10.30.19

the eagles do the right thing

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:24 am by Administrator

the broncos, jets, and bengals, among other teams, failed to turn their rapidly depreciating assets into draft capital today, and the eagles, who did nothing, came out unscathed. it was a show of good discipline by roseman and his team, as there were undoubtedly opportunities from them to pull the trigger on something or another.

i think it was also howie roseman’s way of making it clear that he wasn’t about to go out on a limb to bet on this team and on the coaching staff in particular. roseman took a lot of blame last year for the golden tate trade; but tate is producing with his new team this year, just as he produced in every season he had with the seahawks and lions, proving that his flop with the eagles had much more to do with the way he was coached than with his ability. for the rest of this season, the eagles are going to have to sink or swim with the guys they’ve got right now, and if philadelphia’s offense continues to stink it up as they have for the last season and a half, then i have to think that mike groh will be out come march, and the april draft will represent a reset for the team, if not the beginning of a rebuild.

a 9-7 season that puts us just outside the playoff bracket is quite possibly the worst case scenario for the team, but it seems the most probable outcome at this point. i’ve never been a fan of sam hinkie and his fabled “process”, but at the same time it’s probably not unreasonable to contend that it might be better for the future of the franchise to end up with 7 wins rather than 9, given the immense importance of the 2020 draft and the sheer number of picks we have invested in it. once it becomes clear that the cowboys are in the driver’s seat for the division title, i’m hoping we’ll take all the available opportunities to rest carson wentz and our key starters (including cox, graham, johnson, and especially d-jax) in order to improve our draft position. for what we’re looking for (a 1st round wide receiver and a 2nd round cornerback), there may be a big difference between drafting at the 12th and 20th positions.

jalen reagor and devonta smith are looking good in the mid 1st round, and jaylon johnson or cameron dantzler are looking good for us in the mid 2nd. this is sizing up to be just the draft class we’ve been waiting for…

10.28.19

the move to make

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:17 am by Administrator

a kamikaze—divine wind, so to speak—saved japan from an invasion of asian mainlanders centuries ago, and today it may have saved the eagles’ season. thanks to the weather, josh allen couldn’t really test the eagles’ secondary, and so one of the worst passing defenses in the country came up looking like world beaters as they stomped on the bills. now at 4-4, the eagles will inspire yet another prompt reversal in fan sentiments, as eagle haters suddenly revert to predicting a championship run to close the 2019 season. these same bull market bandwagoners will push for the trade that will get us over the top: a WR or a cornerback (or quite possibly both) that will be the last tweak needed to turn an already-elite squad into a genuine threat for a lombardi trophy. and if howie roseman knows anything about anything, he should see this bipolar bombast for exactly what it is:

BULLSHIT.

maybe i’m missing something when i blame the inclement weather and josh allen’s mediocre skill set for not exposing philadelphia’s defense for the sham that it is. maybe i’m missing something when i don’t go all crazy about the sparkling implications of miles sanders’ first rushing TD. but i find it difficult to suddenly feel much better about a team that was bailed out by heavy winds, a few big plays by our on again off gain running backs, and a bad fumble by a 2nd year quarterback who to this point has game-managed the bills to a series of wins over really bad opponents. did doug pederson really call a masterful game in buffalo? or did he just look brilliant in the context of the extreme futility he showcased over the prior seven games?

in my last entry, i posited that the eagles would feel almost forced to trade for denver’s chris harris if they won the game in buffalo. well, as fate would have it, we won the game and are now consigned to pretend that we’re a contender. we’ll trade for chris harris, and we’ll still lose the games that we think we’re supposed to win, and we’ll still end up with 8 or 9 wins and no playoff berth when we limp across the finish line. then spring will roll around, we’ll be out a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick, and we’ll almost have to commit major money to a soon-to-be 31 year old cornerback about to fall off a cliff just to prove that we didn’t make another gaffe of golden tate proportions.

it’s all a sorry road to envision, but it’s just about to come true—unless common sense prevails and we recognize a basic truth. there’s only one player who could possibly make our deluded championship fantasies come true this year, and that’s nick foles. would roseman and dave caldwell be willing to bring wentz to jacksonville to bring foles and three 1st rounders back to philadelphia? i think not. as good as he might be with the broncos, chris harris can’t step onto the field for the eagles and fix a defensive scheme that is poorly adapted to the abilities of our personnel. our defensive problems are systematic; we need a better coach, a new system, and a full off-season to fix a predictable 4-man pass rush that isn’t working and a nickel defense that’s giving up dimes, silver dollars, and honest to god jackpots to any team that wants to air out the ball. with the kinds of deep dysfunction that we’re working through, the best thing we can do right now is to wait and see what the return of desean jackson, tim jernigan, and avonte maddox can do for us.

the 2020 nfl draft and free agent class both look nothing short of impressive. if the eagles approach it right, i think we can draft up an elite wide receiver in the 1st round (ruggs, lamb, or shenault) and a decent safety in the 2nd, while signing a good cornerback in his prime. it’d be great fun to steal byron jones from dallas, but there are a lot of other good corners who’ll be looking to get paid next year. we’ll need all the draft ammunition we can get, as it will be time to do a near-overhaul on the defense. the only thing that will prevent us from accomplishing this is a major deal that costs us a 3rd round pick or higher. i’m sorry, but we simply can’t afford to do that for a guy like chris harris or robby anderson.

before the season, i predicted that the bears would beat us at the linc next week, and i’m standing by that prediction, regardless of whether or not we pull off a trade. it’ll be close and ugly, not to mention completely unsatisfying to see the eagles’ defense make hapless mitch trubisky look like a superstar in the making—but this is how you rip off the damn band-aid.

go eagles?

10.22.19

Why the Eagles Need to Sit Tight and Hunker Down

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:56 pm by Administrator

a lot of people in philadephia are very upset right now after the humiliating loss in dallas. i’m hearing sports reporters openly calling for accountability from howie roseman, doug pederson, and jim schwartz. the furor was inevitable once the eagles collapsed in arlington, as losses against the cowboys have a history of resulting in career fatalities for eagles’ players and coaches. that being said, the loss and the position we are in right now were totally predictable. and the point of emphasizing that isn’t to kick anybody off the bandwagon; it’s to infuse a little perspective into the discourse on the eagles. the fact is that the eagles are a flawed team with some important decisions to make in the near future, and one of those decisions is whether or not to make a big trade this week. the danger is that the eagles will make a desperation move and threaten their ability to build for the future.

my advice? we need to sit tight and hunker down. and we definitely shouldn’t strike a deal before sunday’s game.

for a little context on my perspective, i’ll refer to a few prior posts from the spring. here’s an excerpt from my march 10th entry:

up until yesterday, philly sports writers had me nearly convinced that the secondary is not really a problem for this eagles team. with their PFF numbers, their incessant praise of maddox and leblanc, and their stalwart defense of jim schwartz’s bend-over-backwards-but-just-barely-not-break soft zone concepts, i was almost ready to concede that the eagles do not need to invest heavily in a cornerback or safety upgrade this off-season. i awoke from this nonsensical stupor after a mind-clearing nap yesterday and realized the facts for what they are: bad play in the secondary cost us several games during the 2018 regular season, and we remain a below-average unit moving into 2019. yes, maddox and leblanc improved considerably in the second half of the season; and rasul douglas mostly played the part of a starting outside corner. but we were killed in the playoffs by the likes of allen robinson and michael thomas, and our distinct lack of talent, speed, and size in the secondary (outside of malcolm jenkins) was exposed. the single most important upgrade the eagles need to make this off-season isn’t at running back or wide receiver (despite what the local “pundits” are insisting). we absolutely need to shore up the secondary right now.

we took a calculated risk this year by not upgrading our defensive back rotation and by passing on a talented safety in the 2nd round of the draft. the risk was not an intelligent one, as we now know. our defensive collapses should have been predictable and are in retrospect very unsurprising. we had a bad pass defense last year, and without any significant improvements to the DB crew we had no right to expect anything better this year.

how about our offensive struggles? everyone’s been clamoring for a “speed receiver”. even now, philly sports personalities are pinning the blame on our inability to put a downfield threat on the field. but really, our offensive sloppiness this year was highly predictable based on the poor results we generated last year, and it has a lot more to do with game-planning and play-calling than with receiver speed and separation. here are two excerpts from my march 10th and may 24th entries:

our offense didn’t struggle last year primarily for lack of speed and separation by our receivers. nick foles made that pretty damn obvious when he stepped in and basically converted our anemic passing game into a dynamic threat featuring alshon jeffery. i’m sure doug pederson and mike groh got in roseman’s ear about their wish for a speed receiver to “take the top off” opposing defenses, but that wasn’t really what stalled our offense again and again last year. the fact is that mike groh and carson wentz didn’t work well together and were rarely on the same page, and adding even the likes of antonio brown to that mess wouldn’t have made an appreciable difference. we’ve already got mack hollins and even jordan matthews if we’re looking for situational speed guys; what we really need is a new approach to managing carson wentz. i hope we figure that out this spring.

the carson wentz i saw in 2018 was a middling quarterback who looked tentative and out of rhythm, and while it’s nice to see him at OTAs without a knee brace, it’s not a safe assumption to believe that he will readily reassume his early 2017 form. the jury is out on what we’ll have at QB this year. the fact is that our offense through much of the 2018 season was very bad, and it restrains me from overexuberant projections for 2019. will we be able to run the ball behind an o-line that’s past its prime on the left side and certainly tentative at both guard positions? how well will two brand-new running backs to the team adapt to the scheme? all of this remains to be seen. on paper, we have solid talent and depth at the skill positions—but this don’t mean a thing once there’s real contact on the field. i don’t think there’s any good reason to believe that all of our offensive struggles from 2018 won’t carry over to some degree into 2019. we need a lot of things to turn around in 2019: better play-calling from pederson and groh, better decision-making and more courage from wentz, stronger play from the o-line, and better route running and hands from our receivers. that’s a lot to fix in one season.

for all of these reasons, i stated in may that i “would definitely bet on the cowboys to repeat as division winners”, and i predicted that the eagles would go 9-7, losing to the falcons, vikings, and cowboys on their away games while dropping home games to the bears, pats, seahawks, and one of our divisional rivals. but i didn’t consider a 2nd place finish in the nfc east the worst possible scenario; it was inevitable based on our level of talent and the quality of our coaching. and so before OTAs began, i had this to say as well:

i don’t think that the Eagles will dominate the league this season, and it’s not reasonable to assume that they’re going to easily fix all the offensive sloppiness that contributed to a lot of stupid and baffling losses last year. yes, there will be enough head-scratching losses to remind Philadelphia fans of why it is necessarily such an angry and frustrating experience to fly and fall with their Eagles. so before the roller coaster ride of 2019 begins, let’s just start with a little perspective. 2017 was a dream, and 2019 is going to be a lot of harsh reality. let’s just hope that carson wentz stays healthy and plays better than he did last year. that in itself might be enough to call 2019 a success?

did we have an opportunity seven months ago to build a better team for 2019, based on what we learned from the 2018 season? absolutely. i summarized all those learnings in innumerable entries back in march and april. for all his arm talent and athleticism, wentz isn’t a good fit for this team and for doug pederson’s approach to the game—but we chose him over nick foles anyways. for all their youth and spot potential, this group of defensive backs is a subpar rotation that lacks talent—but roseman chose to ignore cornerback and safety in the draft and in free agency. we thinned out a defensive end group that didn’t have talent to spare, and we wasted critical draft picks on skill players that we frankly didn’t need. yes, we could have built a better team in 2019 if we’d made better decisions, but i’d argue that even still we would have been scraping for margins. sooner or later this team was going to have to start rebuilding for the future. is that time now?

like i’ve written recently, the eagles right now aren’t one or two players away from a playoff run. they have two legitimate playmakers on the offensive side, and one of them is a slot receiver pretending to be a running back while the other guy hasn’t played for us since the first quarter of week 2. on defense, they have two cornerstone linemen who have about 2 seasons of high level play left in them (cox and graham), and outside of those two guys there are absolutely no other high-level talents worth a long-term commitment. that’s dismal! under normal circumstances, that should signal a fire sale and serious consideration of a tank, and if the nfc east weren’t so mediocre i’d say that this would be the only intelligent strategy to pursue. however, an nfc east title is still very much in reach for the eagles, which makes for a tricky situation: do you blow up the team while you can get some value in return, alienating the fan base in the process? or do you seriously commit to upgrading the team at cost before the trade deadline, potentially threatening your ability to execute the rebuild that is imminently necessary?

howie roseman needs to sit tight and do nothing before sunday. there isn’t a player he can trade for right now that can be the difference between a win and a loss after just one or two practices. the bills are a good bellwether test for this squad, as their middling offense may afford our defense an opportunity to rally while their vaunted defense gives wentz and his ambiguous offensive crew a chance to define itself. if the eagles come out and dominate that game, then he might have no choice unfortunately but to try to swing a deal for a guy like chris harris. but if the eagles struggle or flat-out lose, then he should cut our losses, as a 3-5 eagles team would almost definitely be out of the playoff picture given the strength of the nfc west and north. the bold move in this scenario would be to sell, but roseman won’t sell off cox, ertz, or lane johnson, so there’s little to consider here.

beyond getting younger and better through the 2020 draft (and my mock drafts will start up soon enough), the eagles have to think about whether a coaching change is needed now. doug pederson has proven himself incapable of properly supporting carson wentz, so we must hire a legitimate offensive coordinator to replace what we lost in frank reich. it’s too early perhaps to end the jim schwartz era, but if he can’t effectively break in a new batch of defensive rookies in 2020 then i think it will be time for us to find someone new in 2021. the 2020 draft is going to be a very important one for howie roseman’s team, and i would suggest that he get some help. for all his strengths at writing up and restructuring nfl player contracts, he’s been fairly awful at drafting defensive players.

i’m still predicting the eagles to go 9-7 this year. what’s changed is that i’m not sure that’ll be good enough to get a wild card spot. the nfc west or north could easily put 3 teams in the playoffs this year, so the eagles will have to beat out the likes of the vikings, seahawks, and rams in order to get a foot in the door. the new orleans saints are easily the most impressive team in the league to me this year, and i simply can’t see anyone beating them in their dome in the playoffs now, especially with the new PI rule.

GO EAGLES

10.15.19

saying goodbye

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:32 pm by Administrator

I’m in my last week with a company I have spent the last nine years with. it’s been very difficult saying goodbye. i’ll never forget the first of several send-off parties. seventy-five people dropped in, and almost every single person took the time to tell me what I had meant to them. what really impressed me was the range of people who came out; our CEO and several executive leaders came, but also front-line employees and admin assistants came out to say goodbye. in fact, it was the comments of those junior employees that meant the most to me. an admin assistant that had worked indirectly with me before her promotion a year ago made the trek to my party just so she could tell me how important the news of my imminent departure had been to her. “it meant so much to me to know that you are moving on to something good,” she said. “we care about you, and we will miss you.”

it was a lunch party, but I didn’t get to my food for an hour and forty minutes. I cried with people; I hugged people; people stood in line just to share a brief story or a goodbye. though my stomach was empty and growling by the end of it, my cup was full.

as intense and precious as my moments with colleagues have been, the moments with patients have been even more memorable. one of my patients—a man with chronic anxiety and many health issues that he made sure to address with me at every visit—surprisingly took advantage of his last visit with me not to address any medical concerns but to tell me in detail about all the moments when I had made a difference in his life. he was so specific and so detailed; it was nothing less than a tribute. another of my patients, a stroke victim with total aphasia and cognitive impairment accompanied by his wife, actually shed a tear in my final moments with him, though he couldn’t say a word to me. and one of my most devoted patients, an undocumented immigrant who has fought all his life for his dignity and survival, delivered a speech to me in the exam room hailing me as a saint, and then he got on his knees and kissed my hand. I, the unworthy witness, was utterly overwhelmed by his display of affection. I’ll never forget that moment for as long as I live.

there have been many moments when people have asked me to explain why. why I am leaving. where I am going. these questions imply that there is a story of my life to be told, and it is jarring and strange every time. I tell them what I feel that they want to hear—that I am ready for a change, that I have finished the work I wanted to do, that I will be okay—when in fact there is little of any story to tell. the change will happen, as change always happens. there are reasons why I moved toward this change, but those reasons are behind me now, trapped like a little universe caught up in a single droplet of water that has long since splashed upon the pavement and given itself up to the elements. my life has no meaning. there is no purpose to my movements. there is nothing I seek to accomplish; and success is an idea that has no worth for me anymore. I am leaving. I am coming. it is all the same.

my left eye continues to trouble me, but then it is always reminding me to see what is there to be seen and not what I wish to see. my left ankle always hurts after a run, and the pain reminds me that this form is what I am and not simply of service to what I think I am. the news never stops being as sensational as it is aimless; the world never stops its relentless conversion of life into combustible energy; the wildfires rage, and the atmosphere fills with carbon, and people I do not know die in the night when bombs detonate on the other side of walls too troubled and worn to restrain the violence of the world. in the midst of many beautiful goodbyes, I meditate and recognize that every semblance of me will soon be forgotten, but the moments themselves are nevertheless vibrant and wonderful. the tears are not for a future that cannot be had but for a certain experience of life so immediately resonant that the chord must be beheld until the vibration of the strings is appreciated even in the ensuing silence.

I lived here, for nine years. how strange. how wonderful