Tuesday, March 3, 2009

So Long B-Dawk


The Philadelphia Eagles have lost the undisputed leader of their franchise over the last 12 years as Brian Dawkins left via free agency to join the Broncos this off-season. The 7 time Pro-Bowler and member of the Philadelphia Eagles "75th Anniversary Team" will be sorely missed for his charisma, leadership and punishing hits. However, it is my opinion that this is not a bad move by the Eagles brass, whom I ofter characterize as "the Oakland A's of football" because they are always competitive but never win the big one. If the Eagles are serious about keeping this team playing at a high level, Dawkins needed to go. After all, the NFL is a business and there is no time to be sentimental. Maybe Dawkins can tell that to his new team mate (for now) Jay Cutler and get him to stop whining.

I like to think that the Eagles would have re-signed Dawkins had the Broncos not offered him a ridiculous 5 year/$25 million contract. Now I love Dawkins as much as anyone, but that is crazy. A 35 year old free safety is given a 5 year contract? Stupid. The Eagles could not in their right mind come close to matching that. Therefore they had to let him go. Moreover, Dawkins was slowly being phased out of the defense anyway. His age and injuries were starting to catch up with him and he could not cover as much space as he used to. Though he made the Pro Bowl in 2008, I thought there were several more deserving candidates at Free Safety (Jack Atogwe, Nick Collins) and that Dawkins was selected on reputation. The Eagles hand was forced by the Broncos and they had to move on.

The Eagles have also made several moves like this in the past that have turned out well for them. The release of fan favorite Jeremiah Trotter sent shock waves through Philadelphia in 2002 (and again in 2007), but he struggled with both the Redskins and Buccaneers while the Eagles D didn't skip a beat. Popular defensive ends Hugh Douglas and Jevon Kearse were also cut loose in the twilight of their careers, only to flounder as backups elsewhere as the Eagles were grooming their new starters. As much as I dislike them, the Eagles management usually knows when it is time for a player to hit the road. I expect it to be no different with Dawkins this year.

Dawkins departure will leave the Eagles searching for a new identity. Who will step up and take charge of the defense? Who will fill the void at free safety? Hopefully it won't be Quinton Demps, who was last seen tripping over himself as Larry Fitzgerald caught a bomb for a touchdown behind him. Most importantly, who will be the team leader? Dawkins used to be the answer to all of these questions. Hopefully somebody new can step up and provide even a fraction of the leadership that Dawkins did. He will be sorely missed, but the move was necessary to move the team forward in 2009.

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