Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!

Posted: March 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , , | 13 Comments »

“No, really…she will.”

Tampa CB Aqib Talib is one of the few people I know that can really say that.  For those who haven’t read the glorious details of the NFL’s best story of 2011, go here.  I’ll just share my favorite line or two.

Talib dropped the gun, Billings picked it up and took off running, and Talib’s mother pull out her own gun and fired three shots at Billings.  Aqib then allegedly grabbed the gun from his mother and fired two shots of his own.

I mention this to bring up the subject of character.  I was a huge fan of Talib’s heading into the draft a few years back.  I thought he would be a terrific pick for the Eagles.  He was big, athletic enough, and a productive ballhawk.  The Eagles traded out of pick 19 in 2008.  Talib went 20th.

I don’t know if the Eagles even had Talib on their board.  He had some character concerns coming out of Kansas.  Some teams liked him, others didn’t.  The Bucs had no reservations and took him.  Talib has rewarded them by being a good player.  He has also punished them by being a pain in the butt off the field.  Character really is the ultimate x-factor.

The Eagles have generally taken high character guys.  Freddie Mitchell was a knucklehead, but the only time he became a real distraction was Super Bowl week when cameras were on him and the team 24/7.   There are some other exceptions.  DeSean Jackson and Lito Sheppard weren’t choirboys coming out of college.  Jack Ikegwounu had some issues.  I’m sure I’m forgetting a few other players, but the majority have been solid guys.

Andy Reid spoke to that point in a interview with Dave Spadaro about 10 days ago.  I’m not sure if it is episode 1, 2, or 3.  It’s all worth watching.  Andy talked about the need to build a strong environment by taking high character players and then having the ability to take some chances on guys who do have issues.  No football coach in the NFL can surround himself with only choirboys and expect to win a championship.  That’s just reality.

Last year the Eagles felt they needed an infusion of the right kind of players.  They went after team leaders, good students, and high character prospects.  That foundation now gives them the freedom to take a chance on someone this year.  That’s important because a potentially key target for the Eagles does have some issues.

Colorado CB Jimmy Smith won’t be on all 32 draft boards.  He has failed some drug tests.  He’s had some other issues at CU.  To my knowledge, Smith has never been arrested or suspended.  We’re not talking about a violent criminal.  Smith is immature and makes some dumb decisions.

Smith is someone you take a chance on for a couple of reasons.  If you put him in a strong, professional environment, this is the kind of guy who might be able to change.  He played 4 years at Colorado.  That tells you he showed up for class enough to stay eligible.  He also did enough on the practice field to keep the coaches either happy or satisfied.

Also, the ceiling is very high.  He is an outstanding player.  He has a great combination of size, speed, and cover skills.  He may not have consistently played up to his potential in games, but you wonder how much of that is circumstantial.  He didn’t get many passes thrown his way.  His team was mediocre.  Put him on an NFL defense with a winning team and you might get a much better product.   If you are going to take a chance on a player, it might as well be on someone with big time talent.

Clearly no team will take him without doing a lot of research and meeting him in person to get a feel for his personality.  Smith is a risk, but the reward is enticing…a CB with Pro Bowl potential.  You wouldn’t want a team full of Jimmy Smiths, but mixing one guy into a defense with solid citizens like Trent Cole, Stewart Bradley, and Nate Allen is a risk I can live with.

13 Comments on “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!”

  1. 1 Tommy Lawlor said at 1:34 PM on March 29th, 2011:

    I failed to add this point to the post, but you do wonder how things would have turned out for Talib had he played for the Eagles and not the Bucs. Reid has built a strong locker room and organization. Tampa is a whole different environment. Things have improved since Gruden left, but it still isn’t anything like Philly.

  2. 2 Netherman said at 1:51 PM on March 29th, 2011:

    I trust Andy an Howie to do their homework, but I won’t deny that I still worry every time I see a microphone in DJax’s grill. Maybe they should have handlers assigned to them, like Dollhouse.

  3. 3 T_S_O_P said at 2:09 PM on March 29th, 2011:

    When i asked “… outside of Peterson and Amukamara, how many CBs have a 1st round grade in your opinion?” I take it Jimmy Smith is in that list; anyone else?

  4. 4 Tommy Lawlor said at 2:51 PM on March 29th, 2011:

    My 1st Round CBs are:

    P. Peterson
    P. Amukamara
    J. Smith
    A. Williams

    I have Brandon Harris down in the 2nd. He’s not great on downfield routes. Very good on short stuff and a heckuva tackler.

  5. 5 Tommy Lawlor said at 2:56 PM on March 29th, 2011:

    @ Netherman…

    DJax drives me nuts at times with his act, but the bottom line is that he’s an elite playmaker and he doesn’t break the law. His biggest problem to me was summed up in his statement that he’s an entertainer and a football player. Score TDs, then dance.

  6. 6 Ken said at 3:14 PM on March 29th, 2011:

    Tommy, how much better are Patrick Peterson and Prince than Jimmy Smith from a talent stand point. We’ve talked about trading up with Arizona/San Fran, but if the Eagles feel Smith will be there at 23 are PP and Prince so much better that you still take them or do you take another top guy and hope Smith is still there at 23.

    Also, I was curious of your opinion on how Bowers fits Washburn’s DL scheme.

  7. 7 NicolajNN said at 3:21 PM on March 29th, 2011:

    How does Smith compare to Peterson and Amukamara if you do not take into account his off the field stuff? Closer to top 10 pick?

  8. 8 Eric said at 3:30 PM on March 29th, 2011:

    Tommy, I think you make a very salient point.

    It’s sort of akin to McNabb. He could be sort of carefree with the teams in years past because you had experienced and fiery leaders like Dawk, Runyan and Tra.

    Contrast that with the current team and McNabb didn’t fit in…ignoring that he’s aging and his quality of play dropped. Which is part of the reason why they wanted to shift to Kevin. Maybe he’s not entirely vocal and outgoing, but he’s not as juvenile or carefree in his actions as Donovan was. I think Vick is very much the opposite of Donovan too. He may not be fiery, but he’s been hardened by the life he lived and, more recently, the time he spent incarcerated.

    So, yes, I think having an influx of high-character guys means you can take chances on some iffies going foward. And since most of us are all for Jimmy Smith; I want to thank Reid for taking high-character guys last year that probably wouldn’t have much of a starter impact, but fulfilled the roleplayer part.

    I’ll add Allen Bailey and Marvin Austin to that list too. 🙂

  9. 9 Tommy Lawlor said at 4:09 PM on March 29th, 2011:

    RE: comparing the top CBs

    Complicated question. Worthy of a separate post, or maybe a column. I’ll work on it.

    Quick answer is that Smith has the potential to be a star CB in the NFL. This isn’t a case where we’re talking ourselves into liking some fringe 1st round prospect. Smith is 6-2, 211, runs 4.42, and can smother guys at times.

  10. 10 norman said at 11:05 AM on March 30th, 2011:

    Man, I’ll tell you.. the Moms these days, with their Call of Duty and rap music..

    I think the point is well received though. This defense could handle a bad apple just fine, if its only a maturity issue. Actually, rumor has it that Q is willing to take a paycut to stay, which means I feel very confident with the leadership on the team.

  11. 11 mcud said at 2:40 PM on March 30th, 2011:

    @ Norman

    I really, really doubt that rumor about Q is true. This is a guy who was an UDFA, and his newly expired contract earned him less than $5,000,000 total (I’ll have to check with Lynch on that).

    This is a guy who is going to get one more contract, and hasn’t (in my humble opinion) made nearly enough money to accept any kind of discount. I’d like to see Q back in Eagles green, but they’re going to have to pay him to do so, and we all know how the Eagles feel about paying guys on the wrong side of 30.

  12. 12 Eric said at 7:25 PM on March 30th, 2011:

    The rest of the league doesn’t generally pay much for over 30 safeties either. Dawkins being an exception for an exceptional player.

  13. 13 Arby said at 10:05 PM on March 30th, 2011:

    I don’t know if it’s just pre-draft smokescreens or not, but I read where a bunch of teams took Smith off their boards entirely based on Combine interviews. And when I look at highlights on youtube, I see a lot of arm tackling – but that could be because he’s usually so on top of his receiver already, he doesn’t have time to get his body into the tackle. Underage drinking doesn’t get me bent out of shape, declaring yourself better than the best in the NFL does cause concern though.