Archive for the ‘Eagles’ Category

What’s More Important?

Posted: May 18, 2014 in Eagles

(Brandon Wade / Associated Press)

 

In the 7th, and final, round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams used the 249th overall pick to select University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam. Sam, who was named the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the  year, publicly came out as gay after the end of his senior season at Missouri.

After he was drafted, cameras showed his tearful reaction upon getting the news that his dream of playing in the NFL was coming true. Sam broke down crying tears of joy before embracing and kissing his boyfriend. The reaction was played over and over and over again in the days that followed.

The media was all over the news of the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL, and it’s pretty safe to say that just about everyone knew that they would be, for better or for worse. Sam himself expressed that he wanted to be judged on football and not his personal life.

It’s great to see any player get drafted and see them accomplish one of their biggest goals in their life, but being drafted doesn’t guarantee them a spot on the team that drafted them. As Michael Sam tries to earn a spot on the Rams roster, the various reactions to Sam being drafted bring up the following question:

What’s more important?

Many people are focusing on Sam being gay. Truthfully, the publicity that comes along with drafting the first openly gay player in NFL history is not something that appealed to many teams and can be seen as a distraction. That’s not to say that it will be,  but realistically speaking, that is something that teams more than likely took into consideration.

However, there are other factors that are not helping Sam’s chances.

Although the aforementioned publicity is a factor, the fact that he is gay doesn’t have anything to do with what he does on the football field.

One thing that seems to get lost in the proverbial shuffle for some people is that, although he was the SEC Co-Defensive player of the year last season at Missouri, there are players that are simply better than he is. Not to mention, the Rams are very deep when it comes to their defensive line.

The other thing that is not helping Sam is his, at best, mediocre scouting combine results prior to the draft. Sam ran the 40 yard dash in a pedestrian time of 4.91 seconds, had a 25.5 inch vertical jump and only managed 17 reps (of 225 pounds) in the bench press. While numbers don’t necessarily matter in football as much as they do in a sport like baseball, these numbers matter a great deal to teams and scouts alike.

One of the things that can help Sam the most is the intangibles, or the will to win, desire and heart that a player has. They always say that “you can’t measure the intangibles”, and they’re right (just ask Tom Brady), so he is certainly capable of making the team.

It’s still unknown whether or not Michael Sam will make the Rams. If he makes the team, that’s awesome for him. It’s great to see someone achieve their goal of getting to the highest level of their profession. In the event that he does not make the team, it is not  because of his personal life, it’s because he is not as good as the other defensive linemen.

That’s what’s more important when it comes to Michael Sam making the Rams’ roster this season.

 

 

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It’s Up To DeSean Now

Posted: April 2, 2014 in Eagles
Former Eagles Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson signed a three-year $24 million contract with the Washington Redskins today.

Former Eagles Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson signed a three-year $24 million contract with the Washington Redskins today. (Photo courtesy of the Official Washington Redskins Twitter account).

 

To say that DeSean Jackson has had an eventful week is to say that Jerry Rice is an OK receiver.

Less than a week after being released by the Eagles, Jackson agreed to a three-year, $24 Million contract with the Washington Redskins. Many were critical of the Eagles for releasing their best receiver, and a receiver who is coming off of his best season of his career no less.

Many questioned the move and many have their reasons why.

Some people have even questioned the Eagles decision to cut DeSean Jackson, yet keep, and even give a  contract extension to, Riley Cooper. Cooper of course is now infamous for being caught on a cell phone camera using the N-word while drunk at a Kenny Chesney concert at Lincoln Financial Field.

If you are one of those people, just stop now.

Listen, there is absolutely no excuse for Riley Cooper doing what he did at that concert. Cooper was embarrassed by it, as he should have been. Having said that, he was awarded a new contract because he stepped up when he needed to last season after Jeremy Maclin suffered a season-ending knee injury and he provides some height in the red zone and is a physical presence when it comes to blocking.

But I digress. There are many theories and different reasonings regarding why Jackson was released, and none of those really matter.

What really matters is the Eagles’ reasoning as to why they parted ways with Jackson.

When Chip Kelly came to Philadelphia, he brought with him a new system and a new style of how the team will be run. At the end of the day, DeSean, who was on thin ice years before Kelly’s arrival, did not fit into Chip Kelly’s way of running the team.

After unsuccessfully trying to trade him, and ultimately not wanting to simply leave another team with dealing with the baggage that comes with him, the Eagles released Jackson, which freed up a sizable amount of cap space.

As DeSean prepares for a new beginning in DC, the fact remains:

His career is now on the line.

Even with a slight benefit of the doubt with him entering his first year with a new team, the pressure is on. On the field he will produce, but if his off the field issues rear their ugly head and he has an unceremonious exit from Washington, it will be extremely difficult for him to find another team willing to deal with him. Worse,  it could mean a short career for a promising and talented young receiver.

Will it happen? Who knows.

It’s all up to DeSean Jackson.

 

The Curious Case of DeSean Jackson

Posted: March 28, 2014 in Eagles
The Eagles released three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson today, ending his six year tenure in Philadelphia.

The Eagles released three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson today, ending his six year tenure in Philadelphia.

 

The Eagles made quite a splash today, although not the kind of splash they wanted.

It was announced today that the Eagles released Pro Bowl – receiver DeSean Jackson after six seasons in Philadelphia.

Many fans were surprised with the move, as Jackson is coming off of his best season of his career.

Jackson, who was in the third year of a 5-year $51 Million contract, finished the 2013 season with 82 receptions for 1,332 yards and 9 touchdowns. He was also selected to his third Pro Bowl of his career.

Ultimately, as is the case with many other high-profile players who are released despite being among the best in the league at their respective position, it was his activities off of the field that led to the Eagles cutting ties with the 27-year old.

A story was published on NJ.com about two hours before news broke of Jackson’s release that talks about Jackson’s involvement with members of the Crips, one of the most infamous street gangs in Los Angeles, who were suspects in a 2010 murder. His name was also mentioned in connection to another gang-related murder that took place in 2012.

Although Jackson was nowhere near the crimes and has never faced any legal action because of it, the fact that he knew members of the gang was what many saw as the red flag. The fact is that the NFL does not have any more patience for this kind of stuff, especially after the murder trial of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Because of this, teams are not taking any chances either.

Now it’s not just “the Eagles released DeSean because he knows a guy who knows a guy.” Jackson was seen multiple times flashing a sign for the Crips during games after he scored a touchdown. It also is more than just that. There were issues during training camp and his attitude was sometimes off-putting to his teammates. Not to mention, he was asked not to come back to several Philadelphia night clubs not too long ago.

Apparently, the Eagles front office knew something the fans didn’t when they released him today.

So now that DeSean Jackson’s time has ended in Philadelphia, how will his Eagles tenure be remembered? Personally, I always respected his speed and talent. With the exception of Terrell Owens’ brief tenure, a top-notch receiver was hard to come by in Philadelphia.

That was until they drafted Cal wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Since his arrival, he has had defenses changing the way they play because of him.

However, the pros were not without the cons.

My biggest complaint I had about DeSean is that he did a little too much talking and had several lapses of judgement as far as taunting and things like that. For example, during a Sunday night game two years ago against the New York Giants, he returned a  punt to the 50 yard line, only to get flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting after tossing the ball at Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. The penalty negated the return and the Eagles started from deep in their own zone.

Things worked out that night as the Eagles went on to win that game, but DeSean Jackson was fined $10,000 for the unsportsmanlike penalty.

There were many times where I found myself saying “DeSean would be so much better if he would just shut up and play.” And to be honest, he would have been looked at differently if he let his play do the talking for him.

At any rate, the Eagles will move on from this and so will DeSean Jackson. After the news broke, there were already teams expressing interest in Jackson.

However, as more details emerge, it could be an interesting ending to The Curious Case of DeSean Jackson.

Super Bowl XLVIII

Posted: January 28, 2014 in Eagles

super-bowl-48-broncos-vs.-seahawks

Ah yes, Super Bowl Sunday.

Episode 48: The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object.

This Sunday, in a match-up of who many consider to be the NFL’s two best teams this season, the Seattle Seahawks will take on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

The contest will pit the league’s number 1 offense (Broncos) against the league’s number 1 defense (Seahawks). It will be interesting to see how Peyton Manning fares against Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary consisting of Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and the always outspoken Richard Sherman.

Why the Seahawks can win:

Seahawks NFC Champs

The Seahawks were the number 1 team basically since the beginning of the season, and it’s certainly no fluke that they are representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. 

Their defense has been seemingly unstoppable all season, consistently ranking near the top of the league week after week. Even though it’s not a home game for them (they’re even the designated away team), that won’t matter, nor will the cold weather.

This is a defense that has given the likes of Drew Brees fits not one, but twice. Not to mention Marshawn Lynch is a better than any running back the Broncos have. He has been one of the difference makers in their Divisional Round win against the Saints and in their Conference Championship win against the 49ers. Their passing game is still not where they need it to be, but that could very well change on Sunday.

It’s cliché, but it’s true; Peyton Manning is one of the all-time greats. However he will be tested on Sunday like he has never been tested before. The only defenses that really came close to the Seahawks that he has faced are the Patriots and 49ers. Although the Broncos beat both of those teams, who knows how he will fare against the “Legion of Boom”?

Why the Broncos will win:

Broncos AFC Champs

They say that the best defense is a good offense. Well, no offense has been better this season than the high-scoring Denver Broncos. With Peyton Manning as the field general and Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and a two running back attack that features Knowshon Moreno and rookie Monte Ball at Manning’s disposal , this Broncos offense averaged 37.9 points a game in 2013. Hell, it took all of one game for Peyton Manning to break yet another record when he threw 7 touchdown passes against the Baltimore Ravens on opening night, a mark that was later matched by Eagles QB Nick Foles against the Oakland Raiders. (I had to throw that in there – no pun intended).

While all of the attention was on the Broncos offense, their defense was pretty solid as well despite being without linebacker Von Miller for multiple games due to injury. I wouldn’t say that they are better than the Seahawks defense, but they have more than held their own on multiple occasions this season.

Not only that, but this is not Broncos head coach John Fox’s first time around when it comes to the Super Bowl. Fox coached the Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII where they came within a field goal of defeating the New England Patriots. I am not going to go so far as to place Fox among the elite head coaches of the NFL, but his experience could very well make a difference. Pete Carrol on the other had a pretty awful head coaching track record with the New England Patriots and New York Jets before returning to the NFL after a successful 8 year tenure as head coach at USC.

The Verdict:

This one was tough to pick, which is in part why there was a little gap between this post and the last one.

A big part of me wants to see the Seahawks win, at the risk of another team winning their first Super Bowl before the Eagles do. I was actually rooting for them in the NFC Divisional Round and the NFC Championship as well. I mean let’s face it, they are a pretty fun team to watch. Their passing game needs to be better, but you can assure that the Seahawks defense and running game will be in full “beast mode.” 

However, that same part of me that wants the Seahawks to win can’t help but think that the Broncos are going to come away with the Lombardi Trophy. It’s hard to go against Peyton Manning and with the weapons he has, who knows how many points that Broncos offense will score.

It’s going to be a close game, but at the end of the day, the Broncos defense will help their offense more than the Seahawks offense will help their defense.

denver-broncos-logo    28-24 Broncos

Championship Sunday

Posted: January 19, 2014 in Eagles

It’s championship weekend in the NFL and both games are shaping up to be remembered for a long time.

In the AFC Championship, it is another installment of perhaps the best quarterback duel in the 2000’s as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots travel to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. In the NFC Championship, it’s the third round of a heavyweight fight between rivals as the Seattle Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers.

Either game could go either way, so let’s take a look at the two matchups:

AFC Championship:
New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos

afc-championship-preview-header

It’s another installment of Brady vs. Manning in the AFC Championship game and this time Peyton Manning has a new team and new weapons. Tom Brady, meanwhile, leads a young group of recievers into Denver in hopes of making a 6th trip to the Super Bowl.

Why the Patriots can win:

As easy as it is to hate them, it is hard to pick against them. Brady and Belichick have been here before and know what it takes to win whether they are the favorite or the underdog. They made good use of their running game in the Divisional Round against the Indianapolis Colts. That running game accounted for all six touchdowns while Tom Brady completed 13 of 25 passes for an un-Brady-like 198 yards and 0 touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Pats D gave Colts quarterback Andrew Luck nightmares, intercepting him four times.

It also doesn’t hurt that there is a lot more pressure on the Broncos, more specifically Peyton Manning, than the Patriots. Brady has topped Manning in the cold weather before and it could very well happen again.

Why the Broncos will win:

The Broncos lost to the Patriots in their Week 12 match up 34-31 in Foxborough. Peyton Manning has a lot to prove this Sunday. In his career, Manning is 2-1 in three AFC Championship Games, all with the Colts. Two of those wins came against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

The Broncos are coming off of a big win against the San Diego Chargers in the Divisional Round that saw them halt a comeback attempt by the Chargers to preserve a 24-17 win. The defense also did well halting San Diego’s run game, limiting Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mathews to a combined 55 yards and 0 touchdowns. As explosive as the Patriots running game was against the Colts last week, it’s hard to see them repeating that performance against the Broncos. However, the Broncos should also be aware of the Patriots passing game.

The Verdict:

Peyton Manning has a lot of pressure on him, but he also has a lot to prove. The Patriots running game has gotten them this far, but that alone is not enough to get past the Broncos. The Pats passing game has to be better too, which I expect it to be. The Broncos lost to the Patriots in Foxborough, but they won’t in Denver on Sunday.

31-27 Broncos

NFC Championship 
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

nfc-championship-preview-header

The San Francisco 49ers will travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in the NFC Championship. This will be the third meeting of the season for the two teams and, like the previous two meetings, there will be no love lost by the NFC West rivals. The Seahawks won the first meeting in Seattle in Week 2 29-3 and the 49ers won the second meeting in Week 14 in San Francisco 19-17.

Howevver, this is no ordinary rubber match

Why the 49ers can win:

The 49ers have been in the last two NFC Championship games and were victorious last year on the road against the Atlanta Falcons. Not to mention they have won their last two games on the road winning in the frozen tundra of Green Bay (where the temperature was 5 degrees at kick off with a wind chill of -10) and the moderately cold Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers.

It’s awfully hard to pick against Colin Kaepernick. He has not put up spectacular numbers in the first two rounds, but he has performed best when it mattered most. The 49ers defense has also done well stopping Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense as well as Cam Newton and the Panthers offense. If there is any team that can upset the Seahawks at home it’s the 49ers. they know this Seahawks team better than any other team in the league.

Why the Seahawks will win:

Every team is at an advantage when they are playing at home, but no home-field advantage compares to Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. The stadium itself is designed so that the sound waves are deflected off of the roofs covering the fans back down onto the field. The stadium even set a Guinness World Record for loudest outdoor stadium when it reached 137.6 decibels, almost as lout as a jet engine 100 feet away (140 decibels).

Aside from the stadium, the team that plays there has used that advantage to win all but one of their home games this season. Unfortunately, the high energy Seahawks offense was not seen very often against the Saints. The key offensive player in last week’s win was running back Marshawn Lynch, who totaled 140 yards and two touchdowns. However, that was about it for the Seahawks offense. Quarterback Russell Wilson completed 9 of 18 passes for a measly 103 yards and 0 touchdowns. However, they have had a week to regroup and will look to come out firing on Sunday afternoon.

The Verdict: 

This will be a slugfest in every sense of the word. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman put it best. “There will be no love lost, and there will be no love found.” The Seahawks are nearly un-stoppable at home and you can rest assured that the 12th man will be present and accounted for. However, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks passing game has to be better than they were last week. The 49ers aren’t going down without a fight and it is sure to be an instant classic. Expect points to come at a premium for both teams. At the end of the day, this simple equation will explain the NFC Championship:

Beast mode + Seahawks D + 12th Man = A trip to the Meadowlands.

28-24 Seahawks. 

One thing is for sure, it is slated to be another Sunday of great football for NFL fans everywhere. The AFC Championship kicks off at 3 pm on CBS followed by the NFC Championship at 6:30 on FOX.

A (32-yard) Kick In The Gut

Posted: January 5, 2014 in Eagles
Shayne Graham's 32-yard field goal as time expired sent the Saints on their way to the Divisional Round and ended a promising Eagles Season (Photo / AP)

Shayne Graham’s 32-yard field goal as time expired sent the Saints on their way to the Divisional Round and ended a promising Eagles Season (Photo / AP)

This one hurt…a lot.

A week after a thrilling win that secured their 12th NFC East Championship, the Eagles saw their 2013 season come to an abrupt and disappointing end courtesy of a 32-yard field goal from Shayne Graham as time expired in the fourth quarter to give the Saints a 26-24 win.

Simply put it was a frustrating end to a great season.

The second the ball sailed through the goal post, the blame game began as to why the game ended the way it did. While the finger was pointed in many directions, there are three particular things that stuck out to me as I watched with thousands of fellow Eagles fans at Xfinity Live across from Lincoln Financial Field.

1) The Eagles Defense Had Three Main Jobs And Only Did One of Them.

There were three key things the Eagles defense had to do in order to beat the Saints: Get to Drew Brees and keep him out of any kind of rhythm, Contain tight end Jimmy Graham and contain the Saints running game.

They were sometimes able to keep Drew Brees out of a consistent rhythm, intercepting him twice in the process. However, when Brees did get into a groove, he, along with receivers Kenny Stills and Lance Moore, made the Eagles pay.

They also held Jimmy Graham in check, limiting him to just three catches for 44 yards (though one was a 21-yard catch) and 0 touchdowns.

The one thing the defense struggled to do the most was containing the run game. The Eagles mostly lined up in a nickel defense, a defense typically used against the pass, in anticipation of the Saints passing attack. However, the Saints managed to use a trio of running backs, Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson, to run over the Eagles. The three combined for 185 yards and a touchdown (from Mark Ingram).

2) The Offense Did Not Do Enough To Help The Defense

The high-scoring Eagles offense was held to a combined 256 yards, with their high-powered rushing game limited to just 80 yards and 1 touchdown from LeSean McCoy.

Simply put, they had their chances and failed to capitalize. Whether it was Nick Foles taking a sack when he should have thrown the ball away, leaving Alex Henery to attempt a 48 yard field goal that he would wind up missing, or Riley Cooper dropping a ball that landed right in his hands, they let several huge opportunities to put points on the board slip away.

Oh, and by the way, the irony that Alex Henery missed that aforementioned field goal and the Eagles went on to lose by 2 is not lost on me.

3) Cary Williams

Prior to this season, the Eagles signed veteran safety Cary Williams to a 3-year, $17 million deal (with $5.75 guaranteed). Many hoped that he would not only be a threat at safety, but also provide some leadership.

I wouldn’t call him a bust by any means, but there have been times where he has left people scratching their heads.

One such instance was late in the fourth quarter when Darren Sproles was fielding a punt. Sproles turned a quarter and headed up field for about 10 yards when Cary Williams, perhaps in desperation, brought Sproles down with a horse collar tackle, which added an additional 15 yards to the return, giving the Saints a short field to work with.

Long story short, the Saints drove down and kicked a game-winning 32 yard field goal, ending the Eagles’ season. Now that one play is not the sole reason for the loss, and Cary Williams explained after the game that he will do everything he can to make the tackle.

I’m all for the “give it everything I have” mentality, but someone with Williams’ experience should know better than to take a 15 yard penalty that late in the game, especially when there were other ways to stop him (like pushing him out of bounds).

Success Nonetheless

Bottom line is that this is about as disappointing of an end of a season as there is. Despite the disappointment, I would give the season a solid “B”. There were plenty of positives to take away from the season, but they also left a lot to be desired.

They went into this season with a new coach and almost entirely new coaching staff as well as new offensive and defensive systems and came out with a 10-6 record and the NFC East Championship.

One thing is for sure, this team has a huge upside to them as they enter next season.

We’ll see what 2014 has in store for the Birds.

Romo or Orton? Orton or Romo?

Posted: December 24, 2013 in Eagles

Jason Garrett, Tony Romo, Kyle Orton

As the Eagles and Cowboys prepare to face off for the NFC East title, things took an interesting turn yesterday when multiple sources reported that Cowboys QB Tony Romo is out for the season with a back injury suffered in the Cowboys season-saving Week 16 win over the Washington Redskins. With Romo out, veteran Kyle Orton became the Cowboys starting QB for Sunday night’s game.

Never short on drama, especially late in the season, both Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones both refuted the reports and stated that a decision has not officially been made regarding Romo’s status for Sunday and that there is still a chance he could play.

As far as the Eagles are concerned, the best thing they can do is game plan as though nothing has changed since last Sunday. They have been torched by a backup already when Minnesota Vikings QB Matt Cassel, filling in for Christian Ponder, threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns, as well as a rushing touchdown, in a 48-30 win over the Eagles in Week 15.

The thing about when a backup comes in is that it can be a big wild card. Because Orton hasn’t played much over the last couple of seasons, it is hard to say if we will see the Kyle Orton who wa successful as the starter for the Denver Broncos or the Kyle Orton who lost that starting job to Tim Tebow.

Then again, it is still not known if we will see Kyle Orton at all as Jones and Garrett have maintained that no decision has been made. However, there should be a definitive answer in the next 2-3 days.

Man in the Middle

Sean Lee

Overshadowed by Tony Romo’s injury is the injury to Cowboys middle linebacker (and former Penn State Nittany Lion) Sean Lee. Lee, who sprained a ligament in his neck in a game against the Bears back in Week 14, has missed the last two games and is doubtful to play this Sunday.

Currently in his fourth NFL season, Lee has emerged one of the leaders of the Cowboys defense (much like he was during his time at Penn State). In the 11 games he has played this season, Lee has 99 tackles and four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

It appears as though Lee will not play this weekend, which is a pretty big blow to the Cowboys defense. Hopefully the Eagles can exploit the gap left by his absence.

In Chip We Trust

At the end of the day, Chip Kelly has a plan regardless of who is playing and who is not playing. Having gotten and idea of the method to his madness as the season progressed, I’ m sure he has not changed his game plan much over the last 48 hours. I trust whatever Chip decides to do.

One thing is for sure: This is a different Eagles team than the team that lost in Week 7 to the Cowboys in Philadelphia.

In Chip  (and Nick Foles) we trust.