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Monday, March 2, 2009

Dawkins Proves It’s Business As Usual for Eagles

I haven’t gotten overly emotional about the Birds since they closed out Veteran’s Stadium with a classic choke in the NFC Championship versus Tampa Bay. I’m not “crushed” that Brian Dawkins left, and the bottom line is he took more money, but I am a little sad to see Dawkins go. He was a true class act, and one of the rare athlete’s that seemed to care about winning as much as fans.

The real problem I have with Dawkins leaving is that the Eagles continue to run things as though they have some secret formula for running an NFL franchise. They continue to under value experience and leadership. They continue to think they can simply plug in the “next” guy and continue to succeed despite having never had real success, which for fans equates to one thing only – Super Bowls.

Mentioning experience and leadership is not to say Dawkins can’t play any more. The guy did go to the Pro Bowl last season. But there are plenty of examples of aging guys playing key roles through experience leadership on championship teams . . . and they're not all quarterbacks. Who’s the leader on this team now? McNabb? Don't think so.

And, if you want to look at this from a purely “on the field” perspective, I’m assuming Quintin Demps is now their starting safety. That makes me plenty nervous.

In fact, losing Dawkins is temporarily blurring the fact that the Eagles are once again doing next to nothing in free agency. Bringing in Stacy Andrews on the cheap because he’s coming off a knee injury is classic Birds. This notion that he’ll help them get his little brother Shawn over the depression that helped keep him off the field is absurd. One minute they’re hard-nosed business men that don’t give in to the emotion of keeping a veteran too long, the next they’re selling their one free agent move they’ve made so far partly on the idea that he can hold his little brother’s hand? That’s a joke. Trading Lito Sheppard a year late for draft picks shouldn’t excite anyone either.

While we’re at it, let’s put to rest the ridiculous report that McNabb “threw down the gauntlet” by demanding that the team bring in some weapons. He’s never once demonstrated the backbone to do such a thing, and I seriously doubt he did it this year. If by some miracle he actually did that, the Eagles have clearly ignored him.

I’m also sick of hearing about the track record of the Eagles letting guys go at the right time. What's wrong with keeping guys that perform in your system? Jeremiah Trotter left, and returned after a season or two of doing nothing in Washington, only to return as a productive player. I think Duce Staley could have continued to be productive here even though he flopped in Pittsburgh. Obviously, there’s no way to ever prove a particular guy would have been more productive had he stayed in Philadelphia versus leaving through free agency, but I think this so-called track record is totally over blown.

Finally, this morning ESPN 950’s Brian Seltzer suggested that the decision to not offer Dawkins a better deal was made by Joe Banner. If true, I’m ready to rev up the bandwagon of people rooting for Jeff Lurie to sell the Eagles. It would erase any doubt that this team is run on a bottom line mentality – and the bottom line is in the accounting department not in the number of Super Bowls they’ve won. That number remains at a perfectly consistent zero.

No, a sale is not going to happen any time soon, but I’m not sure a collapse on the field isn’t just around the corner. It could be argued that, despite the surprise run to the NFC Championship game, the collapse has been underway for years.

The way the Eagles do business, the thought hurts less and less.

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