01.24.22

eagles: a russell wilson deal

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:10 pm by Administrator

been thinking about this for days, and this is what i’ve come up with:

Philadelphia: gets Russell Wilson

Seattle: gets picks 15, 16, 121 (5th), Jalen Hurts, Andre Dillard, and a 2023 3rd round pick

assuming hurts is considered a 2nd round value only (though he’s probably outplayed his draft position at pick 53), and assuming andre dillard is credited with 3rd round value (reasonable for the results he showed on the field in 2022), the overall value seattle gets for this package is two 1st rounders, a 2nd rounder, and two 3rd rounders—good value for a 33 year-old quarterback who is philosophically and personally at odds with his head coach and carries a $30+ million cap hit for each of the next two seasons.

why seattle should do this trade:

1. seattle has no realistic chance to compete for a championship in 2022 with a roster that so severely lacks talent outside of the wide receiver and defensive back position groups. even if they are able to land a left tackle like orlando brown in free agency, the seahawks are still looking like the 4th best team in a very competitive NFC west division. they need more cap space and draft capital to build a roster that could possibly compete in 2023. it has to happen now, while they can still leverage russell wilson in his prime.

2. the value of the two mid-1st rounders speaks for itself. that’s potentially a generational starter at center (tyler linderbaum) and an immediate upgrade to a fairly terrible edge group (david ojabo). whichever way they go with picks 15 and 16, these are potentially cornerstone linemen.

3. jalen hurts has enough game tape to suggest untapped potential. he was not well-coached in his second year, and his below-average receiver group ran limited routes with poor execution. at best, hurts can execute pete carroll’s run-oriented offensive scheme effectively as a dual threat quarterback with a decent long ball for dk metcalf. at worst, he is a coachable guy who will not undermine carroll’s game plan.

4. andre dillard is possibly a good long-term bet at left tackle for the seahawks. he showed an improved anchor and upgraded skills in extended game play against carolina, and he might just play up to his 1st round draft pedigree if he’s given the chance to. at best, he becomes a franchise left tackle for the seahawks and earns a solid extension in 2023. at worst, he provides critical depth at seattle’s weakest position.

i actually like the seahawks’ chances of being a surprise contender in 2022 with a reloaded o-line (linderbaum, dillard, and free agency help) and an upgraded d-line (ojabo, winfrey, and a FA like clowney).

even after giving away two 1st round picks, the eagles would still be primed to address their main positional needs in the 2022 draft, taking a defensive end in round 1 (i.e. travon walker), a defensive back in round 2 (i.e. lewis cine), a linebacker in round 3 (i.e. darrion beaver), and late-round help at wide receiver. walker, cine, and beaver would bring fierce physicality to a a defense that was too soft and unimposing in 2021. with carson wentz’s money off the books in 2022, the eagles can probably afford a mid-tier wide receiver free agent (i.e. dj chark, jamison crowder, or sammy watkins) and a veteran safety (ideally mcleod or harris on a re-up). with russell wilson under center, that’s a team that’s good enough to compete with a declining dallas squad for the NFC east, and in a post-brady post-rodgers conference, it might actually be good enough to get us to the conference game.

01.21.22

dance and the tiktok investor

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:59 pm by Administrator

up at 3 AM again. the older i get, the more poorly i sleep.

the trouble with me is that there is an obsession switch in my mind, and it gets flipped whenever i’m provoked to intense feeling. in my job, i’m pushed over that threshold on a weekly basis and sometimes on a daily basis. i get set off. my body stiffens. my breathing shallows. my thoughts get sharp and go to violence. as a 4, i’m always free ranging into all manner of inappropriate thoughts, and in almost every social situation i’m constantly aware of the grossly unconventional or crude thing i could say or do. but when my switch gets flipped, i instantly have an enemy in mind, and i think of all the nastiest things i could say or do to upend my enemy. words invade my mind: words of wit, words of attack, words of cruelty. i rehearse the words, imagine reactions, and imagine counter-reactions. in this way, hours can pass as i wage confrontations in my mind. it is not kind to myself, and it drives me to exhaustion. only in the mindful breath do i find relief.

tolle would call this my pain body. i call it my karma, built up over lifetimes from the experience of human oppression and cruelty. i don’t know why but i chose to live the lives of victims and slaves over the centuries, and when i cry out as i often do, i cry with their collective indignation. there is something in me that wants to punish the world for its history of wrongs, but the people who did these things are all dead, and the ones who coexist with me are asleep and unaware of the blood on their hands. i cannot awaken them, and so i cannot hold them accountable. all i can do is wake up in the middle of the night, every night, and imagine the terrible things i would say to an enemy worthy of being called my enemy.

they say that the 4 should dance, a truth i intuitively understand. a couple of years ago i started watching dance choreography on-line, and i’ll admit that i obsessively follow a lot of the choreographers at millennium. i know the names of the featured dancers; i go back to some of the songs i really love and i try to follow the movements, though i do it badly. i see myself dark and distorted in the reflection of a window pane or a clock, in the wee hours of morning. i’m faceless, i’m moving, and i’m in the moment with my body.

i had a vivid dream last night that i was playing the kreisler cadenza of the third movement of the beethoven violin concerto for a massive audience. i woke up feeling the fingers of my left hand working through all the notes; i could feel my right arm instinctively driving the bow into the strings. i haven’t played a violin in more than three years, but i know that i could pick one up right now and play that cadenza (and probably the whole movement) from end to end from memory. as much as the violin was beaten into my bones as a child, i believe that i would have been far more natural expressing myself through dance. being who i am, i think about that with regret and sadness, assuming i can no longer become the dancer i was meant to be. it’s silly really, because high level dance requires an athleticism that i’ve never proven to have. but i have a feeling that this thought will still plague me when i’m blind in one eye and nearly toothless, an old man with nothing but memories. i should have been a dancer. i would have been an amazing dancer.

i think of the tiktok investor, the millennial who put a chunk of his change into the markets last year, and i think of him with both concern and scorn. the markets are now facing the ultimate test: persisting inflation that central banks are trying to rein in with suddenly hawkish monetary policy. the institutional funds are rotating from growth into value, but the tiktok investors aren’t going to do any such thing. they’re going to relentlessly buy the dip with the extra hundred dollars left over from the last paycheck. they’re going to go down with this market that has no hint of an upside, because they don’t wake up in the morning to invest in exxon or jp morgan. they want to live and die with nio, netflix, and dogecoin. even after everyone has deserted the restaurant, they’ll be the last guy at the table holding the bill and expecting someone else to pay. in 2022, they will pay. this has the makings of a market crash that will traumatize an entire generation.

an investor i follow shared with his subscribers this nugget of wisdom: while he was taught as a child to acquire skills and pursue gainful employment, he’s committed to teaching his kids how to invest well and live off of passive income. how’s that for a sea change? what does this say about the future of this society? it’s funny and disturbing. there are all kinds of inappropriate and crude things i want to say about that, but i’m too tired now to put the thoughts together. later today, it will come to me as i sit at my desk in a haze, a poignant diatribe that i’ll relish for a moment, as i gaze upon a whole generation of self-satisfied opportunists smiling blissfully at the oncoming storm

01.18.22

season wrap: last words about the eagles before april

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:29 pm by Administrator

i didn’t expect a win on sunday, but the loss in tampa was horrible to behold and utterly deflating. the eagles embarrassed themselves, and jalen hurts in particular looked completely overwhelmed.

despite how brutal the game was, my basic thoughts about the team haven’t changed at all. as i wrote last week, the eagles have already learned everything that they needed to learn about jalen hurts over the course of the season. ben solak’s piece in the aftermath of the tampa meltdown encapsulates the conundrum facing the eagles; we could try to build around hurts, but it feels like a “low ceiling approach” for the franchise.

i’m sure that there is room for optimism when one considers the prevailing preseason expectations of the team, but i fully expected a 9-8 season and a playoff berth, so none of this caught me by surprise. this team did not overachieve. it achieved what it was fully capable of achieving. we beat bad teams while losing to all the playoff-caliber competition. we ran the ball when we could afford to, and we collapsed whenever the game script forced us to go pass heavy. we had decent talent on both sides of the ball, and the coaching, while generally uneven, was passable enough to let us capitalize on our advantage in the trenches. this is a B+ team that is built to keep scrapping for a wild card spot for the next two seasons. and that prospect is not good enough for anyone in philadelphia.

i won’t waste my time gloating about the cowboys, because while their meltdown in the playoffs might be a pleasant distraction for a lot of sad eagle fans, it’s a sobering reminder to me that as much as the cowboys are falling behind other teams with similar championship windows, the eagles remain distinctly behind the cowboys. with a legitimate franchise quarterback, elite skill players, and good young talent on their defense, the cowboys are probably just a new head coach away from actually finding a soul and putting it together on the field. the eagles on the other hand have a question mark at quarterback, no talent at receiver outside of devonta smith, and only about four or five defensive players that i would consider quality starters, none of whom i would describe as elite.

there is to me only one logical way to proceed this off-season, and it’s to immediately address the qb position with a major trade. there are teams in this league that like what hurts did on the field this season. i would hope that pete carroll and john schneider would show interest; after all, hurts and russell wilson are character foils when it comes to how they want to be coached and supported. plan 1A should be to try to send jalen, pick 15, and pick 16 this year for wilson. plan 1B should be the same deal with houston, for deshaun watson. plan 1C, if it has to come down to that, should be to draft a QB in the 1st round this year.

it has become fashionable to slam this 2022 qb draft class, and i was doing the same thing last spring. but this class, like every class, has legitimate talent at qb, and the question is whether any of the top 6 guys represent a good fit for the eagles. i’m a fan of sam howell and the range of skill he demonstrated across his career in chapel hill, and i would be willing to bet on his ability to succeed at the NFL level. carson strong and desmond ridder are also worth a strong look, and i think one of them will prove worthy of a late 1st round pick this april. regardless, if we can’t land wilson or watson, one of our three 1st round picks have to go to a QB this year, while we have this kind of ammunition to diversify our investments. leaving this decision to 2023 puts us in a harder situation, when draft-worthy QB’s are likely to stack the top of the class, solidly out of reach of our mid-1st round pick.

here’s my last mock of the season.

1. Jacksonville: Evan Neal
2. Detroit: Aidan Hutchinson
3. Houston: Kayvon Thibodeaux
4. NYJ: Derek Stingley, Jr.
5. NYG: Ikem Ekwonu
6. Carolina: Charles Cross
7. NYG from Chicago: George Karlaftis
8. Atlanta: Kyle Hamilton
9. Denver: Matt Corral
10. NYJ from Seattle: Garrett Wilson
11. Washington: Kenny Pickett
12. Minnesota: Andrew Booth, Jr.
13. Cleveland: Chris Olave
14. Baltimore: Kaiir Elam
15. Philadelphia from Miami: Treylon Burks
16. Philadelphia from Indy: Sam Howell
17. LA Chargers: Jordan Davis
18. New Orleans: Jahan Dotson
19. Philadelphia: David Ojabo
20. Pittsburgh: Desmond Ridder
21. New England: Jameson Williams
22. Las Vegas: Trent McDuffie
23. Arizona: DeMarvin Leal
24. Dallas: Travon Walker
25. Cincinnati: Zion Johnson
26. Miami from San Francisco: Tyler Linderbaum
27. Detroit from LA Rams: Malik Willis
28. Tennessee: Trevor Penning
29. Kansas City: Sean Rhyan
30. Green Bay: Drake London
31. Buffalo: Ahmad Gardner
32. Tampa Bay: Drake Jackson

in the 2nd round, the eagles take cornerback (either Derion Kendrick or Nehemiah Pritchett), and in the 3rd round, they take linebacker (Brian Asamoah or Owen Pappoe).

GO EAGLES

01.15.22

“the expanse” is extraordinary

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:19 pm by Administrator

at the end of season 6 of “the expanse”, james holden settles the deepest and most fundamental conflict of human history by speaking truth to the most powerful people in the universe. his words: “if you want to show someone you trust them, you put your life in their hands.” it’s a beautiful line and a pivotal moment of the episode, but it is also the closest thing to a statement that the long-standing and immensely popular show makes to its viewers. and in the context of years of deft storytelling and deep character development, the statement is powerful; and moreover, it establishes “the expanse” as something transcendent. because “the expanse” is not only one of the best science fiction stories ever adapted to the screen; it is also the one of the best explorations of systematic injustice ever told through fiction. in an extraordinary time in human history, “the expanse” is an extraordinary story. it deserves a seventh season, and it will find a new home even if the journey through the ring must take us beyond amazon prime.

01.14.22

the vaccine booster mandate

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:55 pm by Administrator

the state’s vaccine booster mandate for healthcare workers was communicated about three weeks ago and will be enforced in about two weeks from now. as a result of this, my agency—already critically understaffed and barely managing the daily toll of sickness and exposure among employees—could lose another ten percent of our workforce on february 1st. we might survive that transition. but we might not.

i’ve been forced to have more than a few uncomfortably personal discussions with many staff and providers who are reluctant to get the vaccine. in a few cases, these are young women who are afraid of the effect that the booster may have on their near-term ability to get pregnant. in other cases, these are recently infected staff who are afraid of how high circulating antibody levels will affect their reaction to a booster shot. there are no compelling medical data to support their anxieties, but nevertheless i understand what they are feeling on a personal level. there may be little that a scientist would accept from them as reasonable justification for their concerns, but because i know and respect these individuals, i believe that their concerns are legitimate. and that is because legitimacy of a personal health concern is not a scientific question to me. it is a human issue.

now, as an infectious disease doc, i understand that the scientific justification for mandating a vaccine across the nation is powerful. triple vaccination reduces hospitalization and death relative to double vaccination. the current public health crisis—the omicron surge—might very well repeat itself if we cannot continue to push toward herd immunity. and allowing individuals to prioritize their personal decisions over the health of the public puts all of us at greater risk of infection. there are enough data to make these claims compellingly.

but as a person of conscience, i find the matter vastly more complex than the straightforward public health issue that is presented in the public forum. while there is a precedent for vaccine requirements in children and working individuals, i don’t think we have ever witnessed a situation quite like this: a rapidly instituted broad-based vaccination mandate that so immediately puts such a sizable proportion of the american workforce at risk of termination from employment. i certainly have never felt this particular kind of pressure from the state, in all my years working as a physician. i have effectively been called upon by my political authorities to enforce their requirement of a medical procedure by threatening to fire those who do not comply. to me, this is unconscionable. how did we as a society come to this point, where we are so comfortable punishing those who do not conform to a specific point of view? for years, i’ve negotiated with my patients to consider vaccinations and treatments that i strongly believe would benefit them; my relevance and value to them existed in proportion to their ability to trust that i would factor in their own desires and plans for optimizing their health. in a situation like the one we are currently facing, i do not have that safe space with my colleagues or my patients anymore.

for every precedent of a mandated intervention to promote the health of the public, there are precedents for measures that we have chosen not to take as a society despite the potential prominent public health benefits they would provide. mandatory and recurrent universal hiv testing in schools and workplaces for example would enable us to identify asymptomatic hiv-infected individuals, sequester them from the public, and effectively end the ongoing transmission of hiv, a potentially fatal infectious disease for which we have no cure. despite our national resolution to end the hiv epidemic, we have chosen not to mandate universal hiv testing in schools and workplaces, in order to preserve human rights and personal privacy. influenza is a dangerous respiratory pathogen that kills tens of thousands of people annually worldwide. against all reason, it would seem, we enable our society to experience an annual recurring wintertime epidemic instead of mandating measures that would prevent this: remote schooling, masking of children, and mandated vaccination for all students and workers. syphilis has been on the rise in urban communities around the country. left untreated, it is a devastating chronic infection that deforms and kills many of its hosts. we know how to end the scourge of syphilis: mandatory partner reporting, incarceration of those who fail to undergo treatment, closely enforced isolation of those who are actively infectious. instead, we send poorly funded public health agents to do contact investigations, to pursue the course of infection as it burns through communities, and to implement measures that aren’t coercive enough to actually protect social networks from repeated exposure.

so yes, there are precedents for vaccine mandates, and workers are not entitled to their employment, as the federal court of appeals judge so adamantly maintained in his dismissal of the lawsuit against the vaccine mandate raised by local law enforcement. but there’s also plenty of evidence to suggest that we pick and choose when to force people to undergo medical interventions for the benefit of the public health. and in that inconsistency lies the fundamental and disturbing question that all of must wrestle with sooner or later: to what extent are the lines around the covid vaccine being drawn in the sand not for scientific reasons but rather for political ones?

i have searched for an analogy for this situation that resonates with me, to bring some clarity to the disappointment and anger that i have experienced over the past days about this issue. an adequate analogy has to address some very unique aspects surrounding this complex, nuanced, and highly charged issue. for one thing, the analogy must address the health risks to the lives of others posed by the decisions of the individual. second, the analogy must address the intimate, physical effect that the decision will have on the body of the individual. and thirdly, the analogy must address the potential direct benefit of the decision on the long-term health and well-being of the individual.

i think the best analogy, based on these factors, is the political, medical, and human issue of abortion.

the decision a pregnant women makes to abort a pregnancy is never an easy one. it is often driven by multiple personal factors, including health concerns, financial concerns, identity concerns, and personal values. the decision she makes will entail a health risk to the life of another; in fact, it will lead to the loss of life. the abortion is a procedure that has an intimate, physical effect on the body of the pregnant woman. and lastly, the decision will likely have a transformative effect on the life of the woman—and on the relationships that she has with her partners, family members, and support network. some might even maintain that the decision could have a transformative impact on the eternal life of the potential mother.

i am not proud to be a pro-choice advocate. would any pro-choice proponent say that it makes them happy to sanction the death of an unborn child? we support the right to choose because we believe that it must ultimately be the decision of the mother to determine whether she is willing to sustain a pregnancy or not. we expect that it will never be a casual or easy decision for this mother. we do not believe that the church, the state, or any other living person in the world has the right to make this decision any harder for the woman who is holding two lives in her being; and we do not believe that government-instituted barriers to a safe procedure are in the best interests of the woman, who could very well seek termination of the pregnancy through other unsafe means.

as with abortion, many of those who are reluctant to get the covid vaccine are poor, marginalized, disenfranchised, and of color. for legitimate historical reasons, they have come to view the establishment as a cohort of powerful and privileged people who are entirely too comfortable with telling them how to live their lives, submit themselves to experimentation, and accept random and violent interventions of the state in their daily existence. my patients who are refusing the vaccine often do so because they cannot and will not trust the urban white intellectual people who have talked down to them for decades and who continue to condescend to them. and how can this perception be discounted? even now, more than a few powerful public personalities have outright labeled unvaccinated people as stupid, selfish, ignorant, and destructive. that kind of treatment is a non-starter for any useful collaboration; but it is particularly galling for those who have been accustomed to being discounted and dismissed in the public discourse.

as a person and as a professional, i deeply, personally, passionately, and angrily oppose a federal or state vaccine mandate for people of any kind, whether they study, work, or care for people in healthcare settings. i support the right to choose, not because i’m ignorant of the loss of life this may entail but because i fundamentally do not believe in the right and responsibility of the government to manipulate the bodies of its citizens. i say this as one who believes the medical evidence supporting the vaccine and believes that it is preventing deaths from COVID. and i say this as a pro-choice advocate who would want a pregnant mother to know every possible resource available to support her through pregnancy and to care for the life of her child.

i know that in my professional community, i am an outlier. i have already been criticized and perhaps even disowned by people i once considered my friends and allies. but to me, this is madness that we are imposing on one another, and i cannot bend in my view on this. how did we come to this point, where we are willing to stigmatize, isolate, and terminate those individuals who refuse a medical intervention that has been mandated by our government? how does this coercion serve the public good? how does it save us, as a nation mired in a crisis of identity? how does it give us a hope, in a time when mutual understanding is most necessary? i grieve what we are becoming, just as i grieve what i am being forced to do to the people i manage and care for

01.12.22

loving my country

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:57 pm by Administrator

today, i’m thinking back on george packer’s essay in the atlantic about what he describes as “four americas”, and specifically i’m thinking about something he said about the “smart americans”—a group he defined as educated, urban, upwardly mobile, and moderate-left in their political stances. he described them more or less as people inconvenienced by the idea of patriotism. these are people who have benefited from america’s economic opportunities but feel ambivalent about what this benefit reflects about the general, deeply-rooted inequalities of the society that they live in.

i don’t know why it is that the comment about patriotism was so immediately poignant to me—and why it continues to nag at me, like a fish bone stuck in my throat. perhaps it’s because it resonates with me as a truth, and because it illuminates a basic hypocrisy about my existence. i have wealth, and i believe in some serious way that i have accumulated this wealth as a result of privilege, but i am reluctant to part with this wealth as the price for furthering justice in my society. even when i was younger and poorer, i struggled with this same sense of hypocrisy, though in distinctly religious terms. like the rich man talking to jesus, i never failed to see an invitation (if not a command) in the biblical teachings to submit myself to poverty in order to gain wealth of a spiritual kind. even though i no longer believe in a god who demands this of me, i still invariably feel the tug of the universe in this regard. it is not a relic from my days of orthodoxy, i’ve come to realize. it is the inevitable consequence of living among and working with extremely poor people in desperate circumstances. i am daily reminded that i have something—material sustenance, no less—that other people suffer for lack of.

i feel guilt and sadness and even some anger about the inequalities that i see and perhaps even contribute to. but is this inequality in and of itself morally wrong? when i step out of my feelings and take stock of the many opinions on this question that i’ve entertained over the years, i can acknowledge that while many view desperate poverty as an evil in our world, inequality does not necessarily represent that same evil. there is a distinct viewpoint i have explored that actually maintains that inequalities of various kinds are not only inevitable but also necessary to driving efforts to improve the human condition. after all, if we were all equal (and equally poor), how could we know what a better qualify of life might resemble? if we were all consigned to be equal without exception, what room would there be for work, aspiration, and the general improvement of our prospects as a society and as a species?

i recognize that this line of inquiry has been used to justify what we commonly celebrate as western capitalism. a society that does not encourage the collective drive toward greater production and profitability ultimately will stagnate for lack of progress, at least according to the narrative of capitalists. there is logic in it, but there is also an inherent insensitivity to the costs of this collective aspiration. there are compelling arguments linking the logic of capitalism to racism, to racial capitalism, and to the destruction of the natural environment. the complexities of infinite repercussions are impossible to discern and to describe in any simple way. how one interprets the interplay between our economic system and our welfare as individuals ultimately depends on one’s personal values. there is a moral red line for everyone in this discourse. for some, the evil is gross inequality in wealth. for others, the evil is any restraint of personal freedom. and still for others, the evil is statehood itself, which they find to be inherently coercive.

there is a part of me that wants to eschew ambiguity in favor of unapologetic self-definition. that part of me itself consists of two opposing personalities: one who wants to insist that his wealth is deserved and the result of labor, and the other who wants to come clean and wholly reject the social system which has alienated him (even as it has ostensibly rewarded him). there is another part of me that rejects a simplicity of perspective because it cannot find integration in it. that part of me—indecisive, conflicted, and ultimately paralyzed—finds no relief or catharsis. it is the person who comes to this place, this virtual place, with no conviction about my rectitude, my quality as a human being, and my agency as a person who can help other persons.

patriotism is not inconvenient to me simply because i have it but with reluctance. it is difficult for me because despite all of the suffering i see in my society as a result of this nation’s complex and even dark history, i love it. i love something about what it represents to me within the story of human history that i have chosen to believe. i love its suffering, its self-amendment, its history of brutalities and efforts at redemption, and the dialogue it invites, even now, not only on what is right or wrong but what is best. america is consumed with understanding what is best, because we have been led to believe that we must represent what is best, for the world and for posterity. it is ingenuous and farcical, but it is also somehow pure. and no amount of critique can sway me from this intuitive sense of our country. beneath the rottenness of our dungeons, the legacy of slavery, the punishment we continue to inflict upon immigrants, and the corruption that we tolerate for the sake of profit, there is something pure about the american imagination. it calls to me, because it is a projection of something we all have in our souls: a yearning for self-revelation. and on account of this love, i can stand up in all my ambiguity of feeling and uncertainty about what i am responsible for doing, and i can say that for all that we have endured, this experiment at becoming what is best is worthwhile, and i am changed by it, and i am willing to count myself a part of it, even when it is hard

01.11.22

Eagles: The Most Important Question

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:49 pm by Administrator

the eagles are feeling great about where they’re at right now, and more than a few fans are feeling particularly self-congratulatory after watching carson wentz’s colts fail to make playoffs—justifying our decision to trade wentz and improving our draft capital for 2022 in the process. if the season ends with a loss in the wild card round to tampa bay, most eagle fans will say that the season was still a success, as our “rebuild” appears to have happened faster and more effectively than anyone could have expected.

but whether or not this season can be considered a success is not the major question facing the eagles right now, any more than nick sirianni’s ability to handle a press conference was before the season began. as significantly as fan sentiments on the team have swayed over the course of the season, the most important question facing the franchise has remained remarkably unchanged: is jalen hurts a franchise quarterback? yes, he was good enough to go 8-7 as a starter and get us into the playoffs this year. but does jalen hurts have the potential to lead us on a championship run some day?

jalen hurts is ending the season 19th by QBR, which is an imperfect rating that doesn’t take into account his rushing contributions and his intangibles. ahead of him are six players—ryan tannehill, carson wentz, derek carr, kirk cousins, jimmy garoppolo, and tua tagavailoa—that really cannot be considered distinctly superior players on account of significant personal limitations repeatedly evidenced over time. i’d say that when one accounts for his numbers on the ground and his impact on his team’s success, jalen hurts comes in as the 11th most effective QB this year, behind rodgers, brady, herbert, stafford, mahomes, allen, murray, prescott, burrow, and mac jones. additionally, while deshaun watson, lamar jackson, and russell wilson can’t be ranked ahead of hurts on account of what they accomplished (or failed to accomplish) this season, their statistical production as well as their past performance more than justifiably move them ahead of hurts on any qb ranking list. i might not want to build a team around brady on account of age, but the other 13 quarterbacks strike me as legitimate franchise quarterbacks for at least the next several seasons. i would not put hurts in that group of elite players, and i don’t think he has demonstrated the potential to break into that echelon. simply put, he doesn’t have the field vision and arm talent that most of the guys on that list have demonstrated from the beginning of their nfl careers.

hurts may not be a top-13 guy, but is he good enough to be the foundation of a super bowl squad? i think it’s pretty hard to find a super bowl team with a passer as limited as jalen hurts. in the past twenty years, i think there have been just three championship teams that didn’t feature a quarterback with elite arm talent: the 2001 ravens (trent dilfer), the 2016 broncos (post-surgery peyton manning), and the 2018 eagles (nick foles). the ravens and broncos had all-time great NFL defenses to power their championship runs. the 2018 eagles had the spirit of god upon them, and for one night nick foles was the best quarterback in the NFL.

i think that hurts is currently a mid-tier quarterback in the 15-20 range who is good enough to pilot a well-constructed team to the playoffs—but not good enough to ever put together consecutive wins in the playoffs against legitimate competition. his 15-game season in 2021 has shown us enough to make this judgment. in brief, he was frequently explosive on the ground, occasionally accurate with the long ball, and always composed and likable as a leader. he was also inefficient as a passer; his 61.3% completion rate was 26th in the league and definitely impacted our ability to sustain drives. he was unreliable in the short-medium passing game, which effectively limited the routes that our receivers could use against defenses. as a result of hurts’ limitations as a passer, the eagles mainly won games when they could build leads through their run game against inferior competition; when they were forced to match the scoring of more effective offenses, the eagles proved incapable of winning a shoot-out. hurts’ resume of explosive plays this year actually belies the fact that he is best suited to be a game manager. hurts’ ankle injury late in the season markedly affected his play style and demonstrates what we’ve already learned about qb’s who depend excessively on their legs: it’s not a recipe for long-term success in the NFL.

i’ve been a huge fan of jalen hurts since the day we drafted him at pick 53, and i’ve believed in him and rooted for him more than just about any eagles writer or fan that i’ve followed for the past two years. that being said, his performance this season has made it clear that the ceiling on his development is very real. the eagles can’t expect to win with him over the long term, and i’m not even sure that they can expect improvement over this level next year. this means that jalen hurts is possibly peaking right now, thanks to a ridiculously easy latter half schedule and an offensive line that was remarkably effective at supporting the run game. the best way we can leverage his recent success is to trade him this off-season. if we can get the equivalent of a 1st round pick in return, then hurts as a draft pick was an unqualified success for the philadelphia eagles. and if we can package him in return for a qb that does have the potential to lead us on a championship run—russell wilson for instance—then we have taken full advantage of hurts’ value to the organization.

in summary, the two best-case scenarios related to jalen hurts that i can envision for the 2022 off-season are 1) pairing him with one of our 1st round picks to get russell wilson this year, or 2) trading him to a qb-hungry AFC team (i.e. houston, pittsburgh, or denver) for at least a 1st round pick.

i know that i predicted back in august that the eagles would win their WC playoff game. i don’t see it happening against a tampa bay team that will force us to win the game by passing the ball. we haven’t done it all year, and i don’t think we’ll do it this sunday. surprise me, jalen hurts.

GO EAGLES

01.07.22

Mock NFL Draft: Starting Thoughts about Watson, Wilson, and Rodgers

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:18 pm by Administrator

it pains me a bit to read now that the eagles had the opportunity on day 1 of last year’s draft to trade down with the bears to get their 2022 1st round pick. as i wrote in my pre-draft entries last april, a trade down with chicago was a specific scenario that i strongly advocated. that chicago pick is going to be a top-10 this year, which in and of itself easily justifies what would have been a move down from 12 to 20 last year.

the player i pounded the table for last year was jeremiah owusu-koramoah, who didn’t do much this year other than to record 74 tackles, 4 pass break-ups, 2 forced fumbles, and 1.5 sacks in just 13 games so far this season. j-ok has shown up very well in every phase of the game, proving to be a fast, physical, instinctive defender well worth the 2nd round pick that was spent on him. people who’ve followed him closely this year have suggested that he will be an elite NFL linebacker.

i wanted the eagles to trade down with the bears and take j-ok at pick 20 last year. pretty clearly to me, that still would have been the eagles’ best course of action last year, even as much as the fan base has taken to devonta smith this year. i like devonta; he had a big impact on the team this year, and he’s proven to be a good teammate. but i didn’t like the trade-up to take him, and j-ok at pick 20 would have provided us with much better long-term value, particularly given our lack of talent at the linebacker position.

obviously, i’m having a hard time letting this go, given how consistently i wanted this guy throughout the pre-draft evaluation period. howie roseman is a not a bad general manager, but he lacks an eye for defensive playmakers, and here and there it really hurts the team.

looking ahead, we’ve got three veteran quarterbacks that will veritably define the 2022 NFL off-season. it’s obvious that deshaun watson will be moved, and i think it’s fairly clear that the gentleman’s deal with miami will eventually be formalized, sending watson to miami for tua tagavailoa, this year’s 1st round pick (from SF), this year’s 2nd round pick, and one of next year’s 1st round picks. russell wilson might just take his act to new york (the giants), depending on how aggressive dave gettleman’s replacement wants to be. i think nyg would be well-served being very aggressive: both of this year’s top 10 picks as well as next year’s 1st rounder. the seahawks won’t want daniel jones as part of the deal, since he’s trash.

rodgers’ situation is the most interesting of the three. he’s about to lead the packers deep into the playoffs, and he may even win a championship this year, while his coach very deservedly wins COY. how the hell does aaron rodgers leave a situation like that to join a flawed team in a very tough division (49ers) or another flawed team in a very tough division (broncos)? unless rodgers wants to end his career on a losing team, i can’t see him leaving the packers this year. he’s a diva, and he’s stupid when it comes to vaccines, but he’s not stupid enough to leave green bay and a fan base that adores him, is he?

actually, he probably is.

2022 Mock Draft: 1st Round

1. Jacksonville: Kayvon Thibodeaux
2. Detroit: Aidan Hutchinson
3. Houston: Evan Neal
4. NY Jets: DeMarvin Leal
5. Seattle (from NYG): Matt Corral
6. Carolina: Kenny Pickett
7. NY Jets: Garrett Wilson
8. Seattle (from NYG): Ikem Ekwonu
9. Washington: Malik Willis
10. Atlanta: Chris Olave
11. Denver: Sam Howell
12. Minnesota: Derek Stingley, Jr.
13. Cleveland: Jameson Williams
14. Philadelphia (from Miami): Kyle Hamilton
15. New Orleans: Treylon Burks
16. Baltimore: Andrew Booth, Jr.
17. Pittsburgh: Desmond Ridder
18. Las Vegas: Drake London
19. Houston (from Miami from SF): Jordan Davis
20. LA Chargers: Kenyon Green
21. Philadelphia (from Indy): George Karlaftis
22. New England: Kaiir Elam
23. Dallas: Zion Johnson
24. Tampa Bay: Daxton Hill
25. Philadelphia: Nakobe Dean
26. Buffalo: Roger McCreary
27. Cincinnati: Charles Cross
28. Arizona: David Ojabo
29. Tennessee: Trevor Penning
30. Green Bay: Trent McDuffie
31. Kansas City: Bernhard Raimann
32. Detroit (from LA): Carson Strong

the best players left on the board after round 1 are tyler linderbaum, ahmad gardner, jaquan brisker, devin lloyd, and travon walker. of the 5, tyler linderbaum seems like the worst omission from round 1; but there a lot of teams later in the order that just aren’t looking for a center this year.

in this draft, kyle hamilton really falls much farther than he ought to, and given the choice between karlaftis or hamilton at pick 14, i think the eagles just have to squeeze the trigger on hamilton and address edge with the next pick. fortunately, karlaftis falls all the way to their next pick (21) because new orleans, baltimore, pittsburgh, las vegas, and the chargers all have more pressing positional needs.

i’ve been leaning toward a qb in the late 1st round in recent mocks, but in this projection 5 quarterbacks go in the top 17 picks, leaving the eagles with a much more straightforward decision at pick 25. having won a playoff game with jalen hurts at tampa bay’s expense, the eagles feel set at qb and take the best available player while simultaneously addressing their most important positional need, by selecting nakobe dean. he’s the player most commonly projected to the eagles in round one and for good reason.

seattle has the most intriguing first round here, by jump-starting their future with the draft’s top qb (corral) and arguably its best offensive lineman (ekwonu).

01.04.22

understanding work

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:23 pm by Administrator

last night, one of my providers tried to call me around 10 at night, which woke me up from sleep. the issue that he wanted to discuss with me aggravated me so much that i woke up again at 3 in the morning from the pain of biting through my own lip. needless to say, i couldn’t fall back asleep for a couple of hours and felt distinctly ill as i prepared myself to embark on yet another day in paradise.

the recent holidays already feel so distant in the past. the daily grind—dealing with sick people, malingering employees, and bad attitudes all around—is already upon me again, like a straitjacket that doubles as my work uniform. i can’t stand the way i personalize my work, but i can’t stop myself from doing it. and in this manner, month after month and year after year, my life erodes, taking a little of my fortitude and imagination with it.

now, i don’t want to imply that i have a job that’s any worse than anyone else’s. in many respects, it’s a great job. it pays the bills, it affords me autonomy, and it affords me the authority that i need to make changes and improvements. but it’s work that demoralizes me nonetheless. i’ve reflected on this for years and i’ve determined that the suffering my work causes me has little to do with the nature of my duties and more to do with the general constraints that the work places on my life. the transactionality of my labor means that ultimately my work is not a gift that i give someone; it is an expectation, and it is a mundane expectation at that. the best that i can do is to fulfill the expectations formalized in my job description. it’s this responsibility—and not any aspect of my humanity—that defines who i am when i am at work. one can call this the innate corruption of capitalistic relationships. i call it being trapped in loveless labor.

i’ve never known anything different, so this form of identification is as familiar as it is soul-killing. i do spend inordinate amounts of time trying to imagine work that would give me less trouble and more joy. here and there, i chance upon an interesting idea. i enjoy cleaning things; i could be an excellent janitor. i like using my hands; carpentry might be a lot of fun for me. once upon a time i wanted to be a pastor, and i think if i’d really given myself the freedom to live out my convictions back when i was a late adolescent, i would have probably gone to seminary. i would’ve been an out-of-the box theologian and a dynamic preacher, probably successful by all appearances. but within ten years i probably would have exited orthodoxy, renounced my religion, and led many of my followers with me on my path out of the church.

after much reflection, i’m left with this conclusion: all jobs are more or less the same. perhaps there’s only way to win the game of life, in capitalistic society: to retire early, and to find a way to live out a passion that transcends transactional labor. in the meantime, my suffering continues

01.03.22

Evaluating My Preseason Predictions

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:42 pm by Administrator

anyone following this blog can see that i’ve had a pretty impressive streak when it comes to projecting the performance of the philadelphia eagles. most recently, in 2019 i correctly predicted a 9-7 season record. in 2020, i correctly predicted a spectacular team collapse, breakout games from jalen hurts, and an off-season trade of carson wentz to indianapolis (and holy cow was that a bombshell prediction right there). and on the eve of the 2021 season, i predicted a 9-8 season with a playoff berth and a wild card playoff win.

while a couple of my 2021 season predictions for the eagles have yet to be validated, it’s not too early to look back at my august 4th entry and look at the other nine predictions i made about the eagles, some of which were uncannily prescient.

1. this defense is going to be very good: well-coached, disciplined, and tough to score on. the scheme shift will help, but the talent and the coaching are what will make the difference this year. by my estimation, this is the best secondary group we’ve had in more than 10 years (better than the super bowl year), and new additions steven nelson and anthony harris are sure to be very impactful additions. our pass defense, recently an eyesore under jim schwartz’s sieve of a scheme, will no longer be a weekly liability for us. the defensive line looks positively reenergized based on news i’m hearing out of training camp, and i’m counting on josh sweat and derek barnett both stepping up their games big time this year. i’m predicting that jonathan gannon’s unit will not only be the best defensive unit in the NFC East but also in the top 3rd of the league for yards allowed, points scored, and turnovers produced.

it is true that philadelphia’s defense is going to end this season in the top third in yards allowed and points scored, though they will not land in the top tier in turnovers produced. right now, a lot of people who follow the eagles earnestly believe that gannon’s defense was a truly excellent NFL defense in 2021.

i will be candid though and admit that jonathan gannon and the eagles defense were far less impressive to me than the numbers might suggest. all year, gannon’s “schemeless” defense struggled for an identity and was gnawingly inconsistent in its ability to pressure the passer. the inflated production of this defensive group was primarily driven by ease of schedule and the spectacular ineptitude of opposing quarterbacks, several of whom were replacement level talents. personally, i think it’s a joke that gannon’s rumored to be a top candidate for a head coaching job in the NFL. darius slay, avonte maddox, and josh sweat did their part to bail out their hapless defensive coordinator at various key moments during the season, but overall this looks like a defense that’s certain to regress to the mean in 2022 unless they have a serious infusion of talent in the off-season.

2. the offense will take time to gel, but they will produce big plays. with zach ertz very possibly sticking around for this year, the skill position group looks to be very intriguing for this season. true to his word, nick sirianni appears to be tailoring the offense to the strengths of his group, and i think that the camp hype around quez watkins is a direct reflection of that. jalen hurts may never be a highly efficient passer over the middle, but i believe that he’ll make up for it with the long ball (something he was best in the league at over the final four games of the year), with his legs, and with his consistent and unflappable mentality. we’ll have plenty of 3 and outs; we’ll struggle early in the season to balance the pass against the run; and there will surely be some game management issues under this young coaching staff. but this is a team that’s going to put up highlight plays on a frequent basis, behind an offensive line that will be better and deeper than any unit we’ve had since the super bowl season. i’m predicting high variance around relatively average numbers for yardage and scoring, but we’ll win the close games, and that will be the difference for us in the standings. here are jalen hurts’s numbers for the 2021 season: 3300 yards in the air, 650 yards on the ground, 25 passing touchdowns, 17 interceptions, and 8 rushing TDs (33 total TDs).

i was absolutely spot-on in my prediction that the eagles would struggle with the run-pass balance on offense, which was the major issue with the play-calling through this entire season. eventually the eagles did show what this roster is capable of producing: a physical run-based offensive scheme fueled by the league’s strongest offensive line.

i was close on hurts’s yardage stats but woefully inaccurate on his passing TD and interception numbers, which gets a bit to my emerging concerns about hurts. most people following the team are much higher on jalen hurts than they were at the start of the season; my opinion of him on the other hand was fairly high at the start of the year and has somewhat fallen from those heights. as predicted, hurts has struggled with efficiency, particularly over the middle; but generally speaking he has struggled with passing accuracy to all parts of the field. many of his long balls were turnover-worthy; he frequently missed the open receiver; and he generally operated best outside of structure, reflecting how he sees the field. there was definite improvement over the course of the season—but not to the degree that i can make a firm prediction about his ability to consistently carry an offense, much less score points against high-tier competition in the playoffs.

i remain a big fan of jalen hurts, both the player and the human being, and i think he’s an excellent bridge quarterback for the next season or two. but i cannot see the eagles paying him $30 million a year to be the face of the franchise over the long term. that’s disappointing to me, because i really was hopeful that he had a second gear to show us this year.

3. the eagles will make playoffs, and they will win that game in the wild card round. specifically, hurts will be a hero and will put his body on the line to win it for philly. this is what will immediately distinguish hurts from his predecessor and put the wentz era firmly in the rearview.

i certainly hope this is the case. i think that the run-stopping bucs are a terrible matchup for a run-oriented eagles team, and i’d much rather face the LA Rams in the wild card round.

4. as the result of a season that ends strongly and exceeds expectations, the eagles will choose not to trade for a quarterback or devote high draft capital to the position.

once again, here’s another prediction that lots of fans have finally come around to agreeing with, while i have begun quietly getting off the bus.

sirianni may win coach of the year, and the eagles may totally exceed expectations by the end of this season, but this doesn’t mean that the eagles have the foundational pieces to make a championship run. like i stated in my last entry, i’m now pretty firmly of the opinion that the eagles need to consider taking a quarterback in the first round of the 2022 draft, especially given the three high picks they’ve got this year. the 2022 qb class has been so thoroughly discredited by the media that the valuations on these prospects are extreme. sam howell and carson strong are absolutely worthy 1st round quarterbacks, and i think that both of them have a good shot at being NFL worthy starters.

5. the dolphins and colts will both end up being bottom 10 teams in the league this season, affording the eagles a top-10 draft pick from miami and a high 2nd round pick from the colts. with the top-10 pick, the eagles will take edge rusher kingsley enagbare, and with pick 23 (my estimated finish) we’ll take cornerback derion kendrick.

i’d still be fine with enagbare and kendrick, but yeah i was way off on the colts with the wishful thinking. that being said, it is comforting to see that carson wentz is still more of the same—occasionally brilliant, more often godawful, and always impossible to root for.

6. jordan mailata is going to dominate the league this season, and rushes outside left tackle are going to be disproportionately effective this season. the eagles are going to extend him, possibly at the expense of retaining dallas goedert (to be discussed in a moment).

i was right about mailata’s healthy and ascendant season, but i was pretty wrong about the eagles’ financial situation. i am still scratching my head and wondering how roseman got sweat, mailata, and goedert all comfortably extended. undoubtedly, it’s more shenanigans of the federal reserve variety: kicking money into 2023 and beyond, mortgaging future flexibility for immediate gratification.

7. i actually believe that zach ertz will somewhat outplay dallas goedert this season, mostly due to the fact that goedert will struggle to establish himself as a #1 receiving option on the team. with all the dead money the eagles have put into lane johnson, brandon brooks, and fletcher cox, i’m just not sure we’ll be able to clear the space for either ertz or goedert, leading to the scenario that no one wants but everyone has to consider: moving on from both guys.

i am happy to admit that i was very, very wrong on dallas goedert. i really wasn’t sure that goedert could be our featured receiving threat, but he has proven to be up to the task. he’s had a few ugly drops, but overall he’s proven to be our best receiver and our most dangerous weapon overall. he’s definitely worth the contract he got and more. well done!

8. the 2021 season will firmly shut the door on the 2019 draft class. andre dillard, miles sanders, and jj arcega-whiteside will be surpassed or pipp’d this year. jordan howard, who continues to be my favorite RB in the group, will end the year as our starter.

was there any doubt? dillard and jjaw are bad enough that we can’t even trade them, and as usual miles sanders struggled with consistency and health. frankly, we’re a better team when jordan howard is running the ball, and i hope we can get him healthy for playoffs.

9. devonta smith = ROY

back in april, i was sad that we gave up a 3rd round pick to move up to get devonta; but like everyone else in philly, i was glad that we got him, nonetheless. he’s not going to win offensive rookie of the year, as ja’marr chase, kyle pitts, rashawn slater, and even jaylen waddle had outsized impacts for their teams, but he was a solid addition to the roster and the first 1st round wide receiver selection in recent history that’s actually paid off for us. i want to congratulate howie roseman for not fucking up the 2021 draft like he positively fucked up the 2019 draft for us.

let’s win a playoff game. Go Eagles!