JB “The Sage” and Brizer “The GK” have ridden in the Eagles MACH rodeo before…

It’s almost Draft time and only hours before the MACH 10 deadline (12 noon Wednesday EST) for Eagles fans to submit their entries. Exciting though it is for us all, for JB “The Sage” and GK Brizer it’s also just another rodeo.

Past winners of the official MACH 10 challenge have included M. “Fanny” Harris (twice), Leo Pizzini, Brizer himself and JB “The Sage”… But the MACH 10 owes its origin to Brizer’s foresight in the early days of Dave Spadaro’s “On The Inside” fan gallery at PE.com.  Brizer teamed up with JB to anchor the comments section with the sacred charter to “enlighten and entertain” Eagles fans willing to discipline their presumed football knowledge. And starting way back when the Eagles were still relatively new to the internet as a PR medium, these guys are still bringing it, and EEB is lucky to be able to share them with Spadaro’s gang.

JB “The Sage” (standing) and GK Brizer share some final Draft and scouting tips prior to Thursday night’s Big Rodeo… the boys are preparing a live Draft broadcast here with JB remaining on location at his ranch in Austin, Texas.

A proper tribute will be paid to the now-retired Brian Dawkins by the Eagles during a home-game later this year.

Some folks think the Eagles will be looking to draft a strong safety in the 1st Round. I’m not feeling it.

By the way, here’s a fact some may not know about Dawkins.  By several accounts of various teammates, he was perhaps the quietest Eagle in the clubhouse and locker room during the week of a game, and also extremely low-key on the practice field.

Who’s there now
: Nate Allen (starter FS), Jaiquawn Jarrett (starter SS), Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson, Tom Nelson… Why it’s a problem:  The Eagles haven’t had a Pro Bowl-quality safety since Brian Dawkins, who retired on Monday, was starring for the team from 1996-2008. Allen was still recovering from a 2010 knee injury last season but should be fully recovered. Jarrett, last year’s second-round draft pick, struggled to learn the system. Coleman suffered a partially torn biceps late last season after collecting a team-high four interceptions. Colt Anderson is coming back from an ACL injury.
Even when all were healthy, there were occasional lapses in communication, coverage and tackling which cost the Eagles big-time.

In the end we may discover the real problem at safety is more about better coaching and in-game leadership than it is about personnel.

But until then, personnel remains the scapegoat.

The best players available at safety:

1. Mark Barron, Alabama: 6-foot-1, 213-pounder is widely considered the best safety in the draft this year, despite having had double hernia surgery in February.
2. Harrison Smith, Notre Dame: 6-2, 213-pounder owns both the talent and leadership qualities to be a top-flight safety.
 3. George Iloka, Boise State: 6-3, 225-pounder has the athletic ability to play in the NFL but needs work on tackling.

Barron may be the only safety worth drafting in the first round but may not be on the board when the Eagles pick at No. 15.  I can’t see the Eagles trading valuable picks later to move up to get Barron—or any other safety in the first round, for that matter.

JB “The Sage” added some perspective to the current debate about packaging CB Asante Samuel in a trade to move up to get a safety prospect:

“The #1 rule of building a franchise…. is to locate cheap b/u’s that can play at a similar level as the high priced starter…. and make the switch… if feasible. There is no reason not to check out what you could get for #22 (Samuel)…. but to dump him cause we don’t want him… doesn’t make any sense.”

And then this: “Also… nary a person has said the FO wants to get rid of him… they are just shopping him… like any good franchise would do.”

And some more revealing insights from “The Sage” —and something you can drop on your friends who think they know Eagles football but really don’t…

[To people who complain about Nnamdi Asomugha as a corner]… “Our problem wasnt CB last year. Aso was totally shut-down from that [strongside] spot last year. Wiped out TE’s.”

[To people who want a strong press coverage from corners and a safety]… “Guys like Coleman and Jarrett aren’t press man S’s…. they are deep half Zone S’s….and who says we want to press? I see tons of Zone.”

[To people who say we need a safety who can do it all]…”Everyone says…’Oh, Barron is a solid all around player… but he doesn’t do anything exceptionally well.’ The thing is… you are only as good as your weakest link. There’s been plenty of guys that could cover… tackle… or play the run… but few that could do it all.”

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.