What They're Saying: Danny Watkins

What They're Saying: Danny Watkins

A quick look around the Internets to see what people are saying about Eagles 2011 first round draft pick Danny Watkins.

Sheil Kapadia, Moving the Chains: The best thing that you can say about the Watkins pick is that he should be a plug and play player, as Mike Mayock would say. According to DraftMetrics.com,  90 percent of the guards taken in the first round between 1991-2010  started as rookies. They also note that between 1991-2004, 67 percent of  the offensive linemen taken between picks 14 and 28 went on to start  for five years or more. The only position that was more likely to  produce a five-year starter was linebacker (74 percent).

Adam Kaplan, Fox Sports: The Eagles decided to pass on offensive tackle Gabe Carimi in order to  select a true guard in Danny Watkins. The 26-year old interior offensive  lineman will compete for the starting right guard job with the Eagles.  With Watkins in the mix, Philadelphia could look at filling a need at  cornerback later in the draft.

Ray Didinger, CSNPhilly.com: Prior to the Senior Bowl, Watkins was known only to a handful of Big 12  fanatics and draftniks, but after that week, he was on everyone’s short  list of line prospects. Reid targeted Watkins at that point and never  wavered.

For a guy who hasn’t played a lot of football, Watkins  has remarkably good technique. His fundamentals are sound; his footwork  and balance are good. He was an all-conference tackle at Baylor but at  6-foot-3 and 310 pounds, he is better equipped to play guard in the  pros.

He moves defenders off the ball and on pass plays he can  anchor against a bull-rushing tackle. He plays with fire and keeps going  to the whistle. If he sees defenders standing around a pile, he will  put them in the dirt, which will please Eagles fans who like lineman  that play with an edge.

Andy Reid, On Watkins' Age: "A lot has been said about Danny’s age. We felt he was as  good a football player as there was in the draft. We want to maintain a  strong offensive line. We want to build a line to be the strongest in  the NFL and this is a step toward that. His clock started a little later  for this sport. He was a hockey player and a rugby player but he took  to the game right away and was productive. He’s a heck of a player in  the run game and the pass game. I can’t tell you how happy we are to  have him."

JasonB, BleedingGreen: Not only is Watkins the best story of any top prospect, he also had a the greatest moment of the first round.

For those that don't know, Watkins was a  firefighter for four years in Canada who didn't even begin to play  organized football until about five years ago. Much of who he is and the  way he carries himself comes from his time as a firefighter. Just as an  illustration of the bond he had with the guys he calls "his brothers"  at least 10 of them made the trip from British Columbia to cheer him at  the draft.

As soon as the pictures of him  smiling on his phone came up on the monitors, his firefighter buddies  went nuts. In the photo on top of this story, Watkins is giving the  thumbs up to all the firefighters in the balcony that were yelling and  chanting his name.

Todd McShay, ESPN:

Brian Billick, Fox Sports:

Finally, Reuben Frank has plenty more reactions from Andy Reid on what the Eagles were thinking about their 23rd overall selection.

 

Tranquillo Barnetta will not return to Union next season

usa-tranquillo-barnetta-union.jpg
USA Today Images

Tranquillo Barnetta will not return to Union next season

Tranquillo Barnetta is going home.

In an abrupt announcement on Tuesday, the Union declared that the skillful Swiss attacking midfielder will not renew his contract with the club and will return to Switzerland following the 2016 season to play for his hometown club, FC St. Gallen.

According to MLS Players Union, Barnetta’s exit will free the Union of $687,500 next season.

“The entire soccer community here was so welcoming and I’m so thankful to everyone at Philadelphia Union for making me feel so appreciated,” Barnetta said. “Playing in front of my friends and family and making plans for life at the end of my career where I want to live is a force I can’t resist.”

Although the timing of the announcement is a surprise, the move isn’t one. With Alejandro Bedoya now in the mix, currently playing out of position in a box-to-box midfield role, the Union will replace Barnetta with Bedoya at the center attacking midfield spot. It’s a position that Bedoya is comfortable in, playing there with his previous club, FC Nantes.

Bedoya played for the injured Barnetta in the center midfield spot last Saturday and scored his first goal of the season in a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC.

But even with Bedoya ready to take over, the Union will miss Barnetta. Since joining the Union in 2015, Barnetta, 31, has been one of the better possession playmakers in MLS, scoring six goals and seven assists in 37 games.

“Tranquillo has been a key piece in what we’re trying to build here in Philadelphia but we appreciate his decision to return to Switzerland,” said Union sporting director Earnie Stewart, whose club has three matches left in the 2016 season, and will likely make the playoffs. “We look forward to continuing to push for the postseason.”

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

The Eagles are 3-0. They’re alone atop the NFC East and have been the biggest surprise of the young NFL season.

Doug Pederson’s message to his team: You haven’t done anything yet.

Although the Eagles are riding high, Pederson doesn’t want his team to change its outlook or hard work. That’s what teams have to worry about once they’ve found some success.

“The biggest thing is complacency,” Pederson said Monday. “You think you've arrived. You think you are all that. When that creeps in, that's when you get beat. It's my job not to let that creep in. I've got to keep the guys focused and grounded. I told them this week they're going to travel and go home and people are going to pat them on the back and say how great they are.

“But next Monday, I'm going to tell them, ‘Hey, we're back to work. We're 0-0. This is Game 1 and let's go.’ That's just the way it has to be. You are building for one ultimate goal and that's a few weeks down the road. That's what you are trying to get to. But you can't get there unless you take care of the next opponent. It's my job to keep them focused that way.”

Being 3-0 (they’re one of five 3-0 teams) gives the Eagles a head start, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee them a playoff spot. This is the ninth 3-0 start in franchise history. They’ve made the playoffs just five times in the previous eight. And they recently missed the playoffs after starting 3-0 in 2014 under Chip Kelly.

In NFL history (before this season), there have been 276 teams to start with 3-0 records. Of them, 200 (72.3 percent) have made the playoffs.

“We just have to approach it the same, one day at a time,” Pederson said. “That's the way this business goes. You are on top of the world one minute, and you can be at the bottom of the heap the next. Just got to keep things even-keeled and can't get too high, can't get too low. Approach it the same. Like I mentioned earlier, you can't substitute for hard work. That pays off on Sundays. We just have to stay the course. Again, a lot of football left.”

While the Week 4 bye comes pretty early, the Eagles have a couple key players who will use the time to get healthy. And Connor Barwin pointed out that the bye is coming about closer to the halfway point between when the team started its tough training camp and the end of the season.

Pederson told his players to use the week to get away from football and free their minds. Meanwhile, Pederson and his coaches will use the extra time to self-scout and prepare for the final 13 games of the regular season.

With a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback who was thrust into action a week before the opener, expectations outside (and perhaps inside) the building were tempered.

The Eagles aren’t an underdog anymore.

“We kind of enjoyed flying under the radar, but obviously a win like this against a team like the Steelers will open some eyes around the league,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “For us, nothing different. We’ll keep our preparation the same. We’ll stick our heads down and focus on the work day to day and understand what’s gotten us to 3-0.”

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