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[#] Thu May 04 2017 13:22:08 EDT from rss

Subject: 2016-17 Flyers season review: Shayne Gostisbehere

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Was Shayne Gostisbehere just unlucky this year? Or was the coaching staff justified in their treatment of him?

This time last year, Shayne Gostisbehere was on top of the Philadelphia sports world. He had just concluded a rookie season in which he had exceeded all reasonable expectations, became an immediate fan favorite, and nearly became the Flyers’ first Calder Trophy winner in franchise history. Gostisbehere had provided a shot in the arm for a team in desperate need of dynamic defensemen, and established himself as the first successful piece of the team’s coming youth movement.

In evaluating Gostisbehere’s rookie season, there were a few minor red flags among all the positives, even if most fans were content to ignore them in the moment. While his goal-based outcomes at 5v5 were fantastic, Gostisbehere didn’t drive shot differentials especially well, even if that issue was largely attributable to extended time playing alongside Andrew MacDonald. In addition, it was always highly unlikely that Ghost was going to repeat an 11.2% shooting percentage, considering the vast majority of shots taken by defensemen come from distance, just by the nature of the position. However, Gostisbehere graded out very well by microstatistics, specifically those that measured defensive zone exits and neutral zone play. Even if the scoring rates regressed a bit, the thought was, Ghost’s underlying numbers should improve and make up for a possible points dip.

But even the most pessimistic observers couldn’t have predicted what actually happened to Gostisbehere in 2016-17. It wasn’t a just sophomore slump — it was a true Murphy’s Law season, where the young defenseman dealt with awful shooting luck, occasional defensive zone breakdowns, and a coaching staff that believed in repeated benchings as a way to fix what they felt ailed Gostisbehere’s game.

Raw scoring totals dipped dramatically

An offensive defenseman like Shayne Gostisbehere will always be judged, first and foremost, by his goal and assist totals. That’s not totally fair, as driving positive on-ice outcomes for the team is in many ways more important than individual totals, but it’s a simple fact. In those areas, Gostisbehere’s 2016-17 season was undoubtedly a disappointment.

After scoring 17 goals and 46 total points in 64 games during his rookie season, Gostisbehere regressed to a 7-32-39 line in 76 games this time around. But raw totals only give us a snapshot into a player’s production. In order to fully understand the nature of Gostisbehere’s points decline, it’s best to break up his metrics by situation and adjust for time on ice. Then, it should be obvious where the issues truly lie.

Interestingly enough, Gostisbehere’s power play point production actually improved in his second season, even if his goal totals dropped significantly. The bigger issue was in his 5-on-5 scoring, where Ghost fell from 12th in the NHL in 5v5 Points per 60 (among defensemen with at least 300 minutes) last season, all the way down to 187th in 2016-17.

This mostly lines up with the narratives that dogged Gostisbehere all season long. On the power play, he couldn’t find his mark as often with his point shot, and he was supposedly invisible at even strength for extended stretches. In terms of raw scoring, the tales are absolutely right. A player with Shayne Gostisbehere’s skating ability and puck skills shouldn’t be down in the region of Nick Schultz and Dion Phaneuf when it comes to 5v5 scoring.

However, Ghost’s scoring issues weren’t totally his fault.

When it came to puck luck, it was the season from hell for Gostisbehere

The concept of “luck” in hockey gets thrown around a lot in analytic circles, and it can be often criticized by traditionalists as a way for “the nerds” to discount qualities like leadership and intangibles. But anyone who has watched a goal scored due to a weird bounce off a player’s leg or a strange carom off the end boards would agree that puck luck absolutely exists in this sport.

Sometimes, the puck simply won’t find its way to back of the net when a certain player is shooting it. By the same token, sometimes every single mistake that a player makes seemingly ends up in the back of his own net. It may not mean that the shots he took were weak, or that the mistakes were especially egregious. The outcomes were just negative. That’s essentially what happened to Shayne Gostisbehere this past season.

Let’s start with his offense. When evaluating the luck that he faced on the goal creation side, it helps to look at two things in particular — personal shooting percentage, and on-ice shooting percentage. The former should shed light on the causes of Ghost’s personal goal scoring problems, while the latter speaks more towards his teammates’ issues (and therefore his assist totals).

After posting a 11.2% shooting percentage in his rookie year that was probably inflated due to good fortune, Gostisbehere dropped all the way down to 3.2% in his sophomore season. Now, shooting percentages themselves don’t prove good luck vs. bad luck. Maybe Ghost’s shots in 2015-16 were simply better than the ones that he took this season, and that’s the reason for the discrepancy. Luckily, we can test that theory, using the Expected Goals statistic and its components. If Gostisbehere’s shot quality was truly worse this season, it should show in his Expected Fenwick Shooting Percentage, which attempts to determine what his goal scoring rate on all unblocked shot attempts “should have” been considering the locations and types of shots that he released.

What this chart shows is that Ghost probably scored a few goals too many in his rookie year, but then was hit with corresponding awful luck in Year 2. Yes, the year-to-year shot quality appears to have dipped a bit, but nowhere enough to explain Gostisbehere’s dramatic dropoff in goals scored. In addition, Ghost actually took even more shots at 5v5 this season versus last year, averaging 6.30 Shots/60 in 2016-17 versus 4.60 in 2015-16. Shot volume was up, shot quality appears to have been basically stable, yet Gostisbehere’s goal numbers fell off a cliff. His process sure seems sounds, but for some reason, the results just didn’t come easy for Ghost this year.

On-ice metrics even more unlucky

The same can be said for his on-ice goal metrics. Gostisbehere’s horrific plus/minus rating was noted on multiple occasions this year by detractors, and a -21 certainly jumps off the page. Advanced goal-based metrics told a similar sad story in Ghost’s 37.3% 5v5 Goals For percentage (when he was on the ice, the Flyers scored 28 goals and allowed 46). For some, that’s an open-and-shut case. Ghost was a defensive liability, had a terrible plus/minus, and therefore had an awful year.

But let’s take a step back for a second and analyze the possible causes for such a poor performance in that statistic. There are three main ways you can end up with a terrible on-ice goal differential at 5v5 over a full season.

  1. Be on the ice when your team is constantly buried in the defensive zone (bad shot differential)
  2. Be on the ice when your goalies can’t stop a puck
  3. Be on the ice when your shooters can’t buy a goal

Category #1 would be especially concerning, because it implies that the Flyers are not driving play with Gostisbehere on the ice. Categories #2 and #3 are subject to more variance, but could potentially be impacted by the player’s on-ice actions, though it should show up in his shot quality-based metrics if the impact is substantial. So where does Ghost’s 2016-17 fall?

It’s clearly not the territorial play, as his Corsi shows. The Flyers generated almost 53% of the overall shot attempts with Gostisbehere on the ice, so raw volume isn’t the problem. At first glance, on-ice save percentage doesn’t seem to be the issue either (he ranked fourth on the defense), until you remember that 91.67% is still not very good. For reference, the league average save percentage at 5v5 this season was 92.32%, so Ghost was in the middle of the pack on a team that received bad goaltending.

And then we get to the on-ice shooting percentage, and the biggest issue shows itself. The Flyers simply could not score goals with Shayne Gostisbehere on the ice at 5v5 last season. He’s a full percentage point behind seventh-place Mark Streit, and around 4.5 points behind offensive dynamo Nick Schultz.

Of course, one could argue that Ghost contributed to that low number. After all, he struggled to get shots through traffic, right? (Not really.) And he looked like a shell of himself in the first half, correct? (As we’ll see later, not quite.) Maybe that’s why the Flyers couldn’t score with him on the ice.

But one player on this list throws off that whole theory. Nick Schultz, the player who has never scored more than six goals in a season in his 15-year career, and is poised to retire because he’s slowed down so much, somehow finished with the best on-ice shooting percentage among Philadelphia defensemen. What’s more likely — that Nick Schultz found some way to magically help his teammates score goals at an elevated rate this season, or that on-ice shooting percentage is a stat subject to a ton of season-to-season random variance?

In fact, both on-ice save and shooting percentage are both notoriously erratic statistics. So if a player’s “awful” season is almost entirely due to that combination, it’s right to be skeptical of whether his year really was that bad, or if every break just went against him while he was on the ice. And let’s be very clear here — Shayne Gostisbehere’s 2016-17 was especially bad in terms of these percentages.

PDO, which is a essentially a shorthand way to look at both 5v5 on-ice shooting and save percentage by adding the two, is far from a perfect stat. But it does give us a rough measurement of “luck” over the course of a season, as the vast majority of players usually finish right around 100 in terms of PDO. Shayne Gostisbehere, on the other hand, posted a 96.51 PDO this season. Not only was that the worst on the Flyers, it ranks 1107th among 1,133 total defenseman seasons (with more than 500 minutes at 5v5) since 2010-11. 97.6% of all the seasons by qualifying defensemen came with higher PDOs than the one Gostisbehere posted in 2016-17.

The good news for the future is that defensemen who post horrific PDOs in one season tend to bounce back dramatically the following season, so long as they are given regular ice time (as Ghost certainly will receive). Out of the 50 defensemen who posted PDOs below 97 in full seasons since 2010-11, 30 played in at least 500 minutes the following year, and those blueliners averaged a perfectly-respectable 99.45 PDO after their disastrous one.

The lesson here is twofold. First, if a player has a bad PDO year, it doesn’t mean he’s likely to repeat it, even if that poor season is historically awful. Second, the nature of Shayne Gostisbehere’s particular bad year shouldn’t have anyone too worried. The places where he graded out the worst don’t have much in the way of year-to-year repeatability, and while his Expected Goals For percentage at 5v5 (48.38% score-adjusted) was worse than his Corsi, it’s nowhere close to the awful 37.3% Goals For percentage that he posted.

It was a rough year. But the numbers tell us that Gostisbehere isn’t likely to repeat the awful on-ice percentages that torpedoed his sophomore season.

Scratchings and the impact on Ghost

The Flyers apparently didn’t view Gostisbehere’s poor on-ice results as being caused by primarily by poor fortune. After starting out the season essentially being used by head coach Dave Hakstol as a first-pair defenseman, Ghost’s ice time gradually dwindled until he was receiving third pair minutes on a nightly basis. The change in role was the more subtle adjustment by Hakstol, however. Much more obvious was the coach’s decision to scratch Gostisbehere five times during the 2016-17 season — two one-game benchings on November 17th and January 14th, and then a three-gamer in early February.

Predictably, fans were outraged. Part of that was due to the continued presence of players like Andrew MacDonald and Brandon Manning in the lineup while Gostisbehere sat, but the bigger concern was that the Flyers’ coaching staff might be trying to change Ghost’s style of play and make him more risk-averse through the use of disciplinary measures like scratchings.

The concern was driven by Gostisbehere’s perfectly-fine advanced metrics. Prior to the first scratch, Ghost ranked fourth on the defense in score-adjusted CF% and second in xG%; prior to scratch #2, he led the defense in both categories. With Gostisbehere on the ice, the shot-based outcomes were all positive, implying that his overall process was sound. Yes, the bounces weren’t going his way, but an overreaction to an awful Goals For percentage (36.15% prior to the second scratching) risked de-incentivizing a process that was resulting in territorial dominance.

That’s not to say that Gostisbehere was a perfect defenseman over the season’s first four months. He was making some glaring mistakes in coverage while skating in the defensive zone, and his on-ice Expected Goals Against per 60 rate was correspondingly high (2.67 — third-worst on the defense on January 13th). But the Flyers were creating lots of offense with Gostisbehere on the ice to make up for the defensive issues (a defense-high 2.70 xG For per 60 and 63.95 shot attempts per 60 at 5v5), even if the puck simply wouldn’t go into the net for him. Had Gostisbehere simply been allowed to play through his awful percentages, things likely would have improved on their own.

Instead, the Flyers evaluated that a benching was the right course of action. And when Gostisbehere’s flashy plays came back late in the season, it seemed like the coaching move may have worked. Ghost’s strong finish was also attributed by some to a return to health, as it had been theorized that the defenseman was hampered by his offseason sports hernia surgery during the season’s first half. The combination turned into the prevailing narrative at the end of the year — that health in addition to renewed confidence had brought back the old Gostisbehere, and the scratchings either helped him get back to that point, or at least didn’t have a major negative impact.

However, there is a nagging issue with that narrative, as perfect as it seems. Gostisbehere’s advanced metrics, so strong in the early season when the defenseman was supposedly a total disaster, were declining just as Ghost was supposedly regaining his old form.

Red lines designate scratches.

Gostisbehere stayed above the 50% Corsi mark through the entirety of the first half, and hovered right around break-even in xG. The second half, however, saw Ghost spend the majority of his time below the 50% line in both categories. Things did pick up at the very end of the season, but it wasn’t like those last few weeks were markedly better than Ghost’s results prior to being scratched in the first place.

It’s easy to build a narrative around this, as well. Maybe Gostisbehere shook off the first benching easily, made few changes to his game, and continued to drive positive shot-based outcomes as a result. But with his goal-based percentages staying low, the team benched him a second time, and that’s when Ghost’s play really fell off a cliff. Maybe it hurt his confidence. Or even more concerning, maybe Gostisbehere was trying to make changes to his game that were actually detrimental to his on-ice results.

Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Luckily, other evidence calls into question the theory. Gostisbehere’s manually-tracked microstats didn’t dramatically change over the final 38 games of the season versus the first 30, and such a shift would seem like an obvious indicator of an intentional change in style of play. Ghost still was driving controlled exits better than any Flyers defenseman not named Ivan Provorov, and he was still aggressively breaking up zone entries in the neutral zone.

His rate of forcing dump-ins when being attacked directly on the rush did decline, but it did the same for every Philadelphia defenseman as the season wound down. Ghost remained second on the club in both datasets, implying that even as team-wide tactics changed, he continued to attack opposing forwards more than his peers did. All of these are good signs. In addition, he spent a large portion of the second half playing with Nick Schultz, who is probably an even worse play-driver than MacDonald.

Still, these charts are a bit worrying. Ghost took a major step forward in the first half of 2016-17 in terms of play-driving ability, a legitimate weakness of his rookie season. Then, he gave back most of those gains in a second half that supposedly saw the defenseman “improve.” At least by the numbers, Gostisbehere’s first half looks like an example of “good process, bad results,” while the second half is more “mediocre process, mediocre results.” The concern is obvious — will Gostisbehere be trying to replicate the right process next season, and does the team even want him to do so?

Next season will be pivotal for Ghost’s career trajectory

At age-24, Shayne Gostisbehere has reached what can be viewed as a career crossroads. His rookie season was undeniably fantastic, as he rode the hot hand for 60+ games to a surprise Calder Trophy nomination. But he did need unsustainable shooting percentages to put up those eye-popping numbers, and his underlying metrics were just decent, not outstanding. Season No. 2 was also mesmerizing, at least if you consider spectacular accidents the primary reason to watch a NASCAR race. The unsustainable percentages didn’t just come back to earth; they burrowed all the way through to the planet’s core. On the other hand, those pesky underlying numbers did get better, even if they trended downwards in the second half.

In the first half of 2016-17, Gostisbehere didn’t look quite as dynamic with the puck as he had the previous year, but was very aggressive without it, particularly in his offensive zone pinches on the forecheck, and in his neutral zone defense. The result was improved play-driving metrics, despite extended time alongside Corsi deflator Andrew MacDonald. Yet the goal-based metrics didn’t follow suit, as Gostisbehere’s defensive aggressiveness seemed to burn him repeatedly, while he and his linemates couldn’t seem to buy a goal at the other end. The result was five scratches by the coaching staff, heralded as “teaching experiences” for the young defenseman.

But what was being taught? It’s a question that is impossible to answer without inside information regarding the content of those meetings. If the advice was “keep pushing the play and being aggressive on the attack, but work on your effort in defensive zone puck battles and recognize coverage switches quicker,” then it had the potential to be very helpful to Ghost, as those issues did exist, and were contributing to the high goals against totals. But if the advice was more along the lines of “cut down on o-zone pinches, and keep onrushing forwards to the outside rather than directly challenging them,” then we’re looking at an overreaction driven by unsustainable percentages.

Elliotte Friedman implied that in early February, the Flyers and Gostisbehere were butting heads on just how much the defenseman needed to change his style. Now, I have no idea what was being said in internal meetings between Gostisbehere and the coaching staff. But if Ghost was making the point that his play in the first half was generally fine and that the bounces would come eventually, the hard statistical truth is that he was probably on the right side of the argument.

That’s why, in my mind, Gostisbehere’s second half was in many ways more concerning to me than his first. The underlying processes were strong in 2016; Ghost just needed to clean up a few issues and get anything remotely resembling decent puck luck, and he’d be fine.

Nashville Predators v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

This is where I believe the Flyers went wrong in their treatment of Gostisbehere in 2016-17. The scratchings didn’t help his on-ice performance — if anything, they sent his underlying play into an utter tailspin. Gostisbehere talked about a loss of confidence as a big reason for his struggles in his exit interview, and I tend to think that an easy way to lose that confidence is to believe your game is structurally fine and then hear from your bosses that actually, you’re performing so poorly that Nick Schultz and Andrew MacDonald deserve to be in the lineup over you.

By the end of the season, Gostisbehere did look mostly recovered from a confidence standpoint. But the underlying numbers never returned to those early season levels, which calls into question whether he did make some subtle changes to his game to pacify the coaches, serving to weaken his play-driving ability.

Now, it remains totally plausible that the Flyers organization is committed to letting “Ghost be Ghost” and that this season was just a bump in the road of an otherwise-idyllic development process for him. Maybe the poor second half advanced metrics were primarily due to a “Nick Schultz effect.” But the trajectory of his stats does leave open a possibility I had previously discounted — that the treatment of Gostisbehere this season may have legitimately hurt the player for the long-term.

Let’s be clear — the Gostisbehere from 2015-16 isn’t coming back. That’s not saying that he can’t be a dynamic, effective defenseman at the NHL level. It’s merely an admission that he can’t expected to rack up tons of points with just-decent underlying metrics due to a shooting percentage over 10 percent. For me, the question is whether Ghost is content to be the guy from the second half of this year, or would prefer to be more like first half Ghost with better on-ice percentages.

The latter is the path of least resistance. He’ll still make tons of eye-popping plays with the puck, be great on the power play, and easily provide second pair value to the Flyers when looking at his overall contributions. But replicating the early-season play-driving ability while cutting down on the glaring defensive zone mistakes is the highest upside move for Gostisbehere. Going heavy on the offensive zone pinches and neutral zone aggressiveness may make his coaches cringe, but it’s also what allows him to have first-pair potential at even strength in the first place.

Is that guy gone for good, eviscerated in a blaze of awful puck luck and ill-advised scratches? I certainly hope not.


All stats courtesy of Corsica.Hockey, Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com, or the manual tracking work of Corey Sznajder at The Energy Line. On-Ice data derived from Corey’s manually-tracked metrics courtesy of Muneeb Alam.





[#] Fri May 05 2017 07:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: It's Friday and your Flyers will pick #2 overall.

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Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...

*Noted terrible leader Claude Giroux has been named captain of the Team Canada squad! Pretty cool. [Hockey Canada]

*Turns out Ron Hextall is just as pumped about getting the #2 pick as we are. NHL GMs: they're just like you! [CSN Philly]

*And yet another in what will surely be a long long line of "who would be better" articles with regard to that second pick. [Courier-Post]

*Charlie's exhaustive review of Shayne Gostisbehere's second season is an absolute must-read. [BSH]

*DGB runs down each draft lottery team to see if trading their pick makes sense. (spoiler alert: NO IT DOES NOT.)[Sportsnet]

*Yesterday we took a look at a ranking of the NHL's general managers. Here's a nice little wrap up of that ranking. [Hockey Graphs]

*So here's the thing: diving is only bad when it isn't your team doing it. In fact, it might actually be good. [Puck Daddy]

*There's often a lot of talk about the "culture of violence" in the NHL, but at least one concussion expert seems to agree that it's real and it's a problem for the guys who play. [Puck Daddy]

*If you're salty about the Penguins being up 3-1 on the Capitals right now, direct your ire at the Washington Capitals. [The Washington Post]

*And finally, here's a list of the top 30 UFAs this year. Some good names on this list. You want any of them? [The Hockey News]





[#] Fri May 05 2017 11:00:04 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles Draft Picks: Rasul Douglas has great ball skills

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Get to know the new Eagles rookie CB.

The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Rasul Douglas in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In order to learn more about the new Eagles cornerback, I reached out to SB Nation's West Virginia blog: The Smoking Musket. Mountaineers writer Jake Lantz was kind enough to answer my questions about Gerry.

1) Can you sum up what his college career was like?

Rasul came to WVU as a JUCO transfer from Nassau Community College where he was an All-American. He had offers from schools like Georgia and Florida State, so he was a huge get for WVU. His first season he was a backup to eventual NFL draft pick Darryl Worley (2016 NFL Draft, 3rd Round, Pick #77, Carolina Panthers). Rasul played sparingly but displayed decent ball skills. As a senior, Rasul blossomed. He led the team and NCAA in interceptions with 8. If anything, I'd say Rasul came to WVU underrated because he was a JUCO player but shined as a senior.

2) What are his strengths?

Great ball instincts. Rasul was known to be in the film room studying opponents and their tendencies. He would help the younger corners. He is also very aggressive, thriving in Tony Gibson's [West Virginia's Defensive Coordinator] unique 3-3-5 defense. Gibson would bring pressure from all directions and Douglas knew quarterbacks would need to get the ball out quickly to their safety outlets. Rasul attempted to jump routes often. Rasul is a big guy at cornerback and he uses that leverage and length to recover. He always seemed to have his hands near a ball in the air.

3) What are his weaknesses?

He isn't the hardest hitter and relies on dragging tacklers down more pulling them to the ground. I'm not sure there are many cornerbacks who love contact but Douglas isn't shy about getting his body on a ballcarrier. His fourty yard dash time was slow. He seemed to rely on his length more than his speed. He would break up passes but that is because he has long arms more than because he was breaking on the ball quickly.

4) Are you surprised where he was drafted? Higher or lower than expected? Just right?

Based on pre-draft profiles, the third round was exactly where I thought Douglas would go.

5) How do you see his NFL career playing out?

I think he will be a solid corner. To me, he seems like he would do well against a #2 possession receiver. He's probably too big to play in the slot and he doesn't have the most fluid hips to try and stay with shifty guys like former NY Giant Victor Cruz. Someone like Anquan Boldin, who isn't going to rely on his speed to get open would be a good matchup for Douglas down the line.

6) Anything to know about him off the field?

Absolutely none. Douglas benefited from a mentor when he was little who made sure to keep Douglas active in sports and off the streets where he grew up. Douglas grew up wanting to play basketball but didn't have the height to gain a college scholarship. At Nassau, Douglas endured a tough freshman year. Nassau didn't have dorms. Instead, Douglas had to find an apartment located eight miles from the Garden City, New York, campus. Douglas didn't have a car, so he had to take the bus every day to class and to practice. And because his grandmother still had to take care of his younger siblings, Douglas essentially was on his own financially. Despite the chances to sulk, Douglas remained determined and went to class (something many JUCO players struggle with), did his work and hit the weight room.





[#] Fri May 05 2017 09:00:07 EDT from rss

Subject: Reasons to get excited about the Eagles

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Reviewing the Eagles’ 2017 NFL Draft class

The Eagles had five picks on the third day of the 2017 NFL Draft. After triple dipping on defense in the first three rounds, it was unsurprising the Eagles followed up with three straight offensive picks and then finished with two defensive players. Despite them being later round picks, these players mostly have things to get excited for and more of these players than not could be role players down the line.

Mack Hollins

Position: Wide Receiver
School: UNC
Measurements: 6’4”, 221
Key Stat: On 81 career catches; Hollins had 20 career touchdowns and picked up over 20 yards per catch.

Hollins was a peculiar pick for some. After a relatively unproductive 2016 season and the fact that he will be 24 at the beginning of the season, it made a lot of people scratch their head that he was the first day three pick. Despite those question marks, it is undeniable that Hollins is talented and was held back in 2016 by an offense that did not target him as much. Hollins is a very gifted athlete with surprising speed for his size. If he can learn to catch the football away from his body more and get more consistent in his route running, he could be a deep threat down the line for the Eagles.

Donnel Pumphrey

Position: Running Back
School: SDSU
Measurements: 5’8”, 170
Key Stat: In the last three seasons, had 2843 yards after contact forced TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHT missed tackles.

The leading rusher in NCAA history was added to this team to boost the running game. Pumphrey, though diminutive, is a tough runner with incredibly good instincts, decent quickness and good long speed. Pumphrey should step in immediately as a role player who can contribute in the passing game, returning game and contribute a few touches in the running game. However, I fear that a 170 pound running back will struggle to make an impact on a consistent basis in the backfield. Despite that, Pumphrey has been proving people wrong for a long time and I wouldn’t be surprised if he kept going with it.

Shelton Gibson

Position: Wide Receiver
School: WVU
Measurements: 5’11”, 191
Key Stat: In 2016, Caught 17 of 29 targets on 20+ yard passing plays for over 720 yards.

It is smart that the Eagles took two receivers given that Alshon Jeffery is on a one year deal, Jordan Matthews has one year left, Torrey Smith is a bit of a question mark and the rest of the receivers should be shipped to a different planet. Shelton Gibson made his career at West Virginia on the deep ball and that is a much needed element for the Eagles. His 22 career yards per reception and 17 career touchdowns on only 84 catches is indicative of how prone he is for the big play. His speed off the line is effortless and overwhelming for cornerbacks and that is a dynamic Philly has been desperate for over the last two seasons. Gibson could use to expand his route tree and become more consistent catching the football in tight spaces, but he should be an important role player early on for this football team.

Nate Gerry

Position: Linebacker
School: Nebraska
Measurements: 6’2”, 218
Key Stat: Career In the last three years, Gerry allowed a 54.2 passer rating into his coverage. (Per Pro Football Focus)

The Eagles made an intriguing pick when they took a college safety in Nate Gerry and immediately deemed him a linebacker. At his size, it makes sense to move a slower safety closer to the line of scrimmage and it would not be surprising to see him add weight. Gerry is a hard-hitting, physical player who has very good instincts against the run. Even better, he is a ball hawk who picked off 13 passes and batted down 11 more in the last three seasons. Gerry is a project player given the position change, but I am optimistic about his chances of sticking around as a linebacker and early special teams contributor.

Elijah Qualls

Position: Defensive Tackle
School: Washington
Measurements: 6’1”, 313
Key Stat: 35 Quarterback disruptions (Sacks+Hits+Hurries) in 2016. (Per Pro Football Focus)

A former running back; Elijah Qualls has a short, stout frame and relatively quick feet for a defensive lineman. Despite some flashes, however, Qualls is laregely underwhelming overall. He is a good, not great pass rusher on a line where teams were planning for two other players and his run defense is mediocre given his role as a nose tackle. Qualls has very short arms and if he cannot win initially, he will get taken out of the play pretty quickly. While there is upside with Qualls and the Eagles definitely need bodies at defensive tackle, it is tough to see him immediately seeing time in the defensive rotation without some massive improvement in his first training camp.





[#] Fri May 05 2017 07:25:57 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Wendell Smallwood is one of the offseason

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 5/5/17.

Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...

Post-Draft Winners - Rotoworld
Eagles RB Wendell SmallwoodRyan Mathews’ career is uncertain following last season’s neck injury that required surgery, and many of the Eagles’ beat writers still expect the team to release him once he’s healthy. Linked to Jamaal Charles early in the free-agent period because of his connection to coach Doug Pederson, the Eagles never showed any interest. They wanted Florida State RB Dalvin Cook in the second round, but the Vikings leapfrogged them and left Philly with injured CB Sidney Jones (Achilles’) in Round 2. In the fourth round, the Eagles took Donnel Pumphrey, a pint-sized (5’8/176) LaMichael James-type back out of San Diego State. He has no shot at taking early-down work at that size. This sets up as a committee-type backfield leaning on Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Sproles turns 34 next month and has said this will likely be his last season. Smallwood has the size at 5’10/208 to handle a bigger workload and had a strong Week 3 against the Steelers as a rookie, rushing for 79 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. But he remained behind Mathews and Sproles on the depth chart the rest of the year and sprained his MCL in Week 14, ending his season. Smallwood tested really well in the forty (4.47), 3-cone drill (6.83), and 60-yard shuttle (11.14) at last year’s Combine. Coaches spent much of 2016 praising his upside and practice habits. Everything has shaken out in his favor this offseason, and the Eagles get back RT Lane Johnson, which boosts an already-strong offensive line.

With uncertainty at position, is Wendell Smallwood ready to be Eagles' lead back? - CSN Philly
Once again the Eagles didn't select a running back early in the draft, and for the first time in probably a quarter of a century, they don't have a de facto starting running back on the roster. The Eagles haven't drafted a running back in the first three rounds since LeSean McCoy in the second round back in 2009. And it's left the position without a proven back for the first time in a generation.

Did the Eagles help Carson Wentz in the draft? - BGN
Listen to the latest episode of BGN Radio.

Eagles mailbag: Is the projected 2018 running back class just as strong as this year's group? - PhillyVoice
As for next year, I agree that running back looks like another strong class, though I don’t think it will be as good as this year’s group. Prior to the 2016 draft, the Eagles looked ahead to the 2017 draft to project what the quarterbacks would look like. They determined at the time that it would be a weak quarterback class, and the consensus opinion of nearly every draft expert is that indeed it was. That was part of the reasoning in why the Eagles were so aggressive last year in trying to land Carson Wentz. Prior to the draft this year, I asked Howie Roseman if they projected other positional groups in the 2018 draft.

The Rookie CBs - Iggles Blitz
Sidney Jones is the hotter topic, but Rasul Douglas is a good player in his own right. And he is more likely to help out this season. If you want to get a better feel for his game, watch this video. You aren’t going to see an elite athlete or dynamic cover guy. You will see a big CB who has a good skill set and who can play in the NFL. Douglas shows his ability to break on the ball. You can see his physicality. He has a couple of good tackles in the game, something you need in Jim Schwartz’s scheme. Douglas gives up some catches, but he makes the receivers work for them.

Here Are The Well-Hidden Philadelphia Eagles References In The Two Most Recent Star Wars Movies - Deadspin
David Acord is a sound engineer for Skywalker Sound, the sound division of Lucasfilm. He’s also a Philadelphia Eagles fan. And in an article by Chris McPherson on the Eagles’ website for Star Wars Day, he reveals that there are hidden Eagles references in the two most recent movies.

Chalk Talk: How The Corners Fit In Philly - PE.com
Greg Cosell joins Fran Duffy for the 100th Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast to talk about the Eagles newly drafted cornerbacks and how it will improve the secondary.

2017 NFL Draft class power rankings: Teams 1-4 - NFL.com
Some will look at the Eagles picks and say "yeah, but" to many of the selections, but I see a good draft. Derek Barnett isn't flashy, but he's productive and tough. If cornerback Sidney Jones comes back healthy, the Eagles stole a first-round talent in the second. CB Rasul Douglas isn't fast, but he's an absolute ballhawk. WR Mack Hollings is an electric deep threat and outstanding special-teams talent.

Scouting Report: Sidney Jones can be the elite cornerback the Eagles desperately need - NJ.com
With the 43rd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Eagles selected the best shot they have had at a true, shut-down, No.1 cornerback in years. Can Washington's Sidney Jones overcome a torn left Achilles injury and live up to the hype? Here is a complete scouting report on Jones after spending time watching his tape from last season.

Draft's likely impact on 2017 Eagles - Daily News
It's a bit early to determine snap counts, and Bennett seems to be a low-risk talent at a really important position. I get the sentiment, though - my first-round preference would have been to add a high-octane offensive weapon that Wentz can grow with over the next several years. Like tight end O.J. Howard at 14. Or maybe trade back, pick up some assets, and select wideout Zay Jones, who went 37th overall, in the second round, to Buffalo. But Barnett was a very logical choice at 14, if not an exciting one. I am obligated to note that if Marcus Smith hadn't been a crushing disappointment, and if Vinny Curry had produced in line with his contract last season, the Eagles probably would have gone in another direction with their first pick. But reality is, they needed Barnett.

Tim Tebow Believes. Do You? - The MMQB
Van Wagenen agreed to take Tebow on as a client—but there was one problem. During their workout, Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles had called, offering Tebow a chance to play quarterback. That put his baseball idea on hold for a while. Tebow spent the summer with the Eagles, competing for a backup QB job, until he got cut again, at the end of the preseason in September 2015. At that point, Tebow and Van Wagenen decided to wait another year, until after the 2016 MLB draft, before announcing Tebow’s intention to play baseball. That way he could choose his team as a free agent, and he'd have time to train.

NFL teams are at it again on Star Wars Day - SB Nation
Plenty of NFL teams got in on the May the 4th fun, with varying results.

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[#] Thu May 04 2017 18:13:13 EDT from rss

Subject: Did the Eagles help Carson Wentz in the 2017 NFL Draft?

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The newest edition of BGN Radio is here! (Episode #235). In this episode, we talk about the Eagles' 2017 NFL Draft class, Carson Wentz's future, and much more!





[#] Thu May 04 2017 17:37:22 EDT from rss

Subject: ESPN Todd McShay 2018 NFL Mock Draft

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Looking ahead to next year.

We’re not even a week removed from the end of the 2017 NFL Draft and there are already a lot of 2018 mock drafts out there. We took a look at SB Nation’s 2018 mock earlier this week. Now it’s time for Todd McShay’s version via ESPN In$ider.

Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama* - If Scarbrough stays healthy, he could be a top-15 pick. He was the best player on the field against Washington and Clemson (before getting hurt) in the College Football Playoff. At 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds, Scarbrough is a load to bring down.

Before we get to the pick, it’s worth noting the Eagles are projected to have the 14th pick again in 2018. McShay’s mock order is based on early win projections from Football Outsiders. That’d be pretty lame if the Eagles finished around 7-9 for the third straight season.

But I digress. Back to the pick. Not very surprising to see the Eagles linked to another running back. First it was Saquon Barkley, who goes off the board at No. 7 in this mock, and now it’s Scarbrough.

In two years at Alabama, Scarbrough has rushed for 916 yards and 12 touchdowns on 143 attempts. He also has a mere four receptions for 22 yards. He’s a physical runner, as seen below.

Scarbrough could have entered the 2017 NFL Draft but he decided to stay in school. His stock could be boosted with a big year this fall.

As it currently stands, the Eagles desperately need help at running back. Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey, and Corey Clement are the only running backs currently on the roster (with Ryan Mathews expected to be cut). The Eagles might look to add another veteran to the mix for 2017, but even if that happens they should still probably take a rusher in next year’s draft.





[#] Thu May 04 2017 16:17:26 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles release three players

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Making room for undrafted free agents

The Eagles announced three cuts today, releasing running back Terrell Watson, fullback Andrew Bonnet and guard/center Josh LeRibeus.

Watson was signed to the practice squad in late December and then to the active roster for the season finale against the Cowboys, replacing Ryan Mathews. He scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to ice a 23-17 win. His release ends his feel good story.

Bonnett played tight end and fullback with Carson Wentz at North Dakota State. He was signed to the practice squad after final cuts, but was released in October, then signed a futures contract in January.

LeRibeus started 12 games in 2014 and 2015 for the Redskins. He was among the final cuts for the Redskins in 2016 and spent the entire season out of the league before the Eagles signed him to a futures contract in January.





[#] Thu May 04 2017 11:00:03 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles Rookie Profile: Nathan Gerry is gritty and not afraid to hit

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Get to know the new Eagles rookie LB.

The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Nathan Gerry in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In order to learn more about the new Eagles safety linebacker, I reached out to SB Nation's Nebraska blog: Corn Nation. A collection of Huskers writers from the site were all kind enough to answer my questions about Gerry.

1) Can you sum up what his college career was like?

Jon: Nate Gerry was a standout on Nebraska’s defense the past 2-3 years. He earned All-Conference honors in 2014, 2015, and 2016. He was a fan favorite because of his hard-nosed play, and hard hitting.

Brian: Nate came to Nebraska as one of the more heralded home-grown Nebraska prospects, even though he is from Sioux Falls. He was a three-tool football player, who could flat out fly. He set the record in his SR year in the state of South Dakota with a 10.28 100 yard dash. He was big on pushing for playing time early, so Pelini & crew put him at Linebacker, then moved him back to Safety the next year where he stayed the rest of his career.

Ranchbabe (Jill): He is leaving Nebraska 2nd all-time in career interceptions (13), was a fixture in post-season all-conference award lists, and a two-time team captain. But if a picture is worth a 1000 words ...

2) What are his strengths?

Brian: One of the things he did very well in Lincoln was coverage of slot & TE receivers. That, plus finding the football and stopping it, was some of the better things he did in Lincoln. He could diagnose patterns very well & get himself in positions that gave him the best chance to make the play. That is something he got from Bo Pelini’s coaching, and he showed that throughout his last 2 seasons in Lincoln.

Jill: Despite having some ballhawking stats, he was at his best around the LOS. Watching him follow a play and then pounce for the TFL was often a treat. I’m going to guess the Eagles drafted him to be a Zeke-seeking missile. He has the run game instincts but also the speed and cover skills to match up well when a team tries to get their running back out in space or use them for the checkdown. If so, he’s coming into the NFL at the right time as teams are starting to remember that RBs can be used in the pass game too.

3) What are his weaknesses?

Brian: It’s not so much an on the field item, but to me his maturity waned the longer he was in school. His back to back targeting ejections to finish the ‘15 season vs. Iowa and then UCLA in the bowl game were bad. But what was worse was that a Senior Captain was suspended for both the season opening game vs. Fresno State, and then the bowl game vs.Tennessee.

Jon: If he’s going to make it in the NFL, he’s going to have to be more disciplined. His suspension from the bowl game against Tennessee (his FINAL as a senior!) was because of academics. It was a stupid mistake on his part, but still a stupid mistake.

“Hoss” Reuter: Gerry struggles with tracking wider plays like jet sweep and toss sweep. Toss Sweep will be a problem for him within the NFC East since Dallas and Washington run the hell out of Toss Sweep, with crack blocks and pullers; two things that Gerry will need to get accustomed to playing in the box. He could be a good sub-package player against teams like the New York Giants, especially covering the tight ends. But I don't see him long for the NFL.

Jill: I grew up near Gerry’s hometown (Sioux Falls, SD) and concerns about his maturity and entitled behavior are widespread. This is doubly the case for someone who was supposed to be a team leader and captain. Are we judging him a bit harshly because Midwesterners expect “awww shucks” humbleness? Possibly. Much like Brian mentioned below, I wonder how he will handle being a little fish for the first time. Also, please don’t google Melvin Gordon, jet sweep, or anything to do with Nebraska v Wisconsin while Bo Pelini was our coach. Please.

4) Are you surprised where he was drafted? Higher or lower than expected? Just right?

Brian: I’m kinda surprised he went on Saturday, but after what I mentioned above in the weakness column, it’s not a surprise. I’m sure that Gerry is invested in football & will be 110% in mini-camps and training camp, however I do wonder if he’ll have the gumption to stay on that track if he’s not in line to start or be a contributor right away. If he’s practice squad material or needs to stick out in Special Teams, will he still have the same hunger? He is going from main man on campus to the lowest rung on the ladder, and I hope he’s learned that he’ll have to work hard to climb it.

Jill: He went about where I expected. He doesn’t project as an every down defender. He is going to have to do the grunt work on special teams and carve out a role in sub-packages to see the field. That’s about right for a 5th rounder.

Mike: Lower than what I expected; I thought he was a day two guy personally. But I’m probably also guilty of looking at him with Big Red-colored glasses.

5) How do you see his NFL career playing out since the Eagles are moving him to linebacker?

Jon: I can see Gerry doing what it takes to get on the field, even if it’s special teams. He does have a fair amount of grit about him, and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to yet another coaching staff. He won’t be an every-down kind of guy, but I can see him sticking around for several years as a situational linebacker, as long as he’s not required to get outside,

Jill: As you can tell from his targeting history, he’s not afraid of making the hit, so that part of playing linebacker shouldn’t be a problem. He is probably a bit small, but the NFL is full of undersized LBs that are effective if they’re kept clean. If I am right about how his skillset will translate to the NFL, he will have a nice career making life miserable for running backs and kick/punt returners. If he can also play underneath covering TEs in zone, he will only add to his snap count.

Mike: Assuming that the Eagles are looking at him as essentially a nickel, though lined up as an outside linebacker, I think he’s ideally suited for that role.

6) Anything to know about him off the field?

Jon: Other than the foolishness of his academic suspension and his suspension for “violation of team rules” for a game at the beginning of the 2016 season, there’s nothing to indicate that Gerry was a real problem. He won the Tom Osborne Citizenship Award and Brook Berringer Citizenship Award his senior season, and while they tend to give out these rewards as resume builders, they are an indication that he was doing good things off the field.

Jill: We’ve covered some of that above, but as Jon mentioned, he has done some good things too. I don’t think there are any serious red flags. I expect he will put his head down, work hard, and do what he needs to get on the field.

7) Is it “Nathan” or “Nate”?

Jon: Nate

Mike: I believe Gerry prefers Nathan, judging from his Twitter account. Husker fans got used to calling him Nate as a freshman, and we’ve had a hard time correcting ourselves.





[#] Thu May 04 2017 09:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Reasonable expectations for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017

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Can the past help us predict the future?

The year was 1999 and the Eagles had just drafted quarterback Donovan McNabb with the 2nd overall pick in the NFL Draft. The team struggled through the 1999 season with starting veteran quarterback Doug Pederson before he was replaced by McNabb following a Week 9 loss to the Carolina Panthers. The team went 2-4 with McNabb as the starter, matching Pederson’s win total with three less starts. Add in a Koy Detmer start and win and the Eagles finished with a 5-11 record in their first year under Andy Reid.

Fast forward to 2016. The team and roster were recovering from the Chip Kelly purge that saw arguably the best core of offensive players in franchise history exit the NovaCare Complex within a 12 month span. Kelly was fired before the final game of 2015, less than a year after he won a power struggle with GM Howie Roseman, in which he took control of the roster and football operations. After hiring Pederson as the new head coach, who was serving as Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City, the team elected to re-sign QB Sam Bradford, who was heavily criticized for his conservative approach on offense. With Bradford back, many questioned where the franchise was headed until Roseman pulled off a deal that nobody saw coming. After two trades and a cleansing of all things Chip Kelly, the Eagles had moved up from the No. 13 pick in the draft to No. 2 overall.

With the newly acquired pick, the Eagles selected QB Carson Wentz and the future started to become clearer. The plan was to make Bradford a bridge QB until Wentz was deemed ready to play. That plan was ultimately derailed when Bradford was traded a week before the season started for a 2017 first round pick. Upon the trade, Wentz was named the starter and the rest is history. The Eagles started 2016 3-0, but injuries, suspensions, poor play from the cornerbacks and Chip Kelly’s roster deconstruction caught up with them and they finished 7-9.

Now we turn our attention to 2017. After an offseason in which the Eagles bolstered their WR core with Alshon Jeffery and veteran deep threat Torrey Smith and addressed several needs on defense, the team appears equipped to take a step, but what should their expectations be? We’ve heard it all offseason, “They're not expected to contend for a Super Bowl this year.” While I do agree with that statement, just how far away is a team from contending for a championship? My definition, which is by no means the standard, would be a team that finds it’s way to a Conference Championship Game. I don't believe the team is ready to advance that far, but what should we expect from a team, that on paper has only gotten better?

BGN Radio’s James Seltzer has routinely shared his belief that if the Eagles don't make the playoffs this year, Pederson is out. I don't believe that will be the case as the team has shown they are making moves for the long term as well (see Jones, Sidney). With all of that said, let’s finally look at what we should expect from the Eagles in 2017. For the second straight year, the Eagles’ schedule isn't a cake walk, but there is some relief as opposed to what they faced in 2016. A playoff berth at 10-6 should be the reasonable expectation, with a realistic ceiling be a division title at 11-5 and the floor no lower than 8-8 with a healthy roster. I want to take a moment to explain the ceiling, expectation and floor.

With the ceiling, a second year QB is able to propel an offense where he has legitimate weapons. Taking a look around the division, there hasn't been substantial improvement. The Cowboys have lost two starters along their offensive line and many more on the defensive side of the ball. They did a good job of supplementing some of those holes in the draft, but you can't count on hitting on all of your picks. Washington saw two of it’s best receivers sign elsewhere this past offseason amongst a dysfunctional front office saga. The Giants added veteran receiver Brandon Marshall in addition to Evan Engram this offseason, but it’s hard to consistently throw the ball well when you can't run it and expect Ereck Flowers to start.

For the reasonable expectations, the team lost six games by seven points or less, finishing 7-9. Two of those losses were by a single point, one in overtime and another after missing a field goal and going for it on fourth down on two separate drives deep in enemy territory. With the apparent regression of teams in the division and the improvements the team has made in the offseason, it should be easier to win some of the closer games.

The floor of the team should be 8-8 if everything stays on track and progresses the way we project it. Despite the apparent regression of NFC East rivals, division games are typically a dog fight where the phrase “Any given Sunday” applies more often than not. Factor in the AFC West and games all over the West Coast, progress could be halted. The team could finish with a record worse than 7-9 that could result in Pederson’s dismissal, but I believe both are unlikely. The only way I can fathom a sub-seven win season is if the team is decimated by injuries, under which circumstances Pederson would likely return for a third season.

In 2000 the Eagles kicked off the season by officially ending the Dallas Cowboy dynasty of the 90’s, blowing the Cowboys out 41-14 in Dallas in what is now known as the “Pickle Juice game.” Our own John Barchard, Dave Mangels and James Keane all reflected on the offseason leading up to 2000, with the general consensus that the expectation was maybe eight wins and a beacon of hope. After Week 1, expectations were sky high and the team finished 11-5, winning a playoff game against the Buccaneers. McNabb started 16 games with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 21/13, rushing for over 600 yards and six touchdowns as the offense’s top weapon, Duce Staley, was limited to just five games. We often hear that history repeats itself, but we can't rely on that to always be the case. Some of the circumstances of the 2000 offseason are similar to those of the 2017 offseason. The Eagles have a young promising second-year QB, arguably the top set of tackles in the league, a second year coach with an offense the maximizes QB success and a defense that many expect to be amongst the league’s best. The expectations may not be to bring home a Super Bowl this year, but they are to take a leap to the playoffs which is a goal the team achieved in the past under similar circumstances.





[#] Fri May 05 2017 15:53:32 EDT from rss

Subject: Radko Gudas punched Claude Giroux in the face at the World Championships

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It was a no-looker.

The first game of the IIHF World Championships for both Canada and the Czech Republic seemed to start off fine, with team captains Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek exchanging pleasantries before puck drop.

Oh, that didn’t last.

Just nine minutes, 51 seconds into the first period, a bit of a dust-up took place between the two squads. I don’t know exactly how it started because I live in the United States of America and therefore cannot watch this game on television because our sports networks are still too busy talking about the friggin’ NFL Draft.

But I do know that Radko Gudas threw a punch at Giroux.

It’s a little tough to see at first glance, but it’s quick there as Gudas skates up to Nathan MacKinnon. He throws his arm out and it catches Giroux, who goes down and hits the ice. Giroux seems fine, and it’s quite possible that Gudas didn’t even realize who he was throwing at, as he didn’t even really look.

Then again, Giroux had been involved in some stuff before this. He apparently jabbed a guy with his stick after the faceoff, which could be what Gudas was reacting to.

MacKinnon was given two minutes for interference, Gudas was given two minutes for roughing and Giroux was given two minutes for high sticking on all of this.

I feel funny. I don’t like seeing our parents fight.





[#] Fri May 05 2017 16:14:16 EDT from rss

Subject: Travis Konecny juuuuust misses goal, gets robbed by Petr Mrazek at Worlds

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Assistant coach Dave Hakstol didn’t scratch him!

When Travis Konecny was named to Team Canada’s entry at the 2017 World Championships last month, we joked that Canada assistant coach Dave Hakstol was already lobbying to make him a healthy scratch.

Guess those lobbying efforts failed!

I know a lot of us were down on Konecny at times this year because ... I don’t know, really. I guess it’s because watching Flyers hockey was just generally a downer of an experience in 2016-17.

But he’s 19, and he’s playing at the World Championships, and he’s really, really good. This should have been a goal. Petr Mrazek is dead to me.





[#] Sat May 06 2017 15:32:35 EDT from rss

Subject: Bills interview Eagles executive for general manager position, report says

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Changes coming?

The Buffalo Bills are interviewing Philadelphia Eagles director of college scouting Trey Brown for their vacant general manager position, according to a report from NFL insider Ian Rapoport.

Brown, 32, spent 2010-2012 with the New England Patriots before joining the Eagles as a West Coast area scout in 2013. He was promoted to assistant director of college scouting in 2015 before being promoted to his current position in 2016.

You may recognize Brown from the times you’ve seen him on your television. He stars in a recent Microsoft Surface Pro commerical.

The Bills are reshaping their front office this offseason after clearing house following the firing of former GM Doug Whaley. Former Eagles defensive coordinator and current Bills head coach Sean McDermott will have a lot of influence in structuring Buffalo’s new personnel department.

The Eagles are bound to make changes to their front office this month following the completion of the 2017 NFL Draft. There’s already been some leaks of changes to the scouting department and the Eagles will likely officially confirm those moves at some point. Vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas will likely have an influence on Philadelphia’s s new hirings and dismissals.

After interviewing with the Bills, it’s possible Brown will be gone whether the Eagles want him back or not.





[#] Sat May 06 2017 13:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles Draft Recap: Listen to BGN Radio on SportsRadio 94WIP

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Your favorite Eagles podcast is back on the air this week!

BGN Radio is back on the airwaves again this weekend. There’s plenty of Philadelphia Eagles topics to talk about as we recap the 2017 NFL Draft and more. (Click here to listen). Call in at 888.729.9494!

John Barchard and James Seltzer will be broadcasting live from the Tastykake studios to talk about Eagles draft picks, Carson Wentz, Derek Barnett, Doug Pederson, Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas, and more.

Our site's podcast will be streaming live on SportsRadio 94WIP today (Saturday, May 6) from 1:00 - 3:00 PM ET. This show is brought to you by our sponsor Clippit - Watch TV. Make Clips. Share. (www.clippit.tv). Check them out on Twitter: @clippittv

Listen to the show via online stream by [CLICKING HERE].

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[#] Sat May 06 2017 09:30:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles Rookie Scouting Report: Getting to know Shelton Gibson

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Eagles rookie scouting report.

The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Shelton Gibson in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In order to learn more about the new Eagles wide receiver, I reached out to SB Nation's West Virginia blog: The Smoking Musket. Mountaineers writer Jake Lantz was kind enough to answer my questions about Gibson.

1) Can you sum up what his college career was like?

Disappointing. Shelton was a 4-star burner out of Ohio and given his speed [4.3s] you would have expected him to break 1,000 yards. He never did though not all of that is his fault. He was playing with Skyler Howard. I don't want to diss Howard because by all accounts he was a hard worker, tough as nails kid who laid it all out every time he played. But Skyler was inaccurate on the intermediate throws and often threw the ball 50 yards high to get it 40 yards downfield. Shelton had every defensive back beat but often had to wait for the ball to come down which limited his yardage. Had Gibson waited a year to come out, there’s no doubt that he would have put up better numbers with Will Grier throwing the ball to him.

2) What are his strengths?

Speed and ball awareness. When the deep ball is thrown, Shelton is going to get the ball. He outran every defensive back in the country when he played. Teams often shaded a safety to him and he still got by them. He is great at tracking the ball over his shoulder. He shows good body awareness to get his feet down while making tough sideline catches.

3) What are his weaknesses?

He struggles with catching the ball against his body on short throws. He dropped more than he should have on curls and comeback routes.

4) Are you surprised where he was drafted? Higher or lower than expected? Just right?

I thought with his speed he might have gone in the 4th round. He ran poorly at the combine and that probably hurt him more than his pro day helped him. I know every year there are guys who are burners but I thought that Gibson displayed enough football skills that he would go higher than the 5th round.

5) How do you see his NFL career playing out?

4th receiver. I think he will be a special teams player for a year or two and see the field sparingly. He will probably break 100 yards once or twice on 2 or 3 catches. I would not expect him to see a second contract.

6) Anything to know about him off the field?

Gibson didn't have any off the field issues. He was never suspended at WVU and there were no reports that he was a problem to the coaches or players.





[#] Sat May 06 2017 07:18:41 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Carson Wentz reveals his favorite Wawa hoagie

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 5/6/17.

Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...

Carson Wentz Tells Us About Quarterbacking In Philly, And What To Order At Wawa - UPROXX
Wawa is great. Turkey, bacon, avocado sandwich is pretty prime. You can’t go wrong with that one.

Reasons to get excited about the Eagles’ Day 3 draft picks - BGN
The Eagles had five picks on the third day of the 2017 NFL Draft. After triple dipping on defense in the first three rounds, it was unsurprising the Eagles followed up with three straight offensive picks and then finished with two defensive players. Despite them being later round picks, these players mostly have things to get excited for and more of these players than not could be role players down the line.

BGN Radio #235: Did The Eagles Help Carson Wentz In The Draft? - BGNRadio.com
Reviewing the Eagles’ 2017 NFL Draft.

Mailbag: What would be your hindsight Eagles mock draft? - PhillyVoice
I think a lot of people are selling Derek Barnett short. As for Allen and Hooker being better overall players, I would agree with Allen. I think he was a “top five” type of talent in this draft, but he was a medical risk. I don't have the Eagles' doctors' reports on him, so I don't know what they know. As such, I'm not in a position to say they should have taken Allen. Obviously, 15 teams other than the Eagles passed on him as well, so the Eagles weren't alone. As for Hooker, I don’t think he’s better than Barnett. Yes, he made a lot of big plays for Ohio State, and that’s appealing, but he was also a horrid tackler. He has a ways to go before he’s an all-around complete safety.

From warehouse to red carpet: the driving force behind Derek Barnett - ESPN
The glitz and glamour of the NFL draft behind her, Christine Barnett began settling back into her routine this week, returning to the same UPS warehouse that she has toiled in for the past 23 years. She had taken some time off to join her son, Derek, in Philadelphia for the draft. Walked the red carpet with him down the historic museum steps. Sat with him as he was selected 14th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles. Watched from a couple rows back as he met with the local media for the first time, using the opportunity to heap praise on her as he often does.

Eagles build tasty roster with a big box of Now and Later - Inquirer
The Eagles emerged from the NFL draft as a team that has chosen two paths to the 2017 season and beyond, one that takes a straight line to improving the roster right away, even if incrementally, and the other that meanders through the woods a bit, with a higher potential reward down the road, but less certainty of success. Whether the team will be competitive this season, and to what extent, is really not that important. It isn't going to win the Super Bowl, and if that is the real, and not just stated, goal, the Eagles have done just enough to create a professional environment for 2017 in which hope can triumph even if the team doesn't all that often. The organization's focus is on a more distant horizon, and given the reality of their division and their own stage of development, that is exactly as it should be.

A look at players Eagles missed from 74-99 after Timmy Jernigan trade - CSN Philly
With Sutton, Tankersley, Lewis and Griffin going off the board a few spots before the Eagles' pick, it's kind of reminiscent of the fifth round in 2016. The Eagles drafted Wendell Smallwood just after a few other running backs, including Pro Bowler Jordan Howard, went off the board. The Eagles claimed Smallwood was always their guy, but it's fair to wonder.

Answering Your Questions - Iggles Blitz
That really is a great Combine showing. Gratz started 25 games for the Jaguars before they let him go. He didn’t play much last year for the Rams. I have yet to go back and study his tape. I don’t know what has worked and what hasn’t. Now that the draft is over I do have the time to check him out. The fact he is so athletic and has some experience means he has a chance to compete for a job and win it. The Eagles will give him a clean slate and clearly CB is wide open right now. Whoever wants a job just has to go win it. All that said, I wouldn’t count on Gratz doing much. He doesn’t have a great track record and seems to be declining. He is getting a fresh start in Philly and maybe that will bring out the best in him.

Quick Hits: Rookie Camp Ahead - PE.com
January 1, 2017, Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles finished their 2016 season against the Dallas Cowboys, with a starting wide receiver corps of Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Paul Turner. Quarterback Carson Wentz averaged 5.2 yards on his 43 passing attempts ...

What free agents make the most sense for Eagles? - Morning Call
First off, forget LeGarrette Blount, the 30-year-old running back who led the league with 18 rushing TDs for New England last season. Price tag will be too high, plus he's not a fit in the passing game, either. But there are some veteran free agents out there who can help the Eagles right now. Here's a look at the most intriguing ones.

Pumphrey reveals he has second child from high school - SDUT
“There was a DNA test involved with other men. Come to find out, this thing happened three months ago … we did the DNA and he’s mine,” Pumphrey said. “And I’m taking full responsibility. I just consider it another blessing.” Pumphrey’s daughter, Maliya, has been present in his life since birth and was regularly seen at Aztecs football games during Pumphrey’s college career. The son’s name is Malik.

Silva: Dynasty Rookie Rankings - Rotoworld
Scatback build at 5-foot-8, 176, but was a workhorse at San Diego State.

Jay Cutler retires to join FOX broadcasting booth - SB Nation
The veteran quarterback followed Tony Romo’s lead and pursued a career opportunity off the field.

...

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[#] Fri May 05 2017 15:58:28 EDT from rss

Subject: Riley Cooper has resurfaced

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Lol.

Riley Cooper is back in the NFL. Well, sort of. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are giving him a tryout during their rookie minicamp this weekend.

The 29-year-old Cooper has been a free agent ever since the Eagles cut him in February 2016. He hasn’t drawn any public interest since then ... until now.

It’s unusual for a once-established NFL player to be taking part in a rookie minicamp like this. But with Cooper, it’s not exactly surprising. He really struggled once becoming a starter for the Eagles. And it’s not exactly like he was known for being the most well-liked locker room guy. His racial slur incident doesn’t help his case either.

We’ll see if the Buccaneers end up signing Cooper or not. Perhaps Tampa Bay is just doing Cooper — who went to high school and college in Florida — a favor to get his name out there again.

There’s something about the Bucs and former Eagles receivers. Tampa Bay signed DeSean Jackson in free agency this year and they also took a chance on Josh Huff after Philadelphia released him last season. The Bucs recently employed Russell Shepard for a few seasons. He’s since moved on to the Panthers.





[#] Sun May 07 2017 16:42:24 EDT from rss

Subject: NFL win totals: Over/under 8.5 wins for the Philadelphia Eagles

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A special bonus episode of BGN Radio!





[#] Sun May 07 2017 14:01:45 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles UDFA Profile: Tyler Orlosky is smart, tough, and tenacious

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Get to know one of the Eagles UDFA signings.

The Philadelphia Eagles reportedly signed West Virginia center Tyler Orlosky in undrafted free agency. CBS identifies him as this year’s top UDFA prospect. In order to learn more about the new Eagles offensive lineman, I reached out to SB Nation's West Virginia blog: The Smoking Musket. Mountaineers writer Jake Lantz was kind enough to answer my questions.

  1. Can you sum up what his college career was like?

If Shelton Gibson's college career was disappointing, Orlosky's career exceeded expectations. Coming out of Ohio, he was the #3 rated player in the state and held offers from Michigan and Michigan State. Like many linemen, he redshirted his first year and started sparingly his second year. As a redshirt sophomore, he started every game and never missed a game in his final three years. He was named team captain in 2015 and 2016. He made the 2016 Preseason Rimington Watch List (NCAA Best Center) and was a finalist for the award.

2) What are his strengths?

Smart, tough, and tenacious. He displays good technique when moving forward and delivers a strong punch when engaging defensive tackles. He knows how to use his hands and doesn't waste a lot of motion when turning defenders.

3) What are his weaknesses?

He's right at 300 pounds and isn't the most agile person on the line. Unlike some players, he doesn't offer versatility and isn't going to be able to be shifted to guard or be a swing guy on the line. He's strictly a center. He can be beaten at the point of attack by quicker tackles, especially when teams move a defensive end inside.

4) Are you surprised he went undrafetd?

I thought Orlosky would hear his name called in the 6th or 7th round. I'm not totally surprised he went undrafted as centers don't get a ton of love in the draft but I thought he might see him drafted in the last 40 picks or so.

5) How do you see his NFL career playing out?

I could see him bouncing around from team to team and hanging around for a while. He's got the smarts to be able to pick up protection calls and understand where the blitzers are coming from. I wouldn't expect All Pro from him.

6) Anything to know about him off the field?

Tyler was a model citizen at school and enjoyed a great relationship with the head coach. He could often be seen planning with the coach and both knew that they wanted to win, so they didn't take blowups personally.





[#] Sun May 07 2017 12:32:52 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles 2017 NFL Draft Prediction Game Results

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And your winner is ...

Prior to the start of the 2017 NFL Draft last week, I posted the annual Bleeding Green Nation draft prediction game contest. It was a hard-fought, competitive field as there were a total of 226 entries. That's 117 more than last year! Blood, sweat, and tears were left out in the comment section. Before we get to the results, let's recap the Eagles 2017 draft class.

1st - No. 14 - Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
2nd - No. 43 - Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
3rd - No. 99 - Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia
4th - No. 118 - Mack Hollins, WR, North Carolina
4th - No. 132 - Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State
5th - No. 166 - Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia
5th - No. 184 - Nathan Gerry, LB, Nebraska
6th - No. 214 - Elijah Qualls, DT, Washington

Now for your winner ... longlivesimba! This member got three picks correct (Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones, Shelton Gibson). As a result, they will receive one free t-shirt from Philly Phaithful for every number of picks they correctly guessed. So that's three free t-shirts. Stay tuned for details on how to claim your prize.

Two other users got three names right: frankmurph119 and JLDawk. They missed out on winning the competition since our winner posted before them. Speed counts as a tie-breaker. In addition, our winner also nailed the Eagles' first two picks unlike the other two, so that's pretty good.

Some more stats for you:

• 97 users didn't get a single pick right. That's 43% of the field. Shame!

• 58 users got Sidney Jones. 42 users got Derek Barnett. 35 users got Shelton Gibson. 15 users got Rasul Douglas. 7 users got Donnel Pumphrey. Two users got Elijah Qualls. No one got Mack Hollins or Nate Gerry.

• Kudos to Lip-Out who predicted the Eagles would draft a player the team ended up signing in undrafted free agency instead: Tyler Orlosky.

For everyone who didn't win who still wants some Philly Phaithful merch, BGN readers can get a 10% discount on every purchase by using code bgn10 at checkout. This offer is valid 24-7-365!

Full 2017 results below. Click the column header to sort the table. Thanks to everyone who participated. Congrats again to our winner: longlivesimba!

Username Correct Picks Names
CVEagles 1 Derek Barnett
NAVYEAGLES 0
Brett Nied 0
Lcfarmboy 0
Andrew VU '04 2 Rasul Douglas, Donnel Pumphrey
Phillyguy413 1 Derek Barnett
Shark Fighter 1 Sidney Jones
philllyfanatic 1 Rasul Douglas
SlanginHoes 1 Sidney Jones
TheWhalwing 2 Sidney Jones, Shelton Gibson
ProfessorWentz 1 Sidney Jones
joelbryant123 1 Sidney Jones
OregonBias 1 Derek Barnett
TroutieK 0
spopo21 2 Rasul Douglas, Shelton Gibson
Empty soul 1 Shelton Gibson
PhillyEagles2011 1 Derek Barnett
RideHighTide 0
Masked Man 1 Derek Barnett
PumphreyAir 0
JPM9012 1 Sidney Jones
barca1707 0
dceagles 1 Sidney Jones
Jeaver
NJBammer 1 Sidney Jones
LegionOfZoom 0
section702 0
RegalEagle 1 Shelton Gibson
heezdedjim 2 Derek Barnett, Rasul Douglas
Big.Red 0
thehateholiday 1 Sidney Jones
Birdgang26 1 Sidney Jones
GminTraining 0
Phunkadelphia 1 Shelton Gibson
NoPhlyZone75 0
Brick_Tamland 1 Sidney Jones
VRFC8 0
KoreanPhillyFan 1 Sidney Jones
mitch.m 0
BirdsforLife20 1 Rasul Douglas
Hopkins48 0
thisislocks 1 Derek Barnett
TheCoxishere 0
D Battery Snowballs 1 Derek Barnett
poopshootnobabies 1 Sidney Jones
aja8202 0
TheBigTicket21 1 Derek Barnett
MrMiyagi 0
fefer107 2 Rasul Douglas, Shelton Gibson
andyb 1 Sidney Jones
longlivesimba 3 Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones, Shelton Gibson
ChipKellysGhost 1 Sidney Jones
Kairo02 0
ScratcherFC 1 Sidney Jones
schn3ll 1 Sidney Jones
Bring Your Own Lampshade 1 Shelton Gibson
WubbaLubbaDubDub 1 Derek Barnett
YungGunz 1 Sidney Jones
Repair-Man-Man-Man-Man 0
Ezaripov01 0
Gray527 1 Donnel Pumphrey
midnitegreen 1 Derek Barnett
PSUiggle 0
E3GLES! 1 Shelton Gibson
Elliptical Man 0
ElcoEagle63 0
Styles8620 1 Shelton Gibson
Sporkguy3 0
Trucks24 1 Sidney Jones
McNabulous 0
RossyJr22 2 Sidney Jones, Shelton Gibson
The Man, The Myth, the Matthews! 1 Sidney Jones
wildcatlh 2 Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones
FreddyNietzsche 0
ei78 1 Derek Barnett
tfrank9811 1 Rasul Douglas
GotFunds 0
Irish_Eagle 0
Sportsfan316 0
NVEagleShark 1 Sidney Jones
gibleedsgreen 1 Sidney Jones
Matt Korman 2 Derek Barnett, Elijah Qualls
frankmurph119 3 Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Donnel Pumphrey
BornInPhilly_LiveInNashville 0
ablesser88 0
caruso23 1 Sidney Jones
Thawk995 0
JEREMIAH GLOBE TROTTER 1 Derek Barnett
AntrhoEagle 0
eric.sidewater 1 Derek Barnett
ItownBallers22 0
ArkansasEagle 2 Derek Barnett, Shelton Gibson
JeanClaudeSilly 2 Derek Barnett, Shelton Gibson
QuincyCarterWasThaBest 1 Derek Barnett
JLDawk 3 Derek Barnett, Rasul Douglas, Shelton Gibson
MulletMan10 0
rob1599 1 Derek Barnett
flipadelph halflife 0
EAGLESBSU 0
eventually 1 Derek Barnett
swagger226 0
Smoothies 1 Sidney Jones
grantspectations 1 Sidney Jones
NoPhlyZone 0
46RockBlitz 1 Derek Barnett
Srodman13 2 Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones
Smrdwnnow 0
JALupowitz 0
EaglefaninWA 0
DakotaEAGLE 0
Jkirbs7 2 Derek Barnett, Shelton Gibson
Dirtybird#20 2 Sidney Jones, Shelton Gibson
KEZHOG 1 Shelton Gibson
jmsone17 0
Paddysutts 0
Hugh Mad 0
macjack12 0
RonaC 1 Rasul Douglas
AeaglesA 1 Shelton Gibson
Flyin High 0
LAOJoe 0
Stooch7 0
Huffs_cellmate 0
NickfoleonDynamite 1 Shelton Gibson
MuffinStuffers 0
NOLA Eagle 1 Shelton Gibson
Eagle Steve 0
dawks4presidente 0
OnTheUpSwoop 0
Johnny Mojave 1 Shelton Gibson
Lip-Out 1 Donnel Pumphrey
Avocado Arm 0
Agholor'sHands 0
orealfan 0
Phlyin' High 2 Sidney Jones, Shelton Gibson
GreenScoundrel 2 Sidney Jones, Donnel Pumphrey
Dsmith922 1 Derek Barnett
Schwanz21 1 Derek Barnett
SHOEMAN 2 Sidney Jones, Shelton Gibson
eherk6 1 Sidney Jones
WentzWagon11 1 Sidney Jones
T-money007 0
jkatz 1 Shelton Gibson
Haan 0
EAGLES5 1 Sidney Jones
TheRealBoyer 1 Derek Barnett
Kephas 0
adammac2 2 Donnel Pumphrey, Shelton Gibson
HTXEaglesFan 0
eagles0132 1 Sidney Jones
Hodor's Love Child 0
billyc73 2 Sidney Jones, Shelton Gibson
EastonAssassin63 1 Rasul Douglas
petomenon aetos 0
Brodieman687 1 Shelton Gibson
BleedingKellyGreen12 1 Shelton Gibson
Ragnarok2k15 1 Sidney Jones
dunc123 0
jeppsforst 0
screamingeaglesd 0
EagleClaw74 1 Sidney Jones
naderg43 1 Shelton Gibson
rockmaccoy 0
Navyhockey 2 Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones
I Shittu Not 1 Sidney Jones
Klogan313 0
Slowhand14 1 Derek Barnett
Age_nt 1 Derek Barnett
mlbsports23 0
twayneo 2 Sidney Jones, Shelton Gibson
jhiphop 1 Shelton Gibson
PecorMR 1 Shelton Gibson
E.O.S. 0
Joshdd9 0
TheWentzAndFutureKing 1 Rasul Douglas
T-rade 0
German Eagle 1 Rasul Douglas
greasy nail 0
Ivanl6 0
burkhart_b 1 Derek Barnett
UKEagle84 0
ToddKBailey 1 Sidney Jones
mfegs2 1 Shelton Gibson
B1G Cat 2 Sidney Jones, Shelton Gibson
Qwest 1 Rasul Douglas
tclemson17 1 Derek Barnett
Howie Bro-sman 1 Sidney Jones
89Tremaine 1 Sidney Jones
wardbell92 1 Derek Barnett
BigWardy59 0
AznEagles 2 Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas
axk5032 0
Mother_Trucker 2 Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones
jconway231 0
rstocker87 1 Derek Barnett
sports00fan00 0
Fletcher Cox For President 1 Derek Barnett
david_b 1 Derek Barnett
GottaBeGreen 0
Shady is an Eagle! 0
The Philly Moose 0
VermontEaglesFan 1 Sidney Jones
DimitriFF 1 Sidney Jones
Mroch 1 Derek Barnett
BleedingGreenHaitian 1 Sidney Jones
The Ghost of Sam Hinkie 0
PeaceVT 0
slandog 0
Ndpxmvp 0
Shane Hallam 0
Fletchdog 1 Derek Barnett
SirJon 0
evangrossman113 1 Elijah Qualls
gubby 0
JustFlyBaby 0
LosEagles23 2 Sidney Jones, Shelton Gibson
Shawn Alley 0
elandyboys92 2 Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones
iBleedGreen808 0
Cory_Williams 0
Whoopthereitis703 0
randycolon 0
Jdurb 1 Sidney Jones
Toronto Eagle 1 Donnel Pumphrey
PhilJack 1 Sidney Jones
realism17 1 Sidney Jones





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