prize off season acqusition was available. Since then, Phil Jasner of the Daily News, who is closer to the situation, has said that is not true, according to his sources.

I hope he's wrong.

The debate on whether or not to trade Elton Brand is a good one, and I can see both sides. I agree with the reasons not to trade him: its early in the season, he's been injured, he can help the Sixers in the post season, etc. I get all of that.

But in my opnion, Ed Stefanski has a chance to save this team from a potentially crippiling contract. Elton Brand is on the books for 5 more seasons, and around 16 million per season. When they signed Brand, that was their one chance. All of the trades, including the Iverson one, led to that moment. That one choice on what to do with all that money.

Its safe to say, as of right now, they blew it.

It could turn around, and Brand could contribute. But does anyone see him living up to that contract here in Philadelphia? Trading Brand would be admitting that it was a mistake, but do you really have to cut off your nose despite your face for 5 more years?

Even with Brand at 100 percent, contributing at his top capability, theres no way the Sixers get past the Celtics, Cavs or Magic this year. So why not trade Brand and get out of this contract now, while you still can?

I don't think the Sixers should just give Brand away. But if you can get one of these things, you pull the trigger:

1) an expiring contract
2)a high draft pick (not likely)
3) a player who can help now, but has a short term deal

I went onto ESPN's Trade Machine, and looked at some options. Here are some deals I thought made sence, under those guidelines

1. Elton Brand and Willie Green for Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver

On paper, you wonder why the Jazz would do this, but I think they would. Boozer has had a dissapointing year, and because of his injuries, Paul Millsap has emerged as a potential All-Star. He is averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks in only 32 minutes per season this year. Boozer is a free agent at the end of the season, and they won't keep both Millsap and him. By making this move, the Jazz get something in return for Boozer before they loose him on the free agent market. For the Sixers, they get to rent Boozer for the rest of the season, and if things don't work out, they get his 12 million dollers off the books this off season.

2. Elton Brand for Wally Szcerbiack

On the court, all this gets the Sixers is an outside shooter, a role they need and Kareem Rush has failed to step into. But most importantly, this gives the Sixers his 13 million doller expiring contract. Combined with Andre Miller, this gives them 23 million this off season to play with. The Cavs don't need to make a move, but out of all the players I've heard them mentioned being interested in (Vince Carter, Jermaine O Neal, etc) Brand would help them the most. Adding Elton Brand would give them scoring downl ow, which they need. Also, Brand has shown to be a positive influence in the locker room, and would not disrupt their chemistry.

3. Elton Brand for Tyrus Thomas and Kirk Hinrich

This deal works, but I'm not sure I would pull the trigger on this one. The upside to this deal is that the Sixers get Hinrich, a young point guard for the future. The Sixers don't really have anybody behind Andre Miller right now, and this would solve that problem. Thomas can leap out of the gym, and would fit in with this team. For the Bulls, they would get Brand for Hinrich, a player they need to get rid of anyway with the emergence of Derrick Rose.

4. Elton Brand and Reggie Evans for Shawn Marion

I would pull the trigger on this trade in a heart beat. Marion fits in perfectly with the Sixers style, can shoot the 3, and can lock down players like Kevin Garnett in the playoffs if needed. Plus, he is 17 million dollers off the books this summer. The Heat are trying desperatly to trade Marion, and they are talking about trading him to the Kings for Brad Miller and Kenny Thomas. The Heat have tried before to get Brand, and I think they would do this trade. That would give them Brand down low to play off of Dwanye Wade. This could make them a serious playoff threat.

By making these moves, the Sixers have the chance to gain a valuable asset (a huge amount of cap space this summer) for trading away somebody who is not contributing to the team (in fact, he is hurting the team). This is nothing against Elton Brand as a player or a person. To me, he showed what a great team mate he was by agreeing to come off the bench these last few games. Think Iverson would have done that?

The sole reason behind wanting to trade Brand is it gives the Sixers a do over. With these moves, the Sixers would have potentially 25 million dollers in cap space this off season. Now, what if they use that to sign a marginal point guard (Rajon Rondon?) and some roll players (Raja Bell?), setting them up with potentially 15-20 million in the summer of 2010.

If they don't trade Elton and, I don't think that's a huge mistake. I just think its a better idea to trade him, plain and simple. It is better for the team in the short and long term.

Not many people in the world get a chance for a due over. This is the Sixers chance.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

McNabb Criticism Inaccurate

They say you never know what you got till it's gone.

Donovan McNabb has always been a hot topic amongst fans in Philadelphia. I can't remember another athlete who had so many people just plain out hate them. Allen Iverson always said that your going to have a million people love you, and a million people hate you. For him, that probably wasn't true. Iverson, through all of his on and off the court up and downs, was always loved by this town. He was loved for his on the court hustle, and was loved by the youth for his off the court demeanor. While there were people who were not his biggest fan, over all he was loved by this city.

McNabb has never gotten to that level, and I don't understand why.

Philadelphia is a football town. It may have been red for a couple of months, but over the last 10 years, the city has bled nothing but green. Now, I understand that as the quarterback of a team, you open yourself up to the public criticism. But never have I seen one player been so hated after doing so much for this city.

Before we dive into the reasons people want McNabb out of town, lets look at some of the impressive stats that he has accomplished over his time in Philadelphia, excluding his rookie season:

* In 112 regular season games, McNabb has an impressive record of 71-35.

*The second best touchdown to interception ratio (2.1)---ever.

*Led the Eagles to the playoffs in 7 of his 9 years as quarterback

*Has never lost a first round playoff game

*Has more passing yards and touchdowns then any other Eagles quarterback ever

After looking at those numbers, why would people ever want to run him out of town? For years, he has kept the Eagles, the heart and soul of this town, relevant. Remember Bobby Hoying? Doug Peterson? Or, for people with short memories, Kevin Kolb?

People who criticize McNabb point to the same things: accuracy, injuries, his smug attitude, and his inability to win the big game. To those people, I think they need to look closer at McNabb's career a little closer.

* McNabb has started 30 of the last 32 Eagles games, and for his career, has started 85% of Eagles games played (since his was drafted)

*Has completed over 57 percent of his passes every year but 1 (his rookie year).

* McNabb is within 5 percentage points, in terms of career completion percentage, of all of these "elite" quarterbacks : Peyton Manning, Tom. Brady, Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Kurt Warner

* Dan Marino's completion percentage: 59.4. McNabb's? 58.9

* He has a higher career completion percentage then John Elway, and is 41rst overall in career completion percentage, out of 219 players.

* McNabb has only thrown over 10 interceptions in a season 4 times out of his 10 seasons. In contrast, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Mannin, Tony Romo and John Elway have all thrown over 10 interceptions all but 1 of the seasons they played.

* In 14 playoff games, McNabb is 9-5, for a winning percentage of 64. Compared to other quarterbacks, Peyton Manning (46%), Brett Favre (54%), and John Elway (63%), that is an impressive figure.

* Ok, he lost the Super Bowl. But that was 1 game, facing a dynasty team. And he did throw 3 interceptions, but he also threw for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns.

So in comparison to other quarterbacks, its not fair to say he is a horribly inaccurate passer, or that he gets hurt all of the time. If he is a horrible passer, at a 58 percent completion, what does that make Elway? An awful passer? What does that make Joe Montana (63% comp.)? A marginal passer? Its not fair to slam McNabb for being inaccurate, then praise Manning, Elway, or Montana for being one of the best passers ever, when there completion numbers are comparable.

Also, to put into perspective how important it is to lead the league in completion percentage, guess who the all time leader is in completion percentage? Chad Pennington.

People will point to the game against the Cardinals, and point to the throws his missed. He did throw behind Hank Baskett on one play, a play in which Joe Buck, watching the replay, felt could have been a touchdown based on the yardage in front of him.

But Baskett still caught the ball.

And maybe if McNabb had the luxury of throwing to Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Plaxico Burress, Hines Ward, or Larry Fitzgerald, that play would not have been stopped just because it was not a perfect ball. People blame that fact that McNabb did not hit Baskett in complete stride, but what about all the bad throws Manning, Brady and Romo can make because of the skills of their receivers? McNabb is not afforded that same luxury. In his 1 season with Owens, McNabb had a completion percentage of 64%.

In terms of his attitude and on field demeanor, I understand that he can get under some peoples skin with laughing on the field. But would you rather have somebody like Eli Manning, who pouts and has the body language of a 5 year old. Ok, McNabb laughs. But did you see Kurt Warner yell at his offensive coordinator this past weekend?

I'm not going all Warren Sapp or Michael Strahan on the Philadelphia fans. I know that their are a lot of people who want McNabb to stay. And the people who don't, its fair to have your opinion on McNabb. I'm just saying, if you look at the facts and numbers, and what he has accomplished, there is no reason to want him to leave. None.

So to everyone who wants McNabb gone, have fun next season with Kevin Kolb at the helm. Have fun watching the Eagles win 4 maybe 5 games. Have fun watching Westbrook continue to wilt away, and have probably the last productive season ever mean absolutely nothing. But especially have fun watching McNabb light it up in Minnesota, Chicago, or wherever he ends up.

Because, like they say, you never know what you got till its gone.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Eagles Off Season Questions

As the Cardinals and Steelers prepare for the Super Bowl, the Eagles are once again left at home looking for answers.

This season was one of twist and turns, and whether you think they are or not, the fact is the Eagles were 1 of the 4 final teams left playing. Does that make them a top 4 team going into next year? Its way to early to tell. But you could argue that with some tweaks, they could get right back to where they were, and maybe take that next step.

But before they go to Lehigh, there are some big questions the Eagles need to answer.
1) McNabb Situation: The minute Kevin Kolb stepped out of the field for the 2nd half in Baltimore, everyone knew this would be an interesting off season. Alot of that has gone away with the Eagles surprising playoff run, but the fact remains, McNabb was benched. Now, you could argue that the Eagles need to please McNabb in this off season to make them happy. McNabb has said repeatedly that he is going to want to sit down with the Eagles and talk about why he was benched, and I think he is going to want a new contract. If I'm Andy Reid, I give it to him. McNabb is the only chance the Eagles have next year. If you get rid of him, and go with Kolb or a rookie, you might as well get rid of Westbrook, Dawkins, Runyan and Thomas, because the Eagles will offically be a rebuilding project. With a happy McNabb next year, the Eagles will be a favorite to win the NFC.

2) John Runyan and Tra Thomas: This might be the biggest off season descion for the Eagles. Runyan and Thomas are both getting up there in years, with both of them playing over 11 years. Ideally, and chances are very high, that the Eagles draft a offensive tackle with their first round draft choice. But, I still think they should resign them both. Runyan never misses a game, and Thomas has played in 31 of the last 32 regular season games. I would love to see them resign them, and let them tutor the new rookies. You don't want to throw a rookie on the offensive line, protecting McNabb's blind spot.

3) Lito Sheppard: Over the years, maybe the only situation the Eagles handled worse was the T.O. fiasco. At last years draft, the Eagles were being offered 3rd round draft picks. Now? They are probaly going to have to end up cutting him, or getting an extremely low draft pick. The Eagles took an asset and turned him into a problem. I don't see anyway the Eagles bring back Sheppard.

4) 2 First Round Draft Picks: After trading for the Carolinas Panthers first round draft pick in this years draft, the Eagles hold the 21rst and 28th selection in this years draft. I'd be surprised if they took two players in the first round. I think they will try to package them to move up for a top notch offensive line player, or trade one for a 2nd round pick and something else. I don't see them moving up for a skill position player. I would love to see them draft a running back with this selection. I saw one mock draft that had Beanie Wells of Ohio State falling to them. Something tells me that woulnd't even take them if he did, but I would love to see him on this team.

5) Wide Receiver: Maybe its just me, but I don't think the Eagles HAVE to add a number 1 wide out to this team. Would it improve them? Absolutely. But I do think they need to address both the running back and full back position before they go for a receiver. There will be some top notch ones available to. From what I read, I think Anquan Boldin, either Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson or TJ Housmanzadeh could all be had. While it would be nice to add them, I think that the Eagles are ok at wide out. Kevin Curtis came on really strong at the end of the year, and DeSean Jackson is a flat out play maker. Throw in Jason Avant and Hank Baskett (if he is resigned), and I think you can get by with them. Then again, T.O. might be avaiable.....

6) Brian Westbrook: As I said before, Westbrook has been a dissapointment this season. With Buckhalter being a free agent, and after the Eagles treated his playing time I don't know why he would resign here, the Eagles need a bonafide back up for him. Whether that comes from adding a running back via trade of frer agency (Larry Johnson maybe) or from a top draft pick (maybe Wells or Moreeno), they need someone to help Westbrook. They have maybe 1 or 2 years left of good production from him, and as we saw in the playoffs, at the end of the season, Westbrook was a ghost. The Eagles need someone to take the load off of his shoulders and help out. Oh yeah, and maybe a full back would help.

Those are just some of the issues facing the Eagles. I didn't mention Brian Dawkins, because I find it hard to believe that he will be somewhere else. Also, I think the defense is good enough that they can not really adress them this off season and still be one of the best in the league. The Eagles are close, that was evident this season. But there is work to be done.