Right before the draft, Les Bowen wrote something on the new DN Eagles blog (check it out, it has good minicamp coverage) about how he was tired of chasing the Lito Sheppard story and he wished the Eagles would get on with the trade so it could be put to bed.
The obvious response was, why, since that's the kind of story that gives Eagles beat writers something to talk about long after the minicamps are over and there's nothing else to discuss.
What I don't understand is why no one seems to care about how all of this must be hurting Asante Samuel's feelings. After all, the only thing the guy has done is show up and try to help the team win games, but everyone's treating him like the new kid in middle school who can't find anyone to eat lunch with. That can't be very good for his self esteem and I think it's Andy Reid's fault.
Yeah, that's pretty much the approach Ashley Fox took to kinderga--- I mean the Eagles organization in her ridiculous Saturday take on the issue:
Here's what Reid should have done after signing Samuel to that monster contract in February and what he must do today when the Eagles' minicamp begins (if he didn't do it last night after the team convened): Sit down with Sheppard, Brown and Samuel and honestly discuss how this three-man rotation of veteran corners will work. Explain his expectations to each player. Listen to their concerns and gripes. Don't be averse to conflict. Communicate.
Everyone has to say one nice thing about the person sitting next to him. Hug it out at the end.
I love you guys.
Sheppard wants to restructure his contract. He's also unhappy Reid so casually anointed Samuel the Eagles' starting left corner - the position Sheppard has held for the last four seasons - in February. Brown doesn't like the way his best friend on the team has been treated, and he isn't interested in moving to safety, as has been mentioned, to make room for Samuel and Sheppard to start.
See, and here's my problem. Lito basically has three things he could be upset about:
- His contract.
- Losing his job.
- His good friend Sheldon losing his job.
And here are the answers:
- You signed the deal and you make a crapload of money. Every contract is a two-sided gamble. In your case, you "lost" the gamble and therefore will "only" end up with something like $25 million from your deal. That's not nearly as bad as not signing the contract and losing the gamble that way with some sort of career-ending injury. Remember that the Eagles sign lots of players to early big money deals and for every Lito Sheppard there's a Darwin Walker.
- You're clearly one of the two best CBs on the team. Play well, stay healthy and you're not losing your job.
- It happens. Everyone always says they want to win a championship. Bringing in better and better players is the way to do it.
More from the article:
"The two situations are similar but are very different," said Harris, who was a rookie in 1998 and played in every game, starting 14 times, in the four seasons he played for Reid. "All three of those guys have been starters now. I had never been a starter. . . . We had somewhat of an understanding, me, Bobby and Troy. I knew I was the third corner. Did I think I could start? Yeah. Was I ready? Probably not. That's where our situation was different."
You think Al Harris thought he wasn't ready to start back in 2001? No way. He thought he was ready and he was chafing at his role when he knew he could easily have started for a dozen other teams (illegal contact penalties be damned). But come back seven years later and he has a totally different perspective.
Which is to say sometimes people get caught up in things and only later realize they were wrong.
Which is to say further that this is what's happening now with Lito and it's ridiculous to blame Andy Reid for it.
There have been other times when Reid has failed to communicate with his players. Owens is one disastrous example.
And just like that, you've lost the argument, Ashley.
Had Owens perhaps stopped talking for even a minute maybe he would have heard what other people were saying.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick is many things, but he communicates to his players, whether they want to hear it or not. Same with Bill Parcells.
Oh wait, now you've lost the argument. Because you just used Bill Parcells as an example of a great communicator who makes everything all better with his players when this is the same guy who famously, not even two weeks ago, refused to say a single word to disgruntled veteran Jason Taylor after the player stopped by the complex to meet his coach.
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Here's what a few of the relevant parties are saying:
``I think it'll be great,'' he said. ``Having two Pro Bowlers.(We've) put in some new schemes. If we can make it run and make it work, it'll be a very productive year.''
Sheldon Brown Again
"It worked out very well with me, Lito and Rod,'' [Brown] said. "Bottom line is, teams put three wides on the field at least 65 percent of the time anyway. Especially when you play against a West Coast team. Will [James] played a lot. Joselio played a lot. We always keep three guys on the field most of the time.
"I'll be honest with you. I love it when we have two great [corners]. Because it means I get to stay inside and play nickel. I get to rush the quarterback. I get to do a lot of different things in the slot. I hate it out there [on the outside]. It's boring. I like it inside.''
On whether it can work with Samuels, Brown and Sheppard at corner: Anything can work. I've said that before. Anything can work. But we'll have to wait and see. When the time comes, hopefully everything will be ironed out.
Concerned that the sheppard situation will be a distraction?: I hope it isn't. I understand Lito's situation. It's a tough situation. When they bring somebody in at your position, obviously you have questions. As a teammate and a friend, I hope things work out well for him.
Lito's situation: It's tough watching him go through this type of thing. It's definitely awkward to watch that.
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Of course everyone also wants to know what Jim Johnson thinks:
Johnson can't do anything about Sheppard's contract situation. But he indicated yesterday at the team's postdraft minicamp that he may have a way to keep all three cornerbacks happy with respect to playing time.
Johnson said he may use all three at times in his base defensive package against two-wide receiver sets.
``Here's the thing,'' Johnson said. ``There's going to be times when all three of them are going to be on the field. It might be 60 percent of the time. It might be 70 percent. We're going to get our best football players on the field. And it might not just be against three wideouts.''
I like how this news is being treated like some kind of revelation, when in fact this is how Jim Johnson played his cards all of last season.
From the Packers video rewind I did:
My initial impression during the game is that [Gocong] must have played ok, since there were no obvious screw-ups and he was in the midst of the action a few times. The truth, however, is that by my count he only played 22 of the team's 64 defensive snaps (official numbers might differ due to penalties). And three of those came at the end of the game when it was obvious the Packers were just going to slam it up the middle.
So, 64 defensive snaps, 42 in which the Eagles played nickel or dime. And that's without Asante.
Against the Jets a few weeks later:
First things first -- Gocong. He was definitely on the field more against the Jets than he has been before. I did a first-half snap count and had him on the field for 17 plays, with the Eagles in nickel for 11. Different teams call for different strategies, but remember that he started the year playing only about one-third of the snaps.
So the Eagles played about 40 percent nickel/dime in that first half, even though Lito wasn't active that week.
It's just like how last year we kept getting those "how will Chris Gocong match up with so-and-so" stories:
Chris Gocong is not going to be the primary coverage option on Jeremy Shockey. Every week we get these stories about how such-and-such a tight end will be Gocong's "toughest test yet." I'm sure it will happen again when Jason Whitten comes to town. Guys, can we all please just keep in mind that Gocong spends half the game on the bench, there's no way Johnson trusts him yet to consistently match up one-on-one with a guy like Shockey, and very few linebackers can stick with these modern tight ends in space.
The only thing I would change now would be to add "or Roy Williams" after "very few linebackers."
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In the end, this really isn't very complicated. By my math, it works out like this:
- The Eagles play nickel 50 percent of the time.
- Lito is hurt 40 percent of the time.
- "Sheldon, you could use a blow" 10 percent of the time.