Deactivating DeSean Was the Right Thing To Do

Deactivating DeSean Was the Right Thing To Do

With about one minute remaining in the first half of last Monday night's game, DeSean Jackson fields a punt around the 20-yard line, a solid directional kick that turned the sidelines into a 12th defender of sorts. With nowhere to go, and the coverage bearing down fast, DJac hovers backwards, hoping to buy time until a crease opens.

It doesn't.

Until Jackson is done running in the wrong direction, he's not only conceded nine yards, but the ball comes out, too. Mind you, a fumble is usually terrible in any situation. It gets magnified by quite a bit when it happens during a nine-yard loss, deep inside the team's own territory, with halftime right around the corner -- all classic ball control scenarios.

Jackson was front and center in what was arguably the most devastating and dumb mistake of the game, a play that literally handed Chicago seven points in a contest decided by six. Only days later, he skips a special teams meeting, an unexcused absence. Further compounding the issue, it's not even the first time Jackson pulled this type of stunt.

In the grand scheme of things that have gone wrong this season, DeSean Jackson's fumble is easily lumped under broader categories such as "turnovers," and "talented wide receivers coming up small in big situations." The play mostly would have been mentioned in the same breath as Jeremy Maclin's critical fourth-quarter drop in Atlanta, and his fumble that finished off the Eagles against San Francisco, or Jason Avant's hands problem in Buffalo. Michael Vick is stocking up on killer turnovers like they are going out of style.

It's not just a fumble anymore though. Now it represents an idea that Jackson is not doing everything in his power to help the Eagles win, that his contract dispute with the front office is influencing his attitude and conduct. If a player isn't giving 100%, who wants him out there on Sunday? The fact that the Eagles desperately needed a win on Sunday in order to keep their shrinking postseason dreams alive doesn't mean they should let one of their stars disrespect his teammates and the coaching staff -- and by extension, the fans.

The fact that Jackson and the Eagles have not been able to agree to a contract is unfortunate. Jackson far outplayed his rookie deal. He is a special player whose speed can dictate coverages. We thought they should have done something for him by now, and given their history of locking in their young, core players, it's somewhat of a surprise the organization chose to deal with DeSean this way.

Then again, incidents like the one that got Jackson deactivated this week give us a peak into the other side of the story. Coupled with the fact that he is perceived by some as underperforming this season, and has a reputation for disappearing for stretches already, a case starts to build for why the Eagles might be better off without DeSean Jackson.

Andy Reid clearly thought his club would be better off without Jackson on Sunday, even if they actually weren't, and that is the most troubling aspect. But if Jackson believes he doesn't need to be held accountable for his actions because of how much he isn't being paid, who wants to root for somebody like that?

If the Eagles are gonna go down in flames anyway, I'd rather they do it with the guys who are working their asses off.

Rays 7, Phillies 2: Mackanin calls Eickhoff 'a pretty darn good pitcher'

Rays 7, Phillies 2: Mackanin calls Eickhoff 'a pretty darn good pitcher'

BOX SCORE

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff pitched two innings, allowed a hit, a run, walked one and struck out two in his spring debut on Monday.

Afterward, manager Pete Mackanin was asked what he believed Eickhoff's ceiling was.

"He's a pretty darn good pitcher right now," Mackanin said.

Indeed, he is.

In his first full season in the majors last year, the 26-year-old right-hander led the Phillies' starting staff in ERA (3.65), starts (33) and innings pitched (197 1/3).

He delivered 20 quality starts and became just the fourth Phillie in the last 20 years to make 33 starts and record a 3.65 ERA or better, joining three pretty good pitchers named Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Curt Schilling. He walked just 1.92 batters per nine innings and that was fourth-best among NL starters.

"Eickhoff is the kind of guy you can count on," Mackanin said. "He throws strikes. He knows what he's doing."

Eickhoff is intent on building on last year's success in 2017. The guy has a Halladay-like work ethic. He arrived in Clearwater on Feb. 1 and got right to work. After his two innings of work on Monday, he put in a couple of hours in the weight room and on a back field running.

"I just have to continue working," he said. "I have a very high standard for myself as a lot of us in here do. We want to be the best players that we can be."

Eickhoff is working on improving his changeup this spring and his overall goal is to make every start -- as he did last season.

"That's the priority -- make every start," he said. "That's always a priority for me.

"I'd also like to incorporate the changeup a little more and use my slider and curveball and not get heavily reliant on one or the other, which happened several times last year and I think got me into trouble at times. So incorporating both for the duration of the season and just being more crisp with execution and location is my goal.

"I'm always looking to get better. I think the sky is the limit. I'm going to continue working, whether it's being Greg Maddux-esque with command or having a good breaking ball, or throwing a changeup like Maddux and guys like that did. There's always something I'm working on and trying to develop and sharpen up."

Eickhoff lines up to start the second game of the regular season behind projected opening day starter Jeremy Hellickson.

The game
The Phillies lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-2. The Phils are 2-2 on the spring.

Maikel Franco had two hits, including his third homer of the spring. It was a long drive to left field on a 1-2 fastball. He also had a single to right field.

"The thing I like early in the spring from him is he's going deeper into counts," Mackanin said. "I think he's working toward a good year this year."

Stassi impresses
Non-roster player Brock Stassi, a candidate to win a job as a reserve first baseman and outfielder (see story), did not play in the game. He, however, has a single, double and homer in the first three games.

Mackanin gushed about Stassi’s defense when asked about it Monday.

"He's one of the best first basemen I've seen in a real long time," Mackanin said. "He has no need to improve on his defense and I like the way he swings the bat. He's a real solid baseball player so he's a guy I really want to get a good look at."

Pitching matters
Starting pitchers Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin are both projected to pitch at Triple A. Both have been slowed early in camp because of health reasons, but are progressing well. Thompson has a sore right wrist and Eflin is recovering from a pair of surgeries to address tendinitis in both knees.

Both pitchers will continue to throw in the bullpen this week and ramp up to live batting practice next week. There is plenty of time for both pitchers to get their arms ready to open the season. However, the Phillies may decide to take a cautious approach with Eflin and let him build some more strength in his knees before they turn him loose. He could stay in Florida for a couple of extra weeks before joining the Triple A club.

Up next
The Phillies host the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. Clay Buchholz will make his first start of the spring. Here is the Phillies' posted starting lineup for the game:

1. Freddy Galvis, SS
2. Howie Kendrick, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Michael Saunders, DH
6. Tommy Joseph, 1B
7. Chris Coghlan, RF
8. Cameron Rupp, C
9. Scott Kingery, 2B

Sixers waive big man Andrew Bogut

Sixers waive big man Andrew Bogut

To no surprise, Andrew Bogut is not part of the process.

The veteran big man, acquired in the Nerlens Noel trade last week, was waived by the Sixers on Monday night.

The Vertical's Shams Charania and ESPN's Marc Stein first reported the news of both parties agreeing to a contract buyout.

Bogut was included in the Sixers-Mavericks deal that sent Noel to Dallas in exchange for the 32-year-old center, Justin Anderson and a top-18 protected first-round pick (which will likely turn into two second-round picks).

Bogut will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Per a report Sunday by ESPN's Tim MacMahon, Bogut was set on joining Clevelend once a contract buyout with the Sixers was finalized. Bogut will have discussions with the Cavaliers, Spurs, Celtics and Rockets before making his decision, according to Stein's report.

Bogut played 26 games for the Mavericks this season, averaging 3.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.