Below is a compilation of thoughts from the contributors of Birds Fan on the return of Brian Dawkins.
When Brian Dawkins was signed by the Broncos this past offseason, fans looked to the schedule, interested to see if the Eagles were to play Denver any time soon. Fate have it, the Eagles indeed are scheduled to play the Broncos, with it being Dawkins’ first year in the AFC. Everyone marked their calendar and now that day is creeping ever so close. It’s quite easy to forget about the game at hand and everything at stake and just reflect on Dawkins’ outstanding career in Philadelphia. The guy did everything this city asked him to do and then some. He was an awesome player, outstanding person, and natural leader. He was a great guy off the field, an incredibly competitor, and a fearsome hitter. He had his faults over the past few seasons, mainly his lack of coverage skills, but he was still a force in the run defense and was the unquestioned leader. For most fans, it hurts so bad to see him somewhere else. Brian Dawkins will be on the field Sunday and will look to do what he did so many times in Philadelphia, knock people’s heads off. Part of us is scared for the offense, and part of us hopes they can get a mismatch on him in coverage and burn him like we saw towards the end of his time in Philadelphia. We don’t know what will happen and will have to wait until Sunday to find out.
The loss of Dawkins has caused a HUGE hit to Philly’s defense. We’ve had some guys really step up and try and carry the burden, and for the most part, have done a great job. However, let’s take a look at our numbers in 2008, with Dawkins, compared to our numbers now, without Dawkins.
Average Total Yards Allowed / Game:
2008 – 274 / 3rd in NFL
2009 – 316 / 11th in NFL
Denver is currently ranked 3rd in the NFL. Was Dawkins the answer? A number of factors contribute to total yards allowed per game, but with Dawkins returning this week, this seems like the most obvious factor to fans right now. Let’s remind ourselves of just what else Dawkins did for our team. He became a 7-time Pro Bowl selection and 4-time All-Pro Selection during his tenure with the Eagles. Additionally, he became a member of both the Philadelphia Eagles 75th Anniversary team and 20/20 Club. In 2008, he broke Harold Carmichael’s record for games played, surpassing 180 games. By the end of his career as a Philadelphia Eagle, he had recorded a phenomenal 898 tackles, 34 interceptions and 21 sacks. In fact, Dawkins is one of four players in NFL history to earn 32 interceptions and 18 sacks, joining Leroy Butler, Rodney Harrison and Ronde Barber.
Come Sunday, most fans are going to cheer him louder than they probably ever have before. On the other hand, we have to imagine there will be a few that will boo him. We can think of about a few million reasons why this would happen. Although this is the NFL and it is a business, Dawkins always seemed like such a loyal player. He bled green for the past 12 seasons. Why would he have decided to go to Denver instead? There are always things that as fans we will never know. So, entering Sunday, let’s remember how much Dawkins has meant to this team, this city, and us fans. Let’s welcome him back home and let him know he’s still a treasured piece of Eagles history. However, despite all of that, we are Eagles fans first and foremost. We root for the symbol on the jersey first, the name on the back second. So, come game time, we will cheer for Dawkins in the pregame because he did some fantastic things for the team. Come kickoff, we want nothing more than for him to get flat out embarrassed by DeSean Jackson. Love the man, but come kickoff he’s the enemy.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the return of Brian Dawkins – what it means to you and how you’d react to him entering the stadium.