Danny, we hardly knew ye.
Before he has played a down, the Eagles have benched Danny Watkins, their first round draft choice. They picked him this spring and penciled him in at right guard from the very beginning -- and then, this morning, Watkins was erased by coach Andy Reid. In his place, Kyle DeVan will be the starter for the season opener against St. Louis. DeVan was claimed on waivers the other day after the Indianapolis Colts cut him. All of which raises the question: what would the Eagles have done had the Colts not decided to let DeVan go?
Reid dropped some hints at his Wednesday press conference that the move was going to take place, but he has not confirmed anything -- and he apparently told Watkins not to say anything. Reporters in the locker room sniffed it out, though, and here the Eagles are on the eve of the season opener, making it up as they go along.
Is this any way to win a Super Bowl?
Or develop a rookie offensive lineman?
Say this about Watkins: to take a guy with a relatively limited football background, and to give him no off-season work, and to watch him miss the first few days of an already-abbreviated training camp in a contract dispute, and then to expect him to be able to start on opening day, was probably a stretch. Reid's first hint that Watkins was a work in progress came about 3 weeks ago. His play in subsequent games was viewed by amateur observers (like me) as either substandard or, well, meh.
They likely could have lived with meh.
Now, we know.
But here's the thing: the Eagles have done Watkins a disservice. They did not need to annoint him as the starter on draft day. They could have recognized the reality -- that he was likely to have his hands full, especially in a lockout-encumbered environment, and that the goal was to get him ready as quickly as possible but not necessarily on opening day.
The Eagles went with the anointing, though, which means that as they pull this cumbersome switcheroo at the last minute, they leave everybody thinking that Watkins has failed them. They leave Watkins now in the position of having to fight that perception.
The reality is that the Eagles failed here, not Watkins. They are the ones who miscalculated.
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