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Friday, September 16, 2016

Rob’s Rants on Sports: Wentz, Pederson Good in Opener; Considering McNabb, Dawkins for Hall of Fame; Hinkie Tweets

It’s a Friday Rob’s Rants as I play catch-up after a late-summer vacation.

  • I was not quite as impressed with Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz as I thought I’d be when I got to watch the opener against Cleveland on DVR. I heard the first quarter on radio, and saw the second and fourth quarters around checking into a hotel. That said, Eagles fans should be excited by what they saw. The opening drive was obviously pretty sweet. And Wentz made two excellent passes on each of his TDs. He also made a couple other very nice passes in the game. His numbers are impossible to argue with—22 of 37 for 278 yards—and, maybe most importantly, he didn’t have any major mistakes, including zero turnovers. Seeing the game the way I did initially, I wasn’t focused on the lulls between the touchdowns. Plus, the Cleveland Browns looked every bit as bad as people said they are. I believe Ron Jaworski called them the perfect first opponent for the Eagles. When they lined up their new quarterback, Robert Griffin III, as a wideout early in the game, I thought it showed a sense of desperation. He threw for less than 200 yards, yet, with 3 sacks and an interception, it didn’t feel like a dominating defensive performance by the Birds. So, did the Eagles play really well in a 29-10 win, or do the Browns stink? I’d say it was a little bit of both.

  • I was quite impressed by Doug Pederson’s play calling with a rookie quarterback, especially early. He gave Wentz time to get into the game, calling running plays and roll outs. It sounds simplistic, but we haven’t seen it in this town much in recent years.

  • I was surprised to hear the Eagles have won 7 of their last 9 openers. I’ll admit that I was thinking this game lined up as a potential bad loss for the Birds against weak opponent. Even heading into the half with the Eagles up 13-7, I thought RGIII might find his legs and pull off a mild upset. Give Pederson and the Eagles credit for not letting that happen.

  • Donovan McNabb and Brian Dawkins are on the ballot for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I’m not a big HOF guy. I think debates about who should and shouldn’t be in deteriorate into statistical analysis. If that’s how people want to decide the issue, fine. Make the Hall of Fame a mythical entity with an ever changing list of inductees based on statistics. I prefer the eye test. People say McNabb was the greatest quarterback in Eagles franchise history. OK, but franchise history isn’t bubbling over with great quarterbacks. I think McNabb was a very good quarterback, but he was incredibly immature and he was never a leader. And those characteristics specifically affected him on the field. He still hasn’t gotten over being booed at the draft—a stupid radio stunt by WIP’s Angelo Cataldi. He eventually put his biggest asset, the ability to run, on the shelf because he didn’t want to be labeled as a running quarterback. But his greatest failure—besides choking in a couple NFC Championships and never winning a Super Bowl (it matters, especially for quarterbacks)—was his failure to deal with Terrell Owens. People always say McNabb didn’t have anyone around him, which is a weak defense of anyone. But when McNabb had T.O., he had his best year ever (at least by the eye test), and took the team to the Super Bowl even after Owens broke his leg. We all know what happened next. T.O. cried, literally, about his contract, and destroyed his career in Philadelphia. It’s still mind boggling to me that he only played one year here. The guy became a total pain in the ass. And maybe the situation was unrecoverable. But somehow, someway, the quarterback had to step-in and say, I need this guy, pay him. McNabb sat on the sidelines by all accounts. Other people failed in that situation as well, including Andy Reid, Jeff Lurie, and, obviously, Owens. But in a discussion about McNabb, the fact that he never really tried to deal with the temperament of by far the best receiver he ever had is damning.

  • I’m not about to evaluate HOF safeties. It’s a step away from fans who think they can evaluate offensive lineman. But I basically think Brian Dawkins was a great player, and probably belongs in the Hall. He absolutely impacted games in obvious ways from the safety position. I think fans get too into his pre-game rituals, and the fact is that he was the opposite of McNabb in terms of dealing with the media. He always took the blame when necessary, and sometimes even when he didn’t need to do so. It’s a knock against him that he never won a Super Bowl, but it’s just not the same as it is for a quarterback. He was definitely part of some of the same issues I mentioned above. We all remember Joe Jurevicius breaking the hearts of Eagles fans in the NFC Championship in the final game at Veterans Stadium. But that’s why it’s difficult for fans to evaluate a safety for the Hall of Fame. Most people, myself included, don’t remember or even know if that was a play Dawkins blew. We just remember the play. With Dawkins, and other safeties and some other positions, we really only remember what players did right.

  • Sam Hinkie is now on Twitter. The mind reels at the thought of the man who never said anything as the Sixers general manager being on social media. And in classic arrogant . . . I mean, Hinkie . . . fashion, his first tweet was a 10-parter. I’d like to offer what I think is the obvious answer to his request for reading material in tweet number 10—and, yes, he numbered them—with How to Win Friends and Influence People.

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