04.21.21

Eagles: general thoughts about the organization and the draft

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:29 pm by Administrator

as down as all the eagles writers seem to be about howie roseman, jeff lurie, and the eagles in general, i really find this to be a very interesting and hopeful time for the organization. never mind the recent success eagle fans have enjoyed, including a super bowl victory three years ago, an unparalleled comeback story (nick foles), a double-doink improbable playoff win in chicago, and an improbable playoff berth just one year ago. on top of all those things, we have what i believe to be a really intriguing quarterback in jalen hurts—a guy that we’ll be learning a lot about this upcoming season—and a brand-new coaching group that’s young, potentially innovative, and guaranteed to change the direction of the franchise. that’s a lot to be excited about. a year ago i predicted we would trade carson wentz and begin an exciting new era with jalen hurts, and for all the drama that has transpired since that time, i think we’re clearly on the right track.

with all that said, the eagles have two main objectives to accomplish during this off-season, including the draft:

1. commit to jalen hurts as our 2021 starter and give him the offensive weapons needed to succeed. there’s really no point in creating a competition in camp, because any game that joe flacco plays for us while hurts is healthy is truly a wasted opportunity for the organization. this year, we need to properly evaluate hurts and his potential future as our starting quarterback. this draft features a strong and deep wide receiver class, and by the end of day 2 we must come away with a player that figures to be a reliable #1 target for hurts this year.

2. take advantage of a 2021 draft class that’s deep at offensive line, in order to sustain our competitive advantage beyond jason kelce’s career. like i’ve suggested before, it’s a good enough o-line class that we may be best served taking both a center and a guard/tackle prospect in the early rounds.

it’s true that we have holes at linebacker, corner, and safety, and we are looking at a potential need for a starting defensive end as early as next season. but we have to remember that filling all the roster gaps so that we can compete for a divisional championship isn’t a realistic priority for this year. this is a multi-year rebuild that starts with squaring away our quarterback position. offense has to be the priority in year one. we’ll certainly draft defensive backs this year, but i think it’s the wrong move to spend pick 12 on a cornerback when receiver and o-line are where team needs and the draft’s value most clearly intersect.

next year’s defensive draft class looks considerably superior to this year’s, and for that reason i don’t feel we should lock in on finding our defensive end of the future this year. i’ve been testing out a lot of draft scenarios lately, and while i’ve been recently leaning toward a defensive end in the 2nd round, i’m beginning to believe that rousseau, turner, tryon, and perkins are not worth the 37th pick when superior o-line talents like alex leatherwood, dillon radunz, liam eichenberg, and jackson carman are on the board. if we do take a tackle/guard in round 2, i would look for us to double dip in round 4 for a guy with potential at center, like josh myers or kendrick green.

after wentz’s salary falls off our payroll next year, we’ll move into the next off-season in a fairly good salary cap situation (14th in the league). having a rookie quarterback is obviously a major reason for that, and on that account i can certainly see us drafting a first-round quarterback next year even if hurts proves to be better than average as a full-time signal caller. howell, rattler, and slovis look to the top qb’s in next year’s class, and all three of them potentially have more long-term up-side than hurts. personally, i think hurts will go out and prove himself this year; but even still, i’m mindful that our best shot at post-season success is a great quarterback on a rookie deal. just as i supported our 2nd round pick of hurts last year, i’ll be keen on seeing us take a quarterback next year if there’s any chance that we can get an elite guy.

if the eagles go in the direction that i’m hinting at here, then they’ll come out of the first 4 rounds of this draft with a premiere receiver, two offensive lineman, a 3rd round cornerback, and a 3rd or 4th round defensive end that could be a potential scheme fit, like dayo odeyingbo. after a losing season in a tough NFC East (7-10 by my projections), they’ll end up 8th or 9th in the draft order, high enough that they can package their first-round pick with the first or second rounder from the colts in order to move into the top 5 and snatch a quarterback. with the miami pick (probably a mid-rounder), we’ll look to take our defensive end of the future, which will give us the flexibility to move on from josh sweat (too expensive to retain) and possibly from derek barnett as well, if we can’t find middle ground on an extension.

04.20.21

analysis paralysis

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:23 pm by Administrator

here’s the real trouble of our time: there can be no compromise when there’s no truth in the middle. we’re facing a variety of systemic issues now that are beyond our current means to handle appropriately, and the solutions require a new approach to government that can be neither democratic nor territorial.

thirty five years ago, when i was ten years old, i learned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and about global warming and came to the conclusion that only an empowered U.N. could save our civilization. i wrote a treatise on world government and its priorities. when i shared my ideas in the church, i was told that what i was embracing was the prophesied anti-christ; and i was encouraged to abandon these globalist ideals.

i still believe that global government is the only compelling way to address systematic injustices propagated by colonialism and the current crisis of the environment that imminently threatens the survival of our species and many others. my point of reference will always be robert heinlein’s space cadet, a visionary science fiction novel in the 1950s that depicted a multi-national global government dedicated to a universal cause and willing to enforce that agenda through means of mass destruction if necessary. i’ll say too that joe haldeman’s forever war completed that framework for me by portraying a future society predominantly populated by genetically engineered and racially homogeneous gay and lesbian citizens who have eliminated structural power disparities rooted in race and gender. so much of our violence against ourselves is rooted in the basic evils of mankind: misogyny, racism, and greed. while it may not be possible to eliminate these completely, it is certainly possible to mitigate them to a great extent. all that it requires is that we relinquish these childish notions of nation-state and personal liberties, the latter of which only exist in a narrow conceptual form for the very few, at the expense of the many.

from my point of view, global socialist government, disruption of gendered and racialized identity at the societal level, and the genetic reengineering of the human species are the three pillars upon which the survival of our species are predicated. obviously these realities cannot emerge from incremental reform, because the hetero white hegemony will seek to preserve the power bestowed upon them within the colonial paradigm. the shift has to occur abruptly and by leaps of transformation, fueled by global crisis or by potential mass extinction events. covid was an interesting case study because it offered both insight and frustration in this regard. covid curtailed carbon emissions; covid disrupted normal social interaction as we knew it. but covid also revealed our addiction to a way of life based on the destruction of our environment and ourselves, a way of life that we are now resuming with the aggressive funding and support of the central banks.

i know that this vision seems extreme, and i’m asked how i can possibly engage in meaningful social activism when my vision is so divergent and remote. it’s true that i often experience paralysis of a kind, because i am not inclined to believe strongly that the united states for instance can find its way to a racially just and post-national position of leadership in the world. the pragmatist in me recognizes that my well-being as a citizen depends heavily on the sovereignty and global dominance of this political state, and so i pay my taxes and support our nation’s efforts to undermine our enemies in all parts of the world. but the human in me understands, clear as day, that nation states engaged in this global power grab for resources and capital are the problem; this competitive capitalistic system is designed to commodify human beings and ultimately consume them. among the culpable nation states, the united states is by far the most dangerous of them; and its ideological history with libertarianism and evangelical christianity only deepen its commitment to commodifying and corrupting the world, to the detriment of our indebted, oppressed, and increasingly unhealthy progeny.

there is no legitimate green movement in the united states, but there will come a time when true progressivism—the commitment to a sustainable and just world—emerges from our cluster of intersecting struggles with systematic racism, carbon emissions, and unrestrained and abusive capitalism. when that time comes, the green movement in the united states can only be understood as a revolutionary movement: a commitment to dismantling the nation state that is threatening the future of humanity. whether we entrust global rule to eunuchs, a pan-national representative body, or (my favorite) artificial intelligence, we will come to the point when we recognize that our old systems of rule simply serve to ensure that basic human ignorance and tribalism continue to inform our laws and culture. donald trump’s presidency is the clearest evidence of america’s regression in the post-modern era and a sign that this thing we called democracy was not progress but rather a more euphemistic and sophisticated form of global oppression

04.19.21

cane

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:16 pm by Administrator

well if it bothers you so much, why don’t you do something about it?

you keep looking at the past. why can’t you focus on making the most of today?

i got ahead by working hard. why can’t you?

you keep blaming other people for your struggle, but what’s your part in it?

of course you think it’s racism. i’m just trying to consider that there might be other possibilities?

today, i think of cane, by jean toomer. i read it in college when i didn’t know anything about anything. but i felt something when i read cane—a slow, inexorable, and utterly dispiriting sense of futility. it’s the kind of futility that generations upon generations of rising a little and falling down a lot instills in your blood and marks on your bones. it’s that awful torpor that weighs on every limb and stills the tongue. even before there was something to say, there was no reason to say it. hope dies in the human heart, rusted like a chain in the bowels of a ship that splintered apart and now finds its pieces at rest in the dark belly of a museum. it’s a museum about our history. it’s a museum that houses the relics of our cruelty, past and present.

i think of cane because i see this trial of derek chauvin come to a close and i can’t find the words. it’s a deadness, where once there was a sharpness of conviction or feeling. but we’ve seen too many of these trials come and go; we’ve seen nothing change on their account. you would think that pangs of conscience would crescendo over time, spilling over into national mourning, a veritable spring of an awakening. but in forty-five years, i have not seen it happen. i have only seen incidents become patterns and patterns become fixtures of identity. i grew up in a country that seemed young and vital and impressionable. but now i live in a land that is scorched with the torment of the living and the raging of the dead. there will be no justice today. there will only be a moment of catharsis, like therapeutic blood-letting from the leaching of our criminal justice system.

i understand maxine waters and the emotion she displays. i can’t hear her words, because the torpor has taken hold of my senses, but i can feel the emotion because it is real. what is left for the dying man who cannot be heard except a cry from the heart? i hear the cry of your heart america; it is a swan song to the country we imagined in our youth, it is a wailing from the depth of our soul because we have been painted and pillaged, every one of us, and now we are fit to be written off in the history books yet to be written as the ones who deserved to be judged and forgotten

04.18.21

Four-Round Mock NFL Draft

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:47 pm by Administrator

there’s only one trade featured in this mock, and it’s the obvious one: denver trading up with atlanta to get a quarterback. whether denver takes lance or jones, there will be five quarterbacks off the board by pick 8.

while the eagles don’t need all eleven of their picks in this draft, they cannot afford to relinquish any of their top 5 picks in a trade-up. i really don’t care if that’s what they feel they need to do to get devonta smith or jaylen waddle in the first round. if they can’t get either guy at pick 12, they shouldn’t settle for a cornerback; they should trade down and look for a pass rusher in the mid-late 1st round. moving up for a wide-out or settling for a cornerback is silly when one considers the quality of the mid-round options at both positions. i’ve already written at length about the round 3 cornerbacks, who are probably worth taking chances on.

in this mock, devonta smith falls to the eagles at pick 12. they take payton turner in the 2nd to address their imminent need at defensive end. they’ve already been linked to turner, whose impressive combine and RAS score basically ensure that he will not make it to pick 70. kelvin joseph, our 3rd round cornerback, projects to be an outside starter within a season, and kendrick green is the super-athletic interior lineman who will take over for jason kelce in 2022. divine deablo in the 5th feels like a philadelphia pick for a new era and a guy that we’ll primarily utilize as a linebacker.

importantly, in this mock the eagles do not even think about trading up from pick 37 to get back into the 1st round for terrace marshall, the size/speed marvel with brick hands and raw route-running skills who would simply confound our already ambiguous wide receiver rotation.

jacksonville comes out as the clear winner of this mock, getting some of my favorite players in this draft: lawrence at qb, barmore at defensive tackle, j-ok at linebacker/safety, dyami brown and tamorrion terry at receiver, and jamar johnson at safety. minnesota scoops jamie newman in the 4th before the pats can take him, another nice move by rick spielman.

Round One

1. Jax: Trevor Lawrence
2. NYJ: Zach Wilson
3. SF: Justin Fields
4. Den from Atl for 9/40/2022 1st round pick: Mac Jones
5. Cincinnati: Penei Sewell
6. Miami: Ja’Marr Chase
7. Detroit: Kyle Pitts
8. Carolina: Trey Lance
9. Atl from Denver: Patrick Surtain
10. Dallas: Jaycee Horn
11. NYG: Rashawn Slater
12. Phi: Devonta Smith ***
13. LAC: Teven Jenkins
14. Min: Christian Darrisaw
15. NE: Jaylen Waddle
16. Ari: Kwity Paye
17. LV: Micah Parsons
18. Mia: Samuel Cosmi
19. WFT: Rashod Bateman
20. Chi: Alijah Vera-Tucker
21. Indy: Jaelan Phillips
22. Ten: Azeez Ojulari
23. NYJ: Travis Etienne
24. Pitt: Najee Harris
25. Jax: Christian Barmore
26. Cle: Jayson Oweh
27. Bal: Elijah Moore
28. NO: Caleb Farley
29. GB: Rondale Moore
30. Buf: Greg Newsome II
31. KC: Jalen Mayfield
32. TB: Terrace Marshall

Round Two

33. Jax: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
34. NYJ: Pat Freiermuth
35. Atl: Greg Rousseau
36. Mia: Trevon Moehrig
37. Phi: Payton Turner ***
38. Cin: Kadarius Toney
39. Carolina: Wyatt Davis
40. Atl from Denver: Jevon Holland
41. Detroit: Eric Stokes
42. NYG: Zaven Collins
43. SF: Elijah Molden
44. Dallas: Alex Leatherwood
45. Jax: Dyami Brown
46. NE: Boogie Basham
47. LAC: Asante Samuel, Jr.
48. LV: Dillon Radunz
49. Ari: Nick Bolton
50. Mia: Javonte Williams
51. WFT: Liam Eichenberg
52. Chi: Kyle Trask
53. Ten: Ifeatu Melifonwu
54. Indy: Jackson Carman
55. Pitt: Landon Dickerson
56. Seattle: Ronnie Perkins
57. LAR: Levi Onwuzurike
58. Bal: Creed Humphrey
59. Cle: Trey Smith
60. NO: Marvin Wilson
61. GB: Aaron Robinson
62. Buf: Daivyon Nixon
63. KC: Jamin Davis
64. TB: Joseph Ossai

Round Three

65. Jax: Jamar Johnson
66. NYJ: Joe Tryon
67. Hou: Quinn Meinerz
68. Atl: Kellen Mond
69. Cin: Alim McNeill
70. Phi: Kelvin Joseph ***
71. Den: Richie Grant
72. Det: Andre Cisco
73. Car: Brevin Jordan
74. WFT: Davis Mills
75. Dal: Osa Odighizuwa
76. NYG: Josh Palmer
77. LAC: Tylan Wallace
78. Min: Michael Carter
79. Ari: Tyson Campbell
80. LV: Ar’Darius Washington
81. Mia: Tay Gowan
82. WFT: Jabril Cox
83. Chi: Baron Browning
84. Phi From Indy: Kendrick Green ***
85. Ten: Amon-Ra St. Brown
86. NYJ: Tommy Togiai
87. Pitt: Walker Little
88. Detroit from LAR: James Hudson
89. Cle: Nico Collins
90. Min: Rashad Weaver
91. Cle: Victor Dimukeje
92. GB: Tyler Shelvin
93. Buf: Amari Rodgers
94. KC: Dazz Newsome
95. TB: Kenneth Gainwell
96. NE: Rodarius Williams
97. LAC: Benjamin St. Juste
98. NO: Chazz Surratt
99. Dal: Hamsah Nasirildeen
100. Ten: Jay Tufele
101. Det: Dylan Moses
102. SF: Spencer Brown
103. LAR: Shaun Wade
104. Bal: Dayo Odeyingbo
105. NO: D’Wayne Eskridge

Round Four

106. Jax: Tamorrion Terry
107. NYJ: Trill Williams
108. Atl: Cameron McGrone
109: Hou: Paulson Adebo
110. Cle: Josh Myers
111. Cin: Quincy Roche
112. Det: Cameron Sample
113. Car: Thomas Graham
114. Den: Patrick Jones II
115. Dal: Khalil Herbert
116. NYG: Jamien Sherwood
117. SF: Cade Johnson
118. LAC: Tyreke Smith
119. Min: Jamie Newman
120. NE: Brady Christensen
121. LV: Ben Cleveland
122. NE: Tommy Tremble
123. Phi: Divine Deablo ***
124. Was: Keith Taylor
125. Min: Tre McKitty
126. Ten: Darius Stills
127. Indy: Ambry Thomas
128. Pitt: Christian Uphoff
129. Seattle: Tutu Atwell
130. Jax: Milton Williams
131. Bal: Chauncey Golston
132. Cle: Kary Vincent, Jr.
133. NO: Jordan Smith
134. Min: Patrick Johnson
135. GB: Aaron Banks
136. KC: Marlon Tuipolotu
137. TB: Abraham Lucas
138. Dal: Rachad Wildgoose
139. NE: Wyatt Hubert
140. Pitt: Jaelon Darden
141. LAR: Anthony Schwartz
142. GB: Hamilcar Rashed, Jr.
143. Min: Ihmir Smith-Marsette
144. KC: Trevon Grimes

04.14.21

how the baldrige criteria can help the eagles

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:50 pm by Administrator

doesn’t happen often, but today two of my interests collide, thanks to sheil kapadia.

first, i want to say that i lied on my last entry. i’ve got one more draft approach to advocate for, and i’m going to drop it right here and now. here’s the thing: i think it’s evident now that the eagles can go in any number of directions on april 29, and there probably is no clear best direction. my prediction is that the eagles will take devonta smith or jaylen waddle at pick 12 and then trade up from pick 37 to get back into the 1st and take their cornerback of choice (i.e. greg newsome).

1.12: jaelan phillips

in the end, there’s only one pass rusher in this class that clearly has pro bowl potential, and that’s jaelan phillips. he carries a worrisome concussion history, and he’s got a life outside of football. those are not reasons enough to let a defensive end of his caliber fall to the 20s, particularly in a year when there is no other sure thing on the edge. i like rousseau and perkins in round 2, but i’ll acknowledge that rousseau’s body type and play style make him a project at the NFL level while perkins’ lack of athleticism limits his ceiling. i need to say that i am not a fan of kwity paye for the eagles. he’s athletic, patient, smart, and resourceful, but he doesn’t bring what jaelan phillips does: the burst off the line and the hands technique to get to the quarterback quickly. i don’t think paye offers any potential as a double-digit sacks guy in the big leagues.

2.5: landon dickerson

in the first round, we get the best pass rusher in the class, and in the 2nd round we get this class’s best center. center is sometimes a position you can fill adequately in the late rounds, but for a team like the eagles that hinges on elite play at all positions on the line, dickerson has to be a strong consideration in round two. he brings average athleticism and a recent history of injury, but his skill, instincts, vision, intelligence, and leadership qualities do put him a leg up on all of his peers this year.

3.6: amon-ra st. brown

once upon a time, i had him as our main consideration in round two, but st. brown has since fallen behind guys like kadarius toney, elijah moore, and dyami brown because of his 40 time. despite his unimpressive straight-line speed, st. brown would be an immediate upgrade at our slot position, and as such he could have a bigger proportional impact on our offense than another mid-round guy on the outside. his 40 speed matters less to me than his hands and short area quickness, which are excellent.

3.20: tay gowan

i still really like tay gowan in the mid-3rd, but i also like a few other prospects here including benjamin st. juste, thomas graham, rodarius williams, and trill williams. the main point here is that the second-tier cornerbacks are a big crowd with fair potential, and if we choose to pass on a first round cornerback there will be plenty of legitimate options for us between rounds 3 and 5.

4.18: jamien sherwood

divine deablo and richard lecounte are also options here. whether he plays strong safety or hybrid linebacker, a guy like sherwood has a role on this defense that lacks cross-positional playmakers.

let’s talk a little more about sheil kapadia’s article, which i heard him discuss on a bleeding green podcast this morning.

the baldrige criteria of performance excellence have relevance for basically any team of people that have a mutual objective of some kind. baldrige has helped large multi-national companies sustain success, but it’s also helped small family businesses of less than 20 employees identify and build on their competitive advantages. people who love baldrige apply it to their own families and community groups as well. heck, i’ve used the baldrige criteria to change the way church leadership functions and learns.

in a nutshell, the baldrige criteria force leaders of organizations to think about identity, results, and the meaning of excellence. what becomes apparent to people who really invest themselves in the criteria is that none of these things can be assumed, and defining these three things accurately is hard work that can shift the direction of an organization. it’s not merely cognitive or strategic work either; aligning a team around these critical definitions requires deep cultural change and new ways of communicating and managing performance. a baldrige “journey” is a very uncomfortable journey, especially for senior leaders, but the payoff is transformation: from person-dependent, reactive team management to the process-driven and systematic delivery of results. baldrige organizations are continuously improving.

from one angle, the media reports on the dysfunctional culture of the eagles organization have to be taken with a lot of salt, because the team has produced results far better than the league average, in recent history and also over the past two decades. whether you’re looking at super bowl victories, divisional championships, or playoff appearances, the eagles have excelled over the past two decades and over the past five years in particular. i’m going to go out on a limb and say that for the team’s major customers—the fans and the league—these results are really all that matter. moreover, the team identity and culture that produced those achievements are justified by those results. let’s not pretend that the mission of the eagles organization is to be a transparent, collaborative, and fun place to work. the mission of the eagles is to deliver wins to the fan base and to sustain the brand and the value of the franchise in the process.

is there legitimate concern though that the eagles may be in the midst of a protracted decline? is this an organization in need of a turnaround? we just won a super bowl three years ago, and we won the division just a season ago, so i think that brandon gowton’s tears of misery are overdramatic and premature. but yes, the eagles are clearly in a rebuilding situation, and whether that requires an organizational turnaround beyond changes to the football roster is certainly beyond me (or anyone outside the organization) to properly assess. i do think that beyond a few disgruntled employees and some general discontent about personnel decisions, there are some objective signs that the eagles need to change their approach, and in baldrige terms i’d locate those problems in criteria 7.5 (financial results), criteria 7.3 (workforce results), and category 1 (leadership).

a year ago i projected that the eagles would go from being a division champ to being the very worst team in the NFC East, and i predicted a 6-10 season. that projection had everything to do with my assessment of our football roster, which i judged to be old, relatively untalented, and led by a mediocre quarterback and a hapless head coach. nothing i saw this past season revised my assessment of the roster. with that perspective in mind, the senior leadership of the eagles absolutely did what they needed to do this off-season: they traded our mediocre quarterback and they moved on from our hapless head coach. all due respect to geoff mosher, adam caplan, and every other eagles writer that still can’t believe that we moved on from a head coach that just won us the super bowl three years ago. guys, that’s what analytics are for! based on hard facts and data, who else can you blame for three straight seasons of ineptitude, sloppy execution, and extremely poor offensive play-calling? yes, carson wentz and doug pederson were part of a super bowl winning team in 2017. but that does not excuse them from accountability; and their limitations as leaders and as individual contributors were on display long before this debacle of a 4-11-1 season.

while lurie and roseman really can’t be faulted for trading wentz and firing pederson, they do have to bear responsibility for errors in financial management and personnel recruitment. the problem highlighted by category 7.5 (financial results) is that the eagles lack financial flexibility to improve the roster, and this is rooted in the decisions made by the front office to commit significant money to the wrong players. this problem is further compounded when key workforce results (7.3) demonstrate very poor performance from new hires (i.e. draft picks and free agent signings) due to their lack of alignment with the team’s vision and system. howie roseman’s repeated misses in the draft since 2017 aren’t merely due to his inability to properly assess the pro potential of college players; it’s a reflection of his poor integration with the coaching staff that develop and deploy these players. like i’ve written previously, i think that nelson agholor, rasul douglas, and lj fort were all fine pick-ups that are now producing more for other teams that understand how to use them. the chances are that jj arcega-whiteside and jalen reagor will be very good NFL players someday—after they leave the eagles.

all roads lead to category 1 (leadership). the eagles aren’t in bad shape right now because they mismanaged their relationship with doug pederson or because they didn’t listen enough to their scouts on draft night. they’re in bad shape right now because they’ve recently failed at managing vision and purpose. they tied up too much money in super bowl veterans when what they needed to do was free up money to modernize the roster. they drafted faster players when what they needed to do was to identify the best fits for their system. on a macro level, they needed to stop trying to sustain past success; they needed to focus on continually outperforming their competition.

baldrige isn’t about putting together a perfect team on paper. it’s all about results—and improving on them with every firing, hiring, draft pick, free agent signing, and contract extension that they make. if the eagles have an executive leader that is standing in the way of continuous improvement—whether because of philosophy, attitude, or personality—than the eagles have to figure that out and move on from that leader. personally, i believe that the performance of the organization proves that they’ve got the right people at the top. what they need to do now is to set a vision for the team’s rebuild and manage it properly. baldrige isn’t magic, but it can certainly help them right now

04.12.21

my last entry about the eagles, before the draft

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:37 pm by Administrator

i’ve given my analysis of what the eagles should do in the first three rounds, based on my projections and my sense of what the eagles are willing (and unwilling) to do about their various positional needs. to recap, here’s how i see it going down:

1.12: wide receiver (smith or waddle)
2.5: defensive end (rousseau or perkins)
3.6: cornerback (gowan, campbell, robinson, williams)
3.20: interior offensive line (meinerz, humphrey, green, or banks)
4.18: safety (deablo, sterns, hufanga)

that’s a good draft, and no one in philadelphia should be disappointed if this is how it goes down. but it’s not my favorite approach, particularly when it comes to round one. i’m going to go on record and say that the eagles can absolutely win this draft without any trade-ups just by analyzing positional value by tier and round. this is my favorite draft for the eagles:

1.12: jeremiah owusu-koramoah
2.5: defensive end (rousseau first, perkins if rousseau’s off the board)
3.6: josh palmer
3.20: cornerback (robinson, gowan, campbell, or williams, in that order)
4.18: richard lecounte

they are positional draft picks at 2.5 and at 3.20 (defensive end and cornerback, respectively), but at 1.12, 3.6, and 4.18 i named the specific guys that i want because i know for certain that they’ll be there. i’ve talked enough about jeremiah owusu-koramoah. it is not a stretch to take him at pick 12, and i wouldn’t even recommend a trade down that would risk losing him. take him at 12, play him wherever he’s needed, and do not take him off the field. j-ok can make a cover-2 work in philadelphia. without him, the eagles just cannot trust their coverage underneath.

josh palmer is the terry mclaurin of this draft class and a fit at whatever alignment the eagles put him in. he’s smart, reliable in his routes, and clutch with his hands. he doesn’t have a lot of production to his name, and he doesn’t have elite speed. the latter quality might scare away roseman, but it absolutely shouldn’t. i think sirianni will find a way to make both arcega-whiteside and fulgham productive on the outside while moving reagor around the formation, but even so i believe that palmer is ultimately the guy who could emerge from this group as our best all-around weapon.

i’ve had my eyes on richard lecounte for a long time. he’s exactly the kind of player that should play deep for the eagles. like palmer, lecounte doesn’t fit roseman’s lust for speed, but also like palmer, lecounte is instinctive, versatile, and physical. he’s falling below more athletic but less proven guys, and that’s good for the eagles if we’re smart enough to fetch him up in round 4.

i know that there’s a lot of buzz surrounding howie roseman after this expose in the Athletic. i’ve just got a few things to say about that, and i’ll sign off. number one, doug pederson was sloppy and ineffective as a head coach in philadelphia after the 2017 season. the eagles gave him every opportunity to shape up, and he failed. in my opinion, we fired him a year too late. so what if lurie and roseman sat him down for a weekly chat? they (and the fans) deserved to know what the hell was going on with a team that had no excuse to be so bad. number two, howie roseman isn’t transparent in his player evaluation approach. that’s pretty much true of most GMs out there. the fact is that he’s had one bad draft in the past 5 years (2019), but even then there’s some room left to salvage it. lastly, roseman isn’t a particularly personable person. who gives a rat’s ass? i certainly hope jeff lurie is not paying howie roseman to be a nice guy.

today is the fourth anniversary of my dad’s death. i have a football memory of my dad: watching the washington football team win the doug williams super bowl when i was eleven years old. my dad had no love for the sport and slept through the entire game. i woke him up at the end to tell him how it went down, and he congratulated me. i remember thinking that if only he understood how crazy and improbable that season had been, he might derive just a little joy from that unbelievable championship game. in the end, it only mattered to him because it mattered to me.

my dad wanted the best life for me. i’m thankful to him, for all the love and sacrifice

04.11.21

football, the value zone, and my guys

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:45 pm by Administrator

the recent shooting involving phillip adams has taken me to a sad, dark place again. i have no doubt that the coroners will find that adams had CTE, and once that’s confirmed, it’s only logical to assume that this contributed to his homicidal behavior. indeed, the NFL’s problem with CTE isn’t going away, and new technologies won’t be enough to contain the violence that is inherent to the game.

it’s really an issue that brings a new angle to the discussion on the future of capitalism. we can’t deny young men with potential pro football careers the opportunity to risk their bodies for wealth and glory. with the quantity and quality of information out there on CTE, the young athletes entering the NFL are essentially giving informed consent when they sign their rookie contracts. when all the factors are properly considered, i do believe that it can be a rational (or even necessary) decision to take that risk for the certain payoffs. but the more fundamental issue we must reckon with as a society is that we as a nation set up this moral dilemma by readily commodifying our bloodlust, as reflected in our passion for the game. as a whole, we are a country that profits from the poor health of its citizens; whether in football or in healthcare in general, the violence we inflict on our bodies creates revenue opportunities for so many working americans. in america, we consume one another; and then we have the gall to feign shock when we see mass shootings, suicides, mental illness, and broken lives of all kinds, whether in our soldiers, professional athletes, pop stars, sex workers, or everyday citizens smoking cigarettes, drinking soda, eating processed starches, and dying of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. in our “social dilemma”, we are the product, we are the caged animal, we are the commodity to be killed off for the general entertainment of all. and until the incentives are realigned, until a new paradigm is imposed upon us, we will not fix our healthcare system, our problem with random and repeated violence, and the brain degeneration of the young men we groom, draft, and press into action for our vicarious pleasures.

what a way to start another entry on the upcoming draft, but i want to put that out there. i admire these young men who are putting their lives on the line, and i root for them because i know that if i were in their position, i’d go for the glory as well. i wish for them a single season of brilliance, a second contract full of guaranteed money, and then an early retirement before the punishment of the game can catch up with them.

even after listening to countless podcasts and draft analyses, i am still not seeing a tremendous amount of quality in this draft class, and i remain convinced that the right way to play it is to trade out of this draft as much as possible. outside of a very limited cohort of players, there aren’t impressive prospects on the defensive side of the ball; and even the offensive talent is pretty focused at the top of the class, with the possible exceptions of the receiver and interior offensive line groups. that being said, there is a slim value zone—between picks 20 and 40—where the intersection of price and upside might yield out-sized returns for teams that choose to move up or down into this range. i believe that this is the range where this draft class’s best performers are likely to be drafted. all due respect to trevor lawrence, penei sewell, ja’marr chase, and kyle pitts, but they are headed to dismally bad teams that will likely disguise their strengths and cap their developments. it’s after pick 20 that we’ll likely see some of the less heralded talent make year-one impacts and flash pro bowl potential.

there are five guys in particular that i want to label as “my guys”. they are jaelan phillips, jeremiah owusu-koramoah, ronnie perkins, greg rousseau, and joseph ossai. as four of these five players are defensive ends, you can see why i’m pushing hard for the eagles to take a round 2 defensive end, after snatching up their marquis receiver in round 1. of note, i have no skill players and no defensive backs highlighted in this range. to be specific about a few of these guys, i have concerns about terrace marshall’s hands and movement skills, and until i see a full season of health from rondale moore, i can’t bet on him. caleb farley, greg newsome, asante samuel, and ifeatu melifonwu all have exciting traits, but i do not believe that they are clearly in a tier above other very solid day 2/3 defensive backs like elijah molden, richie grant, aaron robinson, tay gowan, and kelvin joseph.

jaelan phillips is rapidly ascending a pyramid of hype but is still unlikely to hear his name called before pick 20, and that’s probably going to a regret for teams like the pats, raiders, and dolphins, all of whom are like to pass on him in two and a half weeks. i have him mocked to the colts at pick 21, who will install him and see a year one impact from the guy who has been widely considered the best defensive end of his class since his senior year in high school. ronnie perkins smoked pot and seemed to have some trouble with big offensive tackles, but i believe his athleticism and ferocity will translate to the NFL game, and it’s really on his defensive coordinator to make sure he achieves his considerable potential. joseph ossai has slipped out of the round one conversation because of concerns about his functional strength, and he may be a more scheme-specific pass rusher, but he’s likely to outperform his draft position.

greg rousseau is very intriguing to me now that he’s solidly fallen out of many 1st round mocks. he’s being written off as a slow, clumsy big man whose game tape from 2019 looks increasingly full of accidental highlights and lots of missed opportunities. if the eagles took him at pick 37, it very well could end up being the steal of the draft. make no mistake, jaelan phillips will be the best 4-3 defensive end in this draft class; but rousseau very well could end up right behind him as a fellow pro bowler in 2-3 seasons. what rousseau has going for him is something that is truly rare: a wingspan and a fluidity that showed up on all kinds of highlight plays in his sophomore season. most great college defensive ends need all of 2-3 full seasons of putting on pounds, studying conference opponents, and intensive coaching to show flashes of what they’re capable of; greg rousseau did it all in his second year because he’s a natural. does greg rousseau get parachuted into an NFL defense on day one and have another “accidental” season of transcendence? almost definitely not. but give him a freshman season to figure it out and i think he’s a guy that shocks people as early as his second year in the big leagues.

i’ve already talked at length about jeremiah owusu-koramoah. people are taking it for granted that he’ll be drafted by the raiders or dolphins in the late teens, but i do not think this is likely, and in fact if he falls beyond pick 20 he may fall all the way to the early 2nd round. people are worried about positionless defensive weapons after what isaiah simmons showed in his rookie season, and they’re specifically worried about j-ok’s playing weight. students of his game have no doubt though that his versatility as the joker will be far and away his most exciting trait as a pro player. i’m not going to waste more words on him; j-ok is my favorite defensive player in this draft. to me, he’s not only a unique player and a surefire pro bowler but also a guy that will change the NFL game.

04.09.21

the draft: waddle and smith will be there at 12

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:07 pm by Administrator

i did a fan mock with broshmo last night (find it on youtube) and had plenty of interesting back and forth with an eagle fan that was thoroughly unhappy with my 3-round draft for the eagles. i took jeremiah owusu-koramoah at 1.12, greg rousseau at 2.5, tay gowan at 3.6, and josh palmer at 3.20. the rousseau pick inspired a lot of ire from the fan, who wanted a cornerback there. that cornerback would have been campbell, stokes, or melifonwu, none of whom i consider any bit superior to gowan. meanwhile, greg rousseau really should not have slipped out of round one, and regardless of the fact that he fell on his ass after the vertical leap on his pro day, he is a high-upside pass rusher with an unusual wingspan and an effortless outside move. if greg rousseau is there for the eagles in the 2nd round, they have to take him. he’s a guy that we would develop for a year behind brandon graham, josh sweat, and derek barnett, with the goal of pushing him into the rotation in 2022 after one (or two) of those guys have moved on or retired.

i am beginning to revolve around the belief that the eagles should take their cornerback(s) no earlier than round 3. like i’ve written extensively already, i do not believe that patrick surtain or jaycee horn could be as immediately impactful for the eagles as a variety of players at other positions, including rashawn slater, devonta smith, jaylen waddle, or (my favorite) jeremiah owusu-koramoah. we’re going to get our 2021 starter opposite of slay in free agency, and moreover the cornerbacks in round 3 and beyond are a deep group that are not clearly inferior to the round one prospects. in addition to gowan, guys like tre brown, kelvin joseph, and rodarius williams are getting serious buzz for all the right reasons. none of these guys are denzel ward, but then again neither are surtain or horn by any stretch of the imagination. it’s an odd year for defensive backs, but i see them as a big group of guys that are all on the same tier, with no elite prospects but many functional ones.

so i’m basically locked in at looking for cornerback and offensive line in the 3rd round, which means that we should probably be hunting for a wide receiver and a defensive end in the first 2 rounds (unless someone in the philly front office has a rare stroke of genius and decides to get j-ok). if the eagles sit tight at 12, they will almost certainly get either waddle or smith, so wide receiver in round one makes sense for them. my conviction there is based on this breakdown of the first eleven picks:

1. jacksonville: trevor lawrence

this pick requires no discussion.

2. ny jets: zach wilson

seeing zach wilson rise so fast and so high on draft boards reminds me a bit of kyler murray’s meteoric ascent just two years ago. i don’t know what to make of wilson. he checks several boxes, but in the end this is a guy who was a classic gunslinger playing backyard ball. was it effortless? yes. can he bust? for damn sure.

3. san francisco: mac jones

the people adamantly contending that mac jones is no better than a 3rd round talent are playing the wrong game. this isn’t a beauty contest. several teams see in mac jones what they cannot find in justin fields or trey lance: a guy who can process the game and place the ball with accuracy on day one.

4. atlanta: trade down with denver, who take justin fields

fontenot and smith have come to an agreement that the falcons are in a very strange situation indeed. they have a 2 year window to win with matt ryan, and yet they have a defense that is in no shape to win now. the logical move for atlanta is to forget about matt ryan’s window, draft a quarterback this year, and focus their rebuild on the defensive side of the ball. however, their competing priorities will lead them to hedge their bets by acquiring draft capital and taking a defender, a path that will prolong their mediocrity. so glad i am not a falcons fan.

meanwhile, the broncos, who are world-beaters at disguising their desperate need for a new quarterback, will quietly take this draft night opportunity to grab justin fields. people point to drew lock’s moments of brilliance last year, but everyone in denver knows that lock is fundamentally unreliable and cannot be trusted to run a consistent offense for this otherwise elite squad of footballers. denver needs a quarterback who can be great within 1-2 seasons, and obviously lock is not that man. justin fields could be, and he is certainly worth multiple draft picks this year and next for a denver team that is ready to take the AFC as early as this season.

5. cincinnati: penei sewell

i know that joe burrow wants to play with his old friend ja’marr chase. but this is cincinnati’s shot at a very unusual phenomenon: an offensive tackle who can singlehandedly win games with his dominance. sewell doesn’t just lock down the pass pro and extend burrow’s career. he transforms their entire offense. chase, as beautifully as he plays the game, can only incrementally improve the bengals. i think the bengals are too smart to pass on penei and may very well trade up from pick 38 to catch a falling receiver like kadarius toney, rondale moore, or elijah moore.

6. miami: ja’marr chase

this is not a no-brainer, but it’s the probable move for a team that has a lot of ammunition in this draft but no better opportunity than pick 6 to get an elite weapon for their offense.

7. detroit: kyle pitts

there is a small chance that the lions trade down with a team desperate for trey lance (i.e. the washington football team) or a team enamored with kyle pitts (i.e. the cowboys). but i do not think detroit’s general management will agree to any trade out of the top 10 given that they’re sick of mediocrity and sincerely interested in testing what they’ve got in jared goff. i don’t know if they have conviction about kyle pitts, but almost everyone else in the league does. personally, i don’t buy the hype on pitts, and i think that this will go down as yet another misfire by a lions team that seems to find talent but no recipe for winning.

8. carolina: trey lance

this is a dream or an inconvenience for carolina, depending on how you look at it. i think that the panthers will realize on draft night that there was no need for them to give up 3 draft picks to get sam darnold when they could have sat tight at 8 and taken a falling trey lance. to put it simply, i just don’t see any of the top 7 teams in the order agreeing to trade down to 15 or lower. i know that the panthers didn’t want to make that bet, but it was a bet worth taking. darnold is not a good player. lance potentially is. having lance and darnold on the same team will be terrible for both guys, as the former will feel the team’s lack of commitment to him while the latter will have nothing to learn from the former.

9. atlanta (from denver): patrick surtain

nothing to see here, folks.

10. dallas: jaycee horn

it’s such an obvious pick for a dallas team with a fading secondary. that being said, stephen jones has been good at making the obvious picks, and they’re generally the right ones. i hate to say it, but dallas will have a very talented team in 2021.

11. new york giants: rashawn slater

offensive line is the one major need for a giants team that is balanced, deep, and on a mission. fortunately for the eagles, that mission is being commanded by captain daniel jones, a boy scout who can’t tie knots or find his way to the end zone even with a clear path and the wind behind him. daniel jones is a bad quarterback. fortunately for the giants, there will be no quarterback prospects on the board compelling enough to muddy their decision-making process at pick 11.

12. philadelphia: jaylen waddle or devonta smith (take your pick)

04.08.21

the dark

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:33 pm by Administrator

when i look at myself through the eyes
of my adolescent self, i feel his disappointment.
the decades have done little to steel me,
and if anything i am more tentative
when i comb through what i am

this man who broke faith, who lost friendships
of a lifetime, whose hair is thinning
and whose career has meandered
around all landmarks, like a river that has
stranded itself in a deep and heavy marsh.

my younger self appraises me with impunity,
and why would he not? he expected so much:
the clarity of a mission, the power of conviction,
and a mental space like a simple garden
tidied of weeds and lovely for birds.

the years have taught me to take criticism
with open hands, a measure of diffidence.
still, i am hurt, and like my daughter who lays
her head on my lap to cry as she tells me
of little betrayals, i too want to lie down

but there is no lap or embrace for me anymore.
i am the one who wakes up first in the house,
studies the lines and furrows around my eyes,
and heads out into the world alone, to make sense
of it, though it is insensible.

he is not wrong about me, but beyond my facile
answer—that we all lose our way in some way—
there is another prompting, and so i stand
where i am and look at him, the boy
who believed in so many things.

he was a thing forged by my parents
with society and the church, laden with purpose
and fearful of the dark. there was no room
in his life for this feeling i have, this light
and ambiguous feeling of delicate strangeness

which found its way into my life through
many chance moments of failure and discovery.
this feeling, always there through all the holidays,
deaths, births, and weddings, is the substance
that gives form to all the years that have passed.

it is what i am, sitting in the back pew watching
the others, and hearing what they say.
it is what escaped all the years of yearning,
and it can go but it chooses to stay
here in this place between worlds, just to listen.

04.07.21

Eagles: dissecting the draft yet again

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:37 pm by Administrator

i believe i’ve offered a justification for virtually every possible direction the eagles could take in this draft. the only move i’ve consistently opposed is moving up to draft a quarterback. now that this seems exceedingly unlikely, i’m more relaxed. i continue to be very satisfied with the results of our trade down to pick 12, and my thoughts are beginning to revolve around what i would define as our best-case scenario.

reuben frank recently published a piece advocating for a round one cornerback and a round two receiver (rather than vice-versa) based on historical results. stats don’t lie, but they do require some interpretation. while there is a scenario in which a cornerback could be our best choice at pick 12, it is a very specific scenario, and even then i would not consider it superior to trading down. this very specific scenario is the situation in which four quarterbacks, three wide receivers, two offensive linemen, a tight end, and my favorite linebacker (jeremiah owusu-koramoah) are all selected in the top 11 picks. then and only then would the eagles have to choose patrick surtain if they could not get any compelling offers to trade down. this would be a very sad situation indeed.

here is my basic rationale for leaning against a cornerback pick at 12. i don’t see the value in taking a first round cornerback in this particular draft. this is for three main reasons. first, i’m having a hard time convincing myself that the top 3 cornerbacks in this draft are truly elite players. jaycee horn had an impressive pro day and excellent game tape, but he’s much better in man coverage than in zone, and he won’t necessarily take over the game with his ball skills. patrick surtain has proven his proficiency in a variety of coverage situations, but he’s not super quick, and like horn he hasn’t distinguished himself in producing turnovers. caleb farley certainly has the most upside of all three players, but he’s a risk because of his recurring health issues. overall, these are three very solid cornerbacks, but i don’t see a darrelle revis in this group. there’s a reason that they’re not generally mocked in the top 9, even in a draft year that features no other defensive stars.

second, it’s increasingly unclear that the drop-off in quality between the 1st and 2nd tier cornerbacks is significant. four corners (including asante samuel) are projected to go in the first, leaving guys like greg newsome (ideal zone traits), eric stokes (blazing 40 speed that shows up on film), ifeatu melifonwu (exceptional size and athleticism), and elijah molden (maybe the best vision and mentality of the entire class) for the 2nd round. is the drop-off from jaycee horn to greg newsome really worth a round of difference? perhaps it depends on the defensive scheme. in indy, jonathan gannon liked rangy guys who excelled in mirror coverage. if that holds true for his time in philadelphia, newsome or melifonwu might actually be better fits and for lower cost.

third, the drop-off in value between rounds 1 and 2 is actually more significant for several other positions, including wide receiver and offensive line. i know that i’ve talked a lot about the depth of this wide receiver class, but some things have changed since my initial assessment. guys like elijah moore and josh palmer who were initially flying under the radar have now gotten a lot of attention; moore is now solidly in the round one conversation, while palmer is getting round two buzz. yes, there are still likely to be some great mid-round sleepers, including nico collins, tamorrion terry, and amari rodgers, but for teams looking for a sure thing, the difference between devonta smith and dyami brown is really significant. from my latest mock round-up, i’m counting as many as 7 wide receivers going off the board before pick 37, which means that if the eagles do pass on a receiver in the 1st round then they may be choosing between the aforementioned brown, tylan wallace, amon-ra st. brown, and josh palmer. all four guys have their particular strengths—but perhaps none of them are as dynamic or skilled as alabama’s heisman winner.

if the eagles are committed to taking both a receiver and a cornerback in the top 2 rounds of this draft, then the ideal situation would be smith or waddle at 12 and a high-upside defensive back at pick 37.

i continue to believe that a strong case can be made for drafting rashawn slater over a wide receiver at pick 12. and i still hold to the personal conviction that jeremiah owusu-koramoah is the best pick that the eagles can make in round one, regardless of their draft position. but when i step out of my box and consider the probable interests of all stakeholders in the eagles draft process, i think that the best realistic scenario is the one in which the eagles get either waddle or smith at pick 12. it’s the scenario that most clearly justifies their trade down while also setting up the team for long-term success. yes, it’s unprecedented for a team to double-dip at wide receiver in consecutive first rounds, but we’re talking here about the eagles.

based on these thoughts and others, here’s what i think the eagles will do in three weeks between rounds 1 and 4:

1.12: devonta smith

with carolina making the sam darnold deal, i find it significantly less likely that they will be willing to make a wow offer to atlanta for the 4th pick. denver is the other top 10 team looking for a quarterback, but they will similarly be loathe to sacrifice significant draft capital for a move up, especially when they’ve been so reluctant to put drew lock on the market. it’s new england and chicago that ought to be all in for a move into the top 10 picks, but i don’t think atlanta or detroit will be inclined to trade so far back when they’ve got new head coaches that want playmakers right away. i think atlanta will stay at 4 and take patrick surtain too early, while detroit and carolina stay put and snatch up lance and fields at 7 and 8, respectively. assuming denver takes parsons (a strong bet) and the giants take either slater or pitts, both waddle and smith could be available at 12. it’s a 50/50 proposition, but i’d bet on it.

2.5: boogie basham

while there’s perhaps a slim drop-off in value between the round 1 and 2 cornerbacks, there is perhaps no drop-off between round 1 and 2 defensive ends if basham makes it to pick 37. i think jaelan phillips is the best of the bunch, but if i’m looking purely for value then nothing beats boogie basham in round 2. all he did at wake forest was prove that his floor is being an effective power rusher at the NFL level. the eagles need a new starting defensive end as early as next season, and like i’ve written previously, i think that the eagles will look for their guy in the top 2 rounds of this draft.

3.6: tay gowan

i think tay gowan will fall to the 3rd, but there will be other compelling options if he’s not, including tyson campbell, aaron robinson, rodarius williams, and thomas graham. this expanded second tier of cornerbacks is a long list of guys that are all athletic, put in great senior bowls and pro days, and have significant potential in a zone scheme. i think that the eagles will essentially complete their starting cornerback rotation with free agent pick-ups, but they’ll still want young defensive backs to groom for the future, and round three will be a good place to start.

3.20: aaron banks

i’m convinced that the eagles will draft an offensive lineman in the top 3 rounds this year. with pick 84, they could go with a tackle like james hudson or brady christensen, but i have a feeling that they’ll use this pick on an interior guy this year. aaron banks is a powerful guard who should work out as an NFL starter, and if he pans out early on, then we could kick seumalo inside as kelce’s successor within a year. mailata and driscoll could be our long-term bookends at tackle.

4.18: talanoa hufanga

i wish we could take a safety in round 3, and richie grant is a guy i’m keeping an eye on. that being said, i believe the eagles will look for value at safety and wait til day 3 to address the position, especially with k’von wallace looking to break out this year.

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