With the Eagles turning the page on old players who have been with the team since the Ray Rhodes era, what's next? Where the hell do we go from here? Drafts of the past that were supposed to cement replacements for when this day came, have yet to pan out. The plans that the Eagles used when trading away first round picks, and using later round picks to get mediocre talent, are just not working. Using that fluke at the end of last season, and the fall ass backwards way of getting into NFC Championship game as the platform to say that this team is among the best in the league, isn't cutting it. We fell for the banana in the tailpipe trick far to many times to know how this is going to turn out. So what is next? What do the gold standard capologist's do to get this team in a position to win the big game. The answer, more of the same.
Well let's start with, who else, Brian Dawkins. I fall into the I'm sad to see him go, the Eagles should have tried harder or just TRY to get him back, but I understand to a point why he isn't here. Lets face it, he is older, but he still brought something to the defense that you can't measure with a stop watch or look at on film. He was the soul of that defense, bottom line. When you have guys almost coming to tears over the loss of Dawkins, that says something. But to Banner, it does't mean shit. To Banner, Dawkins is a walking, talking, headhunting, 35 year old cap number. Its a business, as Dawkins, Runyan, and Tra have all said in the last week. It is what it is, expect nothing more and nothing less.
So where is the soul now. Will Sheldon Brown or Stewart Bradley or Sean Jones step into that role? I don't know, you don't know. But what we do know, is that if the Eagles did sign or franchise tag Dawkins, you wouldn't be hoping that someone will be there to fill that void. The Eagles secondary is still a good secondary, but the defense as a whole lost something when Dawkins signed with Denver, and more importantly, the people who pay good money year in and year out for this product lost something.
When Tra Thomas first heard that Dawkins signed with Denver his response to his wife was, "Honey, pack your bags, we're movin' up outta here." Not in the sense that he was mad that Dawkins was shown the door but because he knew if they didn't sign Dawkins, they weren't going to sign any of them (Runyon, Dawkins, Thomas). That should tell you something about the disconnect between an Eagles player and the front office. The Eagles like to throw Banner on the radio and have the Burger King throw him softballs, and have Joe remind everybody how smart the Eagles are with using the cap. Guess what? It doesn't mean shit if you don't win a Super Bowl. You can be the most consistent team that always makes the playoffs and is always competitive but in the end, that means absolutely nothing if you never win a championship, nothing. Also don't think that there isn't a bigger motive to them not signing more free agents this season. Banner is always scheming, and he knows that losing Runyon, Dawkins, Tra, LJ, Buckhalter and then not signing more players, will in turn give the Eagles more, better compensatory draft picks in the 2010 draft. Its them scheming and planning to stay consitantly mediocre for as long as possible. So keep pinching pennies, and trading away first round picks so you don't have to pay first round salaries on players and eventually it will bite you in the ass.
Just look at the offensive line. This is a great example of how they've managed the salary cap and the draft right into a disaster. You have guys like Winston Justice and Max Jean Giles, who both were picked to be the future of this o-line. Not so much anymore. Justice was a high second round pick and after 3 season hasn't developed into anything more than a blocking dummy for others to practice on. You have an average center who disappears in games like the invisible man. You have Nick Cole who is currently listed as the second string guy in 3 out of the 5 offensive line positions. And then you have the biggest headache of them all. A Pro Bowl Guard who can't decide whether or not he really is committed to his job as an NFL player and turns a back spasm into a potential career ending injury, a year after getting his big payday. So now you need to coddle a 25 year old kid, and in turn sign his big brother, who is coming off a broken leg, to baby sit him. The writers from Armageddon couldn't write a bigger disaster. This is a 4-12 season waiting to happen. And you know where it starts, the Draft.
The Eagles could be the worst when it comes draft day. Not that they draft horribly. They are batting around 40% which is very good in the NFL. But the way they mismanage picks and draft high on some players is astonishing ,and their long term planning abilities are very suspect. Not to mention the long contracts they give these guys before they are proven.
This whole mess with the offensive line could have been fixed starting in the 2007 draft. The Eagles were sitting with the 26th pick in the first round. Now the year before, the Eagles drafted Winston Justice in the early second round. By 2007, it was known by people who saw Justice practice and play that there was little chance he would live up to his second round billing. One former Eagle, *cough* Hugh Douglas, said that he is a puppy and that he doesn't have the bite of a dog in him. Add to that, Justice has been heard in the past saying he doesn't really like football and this is just a job for him. Right there, I've heard enough. So knowing this with the 26th pick in '07, what do you do. What you should do, is draft the best available player, maybe Anthony Gonzalez or Greg Olsen. Or you could draft a position that you regard at the highest, offensive line. You had Joe Staley, Tony Ugoh, Ben Grubbs, Justin Blalock, maybe Ryan Kalil out of USC, regarded as one of the best centers to come out in the last 5 years. So what do the Eagles do. The Eagles trade the pick to Dallas and drop down to the 36th pick. Christ almighty, whats next? Trying to be optimistic I'm thinking: Okay, still a good position, you gained some picks, what now? Oh and look, Ugoh is still out there, so is Blalock and Kalil too. Nope the Eagles draft Kevin Kolb, QB, University of friggin Houston. He comes from the same mold as, David Klingler and Andre Ware. Now that's great company. Add Kolb to the short list of QB's from UH, who couldn't read a defense to save their lives. Honestly it's pathetic. You have Donovan McNabb, like him or not he is a good QB, and you draft a QB in the second round. Dumb as they come. So here is the long term strategy as of '07. McNabb is gone by '09 at the latest. Now me, being from the future, I have the ability to tell you that in 2009, McNabb is still HERE, and you wasted the 36th pick on a back up, bravo. "Good draft picks? Where were going, you won't need good draft picks."
So the '06 and '07 draft didn't go well for those in the business of planning a long term future for the Philadelphia Eagles. After all this is a business. With Lurie and company, they just happen to being running a team in one of most starved for a championship cities in the last 25 years, till now. Time is running out for them. But luckily, every year like clockwork, the Eagles get another chance to make a brighter future only to dim the hopes of 99% of their fans.
So what do you do this year. It's '08, you have just witnessed the Giants win a Super Bowl with the help of....are you ready........rookies. Look at that, a team who actually plays rookies succeeded. And to think we sat around this whole time making rookies sit for two years to "develop" and "learn the system", again, pathetic. Here it comes, the 19th overall pick, the Eagles select.....there has been a trade. See, I forgot that the Eagles had just won the 2007 Super Bowl and were in no rush to get an immediate impact player. Silly me, I slept through last winter, my fault. With the 19th pick the Carolina Panthers select, what do you know, a offensive tackle, Jeff Otah. It turns out, Jeff Otah had a Pro Bowl caliber season in '08 and was an instant starter. Isn't that friggin peachy. Now the Eagles could have taken Otah or maybe, since they were so secure with Tra, Jon, and the rest of the bunch, maybe draft, the best available player. Maybe someone like, Sam Baker, another stud offensive tackle, or Felix Jones or Rashard Mendenhall or Chris Johnson or Dustin Keller or Kenny Phillips or Eddie Royal or Matt Forte. You know, any of those random players. But no, they ended up having their first pick be, Trevor Laws. Specfriggintacular. Now they hit right on with DeSean Jackson, I will give them that. But they could have had any one of the players above instead of Trevor Laws and still ended up with DeSean.
So they also got Carolina's first round pick in'09, but they were banking on the Panthers having a rebuilding season and that being a high pick. Turns out the Panthers were very good all along and now that maybe 9th overall pick or 15th overall pick, is just an okay 28th overall pick. The value of that pick plummeted over the course of the '08 season. It back fired bad. So instead of getting immediate help in '08 or maybe future tackle like Baker or Otah. You get Trevor Laws and hopefully something good with the 28th pick. Good luck with that. Knowing your history I'm sure well end up with something wonderful.