Posted on: July 30, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2011 6:06 pm

The hits keep coming for Philly 'D'

Once upon a time, people wondered if the Philadelphia Eagles were the team to beat in the NFC East. Not anymore. Now they ask if they're the team to beat, period.

That's because the Eagles keep adding and adding to a defense that let them down the past three playoffs, with defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins the latest addition. Jenkins, who Saturday agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal, joins cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and defensive end Jason Babin to a defense that includes a new coordinator (Juan Castillo) and line coach (Jim Washburn) and should be vastly better than the unti that wilted in the 2010 playoffs.

The 21-16 loss to Green Bay marked the third straight playoff loss for the Eagles and, apparently, the end of coach Andy Reid's rope. Determined to improve a lethargic pass defense that surrendered a club-record 31 touchdown passes, Reid scored huge hits this week through free agency and the Kevin Kolb trade.

I remember when Reid's critics wondered what he would do to retool his team, and what he's done is address its defensive shortcomings with monster acquisitions. OK, so the Eagles might be issues at linebacker, but don't tell me their pass rush won't improve ... because it will. And don't tell me their secondary play won't be better ... because it will. And don't tell me the defense will cost Philadelphia another run at a Super Bowl ... because it won't.

Not with the cast the Eagles are assembling.

That doesn't mean they make it to Super Bowl XLVI. As Green Bay's Desmond Bishop said, "Yeah, I mean they got better on paper. But only time can tell. You might look good on paper, but it's all about putting it out there on the field on Sunday."

Well, with what the Eagles put out there on the field next week they are vastly improved from the club that last year suffered its second-straight playoff defeat in the opening round. Philadelphia fans are impatient with Reid, and, apparently, Reid is impatient with himself. He keeps picking up defensive stars to throw at the next opponent, and I would suggest the opponent he has in mind is Green Bay.

It was the Packers who dispatched Philadelphia from the playoffs last season, and it was the Packers who won a Super Bowl. So, you're serious about reaching the Super Bowl? Then build a team to beat the Packers. Reid is. Every day,

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Posted on: July 29, 2011 11:29 am
Edited on: July 29, 2011 3:37 pm

Umenyiora feud getting hotter

The Osi Umenyiora staredown is real. The guy is ticked and serious about getting what he wants, which is why he wasn't at the Giants' facility Friday morning.

If he fails to show up for training camp, he'll start absorbing a $30,000 per day fine. Some agents wondered if the league could impose the fine with the CBA not ratified, but an NFL spokesman told me Friday it could -- because it was part of the agreement that players approved on Monday.

But this isn't about a fine. This is about integrity, and Umenyiora contends in an affadavit that was part of the Tom Brady antitrust suit that Giants' GM Jerry Reese didn't live up to his word when, in 2008, he promised that if Umenyiora were a productive player for two years he would reward him with a new contract or trade him to a team that would.

Neither has happened, and as of Thursday night neither Umenyiora nor his agent had spoken with Reese.

So the situation is hot, and it could get hotter. One source close to Umenyiora told me the defensive end is so steamed he won't play another down for the Giants. That's fine, execept he's under contract to the club for another two seasons. So he's stuck. The Giants don't have to do anything except collect fines for each day he misses.

Plus, Umenyiora lost some leverage Thursday when the Giants re-signed Mathias Kiwanuka, a pass-rushing specialist who missed most of last year with a neck injury. Only Umenyiora is a premier pass rusher, who last year produced 11 sacks and an NFL-record 10 forced fumbles.

At some point, preferably soon, this needs to be resolved -- and the Giants know it. They should put the Umenyiora issue behind them quickly, then move on. It's a distraction that nobody -- not Reese, coach Tom Coughlin or the Giants -- needs heading into a season where they're trying to return to the playoffs.

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Posted on: July 29, 2011 9:41 am
Edited on: July 29, 2011 9:42 am

Chad "going to the right place"

Just got a scouting report on Chad Ochocinco, and this one isn't from someone in the Patriots' organization or someone who studied him on film. It's from someone who coached the guy, and his take on the Ochocinco-to-New England move dovetails with most everyone else.

"He's going to the perfect place," he said. "It's the best possible place for him because he will fear the people there, and they have the right guys to keep him in place."

Reports indicated the Bengals gained two "late-round picks" in return, but a source close to the team on Friday told me those picks are fifth and sixth-rounders -- a price that made the Bengals comfortable. So, let's see if I have this straight, the Patriots paid a fourth-rounder for Randy Moss and a fifth-and-sixth for Chad Ochocinco? That's a lot of talent, without a lot of loss.

We know what Tom Brady did for Moss after his short stint in Oakland. The question: Can he do the same for Ochocinco? I mean, the guy is 33 and failed to produce 1,000 yards in catches two of the past three years. So what, exactly, are the Patriots getting?

"He's still quick, and he can still separate," said the coach. "My question is how he plays without any courage, and, by that, I mean he won't run routes over the middle.  I just don't know how you flip on a switch and get that going again. But the atmosphere will be so important for him. He's going to want to succeed."

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Tags: NFL trades
Posted on: July 28, 2011 9:49 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 10:16 pm

VY seems headed for Eagles

Looks like the Philadelphia Eagles have their backup to Michael Vick. Would Vince Young come on down?

The Eagles are expected to add Young, who was released by Tennessee on Thursday, and sit him behind Vick as the team's backup. Mike Kafka, a 2010 draft pick, is the third-stringer.

The addition of Young makes sense -- all the way around. Young needs to start over, as Vick did when he was released from prison in 2009, and the Eagles are the perfect spot. In fact, it seemed so good a day ago I wrote a story about it -- saying the Eagles should talk to the guy and that he was the right guy for this situation.

Looks like they're following through, with Young a virtual certainty to join the team. The move is a good one for the Eagles, who gain an experienced backup with playoff experience, and a great one for Young, who can step back and rebuild his career while sitting behind Vick.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 9:37 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 9:40 pm

Joseph will push Texans onward, upward

Congratulations, Houston. With the addition of Johnathan Joseph, you just narrowed the gap with Indianapolis.

Let's face it, if you play in the same division with Peyton Manning you better be able to pressure the pocket, defend the pass or both. The Texans couldn't last season, and they paid for it -- finishing tied for last in the AFC South after beating the Colts in the season opener. So changes had to be made, and changes have been.

First of all, they took on defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who turns the Texans from a 4-3 defense into a 3-4. Then they stocked up in the draft, with their first five picks defensive players. Now, they landed the second-best cornerback out there in Joseph. He's not Nnamdi Asomugha, but he's close. Plus, he's younger, and he's cheaper.

The Texans last year were so bad they allowed 24 or more points in all but two games, and that's not how you catch Indy. Neither is this: They ranked last vs. the pass, 29th in points allowed and surrendered more touchdown passes (33) than anyone out there but Dallas, which tied them for last.

Now they add pass rushers in draft picks J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed and pass defense in rookie cornerbacks Brandon Harris and Rashad Carmichael, as well as the veteran Joseph, and draw your own conclusions. I already have. It looks to me as if these guys are serious about making the playoffs.

They better be. It's now or never for Gary Kubiak.

Category: NFL
Posted on: July 28, 2011 3:35 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 9:39 pm

Kolb headed to Cards, but deal not complete

As expected, the Philadelphia Eagles will make the deal with Arizona that will send quarterback Kevin Kolb to the Cards for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick. But hold on, people: The deal is not complete. Not yet it's not, and it may be hours before it is.

I'm not sure what the hangup is, but it doesn't appear to be compensation. The Eagles gained what they want. The Cards gained what they want. And Kolb has a contract extension, so he gained what he wanted. But this isn't finalized, and, as Yogi said, it ain't over 'til it's over.

Is there something here that could ruin the deal? I doubt it. I suspect the Eagles are trying to find a veteran backup quarterback to cover themselves after Kolb leaves. They like Mike Kafka, but they'd like an experienced guy more behind Michael Vick, and I have one suggestion for them that I threw out there Wednesday: Vince Young.

Why not? The Titans will release him. He needs a second chance. He can do what Vick did in 2009 and sit on the bench, comfortably out of the line of fire, while reconstructing his career. Plus, he's started, and he's been to the playoffs. Seems like a good idea to me.

Of course, if Young thinks he's going to start somewhere, the Eagles are out.

Anyway, the Eagles are doing what they had to do, and so is Arizona. The Eagles need help at right cornerback, and they believe Rodgers-Cromartie is just the ticke. He's young (25), has size (6-2, 190) and was a Pro Bowler two years ago.

The Cards, on the other hand, desperately needed a quarterback, and Kolb was the best one available. Had Carson Palmer been on the market, Arizona would've jumped for him. But he's not, making Kolb the next best option. Arizona did what it had to, which is to solve the most important position in the game.

Some people say they overpaid for Kolb, but I say you better wait to see what Kolb does for them. You don't overpay if he takes you to the playoffs.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 1:26 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 1:28 pm

Redskins' moved because they had to

Earlier today I was asked if the Redskins' dumping of Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth was a signal the club was cutting its losses and getting smart, or something a 3-year-old could've predicted. Actually, it's both ... but a little more of the latter than the former.

Yes, it's a signal the Redskins are cutting their losses, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out they had to go. Pure and simple, McNabb and Haynesworth didn't work out because the Redskins screwed up -- and the longer they hung around the longer they became expensive and unnecessary distractions.

So in the interests of common sense and fiscal sanity the Redskins jettisoned both.

But let's look at how they got there: They signed Haynesworth to a huge deal, then changed coaching staffs and the coaching staff changed defenses. That left no room for Albert, who took on new coach Mike Shanahan and refused to play defensive tackle in a 3-4. It was a staredown contest, and Haynesworth eventually lost.

Or won. He's with New England now, and, guaranteed, the Patriots get something out of him that Washington could not.

McNabb was the quarterback the Redskins wanted a year ago. So they traded two draft picks for him, including a second-rounder, and thought they solidified the position. But it wasn't long after he arrived that I heard coaches complaining about his footwork and techniques and ... wouldn't you think that was something they would've seen before acquiring him?

Anyway, once they pulled him in Detroit it was over. He had no future in Washington. So the Redskins did what they had to do -- they got rid of him.

The Redskins make moves like this because they keep making mistakes. At some point, that must stop. Wake me when it does.

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Tags: NFL trades
Posted on: July 28, 2011 9:31 am
Edited on: July 28, 2011 9:39 am

Why Babin to Eagles? Try the DL coach

The Washburn Effect is already making a difference in Philadelphia.

Don't tell me the addition of defensive line coach Jim Washburn won't have an impact on the Eagles because it already has. The club on Thursday added defensive end and pass-rushing specialist Jason Babin a year after he left the club.

And the reason he's back? Look no farther than Jim Washburn.

Oh, yeah, and money. But Washburn had to play a part in Babin's return to the Eagles. He was his coach in Tennessee last season when Babin produced career numbers, with a team-high 12.5 sacks -- which, it should be noted, were more than any of the Eagles' pass rushers.

What makes this move intriguing is Babin's age. He's 31, and the Eagles almost never commit long-term deals to guys over 30. They made an exception here, and I'd suggest that urgency played a role in it. They saw a player who could help them immediately in an area of need, have a coach under whose direction he flourished and took the plunge.

Aside from the age, Babin is a perfect addition for the Eagles, who watched their pass rush wind down in 2010 as the season went on. In fact, the team's leading pass rusher, Trent Cole, had one sack in his last five starts (including the playoffs) and three in his last eight. If you're going to catch Green Bay, you better be able to pressure quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Eagles just improved their chances in that department.

But this is the first in what should be a two-pronged attack to shore up a pass defense that failed the club in 2010. The Eagles still are expected to find a right cornerback to replace Ellis Hobbs and Dimitri Patterson, with the Cardinals' Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie the likely choice. He is part of a proposed deal that would send him and a second-rounder to Philadelphia for backup quarterback Kevin Kolb, a trade that still is in the works.

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