NOT SO FAST

NFL’s popular theory on Watson takes a big public hit

The Watson situation looks different in Philly. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Today on The Maury Povich Show:

"In the matter of 25-year-old Derrick Deshaun Watson …. Philadelphia Eagles, you ARE the team most likely to trade for the Houston Texans talented but troubled quarterback."

At least that's what we're hearing from national football pundits at ESPN, the NFL Network and Sports Illustrated.

It does make sense, if you're not plugged into the Philly sports scene. The Eagles seem to be the only team that has the trade capital the Texans are seeking for Watson: two first-round (possibly three) draft picks coming up, and a couple of veterans who might start for the Texans or at least make the squad.

But up in Philadelphia things look different. As Lee Corso would say, when it comes to Watson to the Eagles, not so fast, my friend.

I contacted my buddy Glen Macnow, veteran sports talk host on WIP Radio and co-author of several bestselling books including The Great Philadelphia Fan Book, The Great Book of Philadelphia Sports Lists, and children's biographies of Allen Iverson and Charles Barkley.

Macnow isn't known as "The Professor" in Philadelphia media for nothing.

I asked him, "In addition to rumors of Watson going to Philadelphia, we're also hearing that many teams won't touch him because it could be a public relations nightmare. Are the Eagles unconcerned about that? They did sign Michael Vick after he spent two years in prison for his involvement in an unimaginably cruel dog fighting ring. I'm thinking that the Eagles would sign Kim Jong Un if he could throw 60 yards on a frozen rope. What about it?"

Here's how Macnow sees the probability – or let's say improbability – of the Eagles emptying their first-round treasure chest to trade for Watson.

Macnow said, "I think you're incorrect. The Eagles did sign Vick. The owner (Jeffrey Lurie) initially disapproved but was talked into it by Andy Reid, whose own kids had gone through the criminal justice system. Reid argued that Lurie should believe in criminal rehabilitation. To Vick's credit, he really did seem a different person after imprisonment. He got involved in charities here and never again got into trouble."

"Watson is toxic right now. With Vick, there were no more surprises to arise. He had done his time and there were no pending cases. With Watson, who knows where this is going? One other factor, Jeff Lurie may not be a dog lover, but he got his doctorate in women's studies. He's a feminist. Watson's civil court accusations and potential criminal charges involving sexual misconduct go against everything Lurie has ever stood for. Next season, maybe, after all this plays out. Right now? I can't see it."

Like any hard-hitting investigative reporter, I followed up: so how come the national media keeps pushing the Eagles as Watson's likely landing spot? Surely those reporters know all this stuff about the Eagles and their owner.

Macnow: "The Eagles are always cited because of the Vick precedent. Carson Wentz is gone and a second-round untested quarterback (Jalen Hurts) has the keys to the car. The Eagles own two first-round picks, perhaps three if Wentz plays 75-percent of plays with Indy. It adds up, so reporters keep going with it. That doesn't make it true. Rumors come out for a lot of reasons. This could be Watson's agent floating it to reporters for all I know. And if Watson is suspended or goes on the NFL commissioner's exempt list, how does that help the Eagles? Anyway, that's what I've been telling my listeners. I've been incorrect before."

Macnow's resume is impressive. He made his mark writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, then moved to WIP Radio where he's a trusted voice of Philadelphia sports, and he's a respected author.

But his real claims to fame: Macnow grew up in Buffalo, and one summer his parents sent him to overnight summer camp. His camp counselor was Wolf Blitzer, anchor of The Situation Room on CNN.

And No. 1 on his LinkedIn resume (or should be), one of his first newspaper jobs was at Florida Today in Cocoa, where I also worked, and we lived in the same apartment building across the Banana River in Cape Canaveral. Rocket launches rattled our windows. That's when Macnow and I developed an insane habit, given our newspaper starting salaries, of attending jai alai matches in Melbourne. We occasionally snuck out from work at lunch to catch matinées at the fronton. Here's a jai alai betting tip. Don't box the 1-2-5-8, especially at the end of the month when your gas tank is on E and rent is due.

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1. Davis Mills had an up-and-down day under center Friday. One play saw Mills drop back and try to get rid of the ball as Jonathan Greenard was rushing him only to have Greenard leap up and intercept Mills for what would have been an interception returned for a score.

2. A few plays later Davis Mills showcased his short memory. Mills surveyed the field, looked off the safety, and pitched a strike to Brevin Jordan over the middle, wide open, for a touchdown.

3. Davis Mills doesn’t stack bad plays. It is rare to see multiple bad plays happen in a row and Mills be the cause, or a cause, of the play not working. When he misses something, he usually makes up for it the next play.

4. It was a makeshift offensive line on Friday. Max Scharping played a lot at left guard. Charlie Heck saw some snaps at left tackle while Laremy Tunsil took a breather. Veteran lineman Cedric Ogbuehi played some at right tackle. There was plenty of work emphasized on the rushing attack Friday. The offensive line was fine, nothing special. I would say slight edge to the defense overall.

5. Rookie Kenyon Green didn’t practice. Right tackle Tytus Howard didn’t practice either. Pro Football Network is reporting Tytus Howard is out with a positive Covid test. Kenyon Green was banged up last practice, but Lovie Smith expects both back in the coming days.

6.The offensive line had its hands full with the defensive line today. Jonathan Greenard made the above-mentioned play of the practice with an interception. It felt constantly like there was some level of success from the defensive line. Not to say they dominated, but I would think the defense is happy with their day.

7. Maliek Collins has been a nice player in camp. He looks a bit quicker than last year. Collins downplayed how many “close” plays he had last year citing that everyone knows the saying “close but no cigar.” I asked him if he expected a lot of cigars this year. He chuckled and said yes. Teammate Roy Lopez gushed about what he believes Collins can be for this team and called his teammate one of the best defensive tackles in the league.

8. I almost wonder if quiet Derek Stingley days are good days. Stingley wasn’t involved in a lot of plays, but I know Davis Mills saw him on Friday. Mills dropped back on one play and made a read to his left seeing Chris Moore. Stingley darted from coverage towards Moore causing Mills to move off Moore and head to Nico Collins for a score. Yes, the defense allowed a touchdown, but Stingley did his job.

9. Rookie safety Jalen Pitre is a “starting” safety for the team according to Lovie Smith. Pitre had an interception, depending on who you ask, in practice. It is clear the Texans trust him and have put a lot on his plate. I would expect to see a lot of the rookie safety, good or bad, this season.



10. Lovie Smith praised the team’s depth at linebacker earlier in camp. I scoffed a little at the notion, but there seems to be a new linebacker making a play each day. Christian Kirksey had a nice stop in the run game today. Kevin Pierre-Louis, who played very little last year, has flashed. There’s some depth here, despite my skepticism.

11. Ka'imi Fairbairn doesn’t have a challenger in camp this year. I believed this offseason should have seen at the very least someone to challenge the kicker heading into his seventh year in the league. He’s been solid in camp so far, but there have been some misses. It is tough to judge distance, but the team clearly has faith in him with no challenger in sight.

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