Friday, December 19, 2014

Don't give up on Watkins

The Eagles bench their first round draft choice.

Don't give up on Watkins

Danny Watkins will not start against the Rams in the season opener, according to reports. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Danny Watkins will not start against the Rams in the season opener, according to reports. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

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?

More coverage
 
Birds' Eye View: Watkins out at RG; DeVan in
 
Eagletarian: Sounds like Watkins won't start; Hanson back
 
Birds' Eye View: Hanson back with Eagles; Lindley gone
 
Moving the Chains: What to make of the Hanson move?
 
Eagletarian: T.O: DeSean should have held out
 
Moving the Chains: Expectations for DeSean and the WRs

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.

**

For more on this, visit Eagletarian by clicking here.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com Reach Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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