05.28.21

remembering our past

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:55 pm by Administrator

yesterday in clinic, i spent time with two people who have struggled through quite a bit in their lives. one patient has had a severe speech impediment for all of his life, an utterly disabling stutter which turned a 10 minute conversation into a 30 minute visit. another patient, homeless and chronically injured, presented in a wheelchair with what looked like an ALS syndrome.

after the two hours i spent with them, i was reminded of the great human suffering i have been witness to throughout my career. i was reminded specifically of my intern year, nearly twenty years ago, when for the first time i saw death on a daily basis. mind you, this was not graceful dying. this was ugly death. people dying in agony. people dying under my hands, as i broke their ribs doing chest compressions. people coming off the ventilator and gasping for their last breaths, even with the opioids pumped into their bodies. over the three years that i took care of him, i saw one of my patients experience several amputations that progressively removed three of his limbs. i thought i would become inured to that suffering, as so many of my peers did. but i took a different path; i became angry, and that anger is still with me today.

no matter what evil and violence we humans impose on one another, these cannot compare with the pain and suffering that is innate to our mortal forms. even when we do not submit to addiction or to self-mutilation of various kinds, our own bodies fall apart as if by design, triggered by enzymes and cytokines and immortalized cells. there is no natural death. there is no painless path to the afterlife. there is this bare fact: the body is as imperfect as the mind, and it forces us through suffering. yes, our wars and our crimes and our innumerable prejudices add to the plight of mankind, but even in the absence of these things, people must carry the incredible burden of their own innate defects and disorders. among all inequalities faced by mankind, the greatest inequality we face resides in our genetic differences, which predispose us to disease, to pain, to mental illness. there is no activism that can address this, other than the genetic reengineering of our species.

humanity has done well in facing its greatest enemy, nature itself. we have sheltered ourselves from the elements. we have invented tools and technologies to produce food from unyielding soil. we have eradicated the mosquitoes that once infected us with malaria; we have created antibiotics to destroy the bacteria and viruses that once plagued us. the creatures that once preyed upon us now cannot match our weapons and our resolve. where we once struggled to survive, now we are steadfast and resilient. where we once fell prey to starvation and to communicable diseases, now we feed off our excesses and manipulate our immune systems to attack the germs in our midst. make no mistake: nature was our enemy, and we have gained many victories over it.

but this last battle remains—to address the flaws in ourselves. to tackle the genetic code that predisposes us to weakness and to pain. to reap from the genetic diversity that once saved us an answer to the troubles that continue to plague us. once upon a time, i directed my anger against god, who gave us lives full of trouble and suffering. now, my anger is only against our own weaknesses, which we are afraid to confront because of mythologies and religious stories that glorify our exquisite imperfections. nature always was the enemy. to impose our will upon it is to conquer our pain and to improve the lot of our progeny.

it is a unique era that we live in, that we now come to view ourselves as the oppressors of this planet, as the perpetrators of violence against our ecosystem. today, in light of much human suffering, i remember that it is in fact the world in its natural state that once posed such a threat to us, the naked and hairless and brittle beings of flesh that we were. we survived not by respecting nature but by conquering it—predators, the elements, and micro-organisms all. perhaps in one man’s story, we owe something to this world, as its caretakers and lords. i see it differently: we were the hunted, but we are preyed upon no more. still, the last of our great enemies lies within us: the genes that dictate our short, difficult, and painful lives, waiting to be conquered and transformed for all the generations yet to come

05.21.21

negotiating identity, losing things, and rejecting society

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:34 pm by Administrator

an old friend of mine told me recently that what sets me apart is the connection i have maintained with my inner child, throughout the years. this connection has enabled me to remain vulnerable, to the extent that i can be transparent about my suffering. while others find ways to compartmentalize or marginalize their sufferings as they age, i am in many ways still the person i once was: sensitive, innocent, unable to mask my feelings.

the conversation reminded me very much of philip pullman’s golden compass story. in that universe, people had animal daemons, animalistic self-representations that morph and evolve with the human’s growth, until eventually settling into a permanent shape. i wonder sometimes about my daemon. once ten years ago i felt god call me a “lion for his people”. now i know that i am anything but a lion. from one day to the next, i do not know what i want in life, and i am perpetually out of sorts with my circumstances. perhaps i am somedays a blind fish in the deep seas, wandering in the darkness. on other days, i am a migratory bird, moving across the continents purely out of programmed habit. and still on other days, i am like the predatory dogs of the savannah; all i know is my need to survive, which fuels my aggression.

in any case, i was once a student in the back of a university lecture hall, reading herbert marcuse’s one dimensional man. i had an identity back then: i had an ethnicity, a religion, and a political leaning. these were the things i thought that a man was supposed to acquire—a distinct perspective, no less. now i am solidly middle-aged and abandoning perspective. two weeks ago i had a debate with my wife about racial capitalism and ended up nowhere. i found myself in the midst of nothing. i had feelings and opinions to express, but the deeper the conversation went the more out of sorts i became. i couldn’t locate myself in a paradigm. i had no point of reference for my belief or conviction. i was not a marxist, a christian, or a democrat. i was just a man with a loose hold on ideas that were too complex for me to really understand. my wife had the upper hand and could not be dissuaded; and i was exposed for my lack of perspective. really, i am not a believer anymore.

one needs identity sometimes in order to engage in deep discourse, and one needs to be in the discourse in order to be relevant to the broader community. i understand for instance that i can’t simply opt out of believing in “black lives matter” or “defunding the police” if i want to express sympathy or agreement with those who are seeking justice through these positionalities. but simply entering that space of identification causes me such suffering; i can feel it now, like a falseness to self. once upon a time, i truly scorned people who expressed their ambivalence by refusing to vote. i hated their irresponsibility and disengagement. now, in a way, i understand that. i know that to be engaged, i cannot simply eschew identity; i have to negotiate it, actively, not as one who needs identity for personal fulfillment but rather as one who needs a footing in the conversation. identity is language. in some places, i cannot have even basic communication with others unless i position myself in some way.

there are identities that are occasionally useful or even necessary, much as i dislike them. i can claim that i am religiously agnostic, which accomplishes nothing for me and says nothing meaningful about who i am. i can say that i am liberal and progressive, but those strike me as laughable ideas that would be immediately irrelevant if i suddenly found myself in another country. i am anti-racist, but does that mean i ascribe to communism, socialism, or anti-capitalism? i don’t know. i know that not knowing is sometimes not an option, so i’ll veer as close as i can to an identity that will suffice for the circumstances, but really i don’t know what to make of it anymore. i want to be present in my moment, and i want to be true to my basic self. my basic self rejects these identities as superfluous and painful. knowing this, in a visceral, deeply personal way, i wear identity like leftover clothes; it’s uncouth to be naked, but these clothes don’t fit me anymore.

there’s one true thing in life. we will lose things and eventually everything. it’s like elizabeth bishop implies; this is the bare art of living. i believe that losing things is part of the path to enlightenment, even if it does not in and of itself yield wisdom. i dread losing things, and yet i cannot deny that losing things has been the only source of real spiritual truth for me in my lifetime. acquiring things comes with so much self-delusion and onerous aggrandizement, a reevaluation of self in all the socially prescribed ways. but losing things is always true. it always subtracts from self in a manner that illuminates what is human. if i were given extraordinary wealth and power, i know that the person that i am would love to use these against those that i despise, for revenge; i would use them on behalf of those i love, in a manner that would corrupt them. but the human thing to do would be to give it all away. i would give away the money and the power to get free. i trust that i, absent of ego, would do the right thing and refuse to let the world and its charms define what i am. this is a truth inherent to all the world religions, because losing things is universal, and because losing things bears truth.

i was not meant to work, to be generative, to make money, and to toil away for the profit of those that i do not know or trust. i may choose to do these things, regardless, but it is a form of insanity, much like the insanity that generally governs our societies. every day that i live, i want to try something different and new. like the young man who was exploring identity so many years ago, in the back of that dark lecture hall, i still want to know what it means to be undefined by my job, by the money that i make, by the things that i own. it’s meaningless but important at the same time. how can that be? all i have learned of life is its many contradictions, and while it’s frustrating, the contradictions are themselves profound and substantive, worth the rumination. i really should not be trapped in an office all day long thinking about the life i would rather be living. i should be out there, beyond the walls, not guarding the gates but slipping past them, past the watchful eyes of those who would have me be a slave for all my years. one day, i will have the courage and wisdom to abandon all that i have known and be useless to the world. then, when i have thoroughly rejected everything that once defined what i am, i will be nothing, utterly empty as i was meant to be. it will be awful. it will be terrible. i will die. but for some reason, i will continue to awaken, and thus will i live again, for no reason but for the living

05.18.21

Revised Projections for the 2021 Season

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:02 pm by Administrator

since my last entry on the eagles, there have been a few interesting developments for the team that are worth noting. we got ryan kerrigan on a 1-year deal. we traded with jacksonville for josiah scott. and pff just rated jalen hurts the 2nd worst starting quarterback in the NFL. what do these three developments have in common? they’re going to put some fight into these eagles.

i’ve already praised roseman for an excellent off-season, but even beyond the individual moves there is a compelling theme to what the eagles are doing as they prepare for the 2021 season. between our coaches who are young and hungry, our veterans who are the last of the old guard, an underrated and overlooked quarterback who is accustomed to fighting uphill, and our multiple free agent pick-ups on one-year deals, we’ve got an organization now that is focused on disproving the countless doubters out there. most people in the media are rating the eagles the very worst team in the NFC East, and why wouldn’t they? but for the underdawg eagles, this kind of attention brings out their best. i’m revising my predictions for the eagles this season because i feel the tide turning our way. no, we won’t be the favorite to win the division this year, but i think there’s a chance that we’ll be better than the 7-10 team i envisioned just last week.

what’s our path to 9-8 and a wild card berth? i see us beating atlanta in the season opener, an important victory that will set the tone for the rest of the season. while our secondary is no match for their receiving group, the eagles will win this one with relentless pressure on matt ryan. the falcons tried to address their weaknesses on the o-line in this draft, but mayfield and dalman won’t be day one contributors. that’s just fine for kerrigan and company, who will punish ryan on third downs throughout the game. i see the eagles running the ball very effectively against a bad falcon d-line. this win will demonstrate philadelphia’s formula for 2021: running the ball consistently, and refusing to give up any big plays on defense.

i see the eagles beating the falcons, san francisco, and kansas city in the early stretch, while losing to dallas, carolina, and tampa bay. over a tough 7-game middle stretch featuring 5 road games, the eagles will fall to 6-7 going into the bye week, beating detroit, the la chargers, and the jets but losing to the raiders, broncos, saints, and giants. where jalen hurts will prove himself is in the very final stretch, going 3-1 against our divisional opponents after the bye to give us 9 wins and a playoff berth. the nfc’s best might not be as good as they were even a year ago, with tampa bay, new orleans, green bay, and the rams encountering struggles this year for various reasons. the eagles—young and hungry now—have a chance to emerge from a grueling 17 game schedule with some gas left in the tank. i’m starting to like their chances of a winning a playoff game this year. and if jalen hurts wins a playoff game, maybe the talk about a deshaun watson trade goes away. maybe the talk of a qb pick in the 1st round of the 2022 draft goes away too. maybe, just maybe, people start to look at howie roseman as a genius for taking jalen hurts in the 2nd round back in 2020…

a man can dream. GO EAGLES

05.12.21

the 2021 off-season: a watershed moment for the eagles

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:52 pm by Administrator

while howie roseman and the eagles get a B minus from me for the draft, they get an A for their undrafted free agent rookie signings (awosika, newman, and grimes in particular), their signings of anthony harris and eric wilson, and their trade of carson wentz to the colts for significant draft capital. i’m really unable to grade the coaching hire of nick sirianni and have my doubts, as i really wanted duce staley as our “ceo” head coach, but i’ll give our bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new coach some benefit of the doubt. without a doubt, this was a successful off-season for howie roseman and a good start to 2021.

the off-season is not over for sure, and the eagles have a number of remaining questions to answer. first and foremost, what will we do to address the hole at outside cornerback, which we cannot realistically fill with michael jacquet or zach mcphearson? second, what are we going to do with zach ertz, whom we cannot realistically bring back to this team after publicly severing the cord with him? and lastly, what other options do we have to create financial flexibility, not only for this season but the next?

these questions cannot be addressed properly as one-off management issues, as they are interrelated and have plenty of repercussions for the future of the team. there’s only so much utility in plugging holes with one-year deals; at some point, we have to establish a personnel strategy that shifts our payroll from aging veterans to longer-term and more cost-effective talent. like i wrote in a prior entry, this requires a vision and a purpose beyond simply improving the team. this requires a specific strategy for a rebuild that can hopefully be accomplished within two seasons and that will give us a measurable ROI (i.e. playoff victories) in that time frame.

to me, here are the questions we have to answer before we can even discuss if and how we will fill the gaping hole at cornerback and best leverage zach ertz for our future plans.

1. which quarterback will take the eagles deep into the playoffs in the 2022 season?

do we think this is jalen hurts, who could develop this year and emerge in 2022 as a star? or do we think that we’ll be in a position next year to draft a top qb prospect who can win it all in year one? or is it a premiere veteran that we have to trade for or woo in free agency?

i believe that the time window has to be that immediate and that clear, because this rebuild cannot extend into 2023 without taking on entirely unpredictable dimensions. we will almost certainly be moving on from key guys like lane johnson, brandon brooks, fletcher cox, javon hargrave, and brandon graham before the 2023 season begins. these players are cornerstones of this eagle team, and replacing them with equivalent talent is an improbable proposition. if we don’t think we can be a winning team in the 2022 season, then we have no business sticking with any of these five guys, who are taking up too much of our salary cap for no clear purpose.

i’m going to stick with the presumption that the eagles are absolutely committed to winning the division and competing for the championship in 2022. this means that our most important question this season is what i’ve already articulated above: who is the quarterback that can take us deep into the playoffs in 2022?

i’m a fan of jalen hurts, and i think he’ll be fun to watch this year. but i think the odds are against him that he can be a star quarterback in the NFL. looking ahead to the 2022 draft class, i don’t see any quarterbacks that look remotely like trevor lawrence; there isn’t a guy in that class that is fully capable of taking us to the NFC conference championship in year one. so i’m going to go out on a limb and say that the answer to question #1 is pretty straightforward: we need to trade for a premiere veteran quarterback some time in the next 12 months. deshaun watson is a risk to the organization and not a particularly upstanding human being. but if jalen hurts doesn’t shock us with qualities that we absolutely didn’t foresee during this upcoming season, then i think that the eagles must be prepared to sell the farm (or our three 2022 1st round picks) to get watson next year.

2. outside of quarterback, what are the key pieces we’ll need in 2022 to compete for a championship?

we’ll have young and talented wide receivers under contract in 2022, including smith and reagor. we’ll also have good talent and depth on the offensive line and on the interior of the defensive line.

defense wins championships, and specifically a strong pass rush and solid coverage are critical to winning in the playoffs. the eagles championship team is one of the few super bowl teams i can recall that was inept at generating a pass rush and making third down stops. this current eagle roster is mediocre on the edge and stunningly uninspired at the second and third levels. if i had to define the key pieces that the eagles must acquire in the next 12 months to compete for a championship, they are 1) an elite edge player, 2) a linebacker with plus coverage skills, and 3) at least one veteran cornerback with elite traits and proven success in the NFL. assuming brandon graham begins his expected decline, we have none of these right now.

if we’re lucky, we may be able to get our edge player and linebacker on fortuitous one-year deals in 2022, but i would not bank on stumbling across a playmaker at cornerback next year, nor would i count on a rookie (even a high draft pick) being that guy for us right away. at some point in the next twelve months, the eagles have to open up enough cap space to put $10-15 million into a cornerback in his prime. hopefully he’ll be better and more impactful than darius slay, whose future on this roster a year from now is dubious at best.

what that means for me is that cutting zach ertz after june 1 makes all the sense in the world. we’re not competing for playoffs in 2021. we need that cap space, either to land a premiere cornerback this year or roll cap space into next year when we can use it on next year’s free agents.

3. is there anyone on the current roster worth extending for a 2022 championship run?

there are three guys who aren’t under contract for next season and who are good enough to at least consider for an extension. that’s dallas goedert, jordan mailata, and josh sweat.

of the three, josh sweat is the toughest decision, and jordan mailata may be the most important decision. like i’ve indicated above, the eagles desperately need an elite pass rusher to make a championship run in 2022. derek barnett is very clearly not that guy, and i’m not sure he’ll be worth keeping around at any price. brandon graham will almost definitely be on the roster in 2022, and we’ll be hoping he can keep up his high level of play through the 2022 season. josh sweat will be a hard decision for us because he’s good enough to start but not elite enough to warrant the big bucks. almost certainly, another team will feel differently about him. my guess is that we will not re-sign him because he will price out of our range. i feel almost the same way about mailata, who is intriguing but even at this point not worth crowning as our left tackle of the future. dallas goedert may be the only of these three guys that is worth to us the price tag that he will command on the market. even as important as it is to free up cap space for an edge defender, a linebacker, and at least one cornerback next year, goedert may be worth the tag if we can’t get a reasonable long-term deal done.

05.11.21

capitalism, racism, and america

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:57 pm by Administrator

the Left’s critique of capitalism seems more mainstream to me now than ever before. whereas once it was strictly the realm of activists and academics, it is now the every day stuff of conversation among politicians in our government. bernie sanders for instance openly criticizes american capitalism, and his many acolytes in the democratic party are even seeking to outdo him, almost patently pushing for anti-bourgeois revolution. i never thought i’d see the day. my take on this is that the broadening willingness to consider alternatives to capitalism was made possible only by the spectacular and complete failure of communism throughout the world. now that america’s communist rivals have been thoroughly discredited, the talk of socialism is no longer considered a legitimate threat to america’s interests; and thus a real examination of the shortcomings of american capitalism can begin.

i see many strains in the conversation. i see capitalism being blamed for the emerging environmental catastrophe, which i find to be a very legitimate concern. i also see capitalism being blamed for the oppression of laborers both here and abroad, which is not hard to understand. increasingly, i see capitalism being blamed for most everything disorderly or unpalatable in america, including systematic racism. to me, this seems to be the leading edge of the conversation now: the conflation of racism and capitalism, as synergistic and inextricably tied forces of oppression that define america at this point in time. racial capitalism, coined and explicated by cedric robinson in the 1980s and onwards, builds upon a discourse developed by marxists like frantz fanon and posits a view of history within which capitalism and racism have consistently worked in concert to sustain the other.

i won’t deny that i find the idea of racial capitalism to be at once plausible and also conjectural at best. an important thing to understand is that robinson’s ideas represent a distinct off-shoot from conventional marxist theory, and among the critics of racial capitalism are more than a few marxists who cannot accept robinson’s ontological view of the slave trade in relationship to the global emergence of capitalism. conventional marxist theory posits that capitalism represents a rejection of the stark and fixed stratifications of feudal aristocratic society, within which institutions like serfdom and movements like settler colonialism took shape. nevertheless, i find marxism and anti-racism to be increasingly intertwined in the public consciousness, and the term “racial capitalism” seems to be common diction now. it’s a sign of our times: we are struggling across the globe with evident and expanding disparities in wealth, even as the extent of systematic racism is more and more thoroughly revealed.

i’ll tell you why i am uncomfortable with the idea of racial capitalism, even as i experience reservations about the future of capitalism and our history with racism. the idea of racial capitalism suggests that reversing racism requires the undoing of capitalism and the inequalities that it invariably capitalizes and exaggerates. to me, this only obscures the psychological complexity of bias and inadequately explains the historical phenomena we have experienced in the modern era. capitalism, for all of its macroscopic and microscopic effects on the relationships people have with one another and with capital, has certainly been responsible for a globalized economy and the juxtapositions, migrations, and even integrations that have resulted from that. has the era of capitalism witnessed a continuation of the interracial dominion and violence established by settler colonialism? for certain it has. but has capitalism, by virtue of its fostered interdependencies and integrations, also illuminated the historical problem of racism and encouraged pathways out of it? i would argue that it has had this effect as well.

after all, how can racism be properly confronted except in the context of a racially and ethnically diverse society? and how would we have had such racial diversification of nations across the globe, except by virtue of the forces and pressures introduced by capitalism? for sure, settler colonialism traumatized peoples, and capitalism fueled emigrations and immigrations that represented the extreme displacement of these victims of global oppression. these globalizing movements have forced white people and people of color to live together, as citizens of the same nations, competing for the same limited resources. naturally, the socioeconomic strata of these nations are defined by race, thus making the reality of systematic racism extraordinarily clear. in contrast to pre-capitalistic societies of five or six centuries ago, when nations were segregated by mountains and seas, and when racism was reflected in rare and momentous interactions between explorers and diplomats, our societies today experience racism in lurid immediacy; it is a reality we cannot escape or ignore, and it foments agitation and violence in this nation on an hourly basis. we have capitalism to thank for exaggerating the differences that add to the pain of racism; but we also have capitalism to thank for bringing together peoples of vastly different regional origins, the experience of which illuminates not only our historical plague of racism but also the imminent necessity of overcoming it, in the interests of peaceful coexistence.

i am not a capitalist or a neoliberal. but i hesitate to blame capitalism and the inequalities it fosters for all of the world’s troubles. this problem with race didn’t come about because of human greed or an obsession with accumulating capital. our racism has ancient origins, and it only required the forced convergence of the world’s various tribes to be properly understood. the question is not how to dismantle the very system that forced the tribes together, in this painful, sudden, historically unprecedented, and unequal manner. the question is how to accept our convergence and also to accept our responsibility—as individuals and as societies—to reckon with racism apart from every other human illness and malady, as its own unique, psychological, pervasive, and ultimately personal evil to be called out and erased from our way of life, one interaction at a time. the solution will require legal reform, the redistribution of wealth, and most importantly a neuropsychological definition of bias—something we can objectively diagnose, treat, and manage—among many other things. but the solution will not be as facile as disrupting free market economics and consigning people to a prescribed social station, for the enforcement of equality. anti-racism is harder work than that. let’s begin with that understanding, and proceed in the most expansive and transformational manner possible

05.09.21

a monster to myself

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:49 pm by Administrator

i woke up this morning and considered what i have become. i am a man in a fortress, an elaborate fortress. i am not the king of this fortress. no, he is walled in and inaccessible, the inscrutable commander. no, i am the warden of this fortress. i walk the walls, and i know every one of them. i know the people who draw the gates; i know the people who enter and leave; i know the people who live within. i see the sun rise on one side of the walls, and i see it set on the other. all the shadows that the light casts upon the grounds do not escape my eye. i know the seasons by their length and angles. i have such a routine of walking, of knowing, of observing, of feeling, that this fortress is all i know. i cannot remember what it is guarding or indeed what exists in the lands beyond. all i know is the walls and what is within them.

it was not like this when i was younger. i lived out there, where there were no walls. but like the rest of us, i have a duty now, to separate what is inside from what is outside. there are rules for these things, and there are only certain doorways between these worlds, and there are guards and there are passwords for these passages. one can make a whole life out of navigating these things, and most do. i certainly have.

there will come a point where the walls begin to crumble, and i will mindlessly begin pushing the stones and fragments into the places where they once were. i will repair walls that have no meaning, but the dust i push back into the divots and holes will only fall back out, and more of the stones and bricks will fall to pieces, of their own accord. someday, i will face it: that this intricate fortress, with all its passages and codes and hallways and dungeons, was for my mind. it was to give my mind something to do, for a whole lifetime.

what monsters life makes of us. we commit ourselves to occupations, obsessions, and orders of various kinds. we grow accustomed to them, and as the days pass we begin to lose our imagination and our sense of the unknown. we preoccupy ourselves with the things we can control, and we lose an aspect of our humanity. in the intricate order of things, we become automatons with fixations and anxieties. no one can find us within our walls. no one can reach us, nor can we reach them. we are monstrosities in the end, barely recognizable even to ourselves. what is poetry, but the hidden passageway we create when we are not looking, so that spies can bypass our defenses and render to the outside world the stagnating thing we had thought to keep for ourselves.

i do not understand why i think about money, or about responsibility, or about the way things ought to be. there is no way things ought to be. i never should have stopped learning, and i never should have stopped finding my footing in this strange, strange place. i have titles, and i take what i am entitled to, and i own, delegate, and control. the monster that i am eats and eats, but there is still within me a common man, a child like all children, who eats from the fields and goes where he pleases. he will be there, when i lose my mind. until then, he sits on the wall like he’s threatening to jump, and it is all i can do to look away and pretend that i do not notice how high, how high these walls really are

05.07.21

The 2021 NFL draft: my eagle picks, and overall thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:00 pm by Administrator

as per my last entry, i graded the eagles draft a B-minus, but i feel somewhat worse about it than the grade would imply. here’s what i would’ve done if i’d been in the driver’s seat for days 1, 2, and 3:

1.12: trade down

i would have sat tight, watched devonta smith go to the Giants, and done the deal with the chicago bears, which would undoubtedly have been there for us to make. i’d like to think that roseman could have gotten us 5.20 this year and chicago’s 1st and 3rd in 2022.

1.20: jeremiah owusu-koramoah

even with the rumors of a medical issue, i would have leaped at this opportunity to take j-ok, my favorite defensive player in this class.

2.5: rondale moore

it will be interesting to compare rondale moore to devonta smith as they progress in the NFL. rondale would have been a terrific pick here at 2.5, and he was definitely a steal later in the second for the cardinals.

3.6: paulson adebo

in the week before the draft, i decided that adebo’s superior athleticism, vision, and ball skills were worth a bet, and i certainly would have taken him here at the top of the 3rd. the saints moved up to get him at pick 76, and i believe that their aggression will be rewarded. adebo has the traits required to be a top outside corner in this league.

3.20: quinn meinerz

here’s where i would have taken our center of the future. in the mid-3rd, i would have targeted meinerz, kendrick green, and josh myers, in that order.

4.18: rashad weaver

the post-draft legal issues are certainly concerning, but i can’t deny that on day 3 i would have pulled the trigger here on rashad weaver, the last 4-3 defensive end on the board with compelling potential.

5.6: shaun wade

it absolutely boggles my mind that the eagles passed on shaun wade here early in the 5th, opting instead to take yet another inside defensive lineman in marlon tuipoluto. wade has all the potential in the world and certainly profiles as an above-average slot corner at the next level. we will regret passing on him.

5.20: jamar johnson

jamar actually went off the board at this very pick. had we gotten this pick courtesy of the trade-down with the bears, i would not have hesitated to take him, as he would immediately be our most talented safety on the roster. denver got several steals in this draft, and johnson was one of them.

6.5: marvin wilson

marvin wilson saw his draft stock tank after a lackluster 2020 season, but there’s no doubt that i would rushed to the podium for this pick. the 6th round was the earliest that i would have taken an interior defensive tackle, which shows you the contrast between my approach and that of the philadelphia front office.

6.40: trey smith

yet another guy who saw a slide thanks to a dubious medical evaluation. trey smith is way too talented to have fallen this low in the draft, and he’s a starting guard in the NFL by my projection. this would have been another very easy pick for me.

6.41: patrick johnson

this is the only pick i might have had in common with the eagles. patrick johnson is talented enough to take a flier on, and i’m surprised he wasn’t taken earlier in the draft. i wouldn’t fool around with repurposing him as a linebacker. patrick johnson is a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, and he should do two things in the NFL: set the edge and rush the passer. i have some hope that the eagles will deploy him properly.

7.6: jermar jefferson

i personally believe that we didn’t need to spend a 5th round draft pick on a back-up running back. as i demonstrated above, the 5th round really should have been devoted to the secondary, as many talented corners and safeties were still on the board at 5.6. i’m assuming that miles sanders still has the potential to be a three-down back for us, and until it’s clear that our former 2nd rounder is not meeting those expectations, i don’t see much draft value at the position. kenny gainwell is a good player, but jermar jefferson is actually an easier projection as an all-purpose back and would have been a perfectly adequate back-up to take in the 7th round.

overall, i thought it was an interesting and fairly undramatic draft, with no majorly controversial picks (i.e. jordan love and jalen hurts last year). i don’t see any teams that obviously bombed this draft, though some teams definitely drafted worse than others. i was surprised for example to see chris ballard draft so poorly for the colts; kwity paye was an uninspired pick in the 1st round, and dayo odeyingbo is a developmental prospect that was taken 2 rounds too early, in my opinion. there were definitely teams that drafted exceptionally well, and those include the lions, the bears, the browns, the titans, and the jets. as with most draft years, it’s the quality of the guys taken in the top 2-3 rounds that matters this year, and all four of those teams took exceptional players that should make an immediate impact for them. with zach wilson, alijah vera-tucker, and elijah moore (all of whom were high value picks), the jets will have a new-look and very dynamic offense that could put them ahead of the dolphins and pats in the afc east; the browns took two of the best defenders in this class in rounds 1 and 2; the lions had the second best pick of the first round, in penei sewell; and the bears had the best overall draft class by a country mile, outsmarting every team that passed on justin fields and following that up with teven jenkins, khalil herbert, dazz newsome, and thomas graham—four underrated talents that will make the bears better right away.

it is extremely difficult for me to imagine the eagles’ draft class of 2021 looking particularly good three years from now. unless javon hargrave and fletcher cox flame out spectacularly or get traded next year, there’s virtually no way for milt williams and marlon tuipoluto to develop in a manner that can justify their draft positions, and while terron jackson and patrick johnson could be thrown into the fire as early as next year, i don’t that the eagles will trust them enough to give them a chance to earn full-time starting roles. a year from now, i wouldn’t be surprised at all if the eagles spend one of their first round picks on a pass rusher. what will that say about all the mid and late round picks they put into the defensive line this year? these were opportunity costs. they were luxury picks when what we needed was high upside talent in the secondary.

i’m more disappointed with our draft now than i was at the start of the entry, so i’ll stop here. the bears are going to win the NFC north as early as 2022 and i think they’ll be competing for a super bowl within the next three seasons, thanks to this draft class. that could have been us. shrug

05.05.21

Early predictions for the 2021 season

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:00 pm by Administrator

you would think that the spring is too early to make credible predictions about the upcoming NFL season, but it happens to be a prophetic season for me. my season record prediction two years ago in 2019 was spot-on, and of course last year on april 27, 2020 i had this to say about the 2020 season:

the eagles are in decline, and there’s nothing we could have done in the 2020 draft to change that. taking justin jefferson in the 1st round and then landing denzel mims or kristian fulton in the 2nd wouldn’t have changed the fact that the eagles lack compelling talent at too many positions to keep up with the rest of the league, and the coaching isn’t strong enough to make up for our overall mediocrity. I am predicting that carson wentz will regress in 2020, and the eagles will go 6-10, losing to cleveland, arizona, green bay, seattle, new orleans, pittsburgh, baltimore, dallas at least once, and new york at least once. it’s a rough slate, and the eagles will be thoroughly exposed. fans will be all too happy to practice social distancing and avoid the stands at the Linc, as the team utterly melts down by midseason. jalen hurts will play in 3 games this upcoming season and start 2 of them, and he’ll definitely show enough on the field to get the talk started about which QB is truly the future. that talk is going to culminate in a massive off-season trade that will change the fortunes of the franchise and put us back on track to compete in the playoffs.

can you even believe that i predicted all of that one year ago? even more stunning, can you believe that all of this actually happened?

in the same entry, i predicted a few other things correctly (jim schwartz moving on) and a few things incorrectly (we would trade for ngakoue and trade wentz to the colts for 3 first-rounders), but i did happen to predict that jalen hurts would “rip a 100+ rushing performance in one game and toss 3 TDs with no interceptions in the other.” how about that? so everyone reading my blog knows that i am a fan of jalen hurts. i earnestly believed that all he needed was a chance to show off his game. he got that chance—and yet he seems to have more doubters now than he had before.

let me be clear: i think that the eagles should have drafted justin fields at pick 10. that was the right business decision to make, no matter how much faith the eagles were willing to have in jalen. but in a way, i’m relieved that we didn’t make the right business decision, because now jalen has a clear path to a starting role and a chance to show us what he’s made of.

thor nystrom describes jalen hurts as a consummate “facilitator”, in the best and worst sense of the idea. in other words, jalen won’t singlehandedly create an offense with his arm. he needs to use his legs; and in the deep passing game, he has to pick his opportunities sparingly, the read has to be pristine, and his man has to be open. but in these respects, jalen hurts is like the vast majority of quarterbacks in this league. what he has over most game managers is his pure running ability (bested only by lamar jackson and deshaun watson in this department) and his composure and leadership (which i think are unrivaled). jalen hurts is a guy who can win football games. he won’t win them pretty, and he won’t win them all, but on the right squad he can be a winning quarterback.

to win consistently, jalen hurts is going to need a stiff defense and a great special teams unit that can keep him in good field position and allow the run game to support him. that’s where i see some problems this year. all due respect to the football genius of jon gannon, who by all accounts is a smart coach, but i think that the eagle defense is old at its positions of strength and extremely untalented and thin at its positions of weakness. the draft last week did little to change the latter, which means that we will still struggle to stop offenses that effectively pass to their running backs, tight ends, and receivers. in other words, we will basically get scored on at will. and what that means is that jalen hurts and our offense will be constantly playing from behind. as we saw against dallas and washington last year, that doesn’t put jalen in a position to suceeed. we’re going to lose a lot of games this season.

in this upcoming 17 game season, i see the eagles struggling their way to a 7-10 record. that sounds dismal, but there will be a lot of encouraging signs on the field. jalen hurts will look fine and pretty clearly won’t be the main reason for our losses. the connection with devonta smith will be fairly effective. i think landon dickerson will see the field and improve our offensive line, which looked broken even when lane johnson was healthy. on the other hand, our defense will probably give up 28 points per game and the highest completion percentage in the league, thanks to a new zone defense that will be soft and generally ineffective. in at least 5 of our losses, we’re going to get solidly blown out. we may even see some junk time from jamie newman, a UDFA signing that i happen to like.

all of this will culminate in a top-10 draft pick yet again, which we’ll almost definitely have to devote to a cornerback. derek stingley, keep us in mind, my friend! i do believe that jalen will play well enough that we will not reach for a quarterback next year, which is absolutely fine given the quality of the signal callers that are coming out next year.

regarding our friends in the division, i wouldn’t be surprised to see the Washington Football Team take the division yet again and go a bit further into the playoffs this time, with their imposing defense. the cowboys, meanwhile, will suck because they have no soul. i say this every year, and every year i am proven right.

GO EAGLES

05.03.21

eagles: more thoughts on our draft

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:28 pm by Administrator

after 48 hours of reflection, i’m going to grade our draft a B-minus. as i mentioned in my last entry, the overall plan for this draft was ill-advised and left us with redundant d-linemen and not enough defensive backs. the quality of the players we drafted was high, but many of them will not make an impact in the near future because either they’re not ready or we’re not ready to play them.

i’ll go through the picks and briefly state my feelings about them.

1) Devonta Smith: as good a pick as any in the first round, but let’s be real: he can’t save the franchise all by himself. at pick 10, justin fields would have been the smarter and more strategic pick for the organization, and i’m saying that as a fan of jalen hurts.

2) Landon Dickerson: no problems with this pick at all, even despite the extensive history of injury. this was in my mind the best and most straightforward pick of our draft, considering the options on the table.

3) Milton Williams: despite his dubious size for an interior player, i like milt williams—but i hate the selection for the eagles. there’s no possible way that milt williams should have been the best player on the eagles’ draft board when cornerbacks elijah molden and ifeatu melifonwu were still on the board. even beyond positional value, there were so many reasons not to use our valuable 3rd round pick on an interior defensive tackle. our solid starters at the position. all the money we’ve already invested into our defensive tackles. our desperate needs at other positions.

the trade down for a 6th rounder was immediately enraging to me and pointless. if you’re going to trade down, do it for meaningful draft capital. as it stands, we missed out on a couple guys that we liked (according to roseman himself), which makes our 3rd round selection even more unfortunate.

4) Zech McPhearson: i’m hearing that mcphearson is a boundary corner with great skill, instincts, and athleticism. i’m also hearing that he’s not ready for prime time. i’d have no problem with zach mcphearson if he were the second or third cornerback we had drafted in this class. but as it stands, he’s the only corner we took over seven rounds. if we’re going to take just one cornerback from this class, it had better be a day one starter with star potential. zach mcphearson ain’t that—so in the context of our draft strategy, this pick can only be judged as woefully inadequate.

5) Kenneth Gainwell: good player. was passing-down running back more important than taking a corner or safety here in the 5th round? i know that gainwell has his fans, but to me this pick was an opportunity cost. if miles sanders is really insufficient as a three-down back, then this makes our 2nd round selection of him look even worse, in retrospect.

6) Marlon Tuipoluto: middling player and a terrible selection. why pass on rodarius williams, trey smith, tay gowan, thomas graham, and seth williams—better players at positions of greater need—when you’ve already overdrafted an interior defensive tackle? even as late as this pick was in the draft, the F that it gets is enough to put the minus on the B grade that i gave this draft class.

7) Tarron Jackson: he’s an effort player with less talent and upside than quincy roche, who was taken 25 picks later. tarron won’t be a quality starter for us on the edge. i’m not sure why we spent this pick on a practice squad player when we had imminent needs in the secondary to address.

8) Jacoby Stevens: a late round defensive back from LSU. what’s not to like? if he has the career path of the green goblin, i can’t complain. we have a need for a hard-hitting linebacker/safety hybrid, and jacoby profiles as a guy who can meet that need.

9) Patrick Johnson: on the one hand, he was definitely the best player on the board. on the other hand, he’s not a great fit for a 4-3 scheme and was the fourth defensive lineman that we took in this draft. we just had to add insult to injury by adding more redundancy to the defensive line?

05.02.21

Draft Recap: There’s a Reason for the Box

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:56 am by Administrator

relative to mock draft boards, there was value at nearly every pick the eagles selected this year. and yet, in the end, what we ended up with was a baffling draft class that reflected all kinds of strange and fanciful thinking. howie roseman and his team as usual were trying to think outside the box; but there’s a reason for the box, and sometimes it’s just plain stupid not to put yourself squarely inside of it.

let’s talk about why this draft was so positively befuddling and ultimately disappointing:

1. i don’t mind that we waited until the 4th round for a cornerback. i mind that there was absolutely nothing to set mcphearson apart from bigger school, better scouted, and more highly regarded cornerbacks that were still on the board. i also mind that with all the draft picks at our disposal, we didn’t even bother to take a second cornerback. i really don’t care if we sign a great veteran to a cheap prove it deal to lock down a starting rotation for the upcoming season. we needed an infusion of young defensive backs this year, we had no good reason not to make it happen, and yet we failed to do so yet again.

2. in a historically bad year for defensive linemen, we chose to spend 4 of our 9 picks on the defensive line. that is an incredible waste of draft capital, and it is also a terrible opportunity cost. beyond the misallocation of draft resources, the picks themselves were questionable—but i’ll get to that in a moment.

3. in a historically impressive year for offensive tackles, we came away with none. our offensive line last year was injured, average at best, and rapidly aging, and we have no good reason to believe that they will magically regain form this year. we had opportunities to use mid and late round picks on guards and tackles after most teams saturated themselves in the early rounds with the glut of ascendant offensive line talent. somehow, we decided that this was the year to focus on the defensive line instead. out of the box thinking. motherfucker.

4. after passing on a superior hybrid linebacker at pick 37 (perhaps because we didn’t want to deal with the complexities of moving owusu-koramoah around the formation), we suddenly decided after round 2 that we are intensely interested in tweeners of all kinds. in the 3rd, we took milt williams, who is too small to anchor the middle of the d line and too stocky to make it on the edge. in the 6th, we took jacoby stevens, whom we are magically going to convert from a safety to a linebacker. in the 7th, we took patrick johnson, who’s a stand-up pass rusher but is now presumably going to become an all-purpose linebacker in our 4-3 scheme. that’s beyond mysterious to me. in 1-2 seasons, we could have so many guys playing out of their natural position that we might be the very first totally positionless defense. do you want to make a bet with me that this won’t turn out to be a case study in absolute futility?

5. for all the picks we spent on the defensive line, i still don’t see a single guy that looks like he can legitimately step in next year if we lose brandon graham, josh sweat, derek barnett, or all three. on the other hand, i see a lot of interior guys that hopefully won’t get any play time at all this year behind our extremely highly paid defensive tackles.

so there you have it. in my last mock before the draft, i had us taking devonta smith and landon dickerson in rounds 1 and 2. i don’t have any problems with those picks. but had i been GM on draft night, i would have stayed at 12, watched devonta go to the Giants, made the deal with the Bears, and taken j-ok at pick 20, rondale moore at pick 37, paulson adebo at pick 70, quinn meinerz at pick 84, rashad weaver at pick 123, and a safety, corner, and offensive tackle in the late rounds. yes, that would have been a massively superior draft, but that’s beside the point. the eagles had a bad plan going into this draft. it was a bad plan that’s unfortunately given us more than a few good young players that won’t make it either because of a bad fit or not enough time on the field. it’s a disservice to them and to the fan base.

thumbs down, eagles