01.27.20

grief about kobe

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:19 am by Administrator

this morning i took the kids to dave & buster’s of all places, because i had a card with $30 of credits on it from a company employee appreciation event a couple of weeks ago. the kids and i had a good time, and as we were leaving the place i was in a certain frame of mind—the kind of mood you’re in when you’ve bonded with the people you love so unexpectedly and profoundly that you chance upon something fundamental, something so fundamental it can’t really be described. it’s the sense that the wonderful and mysterious thing that connects you to your own children is the very same delicate, transcendent, and powerfully brief thing that connects you to every other stranger in the anonymous but somehow familiar crowd of people around you.

in this state of mind, i was holding the hands of my children and we were walking out of the place when i caught sight of the headline on the bar television screen that stopped me in my tracks. my daughter asked me what was wrong, but i said nothing. i just stood there and watched the tv screens—one of a football game, another of a sports news channel, still another—all rolling the same headlines. kobe bryant, dead at 41.

what could i have said to her? this is a man whom i had hated, rooted against, grudgingly respected, and then ultimately admired. though i’d never met him, i’d known him for my entire adult life. losing him was losing a part of myself, a spirit on one end of that mystical tendril that holds my entire generation together. once upon a time, he was a professional basketball player on the wrong team. but the man i lost today was my peer—another 40ish father and countryman, just finding his way through life.

and what a life he had created for himself and for others, after his retirement from basketball! what a moment he had experienced when his daughter, like my son, was born 13 years ago. what a moment he had relished when his football team, our football team, won the super bowl two years ago. the laker who thrashed my sixers twenty years ago was someone i’d had nothing in common with. but the husband, father, citizen, and human being who passed away this morning was someone who represented me in more ways than one. he was not my friend, but he was a part of me regardless. i feel grief for him today, and i feel grief for us, who have experienced something for which there is no good explanation at all.

01.21.20

stay or go

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:58 am by Administrator

on their latest “stay or go” article, nbc philadelphia turned the spotlight on alshon jeffery. reuben frank, like brandon gowton, wants the eagles to ship out the team’s top receiver for two main reasons: 1) “alshonymous” jeffery ratted out carson wentz to the media and has become a locker room cancer and 2) his play in 2019 fell off a cliff, suggesting he’s already past his prime. the problem of course is that roseman fully guaranteed jeffery’s 2020 paycheck prior to the 2019 season, meaning that he’s a huge dead cap hit if he’s cut and still a major liability if he’s traded. two years after being hailed a hero in philadelphia, alshon jeffery is definitely on the hot seat now, and there’s no shortage of critics that want him off the roster one way or the other.

i’ll grant that it’s painfully obvious that alshon is the one who leaked to josina anderson. and it’s fact that jeffery by the stats had a miserable season. but i’m going to say this regarding the villain narrative that’s emerging about him: alshon was probably right about carson, and i think he was justified in his frustrations about the team in general. i’m going to go even further and say that if the eagles in the end decide to protect their man by shipping out jeffery, then they’ll be hurting the guy that they want to support most.

let’s talk about carson wentz for a second.

frankly, the carson wentz i’ve seen over the past two seasons is an enigma. i’m not sure whether it’s his basic limitations, or the injuries, or the psychological burden of emerging from the shadow of superman foles. for sure, wentz has flashes, moments when he extends plays and hits his guy with precision accuracy through a crowd. but he continues to have plenty of bad moments of indecision and bad judgment as well. he hangs out in the pocket a split second too long and gets the ball knocked out of his hands; he takes a sack when he’s trying to be a hero; he tosses up the ball as a guy is taking him down because dammit the play is there to be made. one could argue (and most fans have) that 2019’s offensive ineptness had everything to do with the bad hands of our receivers, but methinks tape don’t lie. tim mcmanus broke it all down after the loss to seattle two months ago—wentz’s repeated inaccuracy in the short-medium game, his failure to get the ball out, his habitual lack of pocket awareness. it wasn’t just “arguably” wentz’s worst game as a pro; it was a perfect reflection, here in the middle of his fourth season, of carson’s failure to develop as a professional.

it’s not a surprise then that the eagles’ two “signature” wins this season—the games against the Packers and Bills—were power running games that featured jordan howard with less than 175 yards of offense in the air. basically, the eagles were at their best this season when wentz’s role was minimal.

it’s interesting to contrast wentz’s approach to the game with that of foles. if there’s a guy in the NFL that has an innate propensity to be utterly statuesque in the pocket, it’s nick foles. like carson, nick holds the ball too long. like carson, nick has his fair share of sack fumbles. but despite these similarities, and despite carson’s definite edge in athleticism, foles’s results on the field have been more impactful. i was at the la coliseum for nick’s first game after wentz’s injury in 2018, and all the philly fans there were stunned to see how dynamic and aggressive the eagle offense suddenly looked with nick at the helm. obviously, the reason for foles’s success wasn’t scheme; it’s not like pederson and groh had time to revamp the entire offense on such short notice. here’s my take based on what’s been said about nick and his role on the championship team: nick simply ran the offense that was called for him, and he did it well. carson, for all his intellect and giftings, has struggled to do that.

i’ve blamed pederson and groh for the sad showing that the eagles put out this past season. the play-calling has been inconsistent and sometimes bad; the execution has been even worse. but i’ll acknowledge that it takes two to tango (or perhaps three in this case), and it really doesn’t matter what schemes and plans the coaches came up with if carson couldn’t do what was asked of him. it’s probably not outright insubordination, but carson clearly saw things his own way, and he delivered results expected of a talented guy who routinely improvises: a completion rate around 63% and one of the lowest YPA averages among starting QBs.

i don’t think it’s a surprise that the eagles are having a hard time attracting an offensive coordinator (or a QBs coach for that matter). who wants to be caught up in this dysfunctional web of interaction developing between pederson and wentz? you couldn’t find two guys who are more disarming in front of the cameras, but the reality behind the scenes is that they’re stylistically at total odds with each other. carson wentz doesn’t need a players’ coach and a cheerleader; he needs a martinet who will teach him the fundamentals of the game. i have to believe carson can learn to be a good quarterback, but he needs a mentor to get him there. maybe he had that once in john defilippo and frank reich; but he’s got no one like that now in the eagles’ organization.

when alshon said that wentz requires accountability, i think he was spot on. you can ship out the dissenting voice, but then the message you convey to the squad is that this is wentz’s show and everyone’s got to get in line. that’s not only the wrong message for this group of players, many of whom are better and more experienced at their positions than wentz is at his; that’s also the wrong message for carson wentz, who needs to recognize that the team needs him to change his approach to the game. wentz is a big boy getting paid a lot of money to do his job well; he doesn’t need to be coddled. alshon and carson can work it out man to man, and regardless of what max kellerman says i think that they can do their jobs on the field regardless of how they feel about each other. alshon’s got plenty left in the tank, and he can light it up (as he showed in miami) if he’s not getting schemed into bubble screens as a one-dimensional possession receiver. the team and the fans deserve to see what jeffery can show us in his contract year, and if he produces on the field, then we should re-sign him. talent like alshon’s is rare, and it would be idiocy to drop him after we refused to put him in a position to succeed.

more thoughts on the draft and the off-season in general:

1. i continue to like the idea of getting our defensive tackle of the future in round 1 this year. javon kinlaw and raekwon davis would have been top-15 picks in any other draft, but the QBs and wide receivers are going to steal the show early on, giving us premium opportunities at pick 21.

2. i don’t dislike the idea of getting tee higgins (the favorite of philly sports writers), but as i’ve said many times before, i don’t trust the ability of carson wentz and our coaching staff to make proper use of any wide receiver talent we draft this year. yes, we’ll talk about the one game when wentz made magic with desean jackson (and i was at the linc to witness that personally), but that really isn’t how this eagle team is going to win games. whether we like it or not, we’re going to win by running the ball effectively and focusing our short-medium passing game on miles sanders and our tight ends. we’ve already got alshon (whom i’ve got faith in) and jj arcega-whiteside (roseman’s folly) at X receiver, and there isn’t a speed guy i’d waste a first-rounder on in this draft.

3. we definitely need speed and talent in the secondary, and while the drop-off between rounds 1 and 2 is precipitous at defensive tackle, it’s fairly subtle at corner. depending on the combine, i think we might see top-tier guys like jeff gladney, bryce hall, and cam dantzler in the mid-2nd round, all of whom could be just as good if not better than popular first-round prospects like trevon diggs and paulson adebo.

4. personally, i’d recommend that we not only draft both a corner and a safety in 2020 but also sign a big-money corner from free agency as well. i’m not going to wait for sidney jones and rasul douglas to turn into surefire starters on the outside; it’s time to move on from them both. sidney jones has to be worth at least a 2020 5th rounder? i’m fine with re-signing jalen mills provided that the money is reasonable.

5. andrew berry would have to be out of his mind to leave the eagles for the browns’ GM position. john dorsey didn’t do anything wrong in his one year there except to piss off the wrong people. there’s simply no way that the browns are going to suddenly be a better team after their debacle of a 2019 season. with the steelers and ravens looking imminently transcendent and the bengals a good candidate to be the most improved team in 2020, the browns will be left out again and will probably be trying to figure out next year if baker mayfield is the problem. now how do you leave an eagles’ organization with 10 draft picks, tons of cap space, and a decent shot at consecutive nfc east titles for a cleveland organization that routinely ruins the careers of football executives? you’re young but you’re not that stupid, are you?

6. i might be the only one, but i’m a huge jordan howard fan, and this eagles team was at its best when he was carrying the ball. miles sanders isn’t a complete running back in my book, not yet. let’s sign jordan howard and figure out how to divide the carries later

01.18.20

Eagles: contrarian thoughts (as usual) and another mock

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:07 am by Administrator

like i’ve said repeatedly before, pin the eagles’ precipitous decline on doug pederson, not howie roseman.

but now we’re in the part of the year when roseman, not pederson, has to deliver, so i’ve got the following pithy words for the general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles.

1. don’t hire an offensive coordinator who lives or dies by his system—because that fat fuck doug pederson isn’t just gonna let some new kid on the block (aka graham herrell) revamp the whole offense.

2. have a plan for this draft, and make sure that plan isn’t a compromise. if you’re going to take 10 players and start a youth movement, then commit to that plan—and don’t suddenly decide to sacrifice picks and trade up because of an ad hoc gut feeling about a guy. let’s face it howie. with all due respect, your gut feelings about football talent are worth shit.

i’m going to say this about the 2020 nfl draft. this has to be a total makeover of the Eagles’ defense. we’ve wasted enough money, draft picks, and effort on the wide receiver position. there isn’t a single wide receiver in the 2020 draft class not named jerry jeudy or ceedee lamb that can suddenly transform this eagle offense into the juggernaut that nick foles created every time he stepped on the field between 2017 and 2019. it’s on doug pederson in 2020 to make it happen with alshon jeffery, desean jackson, jj arcega-whiteside, and greg ward. if he can’t make that happen, then he should be getting his walking papers in 12 months. super bowl 52 was good and all—but dp has to prove that he can call plays without frank reich carrying his ass.

whether or not doug pederson can learn to be remotely competent with or without the help of an OC/personal assistant, the eagles will continue to lose games until they fix the defense. the secondary is the burning platform, but the d-line is an undercover priority and one that i think we should address in round one. here’s how i see it: after jeff okudah and kristian fulton, the 2020 cornerback class doesn’t have a clear day one starter. could trevon diggs or paulson adebo help the eagles? maybe in 2-3 seasons. the priority for pick 21 is a day one defensive starter. in the first round, we can’t afford to settle for a potential talent at WR or CB; we need to draft a guy who will step in and contribute on defense immediately. i see an incredible opportunity at interior defensive tackle, where we can capitalize on underrated talent and an early run on wide receivers.

as i did in mock #1, i’m seeing us grabbing a future all-pro interior d-lineman in round 1 and finding our long-term replacement for fletcher cox. it is never a bad time to get a star defensive tackle when you’re sitting on a late 1st round pick with 9 more bullets to fire.

Mock #2 for 21 Picks

1. Bengals: Joe Burrow
2. Redskins: Chase Young
3. Lions: Jerry Jeudy
4. Giants: Andrew Thomas
5. Miami: Tua Tagavailoa
6. Chargers: Justin Herbert
7. Panthers: Jeff Okudah
8. Cardinals: Isaiah Simmons
9. Jaguars: CeeDee Lamb
10. Browns: Jedrick Wills
11. Jets: Tristan Wirfs
12. Oakland: Kristian Fulton
13. Colts: Derrick Brown
14. Bucs: CJ Henderson
15. Broncos: Henry Ruggs
16. Falcons: AJ Epenesa
17. Cowboys: Grant Delpit
18. Dolphins: Laviska Shenault
19. Raiders: Tee Higgins
20. Jaguars: Javon Kinlaw
21. Eagles: Raekwon Davis

the Eagles will take a cornerback in round 2 (Jeff Gladney, Jaylon Johnson, or Cameron Dantzler) and a safety in round 3 (Kyle Dugger, Brandon Jones, or Antoine Winfield). if we take a receiver, it shouldn’t be until round 4.

i have spoken.

01.14.20

thinking about the world

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:50 pm by Administrator

i woke up feeling off and then felt even worse halfway through my morning meetings. it was a familiar feeling but one that i have not had in a long time. i would describe it as a feeling of displacement, alienation even. it was a common feeling for me in my pre-meditation era (PME, i should call it), but it really has been very rare since i began my practices of mindfulness.

after lunch, my mother called me to tell me that her sister died. in the midst of experiencing my mother’s grief, the feeling i woke up with this morning suddenly made a lot of sense. it was no longer a random feeling without context or reason; it became the right feeling at the right time and for the right reason. i wonder if it is possible that the universe sent me a signal, through the ripples of our overlapping human energies across the world, that my aunt had left us.

lately, i have been so tempted to judge myself in many ways. i’ve been disappointed for example to find that i’ve been thinking so much about money. not about what i want to buy or acquire. no, i’ve been thinking about capital and what it reflects about the world and our societies and our values. sometimes these thoughts have struck me as novel or important; but more often than not, these thoughts have struck me as terribly mundane. what is more banal than money? i’ve been disappointed as well in my attitude toward family gatherings and old friends. i was at my father-in-law’s birthday party a few nights ago, and it was only after i left the party that i realized i had not said a word to my father-in-law. once upon a time, that would have affected me a great deal. after all, there’s an importance to these rituals, and there’s importance in words, and there’s great significance in reflecting depth of relationship through words of emotion. at least those are the things i once believed. i don’t believe much anymore, and as a result i feel and do what the moment permits me to do. more often than not, the moment is simple and not dramatic, and so i am not moved to make of my moments something momentous. perhaps i shouldn’t be disappointed in myself—but my ego or whatever else it is prompts me to consider how i have changed. does nothing matter to you anymore?

and yet, i know that the way i once used to care about the world inevitably demanded a quid pro quo relationship of symbolic offerings. for every sacrifice i made, i demanded a sacrifice. for every emphasis i placed, i expected others to reinforce it. for every pain or injustice i experienced, i demanded equal retribution. the price of my passion for the world was loathing of the world. i don’t experience that so much anymore. this morning, a man struck my car with his hand as he walked past me at an intersection, perhaps because my car had edged across the crosswalk. later i inspected my car and realized how profoundly dusty it was. the poor man had undoubtedly dirtied his hand by striking my car. i realized then that i do not expect kindness from people, and so it does not anger me when i do not receive it.

still, i think about the world, and i suppose the qualities of my thoughts have shifted a great deal. i sense that something is wrong in the world, as i always have. when i was younger, these thoughts would drive me into a frenzy, and i would respond with activism, with anger, with plans for a better future. alternatively, i would react with dismay, defeat, and utter resignation. now, i see the many things that once troubled me, and they still trouble me: poverty, helplessness, victimization, abuse, the destruction of the environment, the incessant cycles of violence and war. there are even more things that trouble me now: the killing of animals, the extinction of species, the failure of human society to embrace peace, the failure of religions to explain our suffering. now, when i perceive these things, i do not assume that they have a past or a future. i do not feel an arc of redemption. i see these things as the instantaneous and complete projection of what we are right now, as beings totally governed by our suffering. and then i look inward and see my own propensity for suffering, and i instinctively respond by doing the only thing that i really can do—manage my feelings, mitigate my sufferings, and extend compassion to myself.

today, i think of my aunt. i never visited her in her nursing home, but i had a picture of it in my mind, and i see it now: a small room, painted in dull blue, a single window letting in slats of light that now fall upon an empty bed stripped of its sheets. in her last years, my aunt could not remember things, and people fed her through tubes, and they cycled her blood through machines. for a while, i shared this world with her, and we breathed the same air. now, i know she is gone; i knew it even before i heard the news

01.06.20

Pick 21

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:12 am by Administrator

i didn’t expect the eagles to beat the seahawks today, but the loss hurt nonetheless. what’s particularly painful about the loss is that the seahawks’ entire game plan was focused on one wide receiver—the guy we passed on in the 2019 draft for jj arcega-whiteside, the guy that i had a lot to say about on three separate entries during that fateful final week in april, including this gut-wrenching reflection on april 27:

what we did at picks 22 and 53 made me shake my head, but we did at pick 57 honestly made me angry. if you’re dead-set on moving nelson agholor and you want to replace him with a 6′3″ 220 pound receiver who excels at 50/50 balls, then why not take the guy with 4.3 speed and the potential to be transcendent? why take the other guy with 4.5 speed who’s basically already shown us everything that he can do?

our decision to take jj arcega-whiteside over dk metcalf is confounding, annoying, and enraging all at the same time. it’s a signal to me that we were so narrow in our evaluation process that we couldn’t see the damn forest for the trees. i don’t really care what metcalf’s college production looked like relative to jjaw’s. the fact of the matter is that dk metcalf showed on tape everything that we should be looking for from a big, tall, physical receiver, with none of the red flags that should have removed him from consideration. i know from looking at arcega-whiteside’s evaluations that he’s probably a better receiver in the college game than metcalf is right now. i know for damn sure that in three years, arcega-whiteside isn’t going to be a top-5 receiver in the NFL, while dk just might have deandre hopkins up-side. i mean, what is exactly is a GM supposed to be looking for in the late 2nd round? reliability? i say that once you’re past the top 50 picks, superstar potential is just something you have to gun for without hesitation. there’s no doubt that i would have taken dk metcalf at pick 57 over any other player at any other position, and that’s even in spite of the fact that on paper i would have preferred an interior defensive tackle

it’s unfair to pin most of the eagles’ struggles this year on howie roseman, but our loss at the Linc today was largely his fault. he’s got to own that and get better at his job.

eagle fans everywhere, take this one comfort to bed with you tonight. we didn’t come up short today because we got unlucky with injuries. we lost today because we were a mediocre team for 16 games of the regular season, and (no surprise) we proved ourselves to be a mediocre team yet again. that had nothing to do with the level of effort from the guys who took the field on game day. it had everything to do with what happened (or didn’t happen) between games and on the sidelines. doug pederson, i’m talking to you. fix this offense.

it’s a critical draft in 2020, as the rebuild of our defense has to begin now. we’ll have 9 or 10 picks in this year’s draft and some critical holes to plug, as i expect we’ll be moving on from ron darby, sidney jones, tim jernigan, and probably nigel bradham as well. on offense, we’ll be moving on from nelson agholor but otherwise bringing back a young and talented unit that won’t need any major additions (other than a legitimate offensive coordinator). eagle fans are fixated on drafting a 1st round wide receiver, but i view that as an opportunity cost in light of our major gaps on defense. personally, i think that a half-decent offensive coach should be able to “integrate” alshon jeffery, desean jackson, jj arcega-whiteside, and greg ward; and if there aren’t major changes to the offensive coaching staff, would we really be able to take advantage of new talent at the receiver position anyways? you get the drift; groh got to go, and pederson should be coaching for his job in 2020.

we have at least 6 picks in the first 4 rounds, and we’ve got to get a cornerback, a safety, a strong-side linebacker, and an interior d-lineman early in our draft. it all starts though with round one, where we have to get a defender who can be an impact starter on day one. here’s my first top-21 mock for 2020:

1. Cincy: Joe Burrow
2. Washington: Chase Young
3. Detroit: Jerry Jeudy
4. NY Giants: Andrew Thomas (they’ll probably trade down)
5. Miami: Tua Tagavailoa
6. LA Chargers: Justin Herbert
7. Carolina: Jeff Okudah
8. Arizona: Isaiah Simmons
9. Jacksonville: CeeDee Lamb
10. Cleveland: Jedrick Wills
11. NYJ: Tristan Wirfs
12. Oakland: Kristian Fulton
13. Indy: AJ Epenesa
14. Tampa: CJ Henderson
15. Denver: Henry Ruggs III
16. Atlanta: Yetur Gross Matos
17. Dallas: Grant Delpit
18. Miami: Laviska Shenault
19. Oakland: Tee Higgins
20. Jacksonville: Alex Leatherwood
21. Philadelphia: Derrick Brown

i think howie roseman could safely drop the mic if he got derrick brown or javon kinlaw right here, after signing chris harris in free agency to address our cornerback woes. derrick brown is a top-10 talent that will drop to the 20s because an early run on wide receivers and offensive linemen; he’ll slot in next to fletcher cox and immediately beef up a pass rush that’s desperate for a legitimate talent outside of cox and brandon graham.

making it to the playoffs isn’t good enough.

GO EAGLES