Bad Boys

Posted: July 1st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 40 Comments »

Talent vs character. You don’t want a team full of choirboys, but you also don’t want players you can’t trust. Finding the right balance is incredibly challenging. When you get it right, you often have a championship team. Get it wrong, and success will come and go because high talent/low character players can’t be trusted from week to week, let alone year to year.

The Eagles have made character a key in player acquisition for years. Howie Roseman took that up a notch in 2010 and then Chip Kelly made it The Point of Emphasis. You can argue the merits of just how important character is. I think it is important that a team not draw any lines in the sand. There are exceptions to every rule. If you can find the right exception, you might have one heck of a player.

The tougher question really involves what good character is. Michael Irvin used drugs. He partied like a madman. He made sure hookers weren’t going hungry. That was Irvin the person. Irvin the player was a hard worker that gave maximum effort every Sunday. He took practice seriously and worked his tail off during the week.

Would you rather have Irvin or Jordan Matthews or Jason Avant?

I mention Matthews and Avant because both were high character players. They weren’t as talented as Irvin, but that’s the trade-off. If you have talent and character, you obviously take that player. Usually you lose some talent when you pass on a player with character issues.

I think it is okay to take some chances on players, but you have to be careful. Have you been paying attention to Dallas?


Dallas has taken a lot of chances recently. They signed Greg Hardy last year. They signed LB Rolando McClain the year before. They drafted DEs Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. That’s a lot of resources spent on turds. And those guys have all been suspended or caused significant problems. Their performances have not been worth the headaches.

Rex Ryan had a saying in Baltimore that a bunch of ants could carry a cockroach. The Ravens were willing to take a chance on a player, but only because they had a good nucleus of hard workers and strong leaders to help deal with the questionable player. Dallas did not have a strong core of players who could bring out the best in troubled guys. And really, I’m not sure a good core can deal with that many questionable guys.

The Eagles took a chance on Jalen Mills and Alex McCalister this year. Mills is playing in a secondary with strong character guys like Malcolm Jenkins, Nolan Carroll and Chris Maragos. Other players like Eric Rowe, JaCorey Shepherd and Rodney McLeod seem to be high character guys.

McCalister is a DE playing with Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry. Barwin is a great team leader. Graham and Curry are hard workers that have done enough to earn second contracts with the Eagles. They will set a good example for McCalister on what he needs to do to succeed.

One of the other keys here is the investment. Mills and McCalister were late round picks. Dallas spent good money on Hardy. Lawrence and Gregory were high picks. Those players were expected to deliver big results because of the resources used to acquire them. All were expected to be starters or key players. When they screw up, it really hurts the team.

Another factor to consider is long term trust. McClain signed with Dallas in 2014 and had a terrific season. He played up to his talent level, which is considerable. The Cowboys were impressed enough to bring him back last year. McClain was then suspended for the first 4 games of 2015 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. When he came back, McClain was up and down. Dallas decided he was worth bringing back again. Oops. Now he is suspended for 10 games. I assume they’ll get a steal when they sign him for 2017.

Think about a guy like Jason Pierre-Paul. The Eagles were one of several teams that didn’t have him on their draft board due to character concerns. JPP wasn’t a criminal or anything like that, but there were issues about his partying and work ethic. He had a solid rookie season in 2010 and then exploded in 2011. He had 16.5 sacks and looked like a dominant figure for years to come. JPP’s play fell dramatically in 2012 and 2013. He was better in 2014 and then had the dreadful fireworks accident prior to last season.

One of the reasons that JPP’s play fell off was that he quit working as hard in the offseason. He let success get to his head. He partied more than he should have and didn’t handle his business. The fireworks incident last year was dumb. You’re a professional athlete. Why take the chance on playing with backyard explosives?

JPP was a great player for one season and helped the Giants win a Super Bowl. Since then, he’s been erratic at best. In the end he’s probably a smart pick because he helped you win the title, but he’s also fool’s gold because you can’t trust him.

I think Jerry Jones was too relaxed on character and I think Chip Kelly was too strict. There has to be a bit of a middle ground, where you take a chance here and there. And all chances are not equal. Jalen Mills was involved in an incident. He doesn’t have a history of being a troublemaker. He hasn’t been a regular at the courthouse. That makes you more comfortable with taking a chance on him. McClain has a slew of events in his past. Relying on him was dumb.

Would Denver have won it all last year without Aqib Talib and Von Miller, who have each had issues? Would Seattle have won without Marshawn Lynch, who was let go by the Bills in part because of his off-field issues? Remember that Percy Harvin was also part of that team. This isn’t just about recent years either. Brett Favre was chugging beer and popping pills when the Packers won the title. We all know what Dallas was doing when they won 3 titles.

Sometimes bad boys win.


40 Comments on “Bad Boys”

  1. 1 Bad Boys - said at 12:30 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    […] Tommy Lawlor Talent vs character. You don’t want a team full of choirboys, but you also don’t want […]

  2. 2 SteveH said at 12:41 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    I don’t know what it means in terms of winning or losing, but I know for me that cheering for a bad boy depends on what kind of bad boy he is. If he’s a coke head like Irving with a penchant for weird airplane orgies, alright whatever I just don’t want to hear about it. But if he’s a rapey or murdery bad boy, that’s a lot tougher to get behind.

  3. 3 Jamie Parker said at 4:45 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    Yeah, what Irvin did is what you do when you’re rich and famous. I can handle that, it doesn’t bother me. But when they’re Darren Sharper or Aaron Hernandez, then it’s a different story. Can’t get behind Greg Hardy, especially since he got away with it. At least Mike Vick spent time in prison for his misdeeds and paid his debt to society. But you don’t want the rapey, murderous, wife beaters on your team. Will be interested in the result from the Agholor case.

  4. 4 Media Mike said at 5:28 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    Immature vs. felonious is an important distinction.

  5. 5 P_P_K said at 10:02 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    A very important decision. I don’t really care if a young, rich athlete parties on his off time. As long as his work ethic is strong and he’s commited to his team, and as long as his behavior is youthful and not criminal, put him on the roster.

  6. 6 A_T_G said at 11:38 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    Wow, where were you 20 years ago – when I was young, willing to be rich, with a strong work ethic and committed to the team? I think talent needs to be factored in as well.

    With the way the league is headed, though, I don’t know if your model continues to work. Irvin was great for the ‘Boys in the early 90s, but would he be suspended half of every season now?

  7. 7 anon said at 11:44 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    media aspect is too crazy.

  8. 8 P_P_K said at 12:11 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    20 years ago I was trying to find a guy like you to mold into a superstar. With the things we would have accomplished, today we would be ruling the world. Alas.

  9. 9 A_T_G said at 8:29 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    If you still have the funding, I found that my body is much more, um…moldable than it was 20 years ago.

  10. 10 P_P_K said at 12:43 PM on July 2nd, 2016:

    Sorry, A_T_G, I wasted the funds getting Freddy Mitchell’s hands gold-plated. He told me he was a sure thing.

  11. 11 Aaron said at 7:44 AM on July 1st, 2016:


  12. 12 daveH said at 8:05 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    4th .. happy

  13. 13 James said at 8:37 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    Eagles released DeSean Jackson for being a pain and haven’t been able to replace him since. I wonder if Chip Kelly regretted that decision.

  14. 14 Call Me Carlos the Dwarf said at 9:37 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    “Regret” suggests that Chip possesses the self-awareness to recognize his own mistakes.

  15. 15 Call Me Carlos the Dwarf said at 9:39 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    Exactly. Shady’s an asshole, but it’s the type of assholery that manifests itself in an obsessive need to be the absolute best.

    Give me a player who hates losing over one who likes winning every single time.


  16. 16 Stephen E. said at 11:06 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    I don’t know when we’re going to get another talent like Shady. That’s the terrible thing. We’ve been spoiled by having gone from Westbrook to Shady. It’s hard for me to remember what it was like when the Eagles didn’t have an explosive playmaker in the backfield.

  17. 17 A_T_G said at 11:29 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    Just think back about 6 months.

  18. 18 Dan in Philly said at 10:12 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    I think Dallas will prove to have been ruined by their freakish 12-4 season. Jerry Jones is obviously trying to recapture that year and it ended badly last year and I don’t see why it will work any better this year. The NFL is all about changing, and sometimes that’s hard when you’ve found some success.
    Similarly I remember how bad Jones felt when he passed on Randy Moss due in part to character issues. He said something about that when he drafted Dez. I believe his success with Dez lead him to almost completely disregard character since. Now he’s reaping his harvest.

  19. 19 laeagle said at 11:51 AM on July 1st, 2016:

    “He had a solid rookie season in 2010 and then exploded in 2011.”

    Was waiting for the followup: “He exploded again in 2014”.

  20. 20 disqus57 said at 12:52 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    Why don’t you want a team full of choirboys? Being godly, sincere and ethical doesn’t make you a bad football player any more than being a jerk and a felon makes you a good one. If I were offered a player with Aaron Rodgers’ talent, I’d take Tebow’s character and passion over Manziel’s eight days a week. It’s certainly no substitute for talent, but there’s nothing about being a “choirboy” that makes one a bad player: see Wilson, Russell.

  21. 21 Rellihcs said at 12:55 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    You’d have to be incredibly biased to not realize that a disproportionate amount of notorious talents in the NFL were definitively “not-choir boys”. That’s the point. Nobody is making an argument that given two equally talented players, the choir boy isn’t the obvious choice.

  22. 22 D3FB said at 7:32 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    This is a massively anecdotal statement and Baader Meinhoff at it’s finest.

    You go count your Namaths, Irvins, Carters, Sapps, Lawrence Thomas’s of the world and I’ll bury you under the Jerry Rice’s, JJ Watts, Aaron Rodgers, Jim Browns, Reggie Whites, Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Anthony Munoz, Joe Thomas, Concrete Charlie, John Randles of the world.

    I reject your premise wholeheartedly.

  23. 23 Media Mike said at 7:41 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    “Baader Meinhoff”

    German Eagle’s old schoolmates?

  24. 24 D3FB said at 7:46 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    It’s when you kidnap evil David Hasselhoff and choose not to tear down the Berlin Wall with his singing.

  25. 25 A_T_G said at 12:01 AM on July 2nd, 2016:

    The lesser known sibling, overshadowed by the popularity of his sister, Sukin.

  26. 26 Rellihcs said at 7:48 AM on July 2nd, 2016:

    What if we adjusted for recency?

  27. 27 D3FB said at 2:21 PM on July 2nd, 2016:

    I’d still win going away.

  28. 28 Bert's Bells said at 1:36 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    Are you really offering either Tebow or Manziel?

    I guess I’d go Tebow so he can pray we get a real QB with the #1 overa8.

  29. 29 anon said at 4:03 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    These basketball contracts gotta be making people wonder why they are playing football.

  30. 30 daveH said at 4:12 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    Baseball also .. a bud told me 100% of football players have spinal injury .. thats piled ontop of roids and non gtd contracts snd oh whats the other issue..oh yeah head trauma

  31. 31 ChoTime said at 3:22 PM on July 2nd, 2016:

    Maybe the head trauma came first…

  32. 32 Sean Stott said at 6:48 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    It’s good for a lot of players but the big players like Lebron and Durant have to basically settle for franchise QB money, with no option to go higher.

  33. 33 anon said at 9:01 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    Well owners still getting almost 50% of the rake – think that’ the issue..

  34. 34 eagleyankfan said at 7:30 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    Does LT fit the mold….or Keith Henandez?

  35. 35 Media Mike said at 7:40 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    Duron Carter is the man. Coaches don’t belong on the field and I’m glad he knocked this fool down.

  36. 36 anon said at 9:01 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    That’s fantastic – he ate that hit on the TD catch though.

  37. 37 A_T_G said at 8:33 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    Sometimes I consider Tommy’s headlines in the list with a colon placed between them to form a single headline with the second explaining the first. (Yeah, I know, I know…)

    We have a particularly ripe bunch right now. Think about how the meaning changes (or doesn’t):

    Bad Boys: The Importance of Jim Schwartz.

    Unforgettable: Joe Walker

    Conner Barwin the DE: Hope for BG.

  38. 38 Aaron said at 11:50 PM on July 1st, 2016:

    are you threatening me, master jedi

  39. 39 Iggles Blitz » Blog Archive » More on Character said at 12:57 AM on July 2nd, 2016:

    […] There were some interesting questions and comments after yesterday’s post on character. […]

  40. 40 soundbonz said at 1:11 PM on July 9th, 2016:

    Whatever happened to the middle? I’d argue that most good players are a combination of choir boy and bad ass. Nobody plays a violent game like football if he doesn’t have a little warrior in them. Not even a long snapper.