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[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 09:24:22 EDT from rss

Subject: Craig Carton Is Going To Jail (Probably)

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WFAN morning show host Craig Carton, formerly of WIP, was arrested this morning. From NBC New York: Craig Carton, co-host of WFAN’s morning sports talk show “Boomer & Carton,” has been arrested on investment fraud-related counts in connection with an alleged fake ticket scam. The FBI arrested Carton, 48, at his home in Manhattan early…

[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 09:00:11 EDT from rss

Subject: Your Wednesday Morning Roundup

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Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, JP Crawford, and Jorge Alfaro all started last night’s game against the Mets. Oh, and the Phillies crushed New York’s other team 9-1 behind a six-run fourth inning. Crawford got his first Major League hit and kudos to that, but pitcher Ben Lively stole the show. He gave up one run…

[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 10:37:37 EDT from rss

Subject: Dolphins-Buccaneers game will NOT take place in Philadelphia

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As it turns out, Philadelphia will NOT be hosting the Miami Dolphins versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. The game has been postponed to Week 11, according to an official announcement from the NFL.

It was reported on Tuesday that Lincoln Financial Field (as well as Heinz Field in Pittsburgh) was being considered as a potential host site following news that the game wouldn’t be allowed to take place in Miami due to the threat of Category 5 storm Hurricane Irma. Instead, the NFL just decided to push the game back since both teams share a mutual bye in Week 11.

That’s unfortunate news for both of the teams considering they won’t have a “real” bye week this year. They’ll have to play 16 games in a row. Eagles fans know all too well that early bye weeks are very dumb.

It would’ve been cool for Philadelphia to have a chance to host a neutral site matchup. Based on past relocations, there would have been free tickets to the game. But it won’t happen now.

Note that this news doesn’t ultimately impact the Eagles because they’re still scheduled to play against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Maryland this Sunday.

For more reaction to the Dolphins-Buccaneers news, go check out The Phinsider and Bucs Nation.

[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 09:54:24 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles reportedly work out free agent cornerback

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Assessing depth options.

The Philadelphia Eagles worked out free agent cornerback De’Vante Bausby on Monday, according to NFL Draft Diamonds. Bausby was recently released by the Chiefs during final roster cuts.

There was some thought Bausby could make the 53-man in Kansas City. He got second team work in camp and even saw some first team reps in dime packages as well. Here’s what our friends at Arrowhead Pride had to say after the news Bausby was cut.

Bausby was an interesting undrafted free agent that the Chiefs picked up a couple years ago. He was hurt before that first season started and left Kansas City. After some time in Chicago he was back in Kansas City this offseason. Some of us thought he could make the Chiefs 53-man roster while other 53-man roster predictions had him getting cut so he was certainly on the bubble.

Bausby has a nice combination of size and athleticism. The 6-1, 182 pound defensive back ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at his pro day in 2015.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has some familiarity with Baubsy given that the cornerback sign with the Chiefs back in 2015.

Just because the Eagles worked out Bausby, however, doesn’t mean the team will sign him. The visit could have just been a check up on his status. Bausby reportedly played through a sprained ankle in the preseason. NFL teams have emergency free agent lists ready to go if injuries happen. Throughout the season, you can expect the Eagles to work out a bunch of other fringe players that they likely won’t sign.

This workout could indicate Bausby is on Philadelphia’s emergency list. Or maybe the Eagles want to add him to their practice squad at some point.

Here’s a scouting report on Bausby via

Strengths - Quick to diagnose and respond to the action in front of him. At his best in zone coverage when he can keep plays in front of him. Reactive to quarterback's eyes and movement and ready to smother wide receiver in space if he senses a pass coming.

Weaknesses - Upright in backpedal. Guesses too frequently from press, opening up too soon. Labored footwork when asked to turn and transition when beaten inside. Tight-­stepper who allows separation over the top. Passive. In no hurry to get his nose into run-support fray. Shows some pre-­snap confusion at times on tape.

Bottom Line - Tall, thin cornerback lacking top-end burners to carry speed downfield and also lacking aggressiveness to attack and support against the run.

[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 09:00:05 EDT from rss

Subject: The worst double agents in Eagles history

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Ryan Phillippe ain’t coming to the rescue

The Eagles signed former Redskins quarterback Nate Sudfeld to their practice squad as the team’s third quarterback, a move that raised a few eyebrows since the Eagles play the Redskins on Sunday. The Redskins have undergone significant upheaval this season, replacing two starting wide receivers and nominal starting running back from last year, and have new offensive and defensive coordinators. Signing a player with intimate knowledge of the playbook and audibles (and possibly some on defense) has value and is a tactic teams use from time to time. Sudfeld’s tenure may or may not be short lived after his use as a secret agent of sorts has passed. Should Sudfeld play at some point this season, he might join a not-so-illustrious list of those the Eagles have signed or traded for from rival teams that were so bad they were essentially double agents.

Chris Boniol

The Cowboys were the cream of the crop in the early and mid 90s, and everyone wanted a piece of them. They didn’t get what they paid for. Alvin Harper was the poster boy of awful free agent contracts when the Bucs paid the Cowboys moderately used #2 WR to be their #1. The Eagles didn’t make the financial blunder that Tampa did, but Chris Boniol was no better. During his three seasons in Dallas, Boniol was the most accurate kicker in the league (minimum 16 FG attempts a season), converting 87.1% of his kicks and scoring a league high 361 points. In his two seasons with the Eagles, he was next to last in field goal percentage. Against the Cowboys, he made just 7 of his 11 attempts in three games for a 63.6% accuracy against his former team.

Cullen Jenkins and Steve Smith

Putting Jenkins, who actually wasn’t that bad, and Smith, who predictably struggled with injuries, on this list might be unfair but no list of shame involving the Eagles is complete without Dream Team representation. The Eagles last game of the 2010 season was a loss to the Packers, which Jenkins was a useful cog for. In the 2011 offseason of horror, Jenkins was an overlooked signing compared to other moves the Eagles made, and like nearly all of the rest of the Dream Team, it was almost immediately regretted. Jenkins and the team agreed to a contract restructure for 2012 and was cut in 2013.

The Other Steve Smith had a big season for the Giants in 2009, then missed time in 2010 with another chapter in an injury plagued career. He was a late addition to the Eagles, signing in August and appeared in just nine games, catching a pass in only five of them. His only touchdown of the season did come against the Giants in a 17-10 win though.

Both players were footnotes on a disaster of a season but still examples that signing non-key players from teams you’re trying to get ahead of isn’t the soundest of strategies (see also Randle, Rueben).

Joe Kuharich

Imagine if the Eagles had replaced Andy Reid with Jim Zorn. Or even Chip Kelly with Jim Zorn. That’s basically what they did in 1964 when they hired Kuharich. In five seasons in Washington, Kuharich compiled a 26-32-2 record, a winning percentage in the area of Tony Sparano, Joe Philbin, Jim Haslett, and most closely with Chip Kelly. Kuharich had one winning season in Washington, and had previously been fired by the Chicago Cardinals after one 4-8 season. Between stops in Washington and Philly, Kuharick coached Notre Dame for four seasons, he is the only coach in the school’s history to have a losing record. After spending the 1963 season working for the league, Kuharich was bizarrely given a 15 year contract by the Eagles in 1964, and immediately dismantled the team (more on that to come). He was even worse in Philly than in Washington: again he had just one winning season in five years, but his rest were so bad that he finished with a record of 28-41-1 with the Eagles. He went 3-6-1 against the Redskins.

DeMarco Murray

This one is so fresh it still stings. Murray led the league in rushing for the Cowboys in 2014, then merely lead the Eagles in rushing in 2015. The highlight of his career with the Eagles was complaining to Jeffrey Lurie after the biggest win of the season, and for helping the Eagles to move up to get Carson Wentz.

Norm Snead

In 1957 the Eagles drafted Sonny Jurgensen, and in 1958 they traded for Norm Van Brocklin. In 1960 Van Brocklin was named league MVP en route to winning the NFL Championship for the Eagles, and gave Jurgensen a Hall of Fame tutor. Van Brocklin retired after the season and Jurgensen was given the reins. He didn’t disappoint. In his first year as a starter Jurgensen led the league in passing yards and touchdowns, keeping the Eagles as one of the top teams in the NFL despite the key retirements of Van Brocklin and Chuck Bednarik. For his efforts he was named All Pro, and followed it up in 1962 by again leading the league in passing and finishing third in touchdowns. The Eagles had seamlessly transitioned from one great QB to another.

Then Joe Kuharich arrived. Kuharich traded Jurgensen, who missed a third of the 1963 season due to injury to the Redskins in exchange for Norm Snead and Claude Crabb. Crabb lasted two seasons, while Snead went 28-50-3 in seven seasons as a starter. Meanwhile Jurgensen was one of the best QBs and characters of the late 1960s and went to the Hall of Fame.

Louis Zendejas

One of the Kicking Zendejas Brothers, Louis was a double agent out of a Leslie Nielsen movie. He started his career with the Cowboys, where he made 4 of 7 attempts in 1987 and 1988 combined. The Eagles picked him up in ‘88, and he connected on 19 of 24, the 7th best rate that season. The next season, he missed 40% of his field goals for the Eagles, they cut him midseason. The Cowboys picked him up, and he continued to suck, which is what made it strange that Jimmy Johnson claimed Zendejas was a target in the Bounty Bowl game. Or was it? Zendejas’ weak kicking was plausible deniability. Either way, Buddy Ryan was right, Zendejas couldn’t kick.

[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 08:20:55 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Derek Barnett is getting some Defensive Rookie of the Year buzz

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 9/6/17.

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

2017 NFL season award predictions: Tom Brady favorite for MVP -
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR — Steve Wyche: Derek Barnett, DE, Philadelphia Eagles. He is showing in the preseason how special and tenacious he is at getting after the passer. Playing on that defensive front in a pass-happy division will benefit him. — Marc Sessler: Barnett. Philly's rough-and-tumble rookie already looks like a savvy veteran ready to wreak havoc.

Vote in the Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas approval polls - BGN
Make sure to vote in the polls!

BGN Radio Daily #17: Alshon Jeffery is gonna have a big week -
BLG is excited that Week 1 is here! He previews the Eagles-Redskins game, goes over three over/under numbers, explains why Alshon Jeffery is going to have a big week, and tells you why the Eagles are going to win this game.

The 5 O'Clock Club: 5 questions with Bleeding Green Nation - Hogs Haven
I was able to connect with Brandon Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation this week to swap information about the Philadelphia Football Team and Redskins. My answers to his questions should be posted on BGN ahead of the game this week; you’ll find his answers to my five questions.

Malcolm Jenkins works to lift stigma via fashion show models - ESPN
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and his business partner, Jay Amin, showcased their latest collection of designer men's wear from their store, Damari Savile, with a fashion show at the upscale bar-restaurant Maison 208 in downtown Philadelphia over the weekend. Several Eagles teammates, recently retired wide receiver standout Anquan Boldin and the city's mayor, Jim Kenney, were in attendance. At the conclusion of the show, Jenkins revealed to the crowd that three of the four runway models had criminal records. "A lot of us happen to judge a book by its cover," Jenkins said. "And one of the things that we wanted to bring to light tonight was that we have this stigma of men and women when they have criminal records. We put something in our minds of what that looks like … so what we wanted to do was change that stigma."

Are the Eagles good? Full roster review, offense edition - PhillyVoice
After an up and down but very promising rookie season, Wentz had a great training camp, as well as a decent preseason. In the eight training camps I've covered since 2010, Wentz's training camp performance was the best I've seen of any Eagles quarterback. That's not a high bar considering the list of names who have started at least one game for the Eagles during that span: Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Nick Foles, Michael Vick, Matt Barkley, Vince Young, and Kevin Kolb.

The Mean Season - Iggles Blitz
Domo focuses on the play of Vinny Curry as to whether Means will get many snaps. I think the real key is STs. The Eagles had five DEs active on gamedays last year, if you count Bryan Braman at that spot. I’m not saying Means has to be as good at STs as Braman, but if he can find a niche on STs that will get him active, I’m sure the coaches will mix him in here and there. Domo is right in a sense. The coaches are going to look for the best combination of rushers. They have the returning guys in Brandon Graham and Curry. They have the new veteran in Chris Long and the rookie in Derek Barnett. And there is Means. The best players will play.

Players survey: Wentz, Agholor top picks to have big years for Eagles - The Athletic
Jordan Hicks: “I’m going to go with Carson. Me going against Carson every day, the dude, first and foremost, his leadership has taken the next step. Mentality and confidence in himself and the guys around him. But also, you can see the things he’s working on in practice, whether it’s manipulating guys with his eyes, his reads, going through his progressions, making the right plays. Whether it’s attacking the man side, attacking the zone side. He’s really, in my opinion, taken the next step. And I think he’s in store for a real big year.”

The mechanics behind Carson Wentz's offseason changes - Inquirer
“I can see it on film. Everything, pocket movements, different things, everything’s more subtle,” Wentz said. “Everything’s quieter from my feet. And it just looks like I’m more comfortable.” Wentz said during an interview just before the final preseason game that he hadn’t compared film of himself late last year and this year for visual proof. But Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo said that the second-year quarterback’s more efficient movements within the pocket have stood out on playbacks. “Without a doubt, you can see what he’s been working on,” Reich said. “It was always there. He was always doing the right things. It’s just getting to do them at a higher percentage and more consistent.”

For Openers, A Set Of Questions To Answer -
Questions, questions. We all have them about the 2017 Eagles and Sunday’s game at Washington will go toward answering them. Some of them, anyway. The Eagles are healthy and eager to get things rolling at FedEx Field. Here are five questions to consider with the opener ahead ...

A boring — by design — day in the life of superstar Carson Wentz - CSN Philly
Carson Wentz is young, talented and famous. He's the biggest star on the most important team in town. He's the perceived savior who might finally bring the Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia. And every night during the season, he goes home to an empty house and plays with his two dogs. Wentz is boring. But it's by design. While he's not exactly a celebutant during the offseason, he'll at least let some of his personality fly. During the season, though, his life becomes as bland as possible. Remember way back before he was drafted, when Howie Roseman compared Wentz and Jared Goff to chocolate and vanilla ice cream? The Eagles definitely got vanilla. Wentz spends most of his day at the NovaCare Complex before heading across the bridge to his South Jersey home.

Shady Speaks: LeSean McCoy on embracing Buffalo, making an impact, and the playoffs - Buffalo News
An avalanche of missed calls awaited him. While McCoy napped after an offseason workout in Miami, text messages flooded his cell phone. And when he finally awoke, his entire world had changed: He had been traded. “When the internet finds out the news before you do, that’s rough,” his older brother, LeRon, said by phone. In March 2015, the Philadelphia Eagles — McCoy’s hometown team — traded him to the Bills for a player McCoy had never heard of. The news, finally delivered by his agent Drew Rosenhaus, was devastating. “The first thing he told me was, ‘Shady, this is not a joke. You’ve been traded to Buffalo. For Kiko Alonso,’” McCoy said, gazing straight ahead as if transported back in time. “I said, ‘Drew, stop playing. …Who the hell is Kiko Alonso?’

Word of Muth: 2017 Preview - Football Outsiders
A lot of people really like the Giants roster this year, and some consider them potential a Super Bowl contender. But even the biggest Giants fans make sure to plug their noses when they get to the topic of their offensive line, or at the very least their left tackle. It's always interesting to look at a unit that is so derided by the home fan base. That left tackle is Ereck Flowers, a former first-round pick who has been either a complete disaster or a personal affront to the good people of New York, depending on who you listen to. I've never been asked more on Twitter about a player that I haven't directly covered. I feel like I have to watch him play up close to see exactly what all the fuss is about. I feel like the protagonist in a coming-of-age tale who has been offered a chance to see a dead body -- I have to take it.

Ezekiel Elliott will play Week 1 against Giants despite suspension being upheld - SB Nation
Ezekiel Elliott will be playing the Cowboys’ season opener against the New York Giants, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Elliott was suspended six games after the NFL investigated domestic violence incidents that Elliott was not charged with a crime for. The NFL says it found “credible evidence” that Elliott used physical force on the woman involved. On Tuesday, that decision was upheld by arbitrator Harold Henderson. After Elliott filed his appeal, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appointed Henderson to handle the case. Henderson had previously presided over Greg Hardy’s and Adrian Peterson’s appeals. Hardy saw his suspension reduced from 10 games to four, and Peterson’s was upheld.


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[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 01:57:48 EDT from rss

Subject: There might be an NFL game hosted in Philadelphia this week after all

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Interesting ...

The NFL is considering moving the Week 1 game featuring the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Pennsylvania. Both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are being considered as host sites, according to ESPN.

On Tuesday, the NFL officially announced the Dolphins-Buccaneers game will not be hosted in Miami as originally intended. The presence of Category 5 storm Hurricane Irma has the league taking a cautious approach.

Both the Dolphins and the Buccaneers have a bye in Week 11, so it’s possible the teams could just make up the game then. But it sounds like the teams would push hard against that, and rightfully so. Who wants a Week 1 bye?

It’ll be interesting to see where this game ends up. If it’s anything like when the Jets-Bills game was moved to Detroit in 2014 due to a snowstorm in Buffalo, there could be free tickets to the neutral site game. Or the NFL could go with a pretty good suggestion from Eagles defensive end Chris Long.

Assuming the Dolphins-Buccaneers game isn’t held on Sunday when the Eagles are playing the Washington Redskins in Landover, Maryland, would you have interest in watching the game between two Florida teams at Lincoln Financial Field?

[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 00:47:33 EDT from rss

Subject: Ezekiel Elliott: Cowboys running back still suspended for six games but will play in Week 1

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Zeke out.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is still set to serve a six-game suspension during the 2017 NFL season after his appeal was denied by arbitrator Harold Henderson. ESPN was first to report the news.

But just because Elliott is suspended for six games does not mean he’ll be out this Sunday for the Cowboys’ Week 1 game against the New York Giants. ESPN also reports Elliott will be able to play against New York due to the timing of Henderson’s ruling.

Elliott’s suspension due to a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy was first announced back in early August. The league had been investigating Elliott for over a year due to accusations of domestic violence. The Cowboys running back has been fighting the ruling through appeals since it became official. The drama likely isn’t over yet. Elliott will continue to legally dispute the NFL’s ruling.

Elliott’s absence is obviously very bad news for Dallas. The No. 4 overall pick from the 2016 NFL Draft is clearly a vital player to the Cowboys’ success. Elliott rushed for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns as a rookie last season. His presence made life easier on Dak Prescott, who attempted the third fewest passes of any starting quarterback last season.

The fact that Elliott will be able to play in Week 1 is amusing for Philadelphia Eagles fans because it probably pisses off Giants fans while Cowboys fans are still ultimately irked as well. It might be good that Elliott is playing this Sunday night because the Cowboys couldn’t beat the Giants last year even when they had him active.

Assuming Elliott’s suspension kicks in during Week 2, here’s a look at the following games he’ll miss.

Week 2 - at Denver Broncos

Week 3 - at Arizona Cardinals

Week 4 - vs. Los Angeles Rams

Week 5 - vs. Green Bay Packers

Week 6 - BYE

Week 7 - at San Francisco 49ers

Week 8 - at Washington Redskins

There are some potentially tough games in that stretch. Four contests are on the road, only one is an AFC game, and one game is against a division rival.

Unless his suspension gets pushed back even further, Elliott will still be able to suit up when the Philadelphia Eagles play the Cowboys in Week 11 and Week 17.

The Cowboys were already poised to take a step back in 2017. The loss of Elliott certainly does nothing to help them.

[#] Tue Sep 05 2017 17:05:26 EDT from rss

Subject: Ronald Darby has a new Eagles jersey number

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But it’s still not good!

Ronald Darby changed his jersey number! After arriving to Philadelphia and getting stuck with the No. 35 jersey, which he called a “horrible” number, the Eagles’ cornerback has a new look.

Ronald Darby is now wearing ... No. 41.

Per the team’s official website.

Wait ... what? Just, why?

I’d say that No. 41 is even worse than No. 35. Look no further than the fact it was previously worn by camp body cornerback Mitchell White. The Eagles haven’t had a player wear No. 41 for more than a single season since Keith Byars started wearing it all the way back in 1987.

Darby previously said he was chasing after the No. 28 jersey, which is currently being worn by Wendell Smallwood. Looks like no such luck.

In fairness to Darby, he didn’t have a ton of options. All the numbers in the 20’s are already taken, except No. 25. The Eagles don’t seem to be eager to give away the old number of LeSean McCoy, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher.

The jersey number that Darby wears ultimately doesn’t matter, but this is proof the Eagles lost the trade. Just kidding. Seriously, though, No. 41 definitely isn’t a great look.

Maybe he chose it because of his college number? Four minus one is three, which is what he wore at Florida State. That seems like a little bit of a stretch though.

But who cares. Darby still gonna lock down some fools this year.

[#] Tue Sep 05 2017 16:44:54 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Eagles future NFL draft picks: Updated list

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The Eagles still have a lot of picks.

Here's an update on the status of the Philadelphia Eagles' picks in the NFL Draft over the next few years, as of September 5, 2017. The Eagles made five trades this summer so there have been a number of changes.

Eagles 2018 Draft Picks



4th - (from the Minnesota Vikings)

4th - (from the New England Patriots; can elevate to a 3rd)


5th - (from the Seattle Seahawks)


The Eagles don’t own their 2018 second-round selection due to the Carson Wentz trade with the Browns. That’s the last pick they owe Cleveland from that deal.

Philadelphia traded Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick for cornerback Ronald Darby.

The Eagles own Minnesota’s fourth-round pick due to the Sam Bradford trade. Philadelphia used the 2017 first-round pick they received in that trade on Derek Barnett. (Lol Vikings.)

The Eagles own the Patriots’ fourth-round pick due to the Eric Rowe trade. If Eric Rowe plays 50% or more of New England’s defensive snaps, the pick will be elevated to a third-rounder. Rowe is listed as backup on the Patriots’ depth chart, so (barring injury) it seems likely the Eagles will get the fourth and not the third.

The Eagles don’t own their seventh-round pick because they packaged it with Matt Tobin in a trade to the Seahawks in exchange for Seattle’s fifth-round pick.

Eagles 2019 Draft Picks








7th - (from New Orleans Saints)

7th - (from Denver Broncos; conditional)

In addition to owning all their picks in 2019, the Eagles have two extra sevenths. The first one is from the Jon Dorenbos trade. The Eagles are guaranteed to receive that selection. The second pick is from the Broncos due to the Allen Barbre trade. It’s unclear what condition must be met for the Eagles to get the pick. My guess is that the Eagles will receive it.)

Eagles 2020 Draft Picks








The Eagles own all of their picks in 2020.

[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 10:03:50 EDT from rss

Subject: Here

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2,162 days. That’s how much time had passed between Ryan Howard crumpling on the first base line at Citizen’s Bank Park after making the final out of that soul-crushing 1-0 loss in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS, and last night. The way I figure it, that’s also how long it’s been since Phillies fans…

[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 10:56:19 EDT from rss

Subject: Sal Pal Is So Full of Shit

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Sal Pal, the super serious reporter who brought you hits such as “Do The Deal,” a borderline marketing slogan for which he had a sports talk radio station make t-shirts, was on 97.5 The Fanatic yesterday for his contractually mandated appearance with Mike Missanelli. The topic quickly turned toward Mike Lombardi’s comments about Doug Pederson,…

[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 12:17:10 EDT from rss

Subject: And The Band Played On: Penn State Sidestepped Another Round of Unwanted Publicity

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Editor’s note: Phil Keidel is an attorney, though he doesn’t practice criminal law. Penn State football was always too big to fail. And, just a few short years after crippling NCAA sanctions and a few silly calls for the program to be shuttered forever, boy, are they ever back. Last Saturday’s 52-0 hammering of the…

[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 13:38:17 EDT from rss

Subject: The FREE Dunkin Donuts-Eagles Promotion Is No More

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$1. This is like the exact opposite of that Papa John’s Sixers promotion where they had to lower the bar to 90 points to get 50% off a pizza. H/T to (@manuelsmith)

[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 15:30:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Is a bounce-back actually in store for Claude Giroux this season?

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Coming off of his least productive season this decade, Claude Giroux is tasked with showing he’s still got years of high-end production left in him.

As the 2017-18 Flyers season draws near, we’ll be breaking down everyone we expect to make the roster, from the long-time vets to the new guys. For each player, we’ll ask three key questions about their season, and look at what their best- and worst-case scenarios are for the year.

Six summers ago, the Flyers put into motion a reset of the core of its team, trading away captain Mike Richards and top goal-scorer Jeff Carter for three talented young forwards and three draft picks and then signing Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract, all within about an hour on (obviously) June 23. The team — as then-general manager Paul Holmgren called it that day and in subsequent interviews on the matter — became a “different” team that day, one that was going to need a new face of the franchise.

It wasn’t quite as obvious at the time of those trades, but it quickly became apparent who that face was going to be.

Claude Giroux, already coming off of a 76-point season before those trades, emerged immediately not just as the best player on the team but as one of the best players in the sport. Spending most of the year between Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell, he was the single biggest reason the Flyers navigated that first season post-Richards/Carter trades as well as they did, and he led the team to its most recent playoff series win in the process.

In the few seasons that followed, Giroux — despite a lack of recognition and respect from some corners of the hockey world, including that of the Canadian Olympic team in 2014 (sometimes you just gotta have Chris Kunitz on your roster, y’know?) — remained the force that kept a few otherwise-unimpressive Flyers team afloat. He famously guaranteed the Flyers would make the playoffs after a 1-7-0 start in 2013-14, and then made it happen with a year in which he was a deserved Hart Trophy finalist. He was also a near-point-per-game player again the following year as things fell apart under Craig Berube ... the same way he was two years prior, when things fell apart under Peter Laviolette.

Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The years since the trades that changed the Flyers as we know them have largely consisted of Claude Giroux doing everything he possibly could to cover for holes elsewhere on the roster, whether in terms of depth forwards, bad defense, or shaky goaltending. Because that’s what the face of a franchise does.

And now, six years after those trades, the Flyers appear to be on the verge of another reset. And where their current captain and face of the franchise fits into that reset is something no one seems to be quite sure about.

Giroux is coming off of arguably the worst full season of his nine-year NHL career, having posted 58 points in 82 games (a 0.71 points-per-game mark that is his lowest since his age-21/22 season in 2009-10, which was also his first full NHL season). At even strength, Giroux’s scoring numbers were almost unfathomably bad; among regular Flyers forwards, only noted offensive dynamos Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Roman Lyubimov scored fewer points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 than Claude did. His production on the power play remained stellar, and his possession/play-driving metrics were positive overall and compared to the rest of the Flyers, but it’s tough to deny that right now Claude Giroux doesn’t look anything like the player that dragged the Flyers to the playoffs twice earlier this decade.

And maybe that’s to be expected. Giroux turns 30 in January, and signs that he may be falling off a bit started to show as recently as 2015-16. The hope at that time was that Giroux spent much of that season dealing with the effects of core injuries (injuries which required post-season surgery that spring), and that with an offseason to heal, Giroux would look more like the player we’d grown used to seeing. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and some mid-season quotes from Giroux about his body not being able to do what it used to only further worried the team’s fanbase that the team’s long-time leader and best player is going to continue to get worse before he gets any better.

Prior to this offseason, the specter of Giroux’s potential decline hung over the Flyers’ future, as the lack of a long-term top-line center could have undone all of the other great work Ron Hextall has done in building a potential Cup contender via the team’s high-end prospect pipeline. Winning the draft lottery and drafting Nolan Patrick changed that.

But Giroux is still going to be making over $8 million against the Flyers’ cap for the next five seasons, and while there are reasons to be optimistic for a bit of a bounce-back this year, it’s very tough to know exactly what to expect from the captain. Six years after the Flyers blew up the team and Giroux emerged as the cornerstone of the franchise, the question of how his play will trend as new franchise cornerstones emerge remains almost as big of a question as any facing the team right now.

3 Big Questions: Claude Giroux

1. Was Giroux healthy last year, is he healthy now, and does it matter?

(Alright, so technically that’s three questions rolled into one, but they’re all pretty well tied together, so let’s approach them all at once.)

The news that Claude Giroux was having surgery on his hip and abdominal muscles came as a minor surprise in May of 2016, as Giroux had steadfastly denied in exit interviews that he was slowed down by any sort of injury. At the time, though, it also made some sense to fans who had seen Giroux struggle through the tail end of the 2015-16 regular season and the Flyers’ first-round loss to the Capitals, and it gave them some hope. Their best player didn’t suddenly become a 5-on-5 non-factor overnight, he was hurt! Nothing to see here, he’ll be fine with some time to recover!

Of course, Giroux wasn’t fine, and the question of how much of last year’s struggles were due to lingering short-term effects from his injury/surgery, lingering long-term (and potentially permanent) effects from his injury/surgery, and effects from a general age-related decline is the single biggest question that comes with trying to forecast Giroux’s 2017-18 season.

That Giroux didn’t feel like the Giroux of old last year is not news to anyone. Exactly how long it takes to recover from the surgery he underwent in May of last year isn’t something that we know with certainty at this time, but the initial window provided by the team of a “return to full activity in 10-12 weeks” would have placed a full recovery for Giroux some time in late August of 2016. And sure enough, in late August of 2016, Giroux told the media that he was 100 percent, via the Inquirer’s Mark Narducci.

Which made the following statements from Giroux in March, almost a full season later, all the more concerning for Flyers fans (also via Narducci):

"When you try to make plays you used to make and can't really make them, it is frustrating and confusing," Giroux said. "When you start getting the confidence back, you know you can make those plays you just go out there and make it happen."

The hip injury was more difficult to overcome.

"I think when you don't think about that kind of stuff, you go out and play the game, but when it is in the back of your mind and you are really not thinking about the game and mostly thinking about your hip or whatever, I think it is important to kind of focus on the right things," he said.

"Even if you don't feel good out there, you have to find the right way to be strong mentally."

Giroux’s quotes here are brought up in the context of his surgery, but again, this is over six months after the time at which Giroux was expected to return to “full activities”. To be fair, that doesn’t necessarily mean “the exact same player”, as injuries can take a while to recover from — in fact, some discussion surrounding the exact surgeries Giroux underwent has suggested that it could take around a full year’s worth of time to truly get back to the level of performance that he was at prior to the surgery.

But the biggest question facing Giroux is whether those issues are going to get better with some more time to heal, or whether at his age the effects of a core-muscle surgery will affect his game for the rest of his career. Somewhat concerning in that excerpt above is the idea that Giroux’s hip injury and subsequent surgery was “more difficult to overcome”, as it’s at least possible that the a soon-to-be-30-year-old with a whole lot of miles on his legs just won’t be the same player at this point in his career following a significant surgery. (This idea was discussed a bit in the July 3 episode of BSH Radio, in which the panel talked a bit about Nolan Patrick’s June surgery and the doctor who performed it, who also happened to perform Giroux’s surgery last year.)

Ron Hextall, who publicly remains optimistic about Giroux this season, had one theory that he expressed to the Courier-Post’s Dave Isaac last week: that Giroux’s appearance in the World Cup of Hockey cut his rehab a bit short, and that the adverse effects of that played a bigger role in his recovery than may have been expected:

I think last year the World Cup, in hindsight, was probably the worst thing that could have happened for him because it shortened his rehab/workout window in the summer trying to get over the surgery. I think it was much of that time at the World Cup that hurt him as it was…if you look at the first part of the year he was actually pretty good and then he started to dip. If you don’t have a full summer, a lot of times it will show up later in the year because you just can’t maintain over the course of the year. I believe that was a big chunk of what happened to Claude. He knows he’s a better player. We know he’s a better player.

For a whole number of reasons, no one should expect the team’s general manager to be anything but optimistic about his captain/top-line center/franchise player when it comes to public interviews and statements, so take everything Hextall says there with a grain of salt. But if you’re an optimist, the idea that Giroux’s offseason being cut short affected his rehab may be a welcomed one. Giroux still played hockey into May as a part of Canada’s World Championships team (being selected to the team by none other than Hextall himself), but the hope that four months in which Giroux can just focus on his rehab may do him some good heading into this year.

Finally, there was the idea expressed by some that Giroux improved as the season went on, and that that improvement was a product of his getting healthier. And by the eye test, Giroux did seem to be moving around a bit better later on in the year. However, in his season review for Giroux here at BSH, Charlie O’Connor looked into Giroux’s splits over the course of the season and didn’t find much evidence that Giroux’s actual performance really ticked up late in the year. (Additionally, one could argue that the idea that Giroux improved late in the year runs directly counter to Hextall’s aforementioned theory that training for/playing in the World Cup ended up hurting his season further down the line.)

All of which boils down to this: It’s very, very tough to say how much after-effects of Giroux’s surgery contributed to his relative down-year in 2016-17, and right now, it’s equally difficult to tell if those injuries that led to that surgery are ones he’ll fully recover from or ones that will plague him for the rest of his career. But by the time Claude Giroux takes the ice on October 4 in San Jose, we’ll be over 16 months removed from that surgery.

Any short-term impact that the surgery had on Giroux should, hopefully, not be a factor by then. If Giroux still looks a step slower this year and still isn’t able to “make the plays [he] used to make”, odds are that either he’s come across a new injury (which opens up its own set of problems) or the Giroux we saw last year isn’t going anywhere.

For his sake and for the Flyers’ sake, we can only hope that’s not the case.

2. How do the Flyers get more out of Giroux at 5-on-5 offensively?

Hope he gets healthier. Problem solved!

Ideally, it’s that simple: Giroux was plagued by injuries last year, and a healthier version of him will score more points.

But even before his injury troubles started late in the 2015-16 season, Giroux’s performance offensively at 5-on-5 had taken a bit of a dip in the two seasons prior. To borrow a chart from Charlie’s review of Giroux’s 2015-16 season:

Even before this year’s plunge into fourth-liner territory, the numbers in 2014-15 and 2015-16 had Claude in second-liner territory in terms of scoring. That’s certainly not bad, and at this point in time I think we’d all welcome a return to second-line-production for the captain. Given the pieces around him and the likelihood that he’ll still be good on the power play, that may be all the Flyers need from him at this point. (More on that in a second.)

But those seasons were during the prime years of his career, and Giroux turns 30 in January. Even if Giroux’s “healthy” again, the idea that he’s a lock to get back to where he was at even strength when he was 27 years old may be misguided, and any sort of drop-off from where he was at 27 could spell trouble.

The good news is it’ll be hard for Giroux to replicate his abnormally-low 5-on-5 scoring numbers from last year, for a couple of reasons. We know the following:

  • Via Natural Stat Trick, the Flyers’ shooting percentage at 5-on-5 last year with Giroux on the ice was 5.95 percent, fifth-worst on the team among regular forwards. Even for a team that may genuinely have a below-average shooting talent, it’s hard to see that level of poor luck continue. And if more goals happen with Giroux on the ice, more points will inevitably follow.
  • In addition, as Charlie pointed out in his season review, Giroux only registered a point on 52.9 percent of 5-on-5 goals that he was on the ice for last year. That’s an extremely low percentage for any forward, let alone one that’s as talented a passer and as active in the offensive zone as Giroux typically is. That number should tick up drastically this year (Giroux typically registered a point on around 34 of on-ice 5-on-5 goals prior to last season), and Giroux’s scoring should increase in kind.

Which is to say that Giroux shouldn’t have 5-on-5 scoring rates similar to those of bad 4th-liners next year. But there’s still the question of what he and the team can do beyond hoping dumb luck swings the other way.

The biggest question in projecting Giroux’s scoring is how good he is at creating high-opportunity scoring chances at this point in his career. As Charlie mentioned in his review, not only is Giroux generating fewer scoring opportunities than he used to, but those opportunities are coming from farther away than they usually do. Again, it could be the case that Giroux’s physical limitations from the past two seasons are preventing him from getting to places he used to be able to get to, which could just mean that if he can’t do it himself, Dave Hakstol needs to keep him with linemates who can.

That may mean keeping him at all times with a strong netfront presence, be that a big guy like Wayne Simmonds or potentially Oskar Lindblom or a smaller, shiftier type, such as Travis Konecny or Jordan Weal. And maybe it involves less deferral of shots to the team’s blue line, where guys like Radko Gudas and Shayne Gostisbehere are third and ninth in the entire NHL, respectively, in shot attempts per 60 minutes among regular defensemen (via), even though by nature shot attempts from defensemen are going to be lower-percentage chances.

Whatever the proper combination of personnel and improved tactics may be, Giroux’s still too good of a passer and set-up man to be totally washed up in terms of offensive production. And while he’s not a difference-maker in terms of play-driving any more, he’s a good enough player in the neutral zone that, with the right pieces around him, the Flyers should be able to be in the black scoring-wise with him on the ice, in large part thanks to his offensive production.

3. What will Giroux’s role be?

When you have a player in the fourth year of an eight-year deal that pays him like a top-end center, in an ideal world that player is still going to be in a top-line role, since when you’re paying a guy like a top-end center it’s pretty hard to find other players to approximate that role in the event that your guy can’t do it himself. But we may not live in an ideal world when it comes to Claude Giroux any more, and unless a lot of things that we’ve talked about above go right, it’s possible that we’re not looking at a guy that should be filling an all-around top-line center role on the Flyers.

Luckily, the Flyers may have the pieces in place to free Giroux up to do what he does best, thanks to a 5-on-5 stalwart and a rookie scorer.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not totally clear yet how Dave Hakstol plans to balance the roles and responsibilities of the Flyers’ projected top three centers this year — Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Nolan Patrick (who, no, is not a lock to make the team, but still seems more likely to than not to). But if last season was a hint, Giroux and Couturier are more or less already sharing top-line responsibility at even strength. While Giroux led the team in ice time per game last season, he and Couturier — who, lest we forget, is probably the best 5-on-5 player on the team at this moment — played basically the same amount per game at 5-on-5, with Giroux getting just five more seconds per game than the 24-year old (13:57 to 13:52).

Is an increase in responsibility in the cards for Couturier this year? That could be one way to keep Giroux fresher and in more favorable situations. Couturier has shown he can handle tough assignments at 5-on-5; even getting just a little bit more from him in those assignments could go a long way towards freeing up Giroux, who could essentially handle second-line minutes at evens while continuing to take on a big power play role and some spot duty on the penalty kill.

The potential addition of Patrick to the picture, meanwhile, could mean a number of things. It’s possible — likely, even — that the Flyers aren’t going to want to throw their 19-year old center to the wolves right away, which could mean he starts his NHL career off with relatively light assignments. That would leave Giroux to handle, essentially, the space in between Couturier’s heavy minutes and Patrick’s sheltered ones, and that could be a happy medium as Claude tries to recover his scoring touch.

But if Patrick comes right out and succeeds right away at the NHL level — not a given and not necessarily something we should expect, but certainly something within the realm of possibility — he and Giroux could essentially share the work in feasting on non-top-end competition. That could open up even more time against lesser opponents for Giroux, and that, too, could bode well for him in his attempts to re-establish himself as a good even-strength player.

All we know at this point is that Giroux is definitely going to keep his role on the top power play, and he should continue to get a lot of time there and succeed there. But the pieces are in place for the Flyers to make Giroux’s life easier this year at 5-on-5 if they think it’s best for the team. Of course, if that does happen, Giroux will have to reward their faith by way of a significant scoring bounce-back, or else the team is essentially wasting its highest-potential offensive minutes. But it seems like something that could be in the cards.

Worst-case scenario

It turns out that Giroux’s struggles over the past two seasons were just the beginning of a long, painful fall from the NHL’s elite. Even more than a year removed from his core surgery, Giroux still doesn’t look quite up to the speed he was once able to play at. While his even-strength production isn’t quite as bad as it was in 2016-17, Giroux still only scores like a bottom-six player at 5-on-5, essentially ending any chance in fans’ minds that he’ll ever be due for a bounce-back. Even worse, Giroux’s power-play production sags as well, as he and Brayden Schenn’s replacement in the high slot never quite establish the chemistry that those two had.

Giroux’s scoring totals drop towards the low 50s (per 82 games), and his play-driving ability, while respectable, isn’t nearly enough to prevent fans from remaining very concerned about his long-run outlook. With an expensive contract that runs until 2022 and a number of talented young players that are going to need extensions soon, Hextall quietly spends spring and summer 2018 looking behind the scenes at ways to get out of Giroux’s contract, be that via a trade or a buyout.

Best-case scenario

It turns out that Giroux’s struggles over the past two seasons did have a lot to do with his hip/abdominal injuries and the subsequent lengthy recovery from them. Giroux’s movements end up being much more smooth and fluid this year, and his performance on the ice is all the better for it. On the power-play, Giroux has zero trouble at all replicating his production from recent years without Schenn, and remains one of the league’s top power-play distributors and scorers. And at even strength, the points start showing up again, as a new offensive strategy and new linemates offensively help Giroux rediscover his offensive touch.

While he still isn’t quite the player he was in the first half of this decade, Giroux shows he’s still got high-end play in him, and he bounces back roughly to where he was in the the 2014-15 season — a good-if-not-quite-elite even-strength scorer who drives play well and is a true game-changer on the power play. That’s a no-doubt top-line center, one that should be the anchor of a playoff team, and one whose performance not only puts Flyers fans (and management) at ease a bit about the long-term fate of their captain, but also allows the Flyers to ease Giroux’s inevitable replacement — Nolan Patrick, of course — into NHL life, the way they’d probably like to be able to.

[#] Wed Sep 06 2017 16:12:58 EDT from rss

Subject: Richaun Holmes Needs To Play a Big Role This Season

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Joel Embiid is a genuine joy to watch play. Between the maturity he exhibits on offense, and the tenacity he displays on defense, Sixers fans have an endless supply of highlights that almost make up for the three years of painfully bad basketball. Peppered throughout those highlights are a handful of sphincter-tightening plays that suck…

[#] Thu Sep 07 2017 07:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: Declare your principles!

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

*It's season preview time babby!!! First up, Captain Claude Giroux. [BSH]

*So yesterday the NHL and the NHLPA released what they're calling a "Declaration of Principles". Interesting concept. Even the Pope got involved! [Puck Daddy]

*So like...what's the deal with Cole Bardreau? Why is the front office so chatty about this rando on a team stacked with prospects? It's a little weird. [Courier-Post]

*The Caps fans have no respect for our goaltending. Which...I mean, yeah. That makes sense. [Japers' Rink]

*Speaking of goalies, let's check in with our old pal Steve Mason, who will hopefully crush it up in Winnipeg. [Arctic Ice Hockey]

*On the list of things that your author finds annoying, the weird silent ban on offer sheets that has been instituted by NHL GMs is pretty high on the list. [NHL Numbers]

*Just how bizarre was the Flyers' offseason? Luckily DGB is here to tell us. [Sportsnet]

*And finally, if the league's 31 GMs are all dumb enough to leave Jaromir Jagr without a job this year, at least we'll be able to enjoy SOMETHING about the Olympics. [ProHockeyTalk]

[#] Thu Sep 07 2017 10:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Top 10 fight photos from 2016-17

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A special Flyers Frese Frame season recap gallery

[#] Thu Sep 07 2017 09:05:41 EDT from rss

Subject: Your Thursday Morning Roundup

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The Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett took the world by storm on Wednesday with a shocking tweet where he tells the story of how he was held at gun point by police in Las Vegas: Equality. — Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) September 6, 2017 Unfortunately, in today’s society, these stories are all too common. However, when…

[#] Thu Sep 07 2017 10:02:19 EDT from rss

Subject: This Is The Year Zach Ertz Actually Breaks Out, and Other Fantasy Values for Week 1

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Jim McCormick has covered fantasy football for ESPN for over 10 years. Each week, he’ll go over the best daily fantasy values and waiver wire pickups. This week, he focuses on Zach Ertz, who is poised for a breakout season in both fantasy and real-life. The numbers say so. Baseball front offices got infinitely sharper…

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