It's the phrase every Eagles fan makes the middle of nearly every game, usually when the opponent is driving or the game has fallen into a malaise: "This would be a real good time for a turnover."

For the last four years, that meant Asante Samuel had to stop nursing his hamstrings long enough to jump a route and give the offense new life.

The Eagles didn't pay Asante Samuel to tackle people, according to Asante Samuel. The Eagles paid Asante Samuel to intercept passes. He would know. He's Asante Samuel.

He picked off passes a lot. Twenty-one times in his first three years in Philly, to be exact, including one postseason pick of Eli Manning.

Last July, though, the Eagles bought themselves two shiny new toys - Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. And suddenly, nearly seven INT's a season wasn't good enough.

The pieces didn't fit. The Eagles tried to make things work in Asante's favor last year, and, at the expense of Nnamdi and DRC's productivity, he had one of the best years of his career, even if he didn't put up his usual gaudy interception numbers.

But Nnamdi and DRC are man-to-man guys, and apparently, Juan Castillo can't make them work with #22, not that he made a lot of things work last season. So Asante is gone. He heads to Atlanta to start alongside sort-of-good-at-zone-coverage-guy Brent Grimes, which will give former starter Dunta Robinson plenty of time to go to hell. Have fun paying three cornerbacks a zillion dollars total, Arthur Blank.

Asante turned out to be one of the best free-agent signings in recent Eagles history. Better than The Freak. Better than T.O. And yes, it's hard to believe, but even better than Blaine Bishop. They paid Asante big money, and he earned it.

Then, there's what the Eagles got in return for Samuel. A...seventh...round...pick.
The Eagles got more for Lito Sheppard, even after the team spent a full year driving his value off a cliff. They probably could've gotten more if they'd tried to bring him to a recycling center. You can get teams to toss a seventh-round pick into any trade just by mentioning the number randomly during negotiations.

"Man, this has been a long morning. You know, you're the seventh call I've had to make, and it's not even noon..."
"Hey, speaking of which, want us to throw a seventh-round pick into this deal? You know, balance things out and all."

This trade comes down to cap room. It comes down to DRC not being able to play the slot. It comes down to...*sigh* Joselio Hanson more playing time.

A few good things about the deal, though:
  • The Eagles have a pretty good history of letting guys go just before their production falls off a cliff (think Vincent, Taylor, McNabb, Staley, Emmons, etc.)
  • Howie Roseman has approximately $10 million in extra cap room to play around with for the next two seasons. Shady McCoy, DRC and J-Mac all have contracts ripe to be extended. 
  • Asante was kind of nuts.
Let's get to work.
The Eagles' elongated quest to get rid of their best defensive back from last season is complete.
The return hasn't officially been announced, but it's presumed the Eagles got next to nothing.

More on this later tonight, both on the blog and on the Matt and Matt Show.
For four years, Andy Reid was a good little boy. The NFL told him where he would pick in the first round, and Andy obliged. It worked out pretty well for him, producing three Pro Bowlers and 4th and 26.

Then, Jerome McDougle happened.

It started a pattern of seemingly ineffective moves around the first round. The team usually acquires a Brinks truck of late-round picks every year, but have the early trades upward really been as bad as people perceive them? And has downshifting traditionally been the best move for the team? Let’s take a look by grading them on a scale from 1-5 McDougles, with 1 being “a totally defensible and overall very good move,” and 5 being “you just acquired Jerome McDougle.” And speaking of which…

2003 – Eagles trade their first and second round picks in 2003 (30th and 62nd overall) to San Diego for their first round pick in 2003 (15th).

Eagles’ haul – Jerome McDougle
Their haul – Sammy Davis , Terrence Kiel

It was understandable, really. Hugh Douglas was off to Jacksonville after the 2002 season, and the team was counting on a mix of N.D. Kalu, Brandon Whiting and coming-off-a-broken-foot Derrick Burgess at the defensive end spots. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, it’s because it wasn’t.

Enter McDougle. The Eagles, who picked 30th, traded their second-round pick to swap their first-round pick for San Diego’s 15th and took their first Miami player since Jerome Brown. And after Burgess blew out his Achilles at the start of the season, McDougle had high expectations, fairly or unfairly.

Jerome McDougle has had more bullets in his body than he’s had NFL starts.

San Diego didn’t exactly made out like bandits with the two guys they got (Sammy Davis and Terrence Kiel [RIP] were mediocre to below average at best), but McDougle has become the poster-child for Reid’s failures on the opening day of the draft. Grade: 5 McDougles

2004 – Eagles trade their first round and second round picks in 2003 (28th and 58th overall) to San Francisco for their first round pick in 2003 (16th overall).

Eagles’ haul – Shawn Andrews
Their haul –Chris Gamble (Carolina), Shawntae Spencer (San Francisco)

Andrews was an absolute monster, and one of my personal favorite early-round fantasy draft picks in Madden for years, before totally losing his mind in 2008. We may not be at liberty to judge exactly how much pain Andrews’ back put him through the last few years of his contract, but we can judge how properly his head was screwed in when there are more stories written about his music the last few years of his career than his football.

Chris Gamble’s career performance has traveled the proverbial roller coaster, but has played more good seasons than bad. Shawntae Spencer had that one good year and is now a Raiders nobody (a step below most NFL cornerback nobodies).

From 2005-2007, Andrews was an elite guard and a two-time Pro Bowler. But it’s amazing, even in the NFL, how a guy with three good years to his name got two different 6-plus-year contracts. Also, his presence cast a spell over the front office to trick them into signing his older, lazier, more crippled older brotherGrade: 2 McDougles

2005-2006 – Eagles do absolutely nothing, get Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley. Cool.

2007 – Eagles trade their first-round pick in 2007 (26th overall) to Dallas for their second, third and fifth-round picks in 2007 (36th, 87th, and 159th overall).

Eagles’ haul – Kevin Kolb, Stewart Bradley, C.J. Gaddis
Their haul – Anthony Spencer

The Kolb pick was less about his actual performance as an Eagle and more about what they got for him last off-season (DRC and another second-round pick). That worked out fairly well, actually. Nobody cares, because a few people booed him, so the entire city is somewhere below Libya on the "morality" scale, I guess.

Everyone lost their minds when the Eagles traded a pick to the Cowboys because Spencer was going to team up with Ware and overthrow the United Nations or something. He’s been fine, but nothing special.

Stew Bradley was at least the MLB-of-the-future-du-jour for a few minutes. C.J. Gaddis accidentally tackled a guy once when he played for the Bills. I’d also like to meet the 14 people who like C.J. Gaddis’ Facebook page. They’re probably great people. Grade – 3 McDougles

2008 – Eagles trade their first-round pick in 2008 (19th overall) to Carolina for their second and fourth-round picks in 2008 (43rd and 109th overall) and first-round pick in 2009.

Eagles’ haul – Trevor Laws, Mike McGlynn, Quintin Demps
Their haul – Jeff Otah

The Eagles kept moving down after this trade and ended up with Trevor “Breakin’ The” Laws. The Panthers jumped at the chance to get Jeff Otah, who formed a solid tackle tandem with Jordan Gross for a few years before Otah’s  knees began to fail him.

The “Eagles’ Haul” list is a bit misleading – after all, even a one-legged Otah would be better than three backups who aren’t on the team anymore. However the Birds parlayed that first-round pick in 2009, along with a couple other choices, into Jason Peters, a worthwhile investment even if Peters is never the same/doesn’t play again after his Achilles surgery. Grade – 1.5 McDougles

2009 – Eagles trade their first and sixth round picks in 2009 (21st and 195th overall) to Cleveland for their first round pick in 2009 (19th overall).

Eagles’ haul – Jeremy Maclin
Their haul – Alex Mack, James Davis

James Davis has to be the only professional running back with less than 20 career rushing yards to leave a team because he was unhappy about his playing time.

Basically, this deal comes down to Mack vs. Maclin (headline-writer heaven), and that decision is a matter of personal preference/positional need. Mack made the 2010 Pro Bowl, albeit as a second alternate, and he’s regarded as one of the better centers in the league. Maclin oozes talent, but he’s yet to post  a 1,000-yard season and had a couple boneheaded drops/turnovers last season. He’s still 23, so nearly anything could happen.

Still, it was a solid move based on the value – the Eagles jumped two spots and lost a sixth-round pick, which they have a million of every year (they drafted six times in round 5-7 that year). Did they need to? The Lions picked at 20, and even though Matt Millen was no longer embarrassing himself as the team’s GM (and was instead well on his way to embarrassing himself on national television again), you never know whether the Lions wanted a speed demon to pair with Megatron, or if they just wanted to see if they could wreck another first-round pick by using it on yet another receiver. Grade: 2 McDougles

2010 – Eagles trade their first-round pick and two third-round picks in 2010 (24th, 70th and 87th overall) to Denver for their first round pick in 2010 (13th overall).

Eagles’ haul – Brandon Graham
Their haul – Dez Bryant (Dallas), Ed Dickson (Baltimore), Eric Decker (Denver)


A quick recap of why this looks really bad right now:

·      Jason Pierre-Paul blah blah blah
·      The 24th pick the Eagles sent to Denver eventually wound up in Jerry Jones’ cold, dead hands, which he used to get Dez Bryant.
·      When the Eagles moved up to 13, everyone in the world – well, all the Eagles fans I lived with at the time – was convinced they were going for Earl Thomas. Instead, they used their first two selections on Graham (who can't start anywhere now since the team signed Jason Babin) and Nate Allen (who was either never healthy last year or simply had trouble beating out Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum most of the season for playing time). Thomas has made a Pro Bowl and become a top-three free safety in the meantime.
·      Not that this was the same exact thing that happened in the Jerome McDougle trade, but this was the exact same thing that happened in the Jerome McDougle trade.
·      As a quick reminder, Jason Pierre-Paul. Grade – 5 McDougles

2011 – Fireman Dan. Did you know he was a firefighter? Because he used to be a firefighter.

To the judges:
Years the Eagles traded up: 3.5 McDougles
Years the Eagles traded down: 2.25 McDougles

What does it mean? Nothing. I averaged a bunch of scores on a fake scale that were determined subjectively by me in the span of a few hours. You’re all idiots for wasting your time reading this.

It means trading up for a guy that fills a position of need isn’t necessarily the best course of action, particularly when you don’t have any glaring positions of need. Of course, the Eagles do have two glaring positions of need flanking either side of DeMeco Ryans, but Claude Giroux will fire t-shirt cannons at a Nickelback concert before the Eagles take a linebacker in the first round.

Ahh….bad way to put it.

All the same, though, this seems like the ideal year to try and trade down, if anyone in the lower part of the draft wants to dive in. Let’s say, for example, that Ryan Tannehill starts falling down draft boards on Thursday for some reason. Cleveland, after taking some other schmuck at No. 4, sees a chance to make up for not getting RGIII. The Eagles just so happen to be on the clock. Let’s make a deal.

That’s just one of a few scenarios. And it would work a lot better than trying to move up again, if recent history is any indication.

Weapon X has been deactivated.

Dawkins is an Eagle for life, this notion of him needing to come back for a one-day contract and officially "retire" as a member of the team be damned. In Denver, Dawk was admired. In Philly, he was deified.

He's far and away the best defensive back to play for the Birds, and he's at least in the discussion with Reggie White and Concrete Charlie as the best defensive player in Eagles history.

As heartless and apathetic as Donovan McNabb was perceived to be, Dawkins was on the exact opposite point on the spectrum. Even if some of the Eagles' failures later in McNabb and Dawkins' careers could be blamed as much on Dawk and the defense as Donnie and the offense, nobody gave Dawkins grief because at least everyone knew he came to play on Sunday. Forget Ray Lewis. Dawk would get you to a level of excitement for a Week 2 game with the Bengals that Ray Lewis couldn't boost you to before a Super Bowl.
No game felt out of reach because, on any given play in the second half, there was always a 50-50 chance Dawk would come up with some monstrous strip or interception.

Dawk is the only reason Mike Patterson has a touchdown in his lifetime.

Traditional stats only tell part of the story when talking about how well a guy played defense, but only James Harrison forced more fumbles (7) in 2008 than Dawkins did (6) in his last year as an Eagle. Dawkins was 35 at the time.

We all remember where we were when we found out the Eagles let Dawk go. Let him get away, let him sign a deal with the Broncos (???). I was in the car, on my way home from school for spring break (yeah, in February. Let's go Duquesne!) Not that WIP was ever the realm of the rational and level-headed, but whichever two schumcks were on there that day could only watch as caller after caller turned the show into the SportsCenter Y2K test commercial.
Hey guys, Charley from Havertown, long-time first-time. Follow me! Follow me to DENVER!!!!

And of course, there was this whole thing.
The 1150th day since the regime replaced Dawk...
For those who haven't been paying attention, it's been three years and the Eagles still haven't replaced Dawkins. They've been tossing out a mashed-up ball of Quintins Mikell and Demps, Sean Jones, Macho Harris, Jared Page, Kurt Coleman, Nate Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett. They would've tossed Marlin Jackson into the fray too if he wasn't already a mashed-up ball of Achilles tendons and ACL's himself. Nobody has stuck at either safety position, particularly since Mikell was freed to sign with the Rams. 

There won't be another like him in an Eagles uniform - and, unlike most Philly sports legends, Dawkins finally seems like the rare great one that fans never took for granted, and never will.
Godspeed, Weapon X.
Man, those guys who excessively analyze the NFL schedule when it comes out every year are a bunch of losers, right? Here’s an analysis of the recently-released 2012-13 NFL schedule for the Boids.

Week 1 (Sunday, Sep. 9, 1:00 PM)
AT Cleveland (4-12 in 2011, 3-5 at home)

At least we get our annual horribly-called Ron Pitts game out of the way early.
Prediction: The entire team gets lost in East Cleveland and dies.

Week 2 (Sunday, Sept. 16, 1:00 PM)
VS Baltimore (12-4 in 2011, 4-4 on the road, lost in AFC Championship)
See, the jacket was actually to cover up Donnie’s gut, not because it was cold.
Prediction: Asante comes back with an STD, even if he's not on the team anymore.

Week 3 (Sunday, Sept. 23, 4:05 PM)
AT Arizona (8-8 in 2011, 6-2 at home)
Fun fact: Cardinals backup quarterback Kevin Kolb was formerly a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. He is now apparently 45 years old
Prediction: Larry FItzgerald all day long.

Week 4 (Sunday, Sept. 30, 8:20 PM)
VS G-G-G-G-G-G-G-Men (9-7 in 2011, 4-4 on the road, won Super Bowl)
This guy.
Prediction: Everyone spends a week wondering, once again, why Eli has it so good.

Week 5 (Sunday, Oct. 7, 1:00 PM)
AT Pittsburgh (Pens Suck in 2011, Crosby’s a Bitch at home, Neal Deserves to be Shot in AFC Wild Card)
After an absolute bloodbath, it will be nice to go back to the purity and grace of football to get us back to a pure, healthy Philadelphia-Pittsburgh rivalry.
Prediction: Eagles line up for game-winning field goal, but Crosby pokes the ball away with his stick just before the snap.

Week 6 (Sunday, Oct. 14, 1:00 PM)
VS Detroit (10-6 in 2011, 5-3 on the road, lost in NFC Wild Card)
Juan: “Okay guys, we have Calvin Johnson this week, so we’re gonna f*** around with the coverage to make sure Jaiquawn Jarrett ends up on Megatron as much as possible.”
Prediction: Eagles bring back KC80 for sentimental value, then he goes for 400 yards and six touchdowns.

Week 7
Bye week
Prediction: Asante gives five other people his STD - four women and Riley Cooper

Week 8 (Sunday, Oct. 28, 1:00 PM)
VS Atlanta (10-6 in 2011, 4-4 on the road, lost in NFC Wild Card)
So sick of playing Atlanta.
Prediction: Eagles re-sign Todd Pinkston for the sole purpose of letting Dunta Robinson decapitate him.

Week 9 (Monday, Nov. 5, 8:30 PM)
AT New Orleans (13-3 in 2011, 8-0 at home, lost in NFC Divisional Round)
One can only presume this will be a cakewalk, as Chase Daniel is the best quarterback on the Saints that is currently under contract.
Prediction: We make some dumb joke about Asante and his STD on Bourbon Street even though it wasn't particularly funny when we started and we've totally run it into the ground.

Week 10 (Sunday, Nov. 11, 4:15 PM)
VS Pond Scum (8-8 on 2011, 3-5 on the road)
We have to be ready for Dallas to be 20 times as hate-able this season as they were last year. More on that later.
Prediction: Tony Romo is a baby-back bitch. DeMarco Murray truck-sticks Casey Matthews, who is playing middle linebacker because Juan thought the matchup called for substituting DeMeco Ryans with a worse player.

Week 11 (Sunday, Nov. 18, 1:00 PM)
AT Racistnames (5-11 in 2011, 2-6 at home)
If God has a sense of humor, he’ll get in Mike Shanahan’s ear and convince him that RGIII will benefit from spending a year on the bench learning from Sexy Rexy.
Prediction: Kurt Coleman doesn't give himself the team lead in interceptions in one game.

Week 12 (Monday, Nov. 26, 8:30 PM)
VS Carolina (6-10 in 2011, 3-5 on the road)
You have no idea how terrified we are of this game.
Prediction: Timely Bank of America foreclosure joke that reminds you that there are things in life more important than football.

Week 13 (Sunday, Dec. 2, 8:20 PM)
AT Pond Scum (5-3 at home in 2011)
Basically, three-and-a-half hours of Al Michaels losing his mind over the Cowboys, while Cris Collinsworth spends the whole time talking about Jason Peters even though he’s hurt.
Prediction: Some player does something earlier in the day that Bob Costas believes is naughty, naughty. Nobody calls Costas out for pontificating because he got to interview Jerry Sandusky.

Week 14 (Sunday, Dec. 9, 1:00 PM)
AT Tampa Bay (4-12 in 2011, 3-5 at home)
Theoretically, this game is no problem, but it’s also the kind of game where you won’t be shocked when LeGarrette Blount and Kellen Winslow start doing whatever they want for the upset.
Prediction: The game that makes you remember why talk-radio postgame shows are truly the work of Satan.

Week 15 (Thursday, Dec. 13, 8:20 PM)
AT Cincinnati (9-7 in 2011, 4-4 at home, lost in AFC Wild Card)
Just want to remind everyone that this man is a professional athlete.
Prediction: Eagles cruise, but defense tries not to beat up on Andy Dalton too much for fear Marvin Lewis will put Bruce Gradkowski in.

Week 16 (Sunday, Dec. 23, 1:00 PM)
VS Racistnames (3-5 on the road in 2011)
Remember, the Redskins consider signing two guys who aren’t as good as Santana Moss a way of “bolstering” their receiving corps.
Prediction: Redskins eek out a close one, setting up a win-and-in scenario next week when they face Dalls for the last wild ca...ahhh, just kidding. The Redskins are terrible.

Week 17 (Sunday, Dec. 30, 1:00 PM)
AT G-Strings (5-3 at home in 2011)
No shame in NBC just announcing right now that it's going to flex this game to Sunday night.
Prediction: Shenanigans.