Angelo Cataldi: No one’s a winner as DeSean Jackson leaves Philly
Usually, when a player as obnoxious and selfish as DeSean Jackson gets evicted from his team, it is a time for jubilation. The loudmouth was silenced. The bad boy was punished. Justice was served. Hurrah.
Not this time. When Jackson received exactly what he deserved last Friday by getting cut from the roster after his finest of six NFL seasons, there was only a sense of failure – by the coach, by the organization and, most of all, by him. The most explosive Eagle finally blew up, leaving behind a litany of troubling questions.
Those who have been sifting through the rubble of allegations involving gang ties and personality conflicts are missing the biggest story, however. The Eagles just let their best wide receiver go and got nothing back in return. This was not a case of addition by subtraction. There were no winners here.
Jackson himself is the biggest loser because he is an unmanageable narcissist who was gifted with million-dollar legs and a ten-cent brain. It is no coincidence that his best season happened right after Kelly arrived, the perfect blending of an offensive innovator and a virtuoso performer.
And how did Jackson react to his good fortune? He feuded with his teammates and coaches, he openly pouted when he felt underused, and then he sprinkled in a gang gesture, an appeal for more money and a bizarre house burglary. Jackson will get another job in the NFL, but it will never be as good as the job he just lost.
The organization’s handling of the situation is reminiscent of the worst days of former president Joe Banner, when the salary cap was all that mattered. Howie Roseman could find no trade partners for Jackson before the player’s reputation was damaged beyond repair, and then the GM telegraphed his ultimate decision by refusing to discuss Jackson in public.
Kelly is hardly a hero here, either. After his masterful handling of the Riley Cooper racial issue last summer, fans had every reason to believe they had a creative mind in control now, a leader who could find a safe route out of every controversy. Instead, Kelly had no answers on how to manage Jackson’s destructive behavior last season, and no inclination to share his views with the fans – before or after his final decision.
Jackson’s departure was a failure by all parties, with the scope of the punishment still to be determined. Jackson have to deal with with a much smaller paycheck. The Eagles will draft another wide receiver who will not catch 82 passes or gain 1,332 yards the way Jackson did last season. And Kelly will try to move on, hoping the DeSean debacle is not the end of his honeymoon in Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, it’s too late for that now. Kelly’s honeymoon officially ended the moment DeSean Jackson walked out the door.
Signing of Mark Sanchez a mistake for Eagles
In the same hour last Friday, the Eagles signed terrible quarterback Mark Sanchez and released terrific wide receiver DeSean Jackson. So, what else do you need to know about how the off-season has been going so far for our favorite football team?
It has been going, in a word, horribly for Chip Kelly and his team since the disappointing playoff loss that ended his magical first season as coach of the Eagles. Since then, it has been mostly bad moves and puzzling silence, culminated with the double gut-punch of Sanchez and Jackson last week.
Mark Sanchez is a bad NFL quarterback, pure and simple. Yes, he was a first-round draft pick and, yes, he won four playoff games in his five seasons with the New York Jets. So what? The Jets overreached in making his the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft, and – make no mistake – Rex Ryan’s defenses in those first two successful Sanchez seasons were the reason for those wins.
Sanchez is an inaccurate thrower and a dubious decision-maker coming off a serious shoulder injury. In other words, this signing was no coup for Kelly – especially after his bargain-basement free-agent shopping spree (Malcolm Jenkins? Bryan Braman? Chris Maragos?) and the sudden loss of his best wide receiver.
If that weren’t enough adversity for one winter, Kelly also has chosen to revert to his anti-social Oregon style, hiding from all but the required press gatherings. When he has spoken – last week at the NFL owners’ meeting, for example – he has seemed annoyed at the intrusion.
What’s that? The Eagles are feuding now with Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis, too? Hey, did the Birds re-hire Joe Banner and forget to tell everybody?
Phillies are still overrated
Last week, I had a difficult decision to make. I was about a mile away from the legendary Caesar’s Palace Sportsbook in Las Vegas, where oddsmakers had placed the over-under win total for the Phillies at 83. Now, I consider myself a loyal Phils’ fan (to a point), but I am also a realist. The 2014 team will not win 83 games.
In other words, I was a 20-minute walk away from a pocket full of guaranteed money. My only problem is, I hate to walk, and I can’t believe the people who set the odds would actually rate the Phillies so high. Haven’t they been watching the team this spring?
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has never exactly been the second coming of Pat Gillick, but his latest moves have been dreadful, even for him. Last week, he cut Kevin Frandsen, the best pinch-hitter in baseball last year. Amaro also released Bobby Abreu after the aging outfielder had an on-base percentage of .404 in spring training.
Meanwhile, ace Cole Hamels is still a month away from regular-season action, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is already a $12-million bust and the GM himself admitted last week that his team is “screwed” if the Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley or Ryan Howard get hurt this year – an astonishing admission of his own failure to build depth on the roster.
All of those negative factors were too much for me to ignore, so I trudged through the maze leading to the sportsbook and approached the window with a fistful of cash in hand. You have probably already guessed the end of the story. Caesar’s lowered the over-under to 76 wins. I walked away.
Right after that, the Phillies got shut out three straight times. Hmmm. Maybe I should have bet the under anyway.
- The Sixers ended their 26-game losing streak Saturday night. Whoopee. The only thing that victory proved is that this hideous team is not even good enough at being bad. After all we went through during the two-month win drought, the least they could have done is set the record.
- DeSean Jackson’s first stop as a free agent yesterday was Washington, which would be a perfect destination for him. Imagine the chemistry between the biggest egomaniac owner in sports, Daniel Snyder, and the me-first Jackson? Oh, let the fun begin.
- The Flyers have rebounded well since Craig Berube took over as coach this season, but I just can’t get excited about the team, and the same can be said for a growing army of disgruntled fans. We’ve all been here before, and we all know how it ends – a 39th straight season without a Stanley Cup.
- After one of the worst spring trainings in Phillies history, new manager Ryne Sandberg called the six-week Clearwater debacle productive. With all the injuries, the dreadful offense, the league-worst 9-17 record and the Jimmy Rollins drama, how exactly does Sandberg define productive?
- Thirty-three Phillies games could be blacked out on some cable-TV systems this year, according to a new surcharge deal rolled out last week by Comcast. Just one question, based on how awful the Phils have looked so far: Is this a threat, or a promise?