The Eagles made something of a surprising move in releasing Jaiquawn Jarrett yesterday. Hopefully the decision is reflective of a more critical (and extensive) self-evaluation process taking place within the walls of the NovaCare Complex.
I'm certainly no stranger to being wrong, though becoming a writer has forced me to face and deal with the accompanying ignominy. Then what follows is the realization that the only difference between Joe reader and I is my faux pas are out there for the world to see, vulnerable to the vitriolic nature of public criticism. Even so, it remains a sobering and humbling experience, but also one that is vital to objective evaluation and desired self-improvement. The Eagles, often lampooned for their stubbornness and we-know-better-than-you disposition, have recently been much more honest and forthright with their failings. They're making progress on this front, and while that's no small development, there is still a long way to go.
Yesterday, the Eagles admitted the biggest draft mistake they've made in the Andy Reid era by releasing Jaiquawn Jarrett. In retrospect, this is a move we should have all seen coming with the acquisition of David Sims. The only thing keeping Jarrett on the roster after a dismal-then-mediocre preseason performance was his status as a second round pick in 2011. There have been plenty of references to what the experts were saying, so I, as an amateur (see: totally not expert) talent evaluator, thought I'd dig up and post my immediate reaction when the pick was made:
Like Jets first round pick Muhammad Wilkerson, Jarrett played right in the Eagles' backyard. There were reports after Temple's pro day that the team was very interested in him. Solid player with high character and exhibits traits the Eagles love, all the way down to being undersized and compensating for it with his motor and instincts. Jarrett is known as a fierce hitter who's smart, physical, tough, fundamentally sound, and plays a very cerebral game, which, in college (see: not the NFL), helped make up for his 4.62 speed and the fact that he's not an explosive athlete. But what if that 4.62 indicates he's a step slow? Whereas it wasn't a death knell in college, that could spell his demise in the pros. Something tells me Andy Reid will refer to him as a "battler" on more than one occasion. I just hope Jarett can reward the team's faith. The question now is, how do the Eagles see him? If it's as a free safety, that would seem to speak volumes about their concern regarding the severity of the injury Nate Allen suffered when he ruptured his patellar tendon against the Giants late in the season. Jon Gruden -- who feigned prophetic prognostication powers as he let everyone know this would be the pick moments before it was announced -- thinks Jarrett can also play strong safety at the next level (so, is he Quintin Mikell's replacement?). I hope he's right. I like the way Jarrett plays the game and think he can be a fine NFL player, I'm just not sure what position will give him the best chance to succeed in the pros. Perhaps the team sees him as a Brian Dawkins type of player in the free safety/strong safety hybrid mold. I'm less optimistic, though interested to see where he plays.
After a few days to reflect and digest, I wrote the following in my draft recap:
You might look at Jarrett's measurables and automatically dismiss him, but to do so for that reason is to ignore the one edict that scouts live by, which is to judge the player predominantly based on his game tape. I watched Temple a few times this season because I wanted to get a look at Muhammad Wilkerson. I couldn't help but notice Jaiquawn Jarrett, as he always seemed to put himself in the right position to make a play. He'll straight lay guys out, relishes the chance to make a bone-jarring hit that fires up both his teammates and the crowd, and sets the tone for the defense. Jarrett's character, dedication, and leadership all draw unanimous praise, too, from peers, coaches, and professors alike. Perhaps nothing flashy really stands out about him, but he's a solid player who thinks the game as well as anyone. I just hope his physical and athletic limitations don't mitigate his feel for the game in the pros. Also, Jarrett currently has a very thin build; he needs to add some bulk and get stronger if he wants to play in the pros the same way he did in college.
While my concerns about Jarrett's transferability from college to the pros came to fruition, suffice to say there's no way I saw this debacle as the end result. I liked him and thought he was a nice enough player who could contribute in time, I just recall not being sold on his worthiness as a second round selection with so much other enticing talent -- even though at other positions -- on the board. But keep in mind, I don't know what I'm talking about. The Eagles front office isn't stupid -- quite the opposite, actually -- but the employees who comprise it are human. And as some guy once said, "To err is human."
Andy Reid again played the role of martyr and took responsibility for drafting Jarrett, saying, "I think one of the key things is when you make a mistake, for your system, that you correct it.... And you can't let your ego get in the way of that. You just can't do that. You take care of it. You're not going to be right 100 percent of the time." OH COME ON!! REALLY?! The irony in his statement is as delicious as it is infuriating. Now, if only we could get Reid to admit the mistake of mismatching his offensive philosophy with a starting quarterback whose skills do not meet the necessary criteria. Then we'd actually be on the road to REAL change. (Edit: Build the offense around LeSean McCoy. Pretty please. It'll be better for everyone.)