Big Al, Plax, and Kafka

Posted: May 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , , | 17 Comments »

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank god almighty, I’m free at last!”

I think we all remember exactly where we were when we heard Carlito Brigante shout those words on the courthouse steps at the beginning of Carlito’s Way.  The man saying them today is Albert Haynesworth, hero to the masses and great guy all  around.  He had been caught up in some bogus charges of road rage.  I had some people look into it and they confirmed that Big Al is “1 million percent innocent”.  That’s like a record or something.

I’m glad he wasn’t punished by the law.  Big Al has suffered enough.  The man has been a victim for years and years.  Will we ever forget the horror of seeing Andre Gurode attack Big Al’s foot with his face?  Gurode couldn’t be stopped.  I’m just glad Big Al got out of there okay.

Now we need the Skins to cut Big Al loose so that he can come to Philly.  I’m sure he’d be the victim of some trouble here.  Poor guy is just always a target.  I’m not sure why.  He’s the NFL version of St. Francis of Assisi.  Maybe he’s too nice.

* * * * *

Lots more talk over the weekend about Plaxico Burress coming to Philly.  I remain confused on this idea.  I have nothing against Plax being an Eagle.  I’m just not sure how he fits in.  Would he be willing to come here as a 30 catch guy and Red Zone specialist?  If so, I guess I’m open.  Even then, things aren’t crystal clear.   Let’s look at receiver stats for 2010:

DeSean Jackson — 47-1056 – 22.5 – 6 TDs
Jeremy Maclin —— 70 – 964 – 13.8 – 10 TDs
Jason Avant ——- 51 – 573 – 11.2 – 1 TD
Riley Cooper ——- 7 – 116 – 16.6 – 1 TD
Brent Celek ——– 42 – 511 – 12.2 – 4 TDs
Clay Harbor ——– 9 – 72 – 8.0 – 1 TD
LeSean McCoy —– 78 – 592 – 7.6 – 2 TDs
Owen Schmitt —— 19 – 136 – 7.2 – 1 TD

So where do we find 30-40 catches in that group? Or do we think we’ll throw an extra 50 or 60 passes?  I’d like DeSean to get more catches (although part of that is on him simply catching the ball better).  Celek had a down year with only 42 grabs.  Clay Harbor and Riley Cooper are young guys I’d like to get more involved in the offense.

Shady did catch 78 passes.  Only about 1/3 of those were by design.  He caught a lot of checkdowns.  You can’t count on taking those throws away from him.

Avant would be the big loser, most likely.  He’s not such a weapon that we must get him 50 catches, but he is a really valuable 3rd down receiver.  Plax could help on some plays, but I’m not sure we’ll find as many passes to come his way as he’d ideally like.

You would think a team that only has one good WR would make a strong push for Plax.  He could possibly be an impact player for the Chiefs or a team like that.  Will Plax buy into being a role player or will he expect to be a starter type?  Mike Vick bought into the fact he had bottomed out and had to change his ways.  Plax might not have the same attitude.

I’m going to remain skeptical of the reports, but there is some real logic to the thinking.  Plax is a big time Red Zone weapon and that is an area where we’ve struggled for years.  He wouldn’t solve the situation, but would be a weapon down there.  He also might turn out to be an important role player that you got at a bargain price, as well as at a point in his career when he’s highly motivated.

Can’t wait to see what happens with this situation.

* * * * *

Mike Kafka says he’s ready to be the backup QB this year.  I disagree.  Andy Reid says Kafka is ready.  I still disagree.  I think Kafka needs another year of preparation.

A.J. Feeley started 5 games in his 2nd year and led us to a 4-1 record.  However…that 2002 team had a great defense, very good STs, and top 5 running game.  Feeley was charged with not losing games.  We have a whole different situation right now.  The offense carries the team.  We must score points to be effective.  The defense is a complete mystery.  The running game is effective, but is partially successful because of the passing attack.  And STs…that’s a bit of an unknown right now.

I think Reid knows Kafka’s not ready.  Big Red is just saying that to be supportive of his guy, but to also keep people from asking him a million questions about what we’ll do for a backup QB.

I still have high hopes for Kafka in 2012 and beyond, but I don’t see him as someone I’d be comfortable running the team at this point.  I am interested to see what kind of progress he’s made since last summer.  Let’s hope we have preseason games so we can get a look at Kafka.

Is Big Al Worth The Risk?

Posted: May 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , | 32 Comments »

Albert Haynesworth is going to be cut or traded when the offseason gets underway.  He’s had a miserable 2-year stay in Washington and coach Mike Shanahan doesn’t need another summer of useless drama between the two of them.

I still believe very strongly that Big Al can be a dominant defensive player.  He was outstanding last year against the Bears and showed his talent didn’t go away.  Will the Eagles have any interest in Big Al?  Should they?

Haynesworth failed in D.C. partly due to the Skins and partly due to himself.  Let’s go back to his time with the Titans for a second.  In 2007 and 2008 Big Al became the most dominant defensive player in the NFL.  In ’07 Al had 6 sacks, 8 TFLs, 4 pass deflections, and 32 solo tackles.  In ’08 he had 8.5 sacks, 7 TFLs, 3 FFs, 2 pass deflections, and 41 solo tackles.  Those numbers don’t do him justice.  Al was double and triple teamed.  Offenses had to account for him all game long.  The Titans responded by moving him around.  Sometimes he was the Nose Tackle.  Other times he was the Under Tackle.  He played DE and was able to pressure the QB off the edge.  Big Al was able to help the Titans finish up high in points and yards allowed both seasons.

The Skins lured him to D.C. with the biggest contract for a defensive player in the history of the NFL.  They told him he’d be allowed to attack upfield and do his thing just like he did in Tennessee.  Apparently Defensive Coordinator Greg Blache wasn’t present at that meeting.  Blache had other ideas for how to use Big Al.  He didn’t let Al just fire upfield on a regular basis.  He was more conservative in how he used his DTs and also wasn’t as creative at moving Al around.  Big Al had an okay year, but was definitely a disappointment.

Along came Shanny in the 2010 offseason.  He had the brilliant idea to take a good 4-3 defense and change it to a 3-4, despite not having the proper personnel.  Big Al was projected to be the NT.  Oops.  That didn’t go so well.  Big Al wanted no part of being a 3-4 NT.  That calls for a player to basically occupy blockers so the LBs can go make plays.  Al and Shanny began a personal war that lasted all year long.  Al only played in 8 games and was just a role player.  He still had some great moments (see the CHI game), but the season was largely wasted.

The Skins fault in all of this is going and getting a player who expected to be used in a certain way and then having him do other things.  Like it or not, star players need to be treated in a certain way.  You need to use them so that they can play at their best.  I still think Shanny made one of the worst decisions of the last decade by forcing the 3-4 onto the team.  The Skins have been tough on defense for the last several years.  Why change a good thing?

Big Al is at fault for not handling the situation like a professional.  The Skins pissed him off with the way they used him, but he was still making mega-bucks.  Gripe to the coaches behind closed doors, but don’t go public with every dissenting opinion and never give less than 100% effort.  Al definitely looked like a jackass with the way he acted over the last 2 years.

Normally I would have no interest in a guy like Big Al.  He’s turning 30 this summer.  He’s an inconsistent player.  He can be a headache in the locker room and in general.  But…I’m open to adding Big Al for a couple of reasons.  Jim Washburn, our new DL coach, is the man who got Al to play at such a high level in Tennessee.  Those two got along really well.  Washburn was able to teach and motivate Al.  I have to think that coming to Philly and getting back into the scheme that allowed him to flourish and playing for his old coach would bring out the best in Al.  And you know he’d want to crush the Skins twice a year.

The second factor is that we simply don’t have anyone who is physically dominant up front.  I love Trent Cole to death, but he’s an effort player with some talent and athletic ability.  Trent will never overwhelm the blocker in front of him due to sheer size/strength.  Big Al has that ability.  I don’t think a defense must have that guy, but boy would it be nice.

Think about opposing offenses as they broke the huddle.  They’d have to find Big Al and figure out who was blocking him.  He might be the NT, UT, or LDE.  How’d you like to have him at LDE with Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon on the inside on running downs?  Big Al isn’t just a playmaker.  At his best with the Titans, he made the players around him even better.  I bet Trent Cole would love the chance to play with a guy like Al.

The Eagles didn’t address DT at all in the draft.  This could mean they are comfortable with the 4 guys already in place.  Or it could mean they want to go get a player via free agency or trade.  You know that Washburn has already talked to Andy Reid and Howie Roseman about Al.  The question is whether he gave him a thumbs up or down.

The x-factors in this are money and off-field issues.  I would not give Big Al a big deal.  No way.  I don’t trust him like that.  He needs to show he can get his head back on straight.  Al got in trouble for allegedly punching another driver in some kind of traffic altercation.  He also is in legal trouble for inappropriately touching a waitress.  He’s had plenty of issues in the past.  Al isn’t a guy you will nominate for man of the year anytime soon.

I would be fine with the Eagles going after Big Al, assuming he’s not given a big contract.  What about you guys?  Is he too much of a turd or is Al a risk you’re willing to take?