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.

La salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping five-game streak

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USA Today Images

La salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping five-game streak

RICHMOND, Va. -- Justin Tillman had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead five VCU players in double figures in a 90-52 victory over La Salle on Sunday.

VCU held La Salle to 15 made field goals and forced 16 turnovers.

VCU went on a 19-0 first-half run -- with 11 points from JeQuan Lewis -- for a 38-14 lead and the Rams led 42-16 at halftime after shooting 51.5 percent. Lewis made 5 of 6 shots and had 13 of his 15 points in the first half.

Samir Doughty added 15 points for VCU (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic 10). Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Jordan Burgess scored 10. Tillman was 7 of 10 from the field as the Rams shot 56.5 percent.

Jordan Price and Saul Phiri each scored 11 points for La Salle (11-6, 5-2) and Pookie Powell added 10. It was a season-high for the freshman Phiri but the Explorers were just 15-of-53 shooting (28.3 percent).

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

Well, if anyone hoped the Sixers' performance at game's end against Portland on Friday night -- with Joel Embiid riding the bench, ruled out for the game's remainder with a left knee contusion -- would carry over to an entirely Embiid-less game again Saturdaynight... I guess you're not alone, 'coz I sorta did. Perhaps it shouldn't have been particularly surprising to see that the Sixers were still the same team last night in Atlanta they were the previous Saturday against the Wizards: good enough to hang against an above-average East team, but not nearly good enough to actually win. 

At least they kept this one closer longer. Normally, against the Hawks, once the single-digit lead in the first half balloons into the double-digit lead in the third quarter, it never deflates back, but this time we cut it down to seven a couple times -- just never hitting that one big shot that would've really made things interesting, ultimately losing 110-93. It doesn't help that Nik Stauskas is in the midst of one of his most refrigerated runs as a Sixer, going just 7-30 (3-16 from deep) over Philly's last five games, or that Dario Saric is similarly bricking shots near and wide, a remarkable 2 for 22 over his last couple contests. 

This, sadly, is a primary reason why the Sixers' playoff hopes, while fun to dream about, are still unlikely to be more than a flicker. Over the next few weeks, the Sixers have a trio of back-to-backs coming up, with the back-end games coming against Milwaukee, Sacramento and San Antonio -- none of which Philly, 2-12 without their star center, are probable to win sans JoJo. Even if they can take care of business with Embiid on the court, it'll be tough to make up the ground that the Sons of Sam need to while they have to drop one every three or four games as Joel sits. 

That's fine, though. This season's been super-fun, but we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves: Let's ensure Embiid's health, maybe get Ben Simmons out there too, secure a nice draft pick or two (though the plummeting Kings could be of significant help with that themselves), and focus on making next year even more of a thing. The future remains impossibly bright, even if the present is going to have to be borderline-unwatchable once or twice a week.