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.

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.