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Big Names, Big Money, Big Egos
Posted By Christopher Rowe On Aug 2 2011 @ 1:24 pm In Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment
Anyone who uses the term “Dream Team” in reference to the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles is hereby banned from reading my column. They will also be hauled off to Kangaroo Kourt at Lincoln Financial Field where the fans will tar and feather said offender before publicly flogging them and subsequently hung from the highest flagpole in the stadium for all preseason games. The second offender gets the home opener. Anyone else will be on display for the Dallas game and/or Monday Night Football. When the Giants come to town we’ll reserve this punishment for any especially lewd Meadowlanders in the house!
The draft was in April sandwiched by the 132 day lockout. In this very compressed, very chaotic NFL offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles have been head and shoulders above the efforts of all 31 other teams. No doubt about it, the Eagles had a gameplan, did their homework, committed to winning this season and all of the chips somehow fell into place. Andy Reid and Howie Roseman overhauled the coaching staff, dismissing Sean McDermott and replacing him as Defensive Coordinator with surprising Juan Castillo (yes, he used to be the offensive line coach). Future Hall of Fame offensive line coach Howard Mudd (famous for being Tony Dungy’s line coach in Indianapolis) traded his rocking chair for one more shot to coach a championship team. Jim Washburn and his Tourette’s Syndrome Sailor Mouth (not to be confused with Sailor Moon) has turned defensive line camp into boot camp. These coaches along with incumbent offensive coordinator Marty Mornhingwhig and tenured Andy Reid spent all summer scheming and plotting the demise of the rest of the NFL.
Once the lockout ended and the starting gates opened the Eagles architects hit the ground at breakneck speed. Kevin Kolb went to Arizona for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 second-round pick. Jason Babin returns to the Eagles nest as a conquering hero free agent seeking to reunite with his position coach (Jim Washburn). Then Nnamdi Asomugha (the most sought after marquee name on the open market) signs as a free agent in Birdland – giving Philadelphia three of the Top 10 defensive backs in football with “DRC” and Asante Samuel (36 INT over 5 seasons). Not enough? Former Pro Bowl QB Vince Young arrives in camp signed to a one-year deal to be Michael Vick’s new backup.
A dozen undrafted free agents (http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2011/07/26/eagles-undrafted-free-agents-cause-questions/ ) were added without fanfare between Asomugha and former Packers defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins. Jenkins started 66 games in seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He had a career-high seven sacks in 11 games with the Super Bowl-  champion Packers last year. Jenkins will fill a variety of roles in the Eagles’ newly structured defense under first-year coordinator Juan Castillo. According to Roseman and Jim Washburn, Cullen’s main role will be as an inside pass rusher.
Still not enough? First round pick Danny Watkins (who is likely to be the Eagles starting right guard) was brought into the fold (thanks to former Eagle Joe Panos who is Watkins’ agent) on a 4-year deal worth $8 million. TE Donald Lee is on board as an additional weapon on offense and competition for backup RB (behind LeSean McCoy) is heating up (Dion Lewis, Jerome Harrison, Eldra Buckley). Same for MLB (Will Jamar Chaney, Moise Fokou or rookie Casey Matthews be enough or will the Eagles go after another free agent), Strong Safety (Jaiquawan Jarrett, Kurt Coleman, Cole Anderson) and Defensive End (Juqua Parker vs. Brandon Graham and Phillip Hunt). Stewart Bradley and Akeem Jordan want to be re-signed for reduced roles while second-year Nate Allen has locked down Free Safety.
Another holdout possibility would be electrifying WR DeSean Jackson. While Jackson is not officially considered a holdout until Thursday (Aug. 4, which is when the team could start fining him) the Eagles have indicated that they will not negotiate with DeSean until he reports to Lehigh University to do so in person. Point of note that Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin has been sidelined with symptoms resembling mononucleosis but will report to camp as early as tomorrow. Maclin’s health status remains undisclosed and he will receive a physical exam at NovaCare today. Getting Jackson and Maclin in camp is important for long-term success but allowing Jason Avant, Bradley Cooper and other receivers extra reps in camp will help as well.
All of these high profile players and exciting pool of talent could lead to the most exciting Eagles season since the 2004 season ended on a stalled drive in Super Bowl XXXIX. The upside is rampant talent oozing from the depth chart at every position. The downside is a lethal dose of egomania spreading like a contagious virus around Eagles camp. Since Thursday the Eagles have added four likely defensive starters in Cullen Jenkins, Asomugha, DE Jason Babin and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They also signed quarterback Vince Young.
After a weekend of euphoria over the dynamic moves made by the Eagles, Asante Samuel swooped in and snatched it away like a wounded duck from Jake Delhomme. The Big Question in camp now is whether or not The Bermuda Triangle DBs will last. Samuel showed up at Lehigh Monday. New defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said all the right things to the media, including that Nnamdi Asomugha might be the nickel back and that Samuel would keep his starting left corner spot. Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were gracious, both willing to share time on the field for the chance to be a truly special defense…
…And then Asante spoke to the media… Asked if wanted to be traded, Samuel answered “no comment.” Very different from just plain “no.” Asante and his cap number ($9M) means that it might be time to sell might right now. Should he stay or should he go? If he stays he will be trouble but if he goes it will be double… When asked again about what he wanted to see from the Eagles, Samuel continued to be belligerent, flippant and self-serving.
“I want to be where I’m wanted,” Samuel told reporters. “If I’m not appreciated here, then life goes on. We had our talks. If they are tired of my big play-making ability, they’ll ship me off. If they still want it, they’ll keep me here.”
Soon after, GM Howie Roseman asserted definitively that Samuel had not asked for a trade. Quite obviously, the Eagles have an abundance at CB. There’s a logic to keeping all three corners in a pass-happy NFL. How would any team complete a downfield pass against the Eagles’ Bermuda Triangle? Nnamdi (Igbo for “my father is alive”), Asante (which ironically means “Thank you” in Swahili) and self-proclaimed “DRC” are just too good, too athletic, too explosive and too stifling – but not if they can’t find a way to play together. Make it simple. If you want to win, stay here. You want to be the best player in NFL Siberia? Buffalo is that way!
“It’s exciting,” Roseman said. “It’s really exciting to put it all together, and we want to see them out here out on the field and get going.” Roseman said he’s hearing from agents that their players want to be Eagles.
“People want to come to Philadelphia because of the organization, having Coach (Andy) Reid and having a quarterback like Michael (Vick) and the players we have here,” he said. “I think they’re all great selling points. When you talk to agents, people want to come to Philly.”
 No, all is not well with the Dream Team. It may be worth the headaches to keep them together for one season. Even “T.O.” spent one Super Bowl season in Philadelphia before having a complete mental meltdown.
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