By Bill Campbell
This business about the future being now makes some sense after all.
Seems like both the Eagles and Phillies are taking it seriously. Would it surprise anyone if the Eagles won a Super Bowl before the Phillies won another World Series? It probably won’t happen this year because the World Series is scheduled for October and the Super Bowl not before next February. But we could have two parades on our hands.
While the Phillies added a long-awaited, right-handed bat, the Eagles added half a team. The Phillies had better win the World Series or the Eagles might make them a post-script in the dead of winter.
Trading Kevin Kolb for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a nice ring to it and was a valuable move in itself. Andy Reid, in typical fashion, started musing about backing up quarterback Michael Vick with Mike Kafka – which he had no intention of doing.
After stunning the NFL and the rest of the world by signing the celebrated Nnamdi Asomugha, Reid revealed the name of his real back-up quarterback: Vince Young. Does that name have a familiar ring? He’s played five seasons in the league – 47 career starts for a 30-17 record. He finished last season with a 98.6 percent passing rating. With Reid and Marty Mornhinweg as his Eagles coaches, Young appears to be in pretty good hands.
As for Asomugha, the number one free agent on the market, the Eagles added to their roster by getting him in a five-year deal. And as for Young, he’s only 28 years old and perfectly willing to be Vick’s backup, which is important. Mike Kafka remains as the third-string quarterback, which he figured to be all along.
Inevitably, Super Bowl rumors are beginning. When Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was asked if this team had the makings of a Super Bowl outfit, he replied almost apologetically, “I think so.”
The depth at cornerback is guilty of serious consideration and, momentarily at least, has confused Asante Samuel. Along with Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie and Samuel, three corners seems a lot. But the Eagles new coaching staff has the nice problem of sorting it out and undoubtedly will find a way. It is possible that the result could be a trade that could help them elsewhere.
Defensive end Jason Babin is also at Lehigh and the Eagles are confronted now with staying under the salary cap. Club President Joe Banner doesn’t think that will be a problem. But if it becomes so, the Birds could go lighter in other areas.
Meanwhile, the abundance of riches continues. A day at Lehigh without a new face joining the ranks almost defies description.
Reid was correct when he praised his personal staff for the way they went about their business: everyone prepared and executed well. While most of the Eagles’ news revolved around the trade of Kolb, serious attention was diverted when they promised to be more than aggressive in free agency. They promised to match their explosive offense with improved defensive talent and they did so.
There’s hardly reason to disguise the fact that the Birds are going for broke with a clear commitment to win big in this, Andy Reid’s 13th season in Philadelphia. Does it really seem that long? In pro coaching, 13 years is an eternity.
Additionally, 18 of the 32 first round picks have either signed contracts or agreed to terms. Top pick Danny Watkins, Number 23 out of Baylor, also signed, living up to his promise of not allowing his contract situation to delay his getting to camp, which is a sampling of a good attitude.
Of course, there is the DeSean Jackson situation, which must be resolved in due time.
With all this positive news bubbling out of Lehigh and the NovaCare Center, there’s hardly room for regret. But I have a slight one. It’s about David Akers leaving the Eagles after a distinguished career at age 36.
Akers is a five-time Pro Bowler who has played in more games than anyone in franchise history – and 19 more than any Eagle in the post season. He was the leading scorer in the league for the first decade of this century with 1,169 points. But his contract ran out last season after he missed two make-able field goals in a January five-point loss to Green Bay. He was dealing with the cancer diagnosis of his six-year-old daughter at the time. Akers was looking for a multi-year deal. The Eagles tried to place the transition tag on him, which could not be done under the new CBA and the Eagles and Akers separated, the kicker going to the 49ers.
Sav Rocca, the punter, also is leaving after signing with the Redskins. When things like this happen, we are reminded that this Sunday afternoon game that we so enjoy, when all is said and done, is really a business. And David Akers will be missed, if only by me.
Ed Wade, a nice guy and a friend of mine, is getting a hardly-enjoyable reputation. As the general manager of the Houston Astros, he has helped the Phillies more than he did when he was the Phillies general manager.
First he sent them Brad Lidge. Last year it was Roy Ozwalt. And now, it’s Hunter Pence. He is the much coveted right-handed bat. Big guy, 6’4”, 220, plays right field, hits 300 and will cost 4 minor leaguers out of the Phillies’ system who don’t figure in their “win now” plans.
As the trading deadline approached, the Phillies announced the Pence deal after some post-game fireworks in hopes that it will produce more Phillies fireworks in the near future. While the Phillies deal won’t secure more pitching, you can be sure that the surprising work of kids like Stutes, Bastardo and Worley, among others, greatly influenced Ruben Amaro to grant Charlie Manuel his wish for another right-handed bat.
As the trading and personnel shuffling carried into the weekend, the Eagles had even a name or two left. How about Cullen Jenkins, who looks like an improvement at defensive tackle? And who also bumped into Broderick Bunklry as he was being shown the door. Bunkley went to the Cleveland Browns for a 2012 fifth-round draft pick. Then Cleveland sent him to Denver for an individual 2013 draft pick. Somewhere along the way, he failed a physical but no one seems to know if it was in Philadelphia or Cleveland.
Whatever, for both the Eagles and the Phillies, the future is now. And the movement is not yet complete.
The non-waiver trade deadline has passed, but contending teams can still tinker with their rosters for the September run into the post-season. Last year the Phillies added a guy named Mike Sweeney after July 31st. Remember him? And two years ago they picked up a pinch hitter named Matt Stairs and a left-handed reliever named Scott Eyre. And they both helped.