The Ridiculous Stat of the Day

The Phillies have only allowed 366 runs against them this year. 

  • The other 31 teams right now average 473 runs against.
  • The only other team under 400 is the Giants (394), but they have actually been outscored on the year (393 runs scored and, along with the lowly Padres and Mariners, are the only teams who have yet to score 400).
  • They have given up over 100 runs fewer than three of the five real NL contenders – 111 fewer than Milwaukee, 112 fewer than Arizona, and 127 fewer than St. Louis.
  • And in the AL (granted there is a DH and just better offenses, in general), the Phils have given up 65 fewer runs than the Yankees, 98 fewer than Boston, 105 fewer than Texas, and 138 fewer than the Tigers.  They have even given up 47 fewer than the Angels and their great “run prevention” team.

By the way, they are also averaging 4.4 runs per game on offense.

Ya, this team is pretty good…

Holy $*&%!

I blacked out, what just happened…?!?

So, the Eagles – our Eagles – just absolutely, utterly dominated the NFL offseason…and they’re not even finished yet.  I know that I’m prone to hyperbole, and I am an unabashed fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, but I honestly cannot remember an offseason this dominant in any sport since I started following sports.  And, since I have lived through most of the “free agency” era, I am guessing that the offseasons before my memory don’t stand up.  I am embarrassed about my post on Thursday that said that the Philly teams were having a bad week, though I guess my saving grace is that I did say that it’s far from over and a lot of chips have yet to be played.  But…who thought this?  Wow!  Even the New York papers are comparing Philadelphia sports to Michael Corleone.

Because I haven’t near the writing ability to successfully organize all this stuff into one coherent piece, let’s just talk about the moves one by one – in tenative order of awesomeness.  And, yes, all of this has happened since July 29th.

The Birds steal the most coveted free agent from New York and Dallas
Sound familiar?  Over the winter, the #1 free agent on the MLB market was a guy named Cliff Lee.  Anyone who knew anything kept saying the same thing:  that it was a two-city race between New York (the Yankees) and Dallas (the Rangers).  No one knew where he would go, but it was definitely between those two behemoths.  Then, in an absolute shock to everyone, he picked us – Philadelphia (prompting one of my more emotional BSB posts about us, as fans, and our general awesomeness) – despite the fact that we already had three of the best starting pitchers in baseball and were not offering the most money.  He picked us because of us the fans and our team. 

Now, fast forward eight months and the preeminent NFL free agent is mulling over two monster offers from New York (the Jets) and Dallas (the Cowboys).  Just like the Lee negotiations, no one even considered Philadelphia.  No one expert – not Adam Shefter, not Chris Mortensen, not Mike Florio or Mike Lombardi or even Peter King – even mentioned the Eagles, and why would they?  We already had two of the best corners on the planet and we were OFFERING LESS MONEY.  Then, out of the blue, it was announced that the Eagles had signed Nnamdi Asomugha, who wanted to come here because of “first-class organization,” despite leaving money on the table in New York and Dallas.  This is awesome!

The best free agent leaves money on the table from Dallas and New York to come to Philly. Sound familiar?

I heard a pretty cool story about how it was kept so under wraps.  Joe Banner was giving an interview and he said that the first thing is said to Nnamdi’s agent was that the Eagles didn’t want anyone knowing that they were in the running.  He knew that they could keep everything quiet on their end, so if news got out that they were interested, Banner would know that it was Nnamdi’s camp that leaked the information in an attempt to drive up the price, and the Eagles would immediately take the offer off the table.  The whole time WE were Nnamdi’s first choice, and he didn’t want to lose this offer, so they didn’t say a word.  That is just phenomenal management.

Now, aside from the generally incredible feeling resulting from the best player on the market taking less money to play for our team, let’s talk about the on-the-field implications.  Nnamdi is exactly what the Eagles want – a physical press-man corner who allows a variety of blitzing schemes or simply letting the D-ends pin back their ears and go get the QB.  He will not pick up a ton of interceptions (in fact, he didn’t have ANY last year, which is why he’s a free agent now), but that’s only because they never throw at him.  He only allowed 11 receptions all year last year.  Yes, you read that right – ELEVEN RECEPTIONS ALL YEAR.  More on how he fits in with veteran Eagle, Asante Samuel and new Eagle…

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is officially an Eagle, along with a #2, for Kevin Kolb
This was the best-case scenario.  Honestly, as I said in Thursday’s post before this trade was completed, I would probably take DRC for Kolb, straight-up.  So, for the Cardinals to throw in a #2 (presumably a high #2, since they are more than a Kevin Kolb away from being good) is an absolutely coup.  In fact, I heard that the reason it took so long is because the Birds were holding out for a NUMBER ONE!  Hahaha.  That’s fantastic.  So, this trade was Kevin Kolb (picked #36 in 2007) for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (picked #16 in 2008) and a 2nd-round pick that is likely to be in the top 40.  Wow!

So, who is this DRC guy?  Well, we’re going to find out – and fast – in this city that this Pro Bowler can seriously play.  He, like Asomugha, is a physical, press-man corner that likes to get up into the shoulder pads of receivers because he knows that he has the pure speed to keep up with anyone in the league with his elite speed and acceleration.

Not many people outside of Arizona really know just how good this guy is...but, they're about to

How will this all work?  Well, there are two VERY good options:  (1) trade Asante and (2) keep all three.  Let’s address each of them:

  1. Exploring trade possibilities for Asante
    Here’s a question for the day –> Who says no to this trade:
    Eagles send Asante Samuel and the #2 pick they got from Arizona to the
    49ers for stud linebacker Patrick WillisI think that that is a pretty fair deal on both side.  The Niners DESPERATELY need a corner now that they were shut out.  Plus, they are sort of rebuilding, so the draft pick would be nice.  And, the hard sell to the fans of moving their best player would be somewhat negated by getting a top-10 corner in return.  As for the Eagles, I think that a stud linebacker would fill a MUCH bigger hole for them than a 3rd corner who probably wouldn’t be happy in that role anyway.  The #2 is a bit much to add to a deal that already includes a top-10 corner, but they are loaded with picks next year, so maybe they get it done with a #3 or #4.

Anyway, no matter what they are thinking as return, it’s gotta be really good because Asante is still elite.  Personally, I’d like to see them come back with a player who can help immediately, but even if they flip it for a #1 and a #3 or something like that, it might be worth exploring, considering they only gave up a backup QB for his TWO replacements and a #2 pick.

  1. Keeping all three as the best secondary in the game
    And, then there’s the option of just keeping all three.  And, while, at first blush, that seems an inefficient usage of their resources, it’s worth looking more into.  Every year this league becomes more and more of a passing league, so it would reason that preventing the passing attack is just as important as having one yourself – if not more.  And, the best teams have figured that out.  I just read somewhere about the defense the Packers used against the Eagles in their wild card game last year.  The Eagles had 66 offensive plays in that game.  The Packers top three cornerbacks, Charles Woodson, Travon Williams, and Sam Shields were on the field for 66, 65, and 63 plays, respectively that game.  The three corners combined to sit out for just four plays all game – and Sam Shields isn’t even that good.  Now, I haven’t spent the time to look into this being a trend for the Packers or anyone else, but that one statistic leads me to believe that a lot of good teams are playing entire games with 3 corners on the field at all times.  I can totally see an Eagles defense with Asante and Nnamdi on the outside with DRC in the slot on all downs except 3rd-and-short, when Asante and his aversion to tackling would come off the field for another backer and DRC would move outside.  (Or Nnamdi in the middle, playing the Charles Woodson role – which he has already said he’d be more than willing to do.)  

    This could work...IF they decide to keep all 3 and IF Asante's pride allows it to work

    This could work…and work very well.  Seriously, think about it:  Nnamdi completely cancels out the best receiver.  DRC is bumping and running with the slot receivers or covering the Stephen Jacksons and Reggie Bushs of the world out of the backfield or even banging with the pass-catching tight end.  And, then Asante is playing off the second receiver, knowing that the other side is taken taken, baiting the QB to make a mistake.  Think about this:  Asante was only THROWN AT 36 times last year, and he came away with 7 interceptions.  With Nnamdi completely taking away the other side and DRC a complete mismatch for the slot receiver/running back, teams will have to throw at Asante consistently.  Is it unrealistic to think that he could intercept 12-15 or even more passes this year in that scenario?  Now, throw in an explosive offense that can score quickly, forcing the other team to throw.  Then, add an ELITE pass rush (more on this in a minute), forcing QBs to make quicker decisions.  How many INTs are we talking now for Asante?  20?  That sounds insane, but is it?  And, how good is this team going to be if they even got 15-20 INTs from the team, as a whole, this year?  This is what we are talking about, people.  Wow.

Ho-hum, the Eagles only sign the best defensive tackle on the market
Lost in the hoop-la of the Kolb trade, the signing of a DE with 12.5 sacks last year (still to come…), and the Asomugha heist is the signing of former Green Bay Packer defensive tackle, Cullen .  If this was the only move that a team made this year, it would probably be heralded as a successful offseason.  Jenkins (the younger brother of former Panthers and Jets star, Kris Jenkins) was, easily, the best defensive lineman on the Super Bowl champions last year, despite playing in virtual anonymity.  He had 7 sacks from the D-TACKLE position, and is very good against the run.  And, to boot, Jenkins is extremely versatile in that he can swing outside and play end without missing a beat – something the Eagles have always loved about d-linemen because they like to keep everyone fresh.  With Mike Patterson still in the fold, if they can get the development they expect this year from Trevor Laws, they may have just turned what was a weakness into a real strength.  

The Birds added an absolute man to the middle of their D-line

Jenkins

The Eagles add the perfect complement to Trent Cole at the other D-End spot
So, I really wanted to add some stupid boasting line about how I predicted the Jason Babin signing months ago, and then I looked up the post that I first said it.  I did find it, but it’s not what I was hoping for because the Babin comment is a throw-away line in an April 29th post about that was all about how the Eagles were going to get Patrick Peterson and would trade away Danny Watkins.  Ya, well, at least the throw-away line was right because the crux of the post was dead-wrong.  Oh well…

Coach Wash has brought the best out of a number of d-line stars, but Jason Babin is one of his shining stars

Anyway, the Eagles signed Jason Babin and his 12.5 sacks to play opposite Trent Cole on a suddenly terrifying d-line.  All of a sudden, this line is ferocious – and very well-constructed, as well.  We all know what Trent Cole can do to disrupt opposing offenses, but they never totally had a defense that allowed him to do what he does best – get after the quarterback.  Now, that they have a stalwart set of corners and a strength in the middle of the d-line, Cole can pin back his ears and rush the passer.  Add into the mix the addition of Jason Babin, and either Cole will see very few double-teams OR Babin is going to lead the league in sacks.  With Jim Washburn – who is generally accepted as the best in the business and one of the main reasons for Babin’s success – coaching these guys up, the sky is the limit with how good this line will be at getting after the QB.

There are still a few questions about their run defense because the line is the more smalllish type of a line that relies more on speed than strength, and the linebackers are, well, almost non-existent, but, if the offense is as good as we think it might be, this problem could be somewhat negated by playing so often with the lead.  And, I’m really doubting that any team will be able to throw much on this team in any formation with these blisteringly quick pass rushers and lockdown, best of the best corners.

While we’re at it, why don’t we go ahead and fill the biggest remaining hole on offense
A lot of people would say that even before the Winston Justice injury news came out that the Eagles were in need of a right tackle.  Justice, who was added to the PUP list last week, wasn’t really all that confidence-inducing when assumed healthy.  And, with our left-handed quarterback (the starter, that is, not the newly-acquired backup…oops), the right tackle is responsible for the blind side – the blind side of an injury-prone QB, that is.  So, this was a concern…

Well, probably not anymore.  In, easily the most underrated signing of this entire crazy week for the Birds, they signed former Bronco offensive tackle Ryan Harris to a one-year deal.  Never heard of Ryan Harris before becoming an Eagle?  Yeah, me neither, but how many right tackles are well-known (or known at all) outside of the cities in which they play?  Not many.  Harris is very, very good.  He’s not a Jon Runyan type bruiser, but this team is not exactly a hit-you-in-the-mouth kind of an offense, and at 6’5” and 300 pounds, Harris is extremely agile and athletic.  He has started 34 of the 35 games in which he has played over the past 3 years and was exceptional for his first two years as a starter.  In fact, remember two years ago when the Broncos started 6-0 and then finished 2-8 down the stretch and missed the playoffs?  Well, Harris got hurt in Week 8, and a lot of people in Denver actually think that his loss was one of the main factors that led to the team’s ultimate collapse offensively.

Before injury and changing coaching staffs, Ryan Harris was a future star in Denver...and he's still only 26

And, with GMs well aware of this, Harris was a relatively coveted commodity on the market this year.  They know that he is a 26-year old former 3rd-round pick from the Notre Dame o-line factory.  And, they know that he is just entering the prime of his career (many people around the league think that he should have already been a Pro Bowler).  But, as is the theme of the year in this city, Harris was willing to take less money to come play in Philly.  And, with his pedigree and ability, I think it’s safe to say that he is coming in as the starting right tackle – regardless of the health of Winston Justice or King Dunlap.

The last of the Eagles’ draft picks signs on

The former fireman from Vancouver may now be the Eagles starting left guard

With the new rules in place, it is unclear as to why the Eagles had so much trouble reaching an agreement with #1 pick, Danny Watkins, but all of that doesn’t matter now, as the former Baylor offensive lineman is officially a member of the Philadelphia Eagles for the next four years.  And, this is a really good sign because with the much-abbreviated offseason, it is going to be a lot harder to rookies – particularly offensive lineman – to be able to pick up the schemes right away.  So, any missed time will be big for a guy like Watkins, who, at 26 years old already, has a pretty good shot at being the Eagles starting guard…a position, by the way, that he has never played.  So, while this is still a big question mark, it is not nearly as big as it would be if Watkins missed any more time as a holdout.

Sure, Why Not?  We do need a part-time running back, so he might as well be a Pro Bowler
This week started similarly to how last week ended, as the Birds inked yet another Pro Bowler (and former #2 pick in the draft) to fill the Jerome Harrison, backup running back role.  Ronnie Brown has come to terms with the Birds on a one-year deal to come in and do, well, whatever the offensive coaching staff wants to do with this cool new toy.  And, this is a toy that fits the Birds’ need to a tee

First of all, he’s versatile.  As a former 1,000-yard rusher, we all know he can run the ball, but he has also been one of the best pass-catching running  backs in the sport over the past couple of seasons, with 30+ catches in every full season he has played (including 389 yards on 39 catches in just 7 games in 2007) since entering the league in 2005.  And, he complements McCoy in that he is willing to run downhill.  While he’s not what everyone would envision as a 3rd-and-1 masher, he is actually very good in short yardage and goalline situations.  Add in the fact that he is a very good blocker, and you’ve got yourself one of the more complete backs in the league – at a fraction of the price that Brown’s old team paid for Reggie Bush.

This do-it-all running back won't have to do it all in Philly, but he may be a cure for the Birds' recent red zone ills

And, maybe the best part about the whole thing is the kind of guy that the Eagles signed here.  Despite his immense natural ability (6’0”, 230 pounds and ran a 4.3-forty – though doubtful he’d do that anymore), Brown has always been one of those no-nonsense, lunch-pail kind of guys.  He does whatever it takes to win.  And, has no problem sharing the load, as he has done every year since high school.  He was only half of a great backfield at Auburn (Cadillac Williams and even Brandon Jacobs for a year, before transferring) and then, despite being the #2 overall pick, Brown was only one half of the backfield in Miami, as he shared the load with Ricky Williams most of his years there.  The guy just wants to win – which is probably why he (…cue the phrase of the year…) took less money to come play here in Philly.

So, you were the #3 overall pick?  You basically won the BCS title game single-handedly right after being awarded the Heisman Trophy?  Then you went on to win two-thirds of your NFL games as a starter?  Great, sounds like you’d make a semi-decent backup quarterback…

In this era of fantasy football and "advanced statistics," some people lose sight of the fact that the ultimate job of a professional athlete is to WIN GAMES

A lot of people are luke-warm on the Vince Young signing, and, honestly, I have no idea why.  This is a phenomenal signing.  Let me remind you guys – HE IS NOT GOING TO BE THE STARTING QUARTERBACK.  And, is there a better backup quarterback in the entire league?  Maybe, maybe not.  But, if so, there aren’t many and they’re only marginally better.  And, I assure you that none of them will fit the Birds’ needs better.  Unlike with Kolb, now, if Vick goes down for a couple games, they do not have to change the playbook very much.  And, if Vick happens to go down for a significant period of time, you don’t necessarily have to throw the season away because Young has had a lot of success before.  Do I want VY as my #1 quarterback?  Hell no.  Do I think he’s got the head to be a superstar?  Almost unquestionably not.  Do I trust him a hell of a lot more than the Jim Sorgis, Jared Lorenzens, or even Mike Kafkas of the world?  Without a doubt.  Say what you will about him (and his stupid comments), but he is 30-17 as a starter in the National Football League and that was all for a team that did not have anywhere near the talent that this one does.  Just sayin’…

We need a safety, so let’s just go grab a 26-year old who has already started 40 games in the NFL
Considering the Eagles do not believe in the linebacker position, and they have completely shored up the d-line and cornerback position, that only leaves safety left to be addressed.  And, since all the other picks have been Pro Bowlers and superstars, a guy like Jarrad Page almost makes you shrug your shoulders.  But, let’s not lose perspective here.  Page started 37 straight games for the Chiefs

Meet your new starting safety, Philadelphia

from ’07-09 before getting hurt.  He was picked up by the Patriots last year and was a really solid 3rd safety for a pretty good defense.  Now, he comes here to vie for the starting strong safety spot vacated by the departed Quintin Mikell.  Whether or not he starts is still up in the air, but there is no doubt that he is very talented and very much worthy of a roster spot at a position of relative weakness on this team (and by “weakness” I mean doesn’t have a slew of All-Pros).  At the very least, he will provide nice experience in the secondary and on special teams, while providing an insurance policy strong safety.  At best, he will come right in and beat out Kurt Coleman and Temple rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett and fill to void left by Mikell.  

Hey, if you’re just going to give draft picks away, we’ll take one…
As a great hidden bonus to the Cullen Jenkins signing was that it enabled the Birds to find a sucker (first the Browns, ultimately the Broncos) to send over a 5th-round pick in exchange for the oversized jersey of Broderick Bunkley.  They turned a guy who most likely would have been released into a decent 5th-round pick.  Brilliant!

After all these signings, it’s hard to imagine what to do with this EXTRA $4 million in cap space
Yes, folks, that’s right.  The Eagles may already have had the best offseason in the history of sports…and THEY MIGHT NOT BE DONE!  According to this interesting website someone told me about,

He certainly is "different"

the Eagles still have a shade under $4 million of cap space to play with.  Now, I’m no capologist, but that sounds like plenty of room to sign DeSean Jackson to an extension AND add at least one more quality piece.  And, if I had to bet money on it, I would put my money on that piece being some guy who used to wear #84 for the Vikings and #81 for the Patriots.  Obviously, I am not the first to put it out there (some have even reported that an offer has already been made), but would it shock anyone if Andy Reid went out and signed Randy Moss to an incentive-laden, essentially risk-free contract?  Now, who knows if he has anything left in the tank, but one thing we do know is that he has proven doubters wrong in the past when they said he was done.  And, he certainly has a lot to prove right now.  Hmm……