Thursday, September 18, 2008

It Was One Game, Ladies and Gentlemen

Thanks to two plays on Monday night, it seems all of Philadelphia is asking the same question: Is Brian Dawkins done?

The short answer to that question is, we don't know. Did Dawkins look bad on a few plays Monday night? Absolutely. Has he lost a step or two, now on the heels of 35, from say, when he was 30? Sure. But is he done? Let's not get carried away here, folks. As Lito Sheppard pointed out, a few years ago, after a slow start, people started asking the same questions about Dawkins. And then he started playing great midway through the season and made the Pro Bowl. And deserved it.

Just like Dawk said, it wasn't the first time he's been beat and it won't be the last. Safeties, even the greats, get burnt on occasion. And to base whether or not the greatest safety in Eagles history is done because he got beat by one of the greatest receivers of all time and the best tight end in the NFC (and quite possibly the NFL)—in a game that the entire defense got burnt time and time again—is a little much.

In today's Daily News, Les Bowen digs a little deeper into the Dawkins question, probing teammates on the topic. Here's what Quintin Mikell, Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown and Andy Reid had to say:

"Let me tell you this, man: First of all, people need to understand that our defense is a lot different than 90 percent of the defenses in the league," Mikell said. "And Dawk, at 35 or whatever, is better than 90 or 95 percent of the safeties in the league. Everybody needs to relax a little bit. It just wasn't our night. We're going to get it fixed. But Dawk wasn't the problem; Dawk wasn't what went wrong. The whole secondary didn't play well, none of us. We're a family, we sit together, and we're going to get through this."

Lito Sheppard noted that "everything works together," that the coverage looks bad when the pass rush doesn't get there, as was the case Monday. Brown said Dawkins had taken the heat for others.

"If you know how to break down film, you'll understand that it's not his fault," Brown said. "You have to give him a lot of credit for just being a man about the situation and not calling other people out."

Eagles coach Andy Reid said: "I thought Brian did a nice job. There were a couple of plays that I would like to have back. He came out and he told you that. I think that's the way that we all feel - that we all wish we had a couple of plays back that we could do a little different, but we're going to learn from those and get better at them."

If all four of those men—four men who know much more about football, protection, schemes, coverages and breaking down film than any of us—say Dawkins wasn't the problem, think/know he can still be a very, very good safety in this league, then that's enough for me. For now anyway.

One bad game is one bad game. It's not a habit. Now, if one bad game becomes two, then three, and four and more, then there's a problem. But until that happens, can't we all just calm down a little bit before shoving an All-Pro and future Hall-of-Famer out the door?

Besides, who would you rather have out there? Sean Considine? J.R. Reid? A rookie (albeit a talented one) in Quintin Demps? Doesn't sound very smart to me. But what do I know? Oh yes, I do know it was only one game. Against a great offensive team. Settle down people. You really think this guy is done?


  1. It's more than one game though with him. 12 now going back to the start of last season that he's been on-par with Roy Williams coverage-wise. And the fact that it's a combo of being a step slow and just flat out getting beat (letting Witten behind him at the end of the first half) that is the most worrisome. Good for him for saying he'll keep playing like he used to, but it's become quite apparent that he's going to get smoked if he still thinks he can recover like he did. The greater tragedy may be that JJ and Reid will keep putting him in position to make the plays he hasn't been able to since 2006...but hey these are the guys who keep trotting Considine out there week after week and get awfully confused about what a starting linebacker is from time to time.

  2. First off, it's definitely not 12 games. Dawk is certainly not the same cover guy he used to be, but he ain't close to Roy Will.
    If you can name a game last year where he looked like Roy Williams, you got some keen eyes. I mean, Whitten has always killed the Birds. Even when Dawk was at the top of his game. I just disagree that he's done. Now, I don't think they can ask him to do everything he used to be able to do, but if Johnson and Reid weren't so freakin stubborn, they'd play Lito more and have three guys out there who can cover. What happened to three corners 60-70 percent of the time? They're playing that stupid game they played with Duce and Trot, keeping Lito off the field because he's unhappy with his contract. But something tells me Dawk will be just fine.

    Seriously, he did not look awful for 10 games last year. Unless I'm just blind.