09.29.19

the eagles and jalen ramsey

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:32 pm by Administrator

calls for a jalen ramsey deal have reached a fever pitch in philadelphia, and the almost frantic nature of it all is fascinating to observe. it’s a unique convergence of factors that’s underlying this unholy din of trade clamors: injuries now to sidney jones and avonte maddox, a sudden resurgence in super bowl talk now that the eagles had a “signature win” at lambeau last thursday night, and jalen ramsey’s strange behavior in jacksonville. some would even call it a match made in heaven, bringing together a team with one major (and fatal) flaw and a true superstar who could single-handedly turn that weakness into the team’s strength.

all it might cost in the end is a couple of 1st round picks. should be a done deal, right?

call me a skeptic. there’s no way we’re doing this deal, and here’s why.

no eagle fan (including howie roseman) can possibly forget the summer of ‘11. that ill-fated “dream team”, starring 3-time pro-bowler nnamdi asomugha and ascendant dominique rodgers-cromartie, was supposed to be a transcendent defense. was there any good reason to doubt it? philadelphia has collectively analyzed and re-analyzed the dream team disaster for the better part of this past decade, trying to understand how a team that looked so good on paper could fall apart so dismally, spelling the end of not only a regime but a whole era of eagle football. howie roseman survived that disaster and more; and he learned a whole career’s worth of lessons from that debacle. i think that one of those critical lessons, on the same level as never fight a land war in asia, was a pretty simple one: you can’t simply buy a great defense. you have to draft it, build it, and develop it over time. it starts up front on the line; it requires veteran leadership on the back end; and it consummates in a team concept that allows “the next man up” to do his job, no matter what the job, with predictable excellence.

fast forward to 2017 and we can see how roseman built an actual dream team with no less aggression in free agency but with much better results. the guys he went after—nick foles, legarrette blount, alshon jeffery, patrick robinson, ronald darby, and chris long, among others—collectively constituted a team makeover, but no one could have viewed any of these individual players as the answer for a struggling 7-9 team. even alshon jeffery, the one guy on this list who was in his prime, was very much an undercover signing, having missed 11 games over his prior two seasons and having been three seasons removed from his last 1000 yard season. roseman’s 2017 “dream team” was more of a hungry bunch of has-beens: guys who had checked their egos at the door, team players who were more than willing to fit in and facilitate.

jalen ramsey, with all his skills and talent, is also a self-assured, outspoken superstar who’s clamoring to get paid, and for this reason he strikes me very much as the anti-eagle. he’s the kind of guy we would’ve gone all-in on in 2011, but he’s very much the opposite of the kind of guy we’ve learned to value in the years since.

it’s not just being once burned by prima donna defensive backs that should make us wary about a mega-deal for ramsey. the fact of the matter is that league history has proven that the eagles’ experience with asomugha is not unusual. for every jason mccourty, prince amukumara, and joe haden that picks up with a new team right where he left off, there’s a marcus peters, malcolm butler, and josh norman who kind of doesn’t. like i’ve written previously, great NFL cornerbacks are more often than not a product of an effective system. there are exceptions—guys you can stick on an “island” anywhere in the league—but players like darrelle revis and patrick peterson are truly the rare exceptions. mccourty, amukumara, and haden joined excellent defenses with schemes compatible for their skill sets, while peters, butler, and norman were left to do their own things and with dubious results.

is jalen ramsey that next patrick peterson? to this point he’s played in a lock-down jacksonville defense, and he’s been very good—although his 2018 season (like that of the whole jaguar team) was definitely less inspired than his transcendent 2017 year. is it a certainty that you could drop him into jim schwartz’s vanilla defense and expect him to dominate every snap? here’s another way of looking at it. the price we’d have to pay for ramsey (multiple draft picks including a 1st rounder) could only be justified if ramsey came in and produced as if he were playing in the jacksonville system as the 2017 version of himself. that’s not a great bet. that’s a risky proposition.

my argument here isn’t that jalen ramsey wouldn’t make the eagles better. what i’m arguing here is that a mega-deal for ramsey goes against roseman’s philosophy and is objectively a huge risk to the organization.

i personally don’t think the eagles are one player away from a super bowl. our defense is too weak and too thin at all three levels to bet on, and our offense is still too inconsistent to be considered top-tier. the cowboys are decisively better than we are at all phases of the game, and for this reason alone i think that a high-risk win-now move that mortgages our future is beyond inadvisable. the 2020 draft features some exceptional defensive backs (better than 2019 and probably better than anyone we’ve got on the roster right now), and as a result our 1st round pick will be an extraordinarily important asset for us. our best course of action right now is to patch our secondary with veteran signings until we can get leblanc and mills back on the field. we’ll know after our week 7 game in dallas just how realistic our playoff chances are, and maybe at that point we could consider a deal with a losing team that won’t cost us more than a 3rd round pick at most.

by the way, here’s my do-over of the eagles’ 2019 draft:

1st round: Jawaan Taylor (we didn’t need to trade up for Dillard)
2nd round (53): trade down with the Jets for their 3rd and 4th
2nd round (57): Nasir Adderley (our decision not to draft a safety is hurting us badly)
3rd round (from Jets): David Montgomery
4th round (from Jets): Charles Omenihu (who was ranked top-50 on my board!)
4th round: Mack Wilson
4th round: Amani Oruwariye

09.18.19

random musings

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:30 pm by Administrator

IT chapter 2 was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I only went because my son insisted that we see it, despite the reviews. it was a poor way to spend three hours of my life. there were so many things wrong with the movie, but I think its two most obvious flaws were its lack of a coherent story and its failure to scare me.

the eagles are off to the start I predicted, as I projected a week 2 loss to the falcons and a huge night for julio jones and matt ryan. it’s convenient to blame our defensive backs after two consecutive bad performances, but obviously jim schwartz doesn’t do them any favors with his vanilla defensive schemes. the real loss was on the defensive line, where we just lost tim jernigan for perhaps half the season. I don’t expect the eagles to implode without malik jackson and tim jernigan, but I do expect us to have a much harder time stopping the run and pressuring the QB.

despite the lackluster showings on defense, the eagles’ fate this year continues to rest on the health and productivity of carson wentz. thus far, he’s shown that he can make the throws in and out of the pocket, and his play has been more positive than negative overall. with quality depth on the o-line, a couple of good young receivers and tight ends, and a talented running back who should only get better with time, I think the Eagles are poised to field a good offensive unit for at least the next three seasons. I think we’ll be a winning team over that stretch. not counting on any super bowls in the near future though. we’ve got a 50/50 shot at 10 wins this year, and like I said earlier, if we make the playoffs we’ll be dangerous.

I continue to be really disappointed with our approach to the 2019 draft and roseman’s refusal to draft a safety. even still, I’m not a fan of trading for a flashy defensive back at this point in the season. trading even one 1st round pick for jalen ramsey is too pricey for an eagles team that needs to rebuild its defense through the 2020 draft. specifically, we need to use high draft picks on a safety (top priority), an interior d-lineman, and an outside linebacker to replace nigel bradham. we’re not set at cornerback, but it’s not by any means our top priority for this season or next. I know the eagles are doing their “due diligence” on a ramsey deal, but if the price is a 1st round pick, I think we should back on out right now.

I just finished “dark age”, the fifth book in pierce brown’s “red rising” series. pierce brown is an absolutely masterful suspense writer. I marvel at his skill with every book (and by the way, he’s impressively prolific). all that being said, “dark age” was an odd book and not quite as satisfying as its prequels. the book largely pivots on the evolution of a new villain, who over the course of 800+ pages goes through an initiation into manhood marked by warfare, loss, betrayal, physical disfigurement, torture, and incest. he comes out of it worse for wear, obviously, and his mentality at the end reflects not only disillusionment but also a loss of any moral compass. it’s a straightforward setup for a particularly barbaric sequel, but perhaps it was a lost opportunity as well. the character seemed to be sizing up as an intriguing foil for the protagonist of the series; but when he reveals himself as a warped villain in the closing chapters, it feels all too self-evident and predictable.

can’t wait for the “doors of stone” to be released

09.11.19

remembering 9/11

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:09 pm by Administrator

for many years, I wrote an annual entry on 9/11, because it was a day that changed my life. then for a few years, I stopped doing it. it seemed like the memory of 9/11 had been absorbed into the interior fabric of my consciousness, no longer an identity as much as the subtle reflection of a former self.

today, I think back to 9/11 and realize it anew. it was a trauma, yes. it was a defining moment indeed. but it is also an idea that has continued to evolve, even after it was pressed into subconsciousness. I see it through a new lens: as the moment when I began to understand myself as both the victim and the oppressor. it was the moment when I entered post-modernity.

in retrospect, it seems that my transition from conservative Christian to LGBTQ ally to diversity and inclusion advocate and now to universalist mystic was all seamless, as if one transition absolutely necessitated the next. to a friend in the church that is now contemplating a more open and inclusive stance toward LGBTQ membership at her church, I advised that she consider the possibility of a slippery slope of belief: that to normalize queer sexuality is to openly question the inerrancy of scripture, and to question the inerrancy of scripture is to formally exit orthodoxy and ultimately embrace a universalism that inescapably undermines any semblance of a covenant theology. I have come to this very conclusion—that Christianity is only as solvent as the church’s ability to prosecute and marginalize all elements that the canonical scriptures identify as immoral. can the god at the center of such a tradition be good? he is good only insofar as the fate that he prescribes to the beholder; and thus to the believer he is good, just as to the nonbeliever he is not.

what does this theological rumination have to do with 9/11? everything in fact. it was 9/11 that punched a hole through the macula of my singular eye. where once I saw clearly, afterwards I saw scattered lights and encroaching shadows, showers of visual disturbances that made sight itself painful to experience. the blindness began with my irrational and inexcusable hatred of muslims, which inevitably led me to identify with americans of Christian faith and the bloodlust of conquest that we commonly embraced. the horrors of war and its terrible consequences led me to recognize the real fruit of covenantal belonging: blood on our hands. it is always blood that establishes covenant; in this case, it was innocent blood shed to appease our wrath, and it was blood enough to make me hate what I was becoming. it took years, but 9/11 made me recognize that all covenantal identities foster hatred and suffering. whether it is nationalism or monotheistic religion, our mythologies bind us together and potentiate our hatred in proportion to our self-love. we become incapable of seeing a human being for what he or she really is.

absent of nationality, religion, race, or other creed, I can live with myself, the empty being who expects only in proportion to what the universe has to give. a breath is good and it is enough; a meal is precious and can be shared; a person can be appreciated without being converted, altered, or influenced. but the person that I am when I live with conviction is ultimately someone I cannot live with, not in this life or in the life that follows. it was 9/11 that revealed this to me, over many chapters of successive sorrows and sufferings. there was a path that leads from faith to zeal and onward to causes, crusades, and the conquest of other minds. it is all a grand effort at colonization. 9/11 was the universe’s lesson to me about the true nature of coloniality. I left that path of covenant and conviction; I left it by way of meanderings and lostness that stranded me in the emptiness of a meditation. it was there, in the middle of nothing, that I found an end to my suffering.

I think today of the rubble and the smell that I once experienced, the terrible destruction of two buildings and the many lives crushed beneath their weight. an idea around which I built my whole identity was shattered that day, and I just didn’t realize it for almost eighteen years. my time of grieving has ended. I feel compassion for us now, all of us in this world, not because of what we experienced that day but because of the suffering we produce in ourselves on account of it. we will always be the cause of our own suffering. we will always create and recreate 9/11. we will always struggle against the weight of covenant and be crushed by it. but we can always find hope in the moment before us—the nonjudgmental space offered to us by the universe, within which we are not those who survived the tragedy but rather those who were saved from its story about the world