There is great distress in “Eagles Nation” today as they deal with the loss of safety Brian Dawkins, who decided to accept a five year contract offer with the Denver Broncos over the weekend.
Eagles fans are up on in arms. How dare the Eagles get rid of someone that dedicated so much energy and passion to help fortify an Eagles defense that was one of the top units in the league over the past decade say Eagles fans!
I can hear it now from the 700 level. “This is the man that was one of the hardest hitters in the league…an emotional leader…an icon in Philadelphia. Lurie, Reid, and Banner are clueless!”
To all of this Eagles fans, I say to you…shame on you. Shame on you, Philadelphia. When exactly has this regime shown an unwavering commitment to players past the age of 30? If anything, that’s the time Eagles brass typically sends its players out to pasture.
Dawkins will be 36 years old in October. With the exception of a flurry from Thanksgiving on, he wasn’t playing the best football of his career by any stretch in 2008. The Eagles knew this. Yet, the emotion of the city always overflows on these issues.
Emotion doesn’t tackle Marion Barber on third downs. Being a team icon sounds nice but it doesn’t necessarily force Kurt Warner to throw interceptions.
Too often, teams honor guys with what I like to call Lifetime Achievement Awards. Instead of paying for their potential or immediately off of good seasons, teams draw up ridiculous contracts for guys who are already showing wearing and tear and can’t possibly offer up a return on the investment (see Alexander, Shaun; Johnson, Larry). Teams pay for numerous years of past achievement. Thus, people seem dumbfounded when a player goes into the tank after he got his money.
Philly brass doesn’t use the L.A.A. theory though. The Eagles’ M.O. over the years is to jettison veterans who are on the decline (especially defensive backs) and replace them with someone younger…and, perhaps cheaper.
As an Eagles fan, if you’re very honest “Weapon X” has not been quite the same player over the past few years. Then again, who can blame him? He plays a violent style and position, which does not breed playing 16 games year in and year out at the same level.
Dawkins’ case is one not necessarily built solely on money but comfort as well for Eagles fans. B-Dawk was a constant. No matter how badly the team played, no matter how many balls McNabb threw into the ground in the first quarter, you knew two fundamental things about the team.
- Brian Dawkins was going to be excited.
- Brian Dawkins was going to try to hit someone into next year.
While it sounds great on paper to keep him, the Eagles did what the Eagles normally do. Just ask Bobby Taylor, Jeremiah Trotter, Troy Vincent or Hugh Douglas. All of them helped propel Philly to a Super Bowl contender but when they couldn’t help the team get over the hump, it was time for them to move and the franchise acted accordingly.
There seems to be a fear that a guy like Dawkins can’t be replaced. That’s half correct. Can he be replaced in the locker room? Probably not. Leadership isn’t exactly replaced overnight and that will be the biggest dropoff for the Eagles.
Will they miss him on the field? In some ways, yes. Players were clearly gun shy about going near because of his propensity to blow players up. Thus, they’ll miss his veteran presence and leadership. Yet, folks let me remind you of a few facts.
- During the 2008 NFC title game, Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught three touchdown passes and Arizona embarked on a near eight minute drive to win the game.
- Back in the ’06 NFC Divisional playoff game versus New Orleans, the Saints ran for 208 yards en route to the franchise’s first NFC title game.
- Lastly, in Super Bowl XXXIX, the Pats ran screen plays ad naseum to move the ball down the field and Deion Branch caught 11 balls to lead New England to its third Super Bowl win in four seasons.
That’s not all Dawkins’ fault but when you have a guy who is touted by some to be a future Hall of Famer, that’s a rather damning set of closes to playoff runs.
You can’t replace his emotion right away, but the Eagles sure can replace him on the field. It’ll happen, just be patient. If the franchise can survive Reggie White leaving, they’ll surely recover from the loss of Dawkins.
Eagles fans, you’ve seen this movie before starring Lurie, Reid, and Banner. It has the same ending every single time.
Categories: Philadelphia Eagles