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