Eagles DC Jim Schwartz's handling of Eric Rowe a monumental blunder

Eagles DC Jim Schwartz's handling of Eric Rowe a monumental blunder

Remember that time Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz thought Leodis McKelvin was a better NFL cornerback than Eric Rowe?

Let's clear something up right away: Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was absolutely correct to trade Rowe to the Patriots for a conditional fourth-round draft pick. It was the right move because Schwartz wasn't going to let the kid see the field. Barring an injury to another player, Rowe wasn't even going to be active on game day. From a GM's point of view, all keeping him on the roster would've accomplished was further diminish his value to a potential suitor.

Where this whole situation gets bungled is when Schwartz determined, seemingly very early into his tenure with the Eagles that began last year, Rowe simply wasn't going to play for him. The club signed McKelvin, signed Ron Brooks, re-signed Nolan Carroll, then drafted Jalen Mills, all no doubt under heavy influence from the defensive coordinator — especially McKelvin and Brooks, who played for Schwartz for one season in Buffalo.

Now, there's nothing wrong with a new coach asking for some of "his" guys, people who know the scheme and bring a certain level of comfort to the equation. The problem is when one of those guys is 31 years old and was never particularly good to begin with, and said coach insists on that person playing a large role, without so much as the appearance of a legitimate competition.

We watched when the Eagles opened OTAs with McKelvin and Brooks as starting cornerbacks, assuming their knowledge of Schwartz's system made them natural choices in April. We watched as Mills, a seventh-round pick, saw his opportunities increase while Rowe lagged behind on the depth chart, figuring they were pushing the second-year player. We watched in training camp as Carroll — finally recovered from an ankle injury — was added to the mix at the top of the depth chart, and still there was nary a sign of Rowe. We even watched undrafted rookie C.J. Smith start an exhibition game, and less than two weeks later, Rowe is on the field for almost the entirety of the preseason finale, typically an audition for players who are about to be released.

So Roseman traded Rowe, a 24-year-old defensive back the Eagles chose 47th overall only 16 months earlier. You already have some idea of how that worked out — Rowe earned a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots, while McKelvin was released on Wednesday — but let's look at the numbers.

According to Pro Football Focus, Rowe ranked seventh out of 109 cornerbacks with 61.9 opponents' passer rating when targeted in coverage (minimum 25 percent of regular season/postseason snaps). McKelvin ranked 97th with a 113.0 opponents' passer rating.

It's not even close. We can talk about the differences in schemes between the two teams, supporting cast, quality of opponents, you name it. We can discuss experience, mentality, locker room presence, whatever.

There is absolutely no situation, no world where McKelvin was a better option than Rowe.

How on earth did Schwartz manage to make such a woefully wrong evaluation? McKelvin wasn't a starter for most of his nine-year NFL career before he joined the Eagles — he was benched and later moved to safety during his final season with the Bills. He's also seven years older and three inches shorter than Rowe, which would seem a distinct advantage in terms of pure physical ability. Honestly, what did Schwartz see that laypeople did not? Because the ugly end result was nothing less than what was predicted.

Rowe appears to be developing into a fine NFL cornerback, McKelvin is likely one more shoddy season away from forced retirement, and the Eagles are left with a mess at the cornerback position. Don't blame this one on Roseman, either. All he did was what Schwartz desired.

If nothing else, the defensive coordinator probably deserves to lose some of his sway in personnel decisions. Signing a one-year stopgap at the expense of a promising, young talent like Rowe might turn out to be a catastrophic setback, and for once, everybody knows exactly where to point the finger.

New at CBP: Primo Hoagies, loaded boardwalk fries, Star Trek bobbleheads and more

New at CBP: Primo Hoagies, loaded boardwalk fries, Star Trek bobbleheads and more

Spring is right around the corner so hopefully you've been training all winter for your summer stomach because there are a plethora of tasty new food options at Citizens Bank Park this season.

The Phillies unveiled a number of the new items at an event at the ballpark this evening and we highlighted some of the best new additions.

New Food Options

The first one that jumps out is a new hoagie offering from the very reliable Primo Hoagies, which will be located in Ashburn Alley. Primo Hoagies will offer a variety of hot and cold sandwiches on their fresh baked breads.

While Chickie's and Pete's crab fries are often the most coveted item at Philly sporting events, it will have some competition in the French fry department this season. South Philly Shareable Stak will be located behind section 120 and offer boardwalk style fries with the option of topping them with in-house roast pork, sharp provolone cheese sauce, cherry pepper aioli or chopped roasted long hots.

One of the more interesting additions is The Mac Shack behind section 122, which will offer house-made mac and cheese with a number of different toppings. Pretty much everyone loves some mac and cheese but I'm curious to see how that translates to a ballpark snack.

Veggie lovers will surely be excited to try the Farmer’s Market Grain Bowl that features toasted red quinoa, brown rice, sweet peppers, cucumbers, radish, baby herbs, and is finished with honey-balsamic vinaigrette. Also new this year is a Falafel Sandwich.

There will also be some new kiosks at Zoom Foods behind section 126, which is described as "the next step in the evolution of stadium food & beverage service, featuring customer-facing, self-ordering kiosks -- improving guest experience and speed of transaction time."

Other existing vendors with new offerings include pulled chicken option from Bull's BBQ, new signature Hatfield hot dogs including pork roll as a dog topper, as well as new options at Harry the K's.

New Fashion and Fun

Kids attending games at Citizens Bank Park will surely love the new Galapagos Gang bobbleheads, which includes the Phanatic and his favorite friends. 

An interesting new attire option is dubbed SustainU Ware, which is made in America from recycled products. 

Active Phillies fans will be able to purchase a Phillies-branded activity tracker from Nuband.

Even your pet can be happy eating at CBP this season with Team Treatz SportsSnack. It's exactly like it sounds: Phillies-branded doggy baseball biscuits.

Students and alums from Temple, Drexel, Saint Joseph's, Villanova, La Salle and the University of Pennsylvania will be excited to see New Era hats that combine their school loyalty with their Phillies fandom on hats in their school colors but also featuring the Phillies' 'P'.

New Theme Nights

There are three notable theme night additions that fans can get excited about.

Game of Thrones Night at Citizens Bank Park will take place on July 3 when House Phillies of Philadelphia will take on House Pirates of Pittsburgh. The first 2,000 fans who purchase a ticket through the special promo will receive a special Game of Thrones item.

"You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" 50th Anniversary Night on July 5 where the first 2,000 fans to purchase a ticket through the special promo will receive a Charlie Brown bobblehead wearing Phillies gear.

Star Trek Night: The Next Generation 30th Anniversary Night on Sept. 26 when the first 3,000 fans to purchase a ticket through the special promo will receive a Captain Picard bobblehead. 

John Kruk pranked Chase Utley after his first career hit

John Kruk pranked Chase Utley after his first career hit

Philly Mag has a quick hitting Q&A with new Phillies broadcaster and all-around funny dude John Kruk. The man enjoys mayo on his cheesesteaks, has a swearing problem, and really loves his golf clubs.

Those are just a couple of things you can learn about Kruk from the piece, but the one about the time he pranked Chase Utley is worth sharing.

The best prank I ever pulled ... was on Chase Utley. His first hit in the big leagues was a grand slam for the Phillies. It was his first day. We set this thing up where we called him into Larry Bowa’s office and said, "Your papers weren't submitted in time. You were an illegal player. It doesn't count." He screamed, "Eff all of you!" and walked out.

Chase may have been pretty but he wasn't dumb. It counted.

Look forward to catching more Kruk tales all season long on CSNPhilly's telecast of Phillies games.

You can enjoy Utley's first hit, sans prank, called by the great Harry Kalas below. After Kruk's story resurfaced today, CSNPhilly went and unearthed video of the prank which you can watch above. It's a bit slow until the end but they payoff is worth it.