Archive for the philadelphia eagles Category


Brett Favre, Michael Vick News Cycle Drags on with No End in Sight

The NFL season is still three weeks away, and already two stories have been covered to the max, even by ESPN’s standards.

Michael Vick and Brett Favre need to be cut off the media radar.
 
Ironically, neither of the two will even be a factor during the 2009 season until at least mid-October. Vick finally signed with a team and is now practicing with the Eagles.
 
Is it really necessary to have Sal Paolantonio attend every Philly practice, giving us an update on Vick’s wind sprints? The speculations over what team would take the massive P.R. hit and sign him are over.
 
The man is out of jail and is now just another player in training camp. This does not merit the continued coverage. Talk to me in week six when he is ready to play.

I can already predict the Vick stories over the next two months:
 
Vick looks in shape, Vick gives Eagles a wildcat option, other teams must now worry about the Eagles running the wildcat, Donovan McNabb and Vick get along and are friends, McNabb and Vick will be on the field together, the protests, the angry headlines, and of course, the livid dog owners.
 
Does any of this have relevance to the first month of the 2009 NFL season? Why can’t this story go on the back burner till Vick can actually make an impact ON the field?
 
Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King already has a prediction:
 
“I think I’m setting the over/under on Sal Paolantonio’s days spent reporting from Eagle headquarters or Eagle games this season, and I’m doing it right now. There are 139 days between today and the end of the regular season. Over/under: 140.”
 
I’ll take the over.

Then there is Brett Favre. He just simply will not get away from my TV. It has been the most painfully slow death of an NFL career since Emmitt Smith went to the Arizona Cardinals.
 
After two agonizingly dull months of Favre to the Vikings talk, he decided to stay “retired.” I want the collective 24 hours of Favre updates of my life back, please.

So finally we all thought he would drift off into the sunset.

But wait, there’s more!
 
Yesterday some “unidentified” Vikings player was quite convinced Favre was coming when he said, “I’m telling you it’s already done. I don’t think anyone here doesn’t think that.”
 
Today a Mississippi TV station reported that Favre had boarded a plane en route to Minnesota. Here we go again…ESPN reports he will sign a $10-12 million deal.
 
Now we will be subjected to a whole new round of speculation amongst the talking heads. They will rehash the same arguments that have been used since the spring. Once again the focus will not be about X’s and O’s, but on a guy with a gray whiskers who may or may not be too old.
 
Knowing Favre, he might even change his mind four or five more times in the next month. The Sage Rosenfels era might end before it even gets started. So much for that impressive first preseason game; he’s getting bumped by a Wrangler jeans-wearing 39-year-old diva.
 
The running game will dictate the Vikings season, not Favre. So why doesn’t ESPN talk about Adrian Peterson every day? How did Carson Palmer and Tom Brady look in their first games back after major injuries? Which rookies look to have early success? How will Jay Cutler and the Bears compare to Kyle Orton and the Broncos? Will the Steelers’ offensive line hold up for big Ben Roethlisberger?
 
Unfortunately, this is all second fiddle to the media empires. We will continue to get bashed over the head with Vick and Favre well into the season.

The funny thing is that there is a chance neither player makes any sort of impact on the field. But clearly that is irrelevant.
 
You have been warned; be prepared for a loooong couple of months of the same old stories.

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Wednesday Whys: NFL Contract Complications

National Football Post

Why did it take so long for the Eagles and Jeremy Maclin to come to an agreement?

I can’t shake that question right now, although in time it will be a distant memory. Having worked on the contract over the past few weeks, I have to respect the confidentiality of the deal and be sensitive to the process that was just completed.

What I can say is the same thing I’ve written many times: There is much more to these contracts than simply filling in numbers. Certainly, the amount of all the different type of bonuses—option, signing, roster, reporting, performance, etc.—are all obvious subjects of negotiation but only part of what is being negotiated.

The other parts of the negotiation—structure, payout, upside, downside, backside, cash flow, etc.—are just as important and try to address the sticky subject of risk and who assumes it: downside risk to the team if the player turns out to be below expectations or even a “bust,” or upside risk to the player if he turns out to be a superstar.

No one can predict the future (if we could, we wouldn’t have Las Vegas). Thus, negotiating a contract is trying to best approximate what might happen with a player and a team with a changing marketplace and a variety of potential outcomes. The hard money in the contract is a function of the marketplace; in the case of the draft, it’s a fairly well defined marketplace.

Often, negotiations bog down not because of money but because of other things. When I negotiated the contract of Aaron Rodgers, the 25th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the discussion about the amount of money in the deal took less than an hour. The discussion about the escalator in the fifth year of the contract—a year that was never reached because the contract was renegotiated last year—took over 50 hours.

Rodgers’ agent and I vigorously debated the amount and timing of escalator money in the contract based on Rodgers’ performance. The wild card in the negotiation, of course, was trying to determine when Brett Favre would retire, something we’ve been trying to determine for years (and perhaps still are).

With the Maclin deal, there were a lot of moving parts on the money and the structure issues of the contract, with deals around us that were not consistent in all areas, making the “fitting in” aspect of the negotiation not as easy as it sounds.

Once we were able to figure out premiums, discounts, approximate values of different escalators, structures, payouts, etc., we moved forward with a deal—with some twists and turns thrown in along the way (For a while, I wondered if I were negotiating a football contract or the Mideast Peace Treaty).

I’ll have more on Maclin at the appropriate time. Know that every time I see him make a catch, I’ll think of these past two weeks and the slow march toward execution (of the contract, that is).

 

Why was Percy Harvin’s contract with the Vikings initially disapproved by the NFL before being approved?

My initial thought, which was confirmed by someone close to the negotiations, was that there was a slight miscalculation of the rookie pool number for the Vikings. Harvin’s signing bonus was a bit high for the cap number that the team was left with after signing the rest of its rookies and had to be adjusted.

After bringing their signing bonus down approximately $20,000 and reallocating that amount to their one-time incentive in the deal, the contract now fits snugly against the Vikings’ rookie pool number and has been approved.

Most teams take their contracts right up to the brink of their rookie pool number since there’s no advantage gained by not doing so, and every now and then, there’s an unintended overage that needs to be addressed. In this case, the correction was simple, although Harvin is $20,000 lighter in the wallet in this year’s cash flow.

 

Why is this the worst time of year for team front offices?

One word and one word only: injuries. Players whom teams have counted on since the offseason started in March, and players whom teams had no reason to think of replacing or supplementing with other quality players, are now lost for the year.

The season-ending injury problem in the first week of training camp is something that has happened for years and is happening again this year. Reggie Kelly of the Bengals, Stewart Bradley of the Eagles and Ma’ake Kemoeatu of the Panthers (a player I remember chasing in free agency a few years ago before being outbid by Carolina) have all suffered season-ending injuries that have altered their teams’ plans. And it is certain there will be more.

The teams will recover and move on with replacements, either on the team or through acquisitions, but the suddenness and finality of these injuries—these players must now prepare for 2010—is striking.

Playing 16-, 17-, 18- or 10-game seasons will not alter the reality of these injuries. The ACL, the torn Achilles, etc., are going to happen, and they often happen in the first few days of live hitting, something that can’t be simulated in the offseason, or at least if the NFL Players Association has anything to say about it.

The good teams recover quickly and move ahead. In many ways, these injuries are more impactful than retirements, as teams losing players to retirement can groom replacements more easily than a sudden loss to an injury. The only possible silver lining is the timing, since there are still a full 40 days to get the replacements ready.

For players, coaches and front offices in pro football, injuries are the bane of their existence. But they happen—a lot. This is not a contact sport; it’s a collision sport.

 

Why is it not surprising that Plaxico Burress was indicted?

There were a lot of factors working against Burress in this case, some of them (pardon the choice of words) self-inflicted.

The Manhattan District Attorney, Robert Morgenthau, and the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, were not shy in expressing the importance of treating Burress with the full force and effect of the law (something Burress’ attorney will continue to note). It was against this backdrop that the grand jury heard the case, listened to Burress and decided to indict.

Besides, New York juries, or grand juries, are probably not the type to be swayed by celebrity, as is the case in other parts of the country (L.A. perhaps?). Burress’ name recognition might have helped him throughout his career, but it was of no help here.

As to the self-inflicted part, Burress, in my view, wasted an opportunity to help himself with the grand jury. Instead of explaining the incident and any defense of the gun charges that were alleged, he simply apologized and expressed deep regret for his actions. Huh? That’s what he should do at a sentencing hearing, not as the basis of his testimony to a group of people deciding whether he should stand trial.

The curious case of Plaxico Burress continues.

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Diner Morning News: Childress Must Fix This Mess

National Football Post

QUOTE: “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”—Maria Robinson

Brett Favre gave Brad Childress of the Vikings an answer Tuesday. I’m not sure it’s the one he wanted to hear, but nonetheless, it was a decision. For now, he is not coming back — emphasis on the “for now.”

Of course, we got a quote from coach Childress: “I just think it was a rare opportunity to explore a Hall of Fame quarterback who had a background in the NFC and in this division. He knows our system inside out…This doesn’t change anything about how I feel about our football team.”
A rare opportunity? I wouldn’t call chasing a 40-year-old quarterback coming off a shoulder injury “rare.” Had Favre been 32, then yes, this would have been a rare opportunity.
Speaking of rare, do you consider a 26-year-old quarterback who has thrown for more than 8,000 yards (Minnesota has thrown for 5,700) and 45 touchdowns the past two years rare? For me, the rare opportunity was when Jay Cutler was on the market, not Favre. But Childress didn’t like Cutler, didn’t like his personality, had heard some “things” (for lack of a better word) and decided to pass.

I love Brett Favre as a player. I’m really happy he didn’t come back because, as I mentioned in the Sunday Post, he hasn’t trained his body to play this season. Without proper training, he would’ve had a hard time staying healthy and playing at the level of excellence we’ve all come to expect. The aging process takes a toll on everyone, even someone as great as Favre.

So, where does my favorite NFL head coach go now? Of course, he’s going to mention to everyone, except his own quarterbacks, that he has confidence in his team, his beloved system, and his players.

What I find funny is that Childress had time to talk to Peter King of SI.com (nice work, Peter) about the Favre situation but didn’t have the time to call Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson. I love Peter, but he’s not going to help you win games; Rosenfels and Jackson just might. Don’t you think they should have been told first and been given some love and nurturing?

I was told Wednesday night that many in the Vikings organization were not in favor of chasing Favre, that it was solely the idea of the head coach. This was his baby from start to finish, even to the point where it was reported that the team hadn’t imposed a deadline on Favre and allowed him to take as much time as he needed. Clearly, Childress just wanted Favre.

Being fair to Childress, maybe he saw a need to acquire Favre as a reaction to what has transpired in the NFC North. Maybe he felt that with Cutler in Chicago and the Packers being healthy, he needed a quick fix. Because let’s face it, even if Favre came back, it was only for one year. Where would the Vikings be in 2010?

Now, the burden of moving the ball falls back to Jackson or Rosenfels, and the burden of calling games falls on offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

But the greatest challenge awaiting Childress is restoring the team’s confidence in its quarterbacks. Childress has lost some trust of the players with this pursuit, particularly the quarterbacks. Some may dismiss it as just trying to improve the team, but trust me, these moves can backfire and create a very unpleasant locker room.

One of the key traits of leadership is called “Management of Trust,” which means the leader is honest and consistent with his actions, something Childress clearly has not been through this process. He never addressed the situation with either player, nor told them what they could expect. In fact, when he recruited Rosenfels to come to Minnesota before the trade with Houston, he never mentioned any other quarterback he might compete against except Jackson.

It will take some time to repair this mess created by the Favre chase, and it might continue if Favre keeps throwing and the Vikings keep calling. For now, though, coach Childress must clean up the mess—quickly—and stop thinking there is no mess.


JIM JOHNSON

Jim Johnson’s passing is very tragic. He was a great person, a great leader, and—most of all—an inspiration to his players. He built something in Philadelphia, and it wasn’t just a defense. He created a legacy. When you say “Philadelphia Eagles defense,” you think of Jim. And that will not stop now that he’s gone. His work will always be with the Eagles.

What I most admired about Jim was his love of the game. He was never bitter about not being a head coach or being passed over; he was someone who accepted his role, enhanced it, and made the most of it. In the world of pro football, egos can be huge, but Jim was an egoless man who only wanted to do his job well, regardless of who got the credit.

Someone once said, “One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” Jim, your life was worth watching. You will be missed.

The National Football Post is a unique and premier online source of quality and credible news, information and insight about all sides of football featuring professionals with experience in all facets of the NFL.

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The Top Five: Best Running Backs in the NFL

The running back position is in the midst of a huge shift.

One guy can no longer carry the entire load of an offense’s running game throughout a 16—game season. Defenses have gotten too big and fast, and the sustained pounding that one guy takes can effectively end his career.

Larry Johnson, for instance, has not been heard from since the season in which he carried the ball over 400 times. The beating that he took during that season still weighs him down, severely limiting his effectiveness.

Still, even with the increasingly popular running back tandems, there are certain guys who stand out from the crowd by doing it better than everyone else.

I’m a master of brilliant segues.

 

5. Brian Westbrook (Philadelphia Eagles)

78 games started, 5,721 rushing yards, 36 TDs, 4.6 YPC, 401 receptions, 3,609 receiving yards, 9 YPR, 28 TDs, 9,330 scrimmage yards, 64 total TDs, 2-time Pro Bowler and 1-time All-Pro

Westbrook is considered by some as the ultimate weapon.

He can hurt you on the ground, he can hurt you in the passing game, and let’s not forget that he’s one of the best pass-blocking backs in the game. He’s an all-around fantastic running back.

In fact, over the past few years, he’s the only player with 4,000 yards rushing and 3,000 yards receiving.

Yet he has never played in more than 15 games during a season and doesn’t take that much of a beating.

He’s not an up-the-middle kind of runner, and is extremely elusive which allows him to prevent taking the big hit, yet he’s always hurt. It could speak to the guy’s work ethic, but everyone in Philadelphia swears that he’s one of the hardest working guys on the team, so maybe it’s just bad luck.

Either way, the reason that Westbrook is this low is that his vision in between the tackles is below standard. A lot of times you’ll see him run into a pile when there’s a perfect lane just one cut-move to his right or left.

In space, he may be the best back in the league, however he’s less effective when it comes to “moving in a phone booth,” as they say.

 

4. LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers)

127 games started, 11,760 rushing yards, 126 TDs, 4.4 YPC, 510 receptions, 3,801 yards, 7.5 YPR, 15 TDs, 15,561 scrimmage yards, 141 total touchdowns, 5-time Pro Bowler and 3-time All-Pro

Personally, I don’t understand all of the criticism that L.T. has received over the past several months.

If you look at his body of work, he’s astounding. He’s missed one game, which was back in 2004, and has never rushed for less than 1,000 yards in any year since coming into the league eight years ago. He also completes at least 10 rushing touchdowns in a season, as well as a minimum 300 receiving yards.

Even last year, that everyone says was so terrible, was a decent year for any running back.

1,110 yards rushing, 11 TDs, 52 receptions, 426 yards, and a touchdown. The only bad part about last season was his 3.8 YPC, which admittedly is weak, but it’s also not bad considering he played through the entire season with nagging injuries.

If L.T. can put up those kind of numbers while playing hurt, coming back healthy this season should scare any defense unlucky enough to face him.

 

3. Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons)

17 games started, 2,956 rushing yards, 23 TDs, 4.9 YPC, 17 receptions, 112 receiving yards, 6.6 YPR, 3,068 scrimmage yards, 23 total touchdowns, 1-time Pro Bowler and 1-time All-Pro

Michael “The Burner” Turner finally got a chance to emerge from the shadow of the great LaDainian Tomlinson and show the league what he can do.

Apparently, he can do a lot.

In his first season as a starter, Turner was able to rack up almost 1,700 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, while earning a Pro Bowl nod and being selected to the All-Pro team.

He’s not much of a receiver out of the backfield, which is why the Falcons have Jerious Norwood, but it’s fine because Turner makes up for it on the ground.

Just like Adrian Peterson (expect to see that name again) he can plow a guy over, or run away from a defensive back. His speed is unbelievable for a guy who is closing in on 240 pounds, the size of most fullbacks.

Look for Turner to continue his success and become a mainstay in discussions like these, and in the Pro Bowl/All-Pro clubs.

 

2. DeAngelo Williams (Carolina Panthers)

18 games started, 2,733 rushing yards, 23 TDs, 5.1 YPC, 78 receptions, 609 receiving yards, 7.8 YPR, 4 TDs, 3,342 scrimmage yards, 27 total touchdowns

If there ever was a Pro Bowl snub, this guy is it.

Coming off a year in which he ran for over 1,500 yards and accounted for 18 touchdowns on the ground, DeAngelo Williams missed the Pro Bowl.

By the way, last season was his first as a full-time starter.

Williams showed the speed, quickness, agility, and vision needed to be a running back in today’s NFL. He could make even the best of corners and safeties look foolish in the open field, while also using his 5’8″ 210—pound frame to barrel over the biggest linebackers.

He and Jonathan Stewart combined for perhaps the best running back tandem in the league, but a lot of Stewart’s success could be attributed to Williams’ intimidation of opponents.

In a few years, expect Williams to draw comparisons to guys like L.T. and Brian Westbrook in their early days, if he isn’t already.

 

1. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings)

24 games started, 3,101 rushing yards, 22 TDs, 5.2 YPC, 40 receptions, 393 receiving yards, 9.8 YPR, 1 TD, 3,494 scrimmage yards, 23 total touchdowns, 2-time Pro Bowler and 1-time All-Pro

This pick is a no-brainer, and I’m not sure that there’s a journalist out there willing to stake their reputation on not putting this guy as No. 1.

He’s an absolutely unbelievable talent. He can become a power runner if that’s what you need, or he can run away from you in the open field and make the entire defensive secondary look like high school kids.

He’s already drawing comparisons to guys like Earl Campbell and Jim Brown, and merits every one.

He’s a nightmare for defenses and is already setting records in the NFL. For instance, in his rookie season he broke Jamal Lewis’ mark of 295 rushing yards in a single game by rushing for 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers.

Yes, in his rookie season.

This kid will only get better, and while he does have some things to work on, he should have no problem being remembered as one of the greats when his time is up.

Which, unfortunately for the rest of the league, isn’t for quite some time.

 

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