Let Me Tell You About the Birds & the Knees

Let Me Tell You About the Birds & the Knees

Our man Rev is icing a sore knee. These are his words.

While
the entire football following world, and for that matter non-football
following world (thanks for checking in TMZ), races to provide us with
breaking no news updates on where Donovan McNabb will play next season,
the Eagles continue to tweak their roster and prepare for the upcoming
draft. Predicting what they will do in free agency and the draft has
not been easy. During the Lurie/Banner/Reid era the team has continually

played things close to the vest. There are not a whole lot of leaks
coming out of One Novacare Way. No one knew ahead of time about the
Michael Vick signing. Choosing Kevin Kolb in the second round was a
surprise for which no one was prepared. Removing Jeremiah Trotter’s
franchise tag in 2002, thus making him a free agent was a shocking move.

They have shown a propensity for making unpredictable moves, and keeping

those moves under wraps.

However,
not everything the organization does is unpredictable. For years they’ve

drafted and stocked up on young linemen with perceived upside (John
Welbourn, Scott Peters, Jamaal Greene, Trey Darilek, Scott Young, Calvin

Armstrong, LaJuan Ramsey, King Dunlap, etc.). They’ve also shown a
willingness to draft players from small schools who have not played
against the stiffest of competition throughout their college years
(Bryan
Smith, Andrew Studebaker, Chris Gocong, and Todd Herremans). Some of
these moves have worked out (Welbourn, Herremans, and Gocong), while
others have not. These moves show that they occasionally do fall into
trends with their thinking and philosophy.

Recently
they’ve shown a bizarre and repeated willingness to spend draft picks
and free agent dollars on guys with major knee issues. It’s getting
to the point where they cannot help themselves when given the
opportunity
to acquire someone coming off a catastrophic knee injury. Perhaps
Trotter
is to blame for all of this. He somehow carved out a Pro Bowl career
without the benefit of knees. He jokes that his knees are so bad there’s

no shot he would pass a team physical.  How the guy played middle
linebacker in the NFL without knees is beyond me.

Here
is the roll call of guys they’ve drafted or signed over the last two
years who’ve had knee problems:

  • Jack Ikegwuonu (invested
    a 4th round pick in 2008, despite suffering from a torn
    ACL)
  • Cornelius Ingram (invested
    a 5th round pick in 2009, despite suffering from a torn
    ACL)
  • Stacy Andrews (as a free
    agent in 2009
    , and coming off ACL surgery he signed for 6 years $38.9
    million)
  • Marlin Jackson (as a free
    agent in 2010
    , and coming off ACL surgeries in each of the last two
    years, signed for 2 years $6 million)

Now,
I can somewhat understand the Ikegwuonu and Ingram picks. Essentially
they could bring them along slowly, let them rehab, get acclimated to
professional football, and ostensibly give them what amounts to a
redshirt
year with that hope that the investment will pay off down the road.
That I understand. I do not understand the Andrews and Jackson signings
though. These are guys who play positions of need. Their entire
offensive
line was thrown into flux due to, among other things, Stacy Andrews
not being healthy. They have a glaring need at safety, so what do they
do? They go out and sign a guy who has had his last two seasons cut
short thanks to knee injuries. They continue to put a large number of
their eggs in the same injury riddled basket. I don’t get it.

You
know how when teams have a ridiculous trade proposal which seemingly
no one will accept they pick up the phone and call Al Davis and the
Raiders? Yeah, that’s the way agents must feel when they have a client
coming off a knee injury. Hmmm, my client has no cartilage or ligaments
in his knees? Which organization would possibly draft/sign my guy? 
I know, I’ll holla at the Eagles…they love guys with leg issues.
It’s a no brainer. It’s so bad that I am convinced that if they
were available, and the least bit athletic, the Birds would seriously
consider offering contracts to Spider from Goodfellas after being shot
in the foot by Tommy, James Caan’s character with the shattered legs
from Misery, and Lieutenant Dan. Must. Sign. Guy. With. Damaged. Legs.

Obviously
I am at total loss to explain why they’ve made the organizational
decision to acquire players with such significant injuries. They do
not strike me as the kind of team which makes rash decisions and
formulates
an action plan without first doing their homework. You’d like to assume
they’re employing some sort of sound methodology.  So, how do
you explain these decisions? FYI, during the draft keep an eye out for
Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond III. The Birds have a (k)need (see
how I did that?) in the secondary and he’s coming off ACL surgery.
They’re bound to take him.

Photo by Jonathan
Daniel / Getty Images

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).