Stop defending DeSean Jackson

Stop defending DeSean Jackson

It’s times like this where you have to force yourself to step back and look at a situation objectively, not through green-tinted glasses. The Philadelphia Eagles released DeSean Jackson, and it is 100 percent Jackson’s fault.

Look, I’m not going to attempt to spin Jackson’s release as the Eagles got better on the football field or positive at all. Clearly, that’s not the case. The numbers and accolades speak for themselves.

Jackson is a 27-year-old, three-time Pro Bowler coming off of a career year. He is one of only nine players since entering the league in 2008 to record at least 350 receptions, 6,000 yards receiving and 35 touchdowns.

Obviously, this decision didn’t come down to statistics and awards. It didn’t come down to contract or offensive schemes, either, although saving a few bucks probably didn’t hurt.

This decision was made based purely on Jackson’s attitude, behavior and questionable off-field activities and associations.

I’ve defended DeSean for years. Hell, I defended him yesterday. He had never been arrested to the public's knowledge. His charity work frequently made headlines. Yeah, he was a diva who played with a gigantic chip on his shoulder, as do many other professional athletes.

But if the Eagles saw and know enough to outright release a player of his caliber, I understand that such a decision was not made lightly. The organization has its reasons, and I accept them at face value.

I accept those reasons at face value in part because I’m already aware of some of the issues. No, I can’t speak to what Jackson is doing in his private time, namely the extent to which he associates or is involved with a gang, nor any other potentially illicit behavior. I don’t know to what extent a burglary at his Philadelphia home was suspicious, either.

I do know that it makes for an uncomfortable working environment when an employee is allowed to openly disrespect one of his superiors as Jackson did to wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell during a game last season. Philly.com’s Jimmy Kempski, who first reported Jackson could be as good as gone back on March 1, went so far as to suggest that was no isolated incident.

How many workplaces would that be acceptable in? What message does it send to the other players in the locker room? Who is to say he wouldn’t challenge Chip Kelly’s authority?

We know similar acts of disobedience are not isolated. Back in 2010, there was an incident where Jackson refused to field punts during pregame warmups—or in layman’s terms, do his job. During the great contract debacle of 2011, departed head coach Andy Reid actually left Jackson inactive for a game after he missed special teams meetings.

The entirety of the 2011 campaign could sum up most of Jackson’s negative qualities in a nutshell. He visibly gave less than full effort throughout the season while sulking over his contract. Guess what Jackson felt he was deserving of back in January.

A new contract.

How do you think that was going to play out over the next six months? 12 months? Two years?

Yes, the Eagles signed him to a five-year deal just two years ago. Yet it’s very telling that the organization would not guarantee any money beyond the first two years of the contract.

Hey, don’t take my word for it on any of this stuff, or the Eagles’ or the Philly media’s for that matter. Look no further than what the team was able to get in a trade for Jackson.

Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Not even a measly third-round pick for a player who posted 82 catches, 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013.

Maybe that speaks to how badly the Eagles bungled this situation. Far more likely is the lack of offers speaks to just how poor Jackson’s reputation is around the NFL.

Seeing as the Birds failed to move Jackson last year, too, I’d venture it was the latter.

Is it disappointing and frustrating from a fan perspective that a popular player and productive All Star in his prime was straight-up released? I completely understand that. I thought the Eagles would get something for Jackson. I thought they could get another year out of him at least. I never fully believed he would be released.

Don’t direct your anger in the wrong place though. You can say the Eagles got worse all you want. You can lazily and naively equate every time a member of the team ever did anything illegal/immoral to Jackson’s transgressions as if one singular event triggered this.

If you do that, you’re pointing the finger in all the wrong places. This is entirely DeSean Jackson’s fault. If you’re going to be mad at anybody, be mad at the person who brought this not only on himself, but on the Eagles fanbase.

Phillies likely to carry rookie backup catcher in 2017

Phillies likely to carry rookie backup catcher in 2017

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The likelihood of the Phillies going with a rookie backup catcher in 2017 increased dramatically when the Miami Marlins signed free agent A.J. Ellis on Wednesday.

Ellis spent the final month of the 2016 season with the Phillies after coming over from the Dodgers in the Carlos Ruiz trade. Ellis, 35, got high marks for his work with the Phillies’ young pitching staff and the Phils had some interest in bringing him back. The interest, however, was complicated by a tight 40-man roster, which already includes three catchers — starter Cameron Rupp and minor-league prospects Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp.

With Ellis out of the picture, the Phillies will likely use either Alfaro or Knapp as the backup catcher in 2017. Knapp spent a full year at Triple A in 2016 and could end up being the guy as Alfaro moves to Triple A for another year of seasoning.

General manager Matt Klentak spoke earlier this week of the possibility of going with a rookie at backup catcher.

“Andrew Knapp just finished his age 25 season in Triple A,” Klentak said. “He has a full year of at-bats in Triple A. At some point for both he and Alfaro, we’re going to have to find out what those guys can do at the big-league level. During the 2017 season, we’ll have to find out — not just about those two guys — but others.”

It’s not all that surprising that Ellis ended up with the Marlins on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. He played for Marlins manager Don Mattingly during the latter’s time as manager of the Dodgers.

Wired to win, Carson Wentz growing frustrated with Eagles' losing

Wired to win, Carson Wentz growing frustrated with Eagles' losing

He’s already lost more games as an NFL quarterback than as a college quarterback, and Carson Wentz says he’ll never get used to all the losing.
 
Wentz, who went 20-3 as a college starter, is 5-7 a dozen games into his rookie year.
 
The Eagles have lost five of their last six games and are 2-7 in their last nine.
 
From Seattle through Cincinnati, Wentz lost as many games in a 15-day span as he lost in his entire career as a starter at North Dakota State.
 
“It’s frustrating,” Wentz said Wednesday. “No one likes losing, especially in this business as a quarterback. 
 
“I’m wired to be a winner. I hate losing. But at the same time it doesn’t affect us going forward. I know it doesn’t affect me and I can probably say the same thing for the guys in that locker room. 
 
“We’re going to come in and prepare and be the same win or lose, because I think that’s what it takes to be great and you can’t waver. You can’t change how you approach things. You can’t change how you go about your business, win, lose or draw. 
 
“But at the same time, yeah, without a doubt. We don’t like losing around here.”
 
The Eagles have the third-worst record in the NFL since Week 4, ahead of only the hapless Browns and 49ers. 

They haven’t been eliminated from playoff contention yet, but it sure seems like only a matter of time.
 
Since building a 3-0 record, the Eagles’ only wins have come on Oct. 23 over the Viking and Nov. 13 over the Falcons, both at the Linc.
 
No NFL quarterback has lost more games than Wentz since Week 4. Wentz and Blake Bortles are both 2-7 during that stretch and Sam Bradford is 3-6.
 
North Dakota State went 71-5 with five national championships during Wentz’s five years in Bismarck, North Dakota. As a starter, he was 15-1 as a junior, including the postseason, then went 5-2 during an injury-marred senior year, although for a second straight year he led the Bison to the FCS national title.
 
So he’s not used to losing. Not at all. Not like this.
 
“You get in the locker room and it’s kind of a down feeling,” he said. “A lot of you guys are in the locker room after the game. They’re tough. You don’t like losing, no one does. Especially on the road having to get on the plane or the bus or whatever and come back home. 
 
“But you get over it. You turn on the tape and you learn from it. But right after you watch that tape, it’s on to the next. That’s kind of the nature of this league and that’s how you have to approach it.”

Fortunately, the Eagles have an expert on just this subject in the NovaCare Complex. 
 
Doug Pederson pointed out Wednesday he was a part of some really bad teams, and he said that gives him an ability to relate to Wentz on how to endure all the losing.
 
“In Cleveland we were 3-and-13 (in 2000), and then Philadelphia, my first year, being 5-and-11,” said Pederson, who was also an assistant coach on a 4-12 Eagles team in 2012. 
 
“Just kind of leaning back on those experiences and how we fought through. How we fought through adversity. How people try to divide the team or say negative things about players or whatever. We just kind of kept that thing nice and tight. 
 
“So those are things that I can lean back, when you talk about the experience factor. I lean back on those experiences to relay to Carson how we went about our business during those following weeks to come and kept that team together. 
 
“We had great leadership on the team, like we do now. With him, it's just a matter of keeping him grounded, keeping him level headed. He's a leader of this football team, and he doesn't have to do it all himself. That's the beauty of it. There are 10 other guys on offense, and 11 on defense, and special teams that have a big part in this whole process.”
 
Wentz has been going non-stop for almost a year now. From the FCS title game to combine prep to draft prep to OTAs and minicamps to training camp and now heading into Week 14 of the regular season.
 
But he said he doesn’t feel any signs of burn-out or fatigue. Although his numbers have dipped over the past couple months, he said he feels fresh and upbeat going into the final quarter of the season, which begins with the Redskins at the Linc on Sunday.
 
“I feel good,” he said. “I think it comes down to: Do you love it enough? I think if you love the game and you’re around it, you enjoy the grind. You attack it and it’s part of the process. 
 
“For me, there’s no more school to go to during the day. It’s just football all day every day and I love that. It’s been a lot of fun and by no means is it wearing on me in a negative way.”
 
What about his numbers? The stats are not pretty. 
 
Games 1 through 4: 67 percent completion, 7 TDs, 1 INT, 103.5 passer rating, 3-1 record.
 
Games 5 through 8: 61 percent completion, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 72.4 passer rating, 1-3 record.
 
Games 9 through 12: 61 percent completion, 3 TDs, 6 INTs, 68.3 passer rating, 1-3 record.
 
Wentz shrugs it all off. 
 
“We’re all a work in progress. every quarterback in this league I think would say that,” Wentz said.
 
“You’re never a finished product, myself included. So you’re always analyzing different things you can do, from pocket movement to footwork. You’re always analyzing those things. So we talk about those things but we don’t harp on it. 
 
“Myself and really just everybody, we’ve just got to be better disciplined to things. Whether that’s alignment or pre-snap things, from recognition, from reads, you name it. We just all have to be disciplined. Really just execute better. It starts with me. Control our mistakes and that goes for everybody, myself first and foremost.
 
“We now what we’re capable of, I think everyone in the building does. We just have to get over the hump a little bit here.”