Dawkins: Gone, Should Be (Temporarily) Forgotten

Dawkins: Gone, Should Be (Temporarily) Forgotten


(Image via Jeffrey Beall)

It seems all anybody wanted for Christmas this year was Brian Dawkins. Maybe that was partially a matter of timing with the Broncos in town this weekend. Regardless, I got the impression from talking to friends and family that the Eagles still need number 20.

Would they be better off with Dawkins? It's foolish to say they wouldn't. Whether it's Macho Harris, Quintin Demps, or Sean Jones, meaningful production from the free safety spot has been lacking. You know that would not be the case if Dawkins were here. In the last five seasons, he compiled 12.5 sacks, 14 interceptions, and 17 forced fumbles. He had a knack for making the big play.

The Eagles would certainly benefit from having another quality tackler in the mix as well. It's been a serious problem all season long, practically an epidemic for that matter. I can't remember Dawkins whiffing on as many tackles in his entire career as Asante Samuel has this season alone. He made the other guys accountable too. You know Dawkins would be in their faces, forcing the other 10 to raise their games.

But as a whole, would this unit honestly look much more solid? It's Week 16, and they're still trying to assemble a decent trio of linebackers. There isn't another consistent pass rusher to take the pressure off Trent Cole, and the secondary has battled a number of injuries. With all the changes from one week to the next, it's limited the defense's ability to even run the kind of schemes that gave Dawkins the freedom to wreak havoc in the first place.

To put it in terms we can attempt to quantify: would he have been the difference in getting the defense off the field late in the fourth quarter against Dallas or San Diego? Was there any chance they could have stopped New Orleans from scoring touchdown after touchdown from good starting field position?

Safety isn't this team's problem.

Had the front office caved to his demands, whatever those actually were, would they still been able to have as successful a year for player acquisitions? After the recent round of signings, the Eagles are right up against the cap. With a Dawkins figure comparable to what Denver paid him, do they feel rich enough to splurge on do-it-all fullback Leonard Weaver? Can they afford to take on Will Witherspoon's contract and stabilize their linebackers? Are we talking about how Winston Justice can depart in free agency instead of having the tackle position locked up the next few seasons?

As so many decisions are in professional sports, at the end of the day it was all about money, and not just Jeff Lurie's money either. Brian Dawkins didn't refuse Denver's big payday, including the rather large signing bonus and all those option years at the back end of the deal. Nobody blames him, it just proves that even the players who bleed green are mercenaries. Before the Eagles could even present a serious counter offer, he was on a plane heading west.

It's business. The Eagles placed a value on Dawkins, and somebody else thought he was worth way more. After having the privilege of watching him play for 13 years, it's not hard to understand why. That doesn't mean he was worth that amount here though. Everybody wants a guy like that on their team, but what it comes down to is the difference between winning and losing. Can you win without this one player as opposed to the sum of the parts you are able to add in his place?

I sure miss Brian Dawkins, but 10 months later, I still don't fault the Eagles for conducting business as usual.

Up from 217 to 250, Ben Simmons also stronger mentally from work with LeBron

Up from 217 to 250, Ben Simmons also stronger mentally from work with LeBron

CAMDEN, N.J. — It appears Ben Simmons took the saying about having the weight of the world on your shoulders a tad literal.

The Sixers' No. 1 overall pick walked into the team's sparkling new training complex for media day sporting a much bigger frame than when his name was called on draft night.

"I'm a lot stronger. When I started getting ready for the draft I was about 217 [pounds] and now I'm around 250," Simmons said Monday.

When you're expected to be the centerpiece of an organization that managed just 10 wins a season ago, it helps to have that extra bulk to carry those expectations. 

But Simmons isn’t just being looked at as a key to help change the franchise’s fortunes. He’s also being viewed as perhaps a once-in-a-generation talent after drawing several comparisons to LeBron James, who Simmons shares an agent with in Klutch Sports Group.

So how did the incoming rookie deal with being likened to four-time MVP and three-time NBA champion James? He went to work like someone trying to achieve those same goals.

“Just being around him and learning from his habits and what he does has just helped me overall,” Simmons said of working out with James and other NBA stars during the summer. “He’ll be one of the first guys in the gym every day. It doesn’t matter what day it is. He’s one of those guys who gets the work in and enjoys the rest of his day. Just learning from him I think I can take a lot from what he’s done. ... He’s done a lot for me. He’s helped me experience things I need to learn.

“They get in the gym and work. It’s one of those things where they don’t play around. They get straight to it. Obviously in the weight room too. LeBron loves the VersaClimber and they also brought two more in here. I’m starting to learn from what these guys do, D-Wade (Dwyane Wade) also. They’re all doing the same thing, working out every day and getting ready.”

That type of work ethic will go a long way toward Simmons' earning the respect of his Sixers teammates. The group was already eager to get on the floor with him for training camp at Stockton University and get a firsthand look at the versatile forward, especially his prowess as a passer.

“The most exciting thing that I’ve seen was his passing ability,” Jahlil Okafor said of Simmons. “That’s going to help me out a lot. He’s selfless. Being with the summer league guys he was always about the team. I’ve always considered myself a good teammate and he’s a great one as well. I’m excited to work with him.”

“I think for anybody who likes to shoot or likes to score, whenever you can have a big man who is a really good ball handler, can make good decisions, has great vision, it’s always a great thing,” Gerald Henderson said. “If you can be aggressive on the offensive end you don’t always have to have the basketball to be able to be right there and score. You have somebody that can find you and really is thinking pass-first. I think it’ll be great, not only for us but just our offense in general.”

Considering that the Sixers finished 29th in scoring a season ago, Simmons knows they will need him to be more than just a facilitator. The team needs consistent scoring from everyone on the court. And while the LSU product’s jump shot was questioned during his lone year in college, he believes he has worked hard to silence those doubts.

“I usually try to take what they give me. Obviously I’ve been working on my shot a lot with all the coaches,” Simmons said. “I can shoot the ball. I’m not really worried about that. Coming into training camp, it’s one of the things I’ve been working on since LSU.”

Simmons made it clear several times that he is confident in his offensive game and that the Sixers’ logjam in the frontcourt will work itself out on the floor. One thing he’s not so sure about: that he’s even in this position.

Despite dreaming about being in the NBA since he was a kid in Australia and being groomed to be the No. 1 overall pick for years, Simmons said it’s still a bit of a surprise to be at this point.

“I think it’s still surreal for me,” he said. “I think it’ll finally hit me once I step on the court matched up against OKC the first game.”

There were Carson Wentz and Ben Simmons fans at the debate last night

There were Carson Wentz and Ben Simmons fans at the debate last night

I'm not sure if they could win nationally, but there is absolutely no doubt that a Wentz-Simmons ticket would dominate the Delaware Valley.

An intrepid Philadelphia sports fan was up at the Presidential Debate last night at Hofstra University and made a sign showing his support... for the Eagles and Sixers.

I don't know though, I'm pretty sure Simmons was born in Australia.