Writer Just Your Average Philly Columnist

Writer Just Your Average Philly Columnist

As some of you may have noticed, Inquirer columnist Frank Fitzpatrick wrote a piece on Friday titled "Morning Bytes: Blogger just your average Philly fan" which took a look at the live blogging I did for the Eagles season opener over at AOL's Fanhouse.  I felt Mr. Fitzpatrick was rather off base with many of the things he said, so I wrote him a letter:

Hey Frank,

First off, thanks for writing about me and my blog in the Inquirer.  It's always cool to see your own name in print.  I thought I'd clear some things up for you.  While I pride myself on just writing from a fans point of view, I take some offense to you saying I'm a "prototypical Philly fan" while inferring I was "quick to condemn players" and "always perched on the edge of the bandwagon, ready to leap at the drop of a pass."

I realize you've been writing about sports for the Inquirer for over a quarter of a century.  Hell, that's longer than I've been alive.  While this may give you "credentials" in some areas, it may detract from your "credentials" in other areas, namely the Internet and blogging.  I'm not sure if you really understand the concept of "live blogging" or blogging in general.  Maybe you should consult with your colleague Dan Rubin, while he, like you, may have his AARP card, he seems to "get" the idea of blogging, even if he is a few days behind the curve on some Internet phenomena.

You say "the Bird Blogger quickly revealed himself, not as the next Red Smith but as the prototypical Philly fan."  I don't think you get it.  The last thing I want to be is the next Red Smith, or even a Ray Didinger or Les Bowen (two guys I respect and admire) for that matter.  While you may still get all your info from print papers, they are no longer the only source for sports information.  There are websites and writers out there who are changing the way people watch and care about sports.  I'd rather strive to be Bill Simmons than Bill Conlin, it's just more fun being a fan.  I don't want or try to be objective.  I'm just a Philly sports fan; I'm just not prototypical.  You were close.

Now that we cleared that up, there are a few more problems with your article:

  • You comment on my criticizing Donte Stallworth for dropping a pass in the 4th quarter.  Prior to my comment, I praised Stallworth repeatedly; he had a phenomenal day.  Perhaps you didn't notice the "!@#!" after my comment or perhaps as you get older you just lose your sense of sarcasm.
  • You comment on how I stated earlier in the week that Westbrook should return punts  and how I linked to that post, like people wouldn't really believe me.  This is the Internet, linking is good.
  • Speaking of linking, you pick and choose quotes from my lengthy live blog.  What you don't do is tell your readers where they can get the full context of the quotes.  It's called a URL and you MSM types seem to dislike allowing anyone to go anywhere that isn't your own domain.  Yet you criticize bloggers who are the first to give credit where it is due.
  • You also seem to have no idea about who I am or what my credentials are.  Maybe you should try a search engine. You can find out lots of stuff on there.  I spent about 2 minutes and found out you were nominated for a Pulitzer, wrote a book about the '83 Phillies, hate badminton, and live in West Chester.
  • While I'm not claiming to have any credentials here at The700Level, AOL's Fanhouse is a network of paid bloggers.  Not just anyone can go over and talk about the wings they ate during halftime on AOL's Fanhouse.  I've done something to earn that right, even if it was while I was wearing my pajamas.
  • The live blog you quote is found on AOL's Fanhouse.  Fan + House = place for fans to say what fans think.
  • Also, I'm the biggest McNabb backer out there, I'd link you to it all, but it seems like you don't like links.

So there you go Frank, I just wanted to clear all that up for you.  And I'm probably going to start reading more of your stuff now since I know you've checked out mine.  Everybody likes to be heard.

Sincerely,
Enrico
www.the700level.com
Eagles Blogger, AOL Fanhouse

Eagles Stay or Go Part 6: Taylor Hart to Donnie Jones

Eagles Stay or Go Part 6: Taylor Hart to Donnie Jones

In the sixth of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — Part 6 is Hart to Jones.

Taylor Hart

Roob: No matter how hard the Eagles try, they just can't get rid of Taylor Hart. Chip Kelly drafted Hart in the fifth round in 2014 and then Hart began last season with Kelly in San Francisco before reappearing here later in the season. Hart is going into his fourth NFL season and has 15 games, 12 tackles and no sacks to show for it. He turns 26 next month and has never shown any signs of being a guy who can contribute in a 4-3 defense. I’m going to say he goes, but don't be surprised if he finds his way back onto the roster at some point. 

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Hart was with the Eagles last training camp but cut him on Sept. 4 and he was claimed by the 49ers and Chip Kelly. Then when the Niners cut him, the Eagles claimed him back and he spent the rest of the season watching the Eagles play football. He was inactive in all but the last game and in that one he didn’t play. Hart is a former fifth-round pick who just fits better in a 3-4. The Eagles already played undrafted rookie Destiny Vaeao over him, so it’s time to set him free. 

Verdict: GOES

Jordan Hicks
Cap hit: $796K

Roob: Whenever you blast Chip for getting rid of Shady, DeSean and Jeremy Maclin, you have to mention that he did draft Jordan Hicks in the third round. Hicks, in just 24 games, has become one of the most productive playmaking linebackers in Eagles history. With seven interceptions, he already has the 11th-most interceptions in franchise history by a linebacker, and he led all NFL linebackers with five INTs this past season. Only four linebackers in NFL history have had more interceptions in their first two seasons – Hall of Famer Jack Ham is one of them. But Hicks is more than a ballhawk. He’s a smart, heady linebacker who is stout at the point of attack and is already developing into a terrific locker room leader as well. The future is certainly bright for Hicks.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: He just finished his second year in the NFL, but Hicks is quickly becoming one of the biggest playmaking linebackers in the league. Through the first 24 games of his career, he has seven interceptions. In his first two years, he has 7 INTs, 4 FRs, 1 FF. He’s the fifth player in NFL history to do that in his first two seasons and he’s the only linebacker. That said, Hicks needs to get better against the run and he knows it. Now that he won’t have an injury to heal from this offseason, he plans on hitting the weight room to get stronger and better at stopping the run. He looks like a cornerstone of the franchise. 

Verdict: STAYS

Malcolm Jenkins
Cap hit: $7.5M

Roob: Jenkins had another good year in his third season with the Eagles, although not quite up to his Pro Bowl level of 2015. Jenkins, who turns 30 late next season, is on the books for another four years with some pretty high cap figures — $7.5 million in 2017, then $10 million, $9.75 million and $9.25 million. But as long as Jenkins continues to play at a high level, I don’t see him going anywhere until after the 2018 season at the earliest, when he would count just $3 million in dead money if he’s released. But Jenkins is a guy you'd like to see finish his career in Philly. Hope that happens. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It’s hard to quantify just how much Jenkins means to the Eagles or how much he’s worth. But it’s a lot. The last two seasons have been the best of his career and he’s shown no signs of slowing down. The best Jenkins stat is this: He’s missed just eight defensive snaps since arriving in 2013. Unreal. If the Eagles chose to play him at cornerback last year, he would have probably been their best one. 

Verdict: STAYS

Lane Johnson
Cap hit: $10M

Roob: If he goes, it’ll be because of a third positive drug test. Johnson’s play in the six games he was available to the Eagles was at an All-Pro level. But after two positive tests for banned substances and suspensions of four games in 2014 and 10 games in 2016, he’s now one positive test away from a two-year ban that would essentially end his Eagles career. My gut feeling is Johnson has learned his lesson and won’t take any more chances. That he understands what’s at stake here and isn’t going to risk his career by taking a supplement that hasn’t been pre-tested and cleared. Obviously there are other reasons the Eagles were 5-1 when Johnson played. Those five wins included games against the hapless Browns and Bears and a win against a Cowboys team that wasn’t trying to win. But that said, Johnson’s value is clear. He's a beast. It’s up to Johnson whether he becomes a Pro Bowl offensive tackle or a casualty of the NFL’s substance abuse regulations. I can’t imagine he’ll make the same mistake again.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: A lot was made about Johnson’s suspension voiding the guaranteed portion of his contract. And for a week or so, a bunch of fans were calling into talk radio saying the Eagles should cut him. That was laughable. Johnson is still the Eagles’ best offensive player and as long as he stays on the field and plays the way he did in 2016, he’s going to make most of the money in his contract. He obviously deserves plenty of blame for the way last season went, but he’s a big piece of the future. One more suspension and his career is basically over, so the Eagles just have to hope he doesn’t ruin everything.  

Verdict: STAYS

Marcus Johnson

Roob: Johnson is an interesting guy. Ran a 4.37 so he has wheels, but he didn’t have much of a career at Texas. Then again, Texas didn’t have a legit quarterback while he was there so maybe there’s a lot of untapped potential. The Eagles are so desperate for help at wide receiver they’ll take a good long look at everybody on the roster, even a guy who bounced off and on the practice squad last year. This Longhorn is a longshot to make the roster, but then again, if he catches the football consistently in training camp he’ll give himself a fighting chance.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The receiver was with the Eagles during training camp and flashed some before getting hurt. He joined the practice squad during the season and was there at season’s end. He’ll be brought to camp but is a longshot to make the roster. 

Verdict: GOES

Donnie Jones
Cap hit: $1.25M

Roob: At 36 years old, the greatest punter in Eagles history (sorry Mat McBriar) showed no signs of slowing down. In his 13th NFL season, Jones averaged 45.8 yards per punt with a 40.7 net – both above his career highs. The most amazing thing about Jones is his knack for dropping punts inside the 20 without hitting very many touchbacks. He had 21 inside the 20 this year with just six touchbacks, and in four seasons with the Eagles he has 117 inside the 20 with just 26 touchbacks. When you don’t have an explosive offense, field position is critical, and Jones is a human field position flipping machine. The Eagles signed him to a three-year extension this year, and he’s now under contract through 2019.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: At times during the last two seasons, Jones has looked like the offense’s best weapon. That’s not a good sign for the offense, but it is for Jones. He’s already the best punter in team history. He’ll be 37 by the time the 2017 season starts, but he just signed a contract and will be the team’s punter for at least a couple more years if everything goes to plan. 

Verdict: STAYS