If Chip Kelly really wants to show some initiative, the coach will demand that Mike Vick and Cary Williams report to training camp with their mouths taped shut.
Vick decided on the final day of minicamp last Thursday — the last practice before camp opens in six weeks — to inflame the already combustible quarterback situation by publicly calling for a decision on the starting job before the players reconvene. He suggested he’s not getting enough work, nor enough respect.
First of all, Vick is not going to win the starting job. You read that here three months ago, and you will read it again when the decision becomes final in three months. Kelly said his top priority for the position is smart decision-making — a battle that a turnover addict like Vick will never win. By most accounts, Nick Foles already is ahead in the competition, with rookie Matt Barkley a formidable threat.
So why would Vick try to force the issue with a public outcry when he knew Kelly had no intention of making his choice now? There are only two possibilities. Either Vick is frustrated that the starting job is not the lock he thought it would be, or he’s hoping to get released soon enough to latch onto another team.
The really important sequence in Vick’s dumb power play came when a reporter approached him and asked if he understood the impact of such a public challenge to Kelly. “Print it,” he said. Wow.
While Vick was sealing his fate last week, Cary Williams was trying to get the perfect fit for the dunce cap he’ll be wearing this season — if indeed there is a season for him after his insane behavior.
The overrated cornerback, who signed a three-year, $17.5 million free-agent contract in March, blew off all of the OTAs with a series of insulting excuses, including selecting light fixtures for his new house and attending his 3-year-old daughter’s dance recital. Then, to remove all doubt that he is a moron, he lectured Philadelphia about the personal burdens of being a professional athlete — a message that enraged our blue-collar city.
“I’m not surprised at all by their reaction,” Williams said. “And I don’t care, truthfully, if you want me to be honest.”
OK, since we’re all being honest here, Williams was ranked 69th by Pro Football Focus at the cornerback position last season, and quarterbacks had a 98 rating when throwing to receivers he was defending. On the world-champion Baltimore Ravens, he was a weakness, not a strength. He is blessed to be playing here, and doubly blessed to have a job at all.
Both he and Mike Vick need to spend the next six weeks counting their blessings, while the rest of us count the days till they’re gone.
Is Dom Brown the next big thing?
Now that he has emerged as the one true offensive leader on the 2013 Phillies, it’s time to ask the only question that really matters about Domonic Brown: Is he a superstar in the making or a flash in the pan?
At a time when the Phillies desperately need a new young hope, our first instinct is to say he’s for real. He’s a young star who finally listened to good advice, committed himself to his career and is taking full advantage of his amazing talent.
We all want to believe that. We all have to believe that.
But a far more objective voice is emanating from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Peter Gammons, of the MLB Network, offered some words of caution during an appearance on my WIP radio show last week. He wouldn’t rule out the notion that Brown will be a great baseball player, but Gammons sees some alarming signs.
The biggest is that Brown exploded into the baseball consciousness with a May performance that had no historic precedent. In those 31 days, Brown hit 12 homers while never receiving a base on balls. Not one walk.
“It raises the question, if he’s going to swing all the time, why throw him strikes?,” Gammons said.
Of course, he’s right. Brown is still very much a work in progress. The guess here is that Brown will be a star after all because he has demonstrated, for the first time, the desire to learn from his mistakes and address his own shortcomings.
Hey, Dom Brown has already walked four times in June. That’s a good sign, isn’t it?
Sixers keep getting it wrong
Sam Hinkie finally went public last week with an update on his endless search for a new coach. When asked how it’s going, the new Sixer GM said: “So far, so good.”
Whew. How are the three or four Sixer fans left in our city supposed to process all of that information? In the past month, while Hinkie has been holed up in his hermetically-sealed analytics capsule, the Cavaliers, Suns, Pistons, Hawks, Bobcats and Kings all hired new coaches. Did Hinkie even bother to interview any of those candidates? If not, what has he been doing?
The Sixers might end up with a great coach when this process is finished, unlikely as it may seem right now. But they are proving once again how utterly clueless they are about the city where they play. The information blackout imposed by Hinkie and his novice bosses is so stupid, it defies belief. They do need to sell tickets next season, don’t they?
Meanwhile, a couple of voices from the Sixers past kept the team on the fringes of our awareness with exactly the kind of compelling statements the team itself has forgotten how to make. Julius Erving basically said the Sixers got snookered last year in the Andrew Bynum trade because the big center was “damaged goods.” Why can’t anyone in the front office today say that? Are they really clueless enough to want him back?
And Charles Barkley said he was willing to consider running the Sixers if they had contacted him after Tony DiLeo was fired. A crazy idea, you say? At the very least, Barkley would have delivered something that the franchise has lacked for a decade now: relevance.
Idle thoughts from Cataldi
» Philadelphia topped itself as king of demanding sports towns last week when Phillies fans booed umpire Bob Davidson after a terrible call for nearly three full innings, until John Mayberry ended the game with a walk-off grand slam. If only our teams had such passion.
» Roy Halladay said his valuable right shoulder feels much better than it has in two or three years. So what should we think about all those times in the past couple of seasons when the Phillies pitcher assured us he felt great? Was he lying to us, or to himself?
» New Rutgers AD Julie Hermann called an entire team of her former players liars, and then said she was “uniquely qualified” to handle the job because she was an abusive coach herself. And she’s still employed there. No one should ever underestimate the power of New Jersey politics.
» Andy Reid actually had the gall last week to say that he’s spending a lot more time coaching now in Kansas City than he did in his last few years with the Eagles. OK, I give up. What exactly was he paid $5 million a year to do here? Charm the fans with his dazzling personality?
» The media will be glutted this week with gushing reports about the U.S. Open being held at Merion Golf Club. Here is my official response: It is golf. G-O-L-F. Now, let’s all calm down, OK?