Six days from today [Monday], the most anticipated season in recent Eagles history begins at a training camp closed to the public but wide open in our imaginations. Suddenly, everything is possible again under new coach Chip Kelly — everything from Super Bowl dreams to stunning failure.
After 14 years under the paranoid and puzzling leadership of Andy Reid, the Eagles will be a whole new show in 2013, faster and smarter and radically different. But will they be better? Ah, that’s the only question that really matters, isn’t it?
Well, before the first ball is snapped, it’s important to understand what will be different about our favorite sports franchise.
The times, they are a changin’:
» No more Andy Reid
It’s hard to imagine a more horrific season than Reid’s last one here, replete with bad coaching and insulting comments. When Reid actually said he was still using LeSean McCoy late in a 31-6 loss because he was trying to win the game, the coach finally jumped the shark.
It’s easy to wave off Reid’s behavior the past few years as typical of someone staying too long in one city, but he deserves no such reprieve. Philadelphia embraced Reid during years of family crisis, and his response was to treat the fans with contempt. His departure is our gain, regardless of how Kelly does here.
» No more Lehigh
Fans will have far less access to the players than at any time in generations because Kelly likes to keep secrets. He had that reputation at Oregon, and his first few months here haven’t altered that perception. This approach will be fine if he wins, but it will wear thin really, really fast if he doesn’t.
» No more Mike Vick
Unless the aging quarterback suddenly responds to the pressure of a camp that will determine his fate, both here and in the NFL, this is the final curtain for the lightning rod of football. As predicted here previously, Vick will not win the starting job. How he will react to that sad reality will be the biggest story of the summer.
» No defense?
The biggest problem with the 2013 Eagles will be a defense composed of a core of unproven players and a coordinator with a track record of failure. Billy Davis hasn’t had a clue at previous stops on his vagabond NFL career, and it is silly to believe Kelly’s influence will change that fact. Brace yourselves right now for some big scores, especially for Eagles’ opponents.
Of course, we will handle all of the above with a smile on our faces because it’s not just a new season, it’s a new era. In the past 14 months, we have lost Joe Banner and Andy Reid. Two years before that, it was goodbye to Donovan McNabb.
There’s just no way these new faces on the Eagles can be as annoying as that trio. We hope.
It’s time for Amaro to stop the insanity
The easy move now will be to deny the obvious truth about the 2013 Phillies for at least a few more weeks, to ignore the fact that they have a .500 record because they are a mediocre team. GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. will happily reach that conclusion because it will delay the verdict on how well he is doing his job — which, as you know, is not well at all.
Amaro could begin the inevitable rebuilding process by selling off some old parts on his roster. Guys like Michael Young, Jonathan Papelbon, Carlos Ruiz and, yes, Jimmy Rollins for some new ones before the trade deadline at the end of the month. He could finally begin to undo the damage his impatience has caused. But he won’t. He never does.
In Amaro’s clouded mind, a 7-3 homestand against two struggling division opponents and an American League doormat is all the inspiration he needs to consider sacrificing more of the Phillies’ future on a plan with no chance of success. These Phils are going nowhere. They are not very good. Check the standings. They were 81-81 last year and are 48-48 now. The numbers don’t lie.
Meanwhile, a young pitcher named Jarred Cosart took a no-hitter into the seventh inning last week in his big-league debut for Houston. His fastball touched 97 mph, and his slider was even more impressive. Two years ago, Cosart was property of the Phillies before Amaro traded him for Hunter Pence, who lasted four months in Philadelphia.
How many more dumb moves must we endure in Amaro’s hellbent pursuit of the unattainable? At what point will someone, anyone, scream “Stop the insanity?”
Bynum ready to rob another NBA franchise
There is no justice in sports. None.
Andrew Bynum, who stole $17 million from Sixers fans last season, will receive another $24 million ($6 million guaranteed) in a new contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yup, he found another sucker after a season here filled with lies, apathy and wild hairstyles.
If fact, it can now be stated officially that Bynum stole more money in a single season than any player in Philadelphia sports history. His signing led to a major surge at the box office, all while he — and only he — knew the truth about his brittle knees. He just didn’t care. He attended a gala news conference, offered a heavy dose of bravado to amp up sales and then retreated to his bizarre life.
What does it say about a player when he couldn’t dress for a single game, but could bowl, flamenco dance and mug for every camera with his constantly changing look? And the worst part is, Bynum never cared one bit about all of the fans who bought tickets under false pretenses.
The only good that came out of our year with (or was it without?) Bynum is that his failure to play here signaled the end of a doomed era of Sixer basketball. It shoved coach Doug Collins back into retirement, where he belongs, and it ushered in the zany world of analytics under secretive new GM Sam Hinkie. There will be no more charades for the Sixers now, no more shortcuts to success.
In the single dumbest comment in sports history, Collins asked fans to pray for Bynum last spring. Well, if they did, it worked. Bynum has a new city to cheat, a new fan base to rob and more money to blow.
Here’s my final prayer for Andrew Bynum: I hope he fails in Cleveland even more spectacularly than he did here. Only then will justice truly be served.
Idle thoughts from Cataldi
» Jimmy Rollins won a game for the Phillies Saturday night when he dove headfirst into home plate after hustling all the way from second on a base hit in the 13th inning. Bravo. Now just imagine how brilliant a career he would be having if he exerted himself like that on every play.
» Jayson Werth snapped at reporters and stormed off last week after his Washington Nationals lost three of four to the Phillies. Well, at least this proves $126 million doesn’t bring happiness. Werth remains one of the most miserable people ever to play in Philadelphia.
» Flyers chairman Ed Snider gushed last week about his newest big-money acquisitions, thereby extending his streak of bold offseason pronouncements to 38 years — the same amount of time since his last Stanley Cup.
» Former Eagles GM Tom Heckert is embroiled in a major controversy after the Denver Broncos covered up his DUI arrest in June. Seven hours after the incident, Heckert still blew a .162 on the Breathalyzer, an amazing number. Even more amazing, of course, is that Denver hired him after horrible stints here and in Cleveland.
» ESPN’s ratings have plummeted 32-percent in the past year, and everybody is conducting studies to determine the cause. Here’s my theory: Chris Berman.