Quite a week for the Eagles

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The Eagles have acted swiftly and aggressively since free agency has started. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

It was only a couple of days into the new era of the NFL, when general managers and coaches were rushing like gold prospectors to collect talent, and fans of the Eagles were freaking out.

Never mind that there was plenty of time to get things done. Heck, teams weren't permitted to announce the signings of any free agents until Friday evening at 6. But the Eagles had advertised that they'd be "all in," and to that point the only thing the Eagles had done was sign Pitt running back Dion Lewis, their fifth-round draft pick . Salvos were coming into my e-mail account.

"The Eagles did it again," one guy wrote. "They're all talk and no action. All the bombastic claims about being all in remind the fan base of the 'gold standard' being shoved down our throats."

"Being an Eagles fan for what seems like forever, you would think I would know better than to believe all of the hoopla at the beginning of each season," wrote another. "Of course just a week into this crazy free agency frenzy, all of the other teams are wheeling and dealing and getting better. But are the Birds? Not even close."

And then there was this one: "Why did we think the Eagles would be able to think quickly in this 2:00 minute drill of an offseason when the biggest complaint about Andy Reid is his time management, thinking on his feet, quick decision-making ability?"

Then on Friday, like some slapstick cartoon, the Eagles whacked their fan base over the head with a cast iron skillet.

To say it was a decent week for the Eagles would be the understatement of the century. They got a Pro Bowl cornerback and a second-round pick for Kevin Kolb. They signed a defensive end who had a monster year last year under a defensive line coach who now works for the Eagles - say what you will about Jason Babin's being a fluke, but 121/2 sacks is 121/2 sacks and it is possible to be a late bloomer. And they got a backup quarterback who used to be one of the most dynamic players in the league, which fits perfectly with their "quarterback has to make big plays" philosophy. And if Vick gets hurt, Vince Young should certainly be better for this offense than, say, Marc Bulger.

On Friday night, they wrapped up the week by signing the best free agent in the whole class, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

About the only thing more stunning than the acquisition of Asomugha came hours later when the Phillies announced they had acquired Hunter Pence. Talk about Freaky Friday.

In this era of prying eyes and Twitter accounts from Schefter and Mort, not to mention everybody and their mother who covers this team, how the Eagles front office pulled off the acquisition of Asomugha in such secrecy is a miracle.

But secrecy is apparently what they do best. The same thing happened two years ago when the Birds announced the Michael Vick bombshell. They don't share much with their fan base, but as long as they bring in players like Asomugha, they can operate in a bunker.

After 12 years of not winning a championship, those e-mails would indicate a blatant mistrust of this Eagles regime. After all this time, and with all due respect to the win-loss record, we really haven't been that sure they know what they're doing.

There have been a ton of misjudgments, highlighted as recently as the cuts they made last week. Guys the Eagles previously told you could play, as it turned out, couldn't play. Stewart Bradley and Ernie Sims and Akeem Jordan and Omar Gaither. Nick Cole and Max Jean-Gilles. They signed Darryl Tapp last year. Really? They drafted some guy named Daniel Te'o-Nesheim that nobody around the league thought could play. The Eagles have always given the impression that they're smarter than everyone else.

The flip side of that, of course, is that almost every time a premier free agent has been available at a position of true need, the Eagles have gotten him, and have also been willing to overpay. Jason Peters. Asante Samuel. Jevon Kearse. Jon Runyan. And now Asomugha. Ironically, the acquisition of Asomugha makes Samuel expendable. Maybe they had just gotten tired of Asante's personal problems being an excuse for missing practice.

Know this, though: Winning a lot of games every season and going to the playoffs no longer matters for Eagles fans. Reid receives a lot of national adoration for all the wins he compiles, but I've got a couple of factoids that might counterbalance that: Only one coach has been allowed by his front office to coach as long as Reid without winning a championship - Bill Cowher. Only two other coaches, John Madden and Chuck Noll, won their first Super Bowl after coaching more than five years. The vast majority of coaches win their Super Bowls within four years of their initial employment. So I'd say the clock is running, on batteries slowly losing their juice.

But as we sit here today, the Eagles are a contender, and in my book Howie Roseman has gone from a guy I doubted (and one who lost even more points with me last week when he wore that goofy camouflage cap) to my favorite Eagles GM of all time.

There was absolutely nothing on the resumé of Kolb that indicated he would be a big star in this league. Kolb has started seven games, has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, and when given the chance to start appeared shaky and downright scared. His desirability around the league, and especially with the Arizona Cardinals, is fueled by the dearth of quarterback talent in the NFL aside from the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys of the world. In many ways, Kolb is akin to being the best-looking sandwich on a lunch truck. You're hungry, so you buy it.

Roseman, in his first big move, stared down the Cardinals in a serious game of football chicken. He laughed at Arizona's fake public interest in Kyle Orton, and in the end the Cardinals, consumed by Kolb love, gave up a second-round draft pick in addition to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was a much higher draft pick than Kolb. He got Babin and then Asomugha.

Wow. I'm stunned.

 

Three obtuse thoughts

1. The Eagles are in an absolute no-win situation with DeSean Jackson and must give him a contract that is similar to the one the Jets just gave Santonio Holmes. I hear their side. Jackson is not really a true No. 1 receiver in the mode of Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson or Calvin Johnson. DeSean is small and gets banged up and has had a couple of concussions. But they're the ones that set up this big-play offense, and Jackson is the home-run hitter. I don't blame that weasel Drew Rosenhaus one bit for holding out his client.

2. Tiger Woods is coming back to play golf next weekend, and in that tournament he'll have a new caddie, childhood friend Bryon Bell. Tiger fired Steve Williams, speculation has it, because Williams had the audacity to get another loop, with Adam Scott, instead of sitting on his duff waiting for Tiger to get back.

I'm not a Tiger fan. I think he's a narcissistic jackass. But I'm not so sure he's wrong for firing Williams. Williams became a multimillionaire off Tiger Woods. Like it or not, Stevie, that means you can't gripe when he fires you.

3. Maybe we do need instant replay in baseball, but the only reason that debate was fueled last week was because umpire Jerry Meals preferred to show the world he was smarter than everyone else and simply didn't do his job in that Pirates-Braves game. How any human being could call Atlanta's Julio Lugo safe on that play at the plate is way beyond my comprehension. The throw beat the runner by about five seconds and the catcher and the runner made contact about five feet before the plate. Umpires make phantom calls all the time at second base on the turning of double plays. Lugo wasn't out?

I dislike umpires intensely. I hate the way they posture and get belligerent. I wish they would get it through their heads that nobody comes to a game, or watches a game, to see an umpire. If it were up to me, I would have a laser force field call balls and strikes. But Mike, you say, who then would call the close plays at the plate? And I say, could it be any worse than Jerry Meals calling Julio Lugo safe?

 


Contact Mike Missanelli at mikemiss@975thefanatic.com