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[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 09:50:39 EDT from rss

Subject: New York Radio Host Eloquently Explains Why The Giants

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The New York football Giants have one of the worst offensive lines in the National Football League. They’re 0-2 and likely will be 0-3 after your team, your town, your Philadelphia Eagles inevitably lay the smacketh down this weekend. YES broadcaster and ESPN NY 98.7 FM radio host Don La Greca didn’t want to hear excuses…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/Jv3MjYM_nLg/new-york-radio-host-eloquently-explains-why-the-giants-offensive-line-sucks.html

[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 11:30:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Can Dale Weise solidify the Flyers

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Weise’s first year with the Flyers didn’t quite go according to plan. Does he fit into the team’s plans this year, and if so, what can we expect from him?

To say Dale Weise's first season with the Philadelphia Flyers was underwhelming would be an understatement. Coming into last season as general manager Ron Hextall's biggest free agent signing of the summer of 2016, Weise didn't do too much to get the Flyers' faithful to adore him. The winger not only failed to produce points, but some nights one could easily forget he was in the lineup.

With a cap hit of $2.35 million, Weise's saving grace seemed to be his possession metrics, as his 3.59 Corsi For percentage relative to the team was the fourth highest out of the 23 skaters who played 200 or more 5-on-5 minutes for Philly last year. Unfortunately for a good chunk of hockey fans, the possession numbers don't matter, especially when a player isn't producing goals and assists (which, at Weise's cap hit, is fair). With an influx of young talent coming into the lineup and the addition of a player who provides a similar skill set in Jori Lehtera, Weise will need to stick out in a positive way early, or he could find himself not in the starting lineup against the Sharks on opening night.

Weise started the 2015-16 season with the Montreal Canadiens, where he racked up 14 goals and 12 assists in 56 games. He was an effective enough player to draw attention at the trade deadline and was dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks. Although his point total dipped from 29 points in 79 games with Montreal in 2014-2015 to 27 points in 71 games that season, his goal total jumped from 10 to 14. He also had a goal for the Blackhawks in the 2016 playoffs before they were ousted by the St. Louis Blues in the opening round.

On top of that, Weise provided the strongest play-driving season of his career, as he posted a 52.58 Corsi For percentage (the first time he posted higher than 45.74 in a full season) in 829:20 of even strength play.

These reasons most likely led to Hextall eyeing Weise in the 2016 offseason as a depth forward that can provide scoring in the bottom six while not spending most of the game in his own zone. Unfortunately, it might be Hextall's most questionable transaction to date. With three years remaining on his contract, the fact Weise may not even make the roster is a cause for concern, especially since more offensively talented forward prospects will be added to the roster over the upcoming seasons. As for now, we can only focus on what to expect out of the forward heading into the 2016-17 campaign.


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.


3 Big Questions: Dale Weise

1. Can Weise score more?

Thanks to 10 points in his final 14 appearances last season, Weise finished with eight goals and seven assists for a mere 15 points in 64 contests. Before his strong finish, Weise only had five points in 50 games, which put him dead last out of 326 forwards who played 500 minutes at 5-on-5 through March 14th with a points-per-60 rate of 0.32. He finished the season with 1.05 points per 60 at 5-on-5, which was a drop from his 1.45 points-per-60 rate in 2015-2016. Weise also posted a 0.23 points-per-game rate, which was a slight drop from his point-per-game rates of 0.37 in 2014-2015 and 0.38 in 2015-2016.

On top of that, there is a chance Weise can produce more individual high-danger chances than he did last year. He followed up his 49 iHDCF total during 5-on-5 play from 2014-2015 with 53 in 2015-2016, but saw that total drop to just 31 this past season. During that 14-game stretch to close the season, Weise registered 12 iHDCF at 5-on-5, which means he only had 19 in his first 50 games of this season. If Weise can find himself routinely near the net like he did during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns, he should be able to return to a double-digit goal total and maybe he could set a career high of 15 goals in a season.

However, there are a few factors working against Weise. For one, it’s very likely his 5-on-5 ice time takes a hit. He finished 11th among Flyers forwards last season with 11:54 of 5-on-5 ice time per game, with Brayden Schenn and Matt Read ahead of him on that list. Even with Schenn’s departure and Read’s deployment in limbo at the moment, Weise will have to try and steal ice time from the new additions of Lehtera, Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, and Scott Laughton. Weise didn’t see too much time on the man advantage last season and will likely see that ice-time-per-game average drop to zero thanks to the additions of Patrick and Lindblom.

Also, while there’s a chance Weise could play with one of the younger, more explosive forwards in the Flyers’ lineup, it’s likely he’ll be relegated to the fourth line. Spending most of last season with Schenn and Couturier, Weise found himself skating with the best play driver on the team and a player who was equally skilled in terms of scoring and setting up goals.

No offense to Laughton and Read, but it would probably be harder for Weise to score with these two on his line. Read is great in terms of dictating possession of the puck when he’s on the ice, but he has also struggled mightily to register points over the last few seasons. And after having spent last season in the American Hockey League, Laughton isn’t anticipated to rack up points this upcoming season. The trio may be effective in keeping play towards the other end of the ice, but they’ll most likely fail to convert that possession domination into consistent even-strength production throughout the season.

2. Is Weise likely to repeat his strong shot suppression numbers?

With some (but not much) hope Weise increases his point total, he'll need to provide some meaningful aspect to the Flyers' roster that not many other players can. It seems as though that aspect can be shot suppression, as Weise was quietly one of the best forwards in the league when it came to preventing shot attempts from the opposition.

Out of the 15 forwards who played 200 or more 5-on-5 minutes for Philadelphia last season, Weise was the only one with a Corsi Against per 60 under 50 at 49.79. He also led the team with a 34.08 Fenwick-against-per-60 rate and a shots-against-per-60 rate of 23.72. Across the league, Weise had the 28th-lowest CA/60 rate, fifth-lowest FA/60 rate, and fourth-lowest SA/60 rate out of the 284 forwards who played 700 minutes or more at 5-on-5 last season.

Weise also found himself with the 21st-lowest high-danger chances against per 60 with 8.42. The difference Weise had defensively last year is quite visible when you take a look at the heat maps of the Flyers' unblocked shots with Weise on the ice and with Weise off the ice (via hockeyviz.com).

 hockeyviz.com / Micah Blake McCurdy

Weise accomplished this while producing shots at rates in line with those of the rest of the team. He produced a 0.57 Corsi-for-per-60-rel rate and a 0.74 shots-for-per-60-rel rate, meaning the volume of the Flyers' shot attempts didn't fall when Weise was on the ice despite his shot suppression numbers. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's what separates a player like Weise from the Chris VandeVeldes and Pierre-Edouard Bellemares of the league, as those two had fine shot suppression rates but sacrificed way too much offensive upside to make it beneficial.

Now if Weise is able to produce these results this upcoming season while also improving his point total, his spot may be safe on the Flyers. However, there is reason to believe he may not replicate this defensive display. With the exception of the last two years, Weise was a sub-50 Corsi For percentage player over the course of his career. It seems as though he has trended in the right direction in terms of driving play over the years, but there is always a chance Weise returns to his form from before the 2015-16 season.

There is a possibility this could happen when one considers Weise’s two most common linemates last season. Schenn's departure could hurt Weise's possession numbers, but considering Weise did significantly better away from Schenn at evens last year and Schenn's WOWYs weren't too great, it's not too likely.

However, the likelihood of Couturier centering one of the top three lines while Weise is on the fourth line could hurt his defensive numbers. Couturier is a force at 5-on-5, so it wouldn't be the worst to assume Weise's numbers were inflated by playing alongside the Flyers' 2011 first-round pick. But Weise posted a 53.58 Corsi For percentage in 304:46 away from Couturier, while Couturier posted a 52.79 away from Weise.

It also bodes well for Weise that he posted better numbers away from almost all of the Flyers' skaters while his teammates' Corsi For percentages dropped while away from him. If this trends continue for the 2017-18 campaign and Weise is playing alongside Laughton, Raffl, Read, or Lehtera, he could work his way to becoming one of the more underrated players on the team.

3. Does Weise make the team?

As mentioned on BSH Radio this week, Weise feels as though he’ll make this team ... but should he? As a player who has never sniffed a 0.5 point-per-game average and isn’t a big time contributor on special teams, it seems weird to think Weise isn’t at risk of being demoted with all the young talent being injected into the lineup. The orange and black already have a pair of play-driving point-allergic forwards in Read and Raffl.

Unfortunately for Weise, Read and Raffl probably have more of an argument to make this roster than he does. Read has shown in the past he is capable of racking up goals and forms one of the best play-driving tandems the team can offer when paired with Couturier. Read can also kill penalties. Raffl has shown he can be a factor playing on the top line with Claude Giroux and can provide positive possession numbers playing alongside most Flyers.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
How safe is Weise’s spot on the team?

Considering his actual defensive play, maybe Dave Hakstol sees Weise as a replacement for VandeVelde or Bellemare. Not exactly an exciting development, but Weise would be a better 12th forward than VandeVelde, as he actually does seem to curtail opposing team’s offensive pressure and can possibly provide more points himself.

From an organizational perspective, Weise not being on the opening-night roster wouldn’t be the worst thing. If he were to start the season as the 13th forward or somewhere other than Philly (whether it’s Lehigh Valley or another organization), it most likely means one of the forwards who isn’t anticipated to start in the NHL this year stepped up immensely in the preseason. Whether it’s Mikhail Vorobyev, Cole Bardreau, or Mike Vecchione, if Weise isn’t in San Jose on October 4th it means one of these prospects is ahead of schedule, which is more important than Weise’s standing within the franchise.

It’s hard to remember the last Flyers’ team Weise wouldn’t have been a lock to make, as names of recent fourth liners like Jay Rosehill, Zac Rinaldo, Harry Zolnierczyk, Blair Jones, and Vandemare come to mind. The fact there is even serious thought Weise could not make the cut shows how well Hextall has stocked the pipeline with talented prospects.


Worst-case scenario

Weise becomes the new, more expensive VandeVelde. He regresses in terms of shot suppression and watches his Corsi For percentage return to the mid-40s. On top of not playing in either man up or man down situations, Weise also fails to even reach his point total of 15 from last season and his habit of not driving to the net from early last year returns. Weise performs so similarly to VandeVelde that Hakstol refuses to scratch him and he drags down the fourth line for the entire season.


Best-case scenario

The best case scenario for Weise is he maintains his stellar play in the defensive zone while improving his 0.23 points-per-game average from last season. Realistically, Weise isn’t going to flood the scoresheet with points, but finally breaking the 30-point plateau this season while playing on the fourth line would be considered a success. Likely playing alongside two of Laughton, Raffl, or Read, Weise helps to form one of the better fourth lines the NHL in terms of both point production and keeping play in the offensive zone. With an actual fourth line for the first time in years, the Flyers are able to consistently provide a threat of scoring throughout the game and the top lines don’t feel as much pressure, which helps to mask some issues on the back end and in net.


Previously in Philadelphia Flyers 2017-18 Season Previews:

How does Wayne Simmonds follow up his team-MVP season?

What can the Flyers expect from Valtteri Filppula?

How does Radko Gudas fit on a changing Flyers blue line?

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





[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 11:45:53 EDT from rss

Subject: Flyers vs. Bruins: Preview, lineup, and discussion thread

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Flyers visit Bruins after split-squad games as preseason slate continues.

The Flyers continue their 2017 preseason slate with a trip to Boston to face the Bruins on Thursday night.

Coming off the annual split-squad games last night (a 3-2 loss in Brooklyn and a 3-2 overtime win in Lehigh Valley), the Flyers will finally face a team not named the Islanders for a change.

The Flyers in Lehigh Valley last night got a game winner in overtime from Shayne Gostisbehere on a pretty feed from Nolan Patrick to down the Islanders 3-2, while the other half of the squad dropped a 3-2 game in Brooklyn.

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. and the game will air on NHL Network, so you hopefully won’t have to stream hunt and you can simply plop on the couch and watch the Flyers this time around. That’s if you get NHL Network, of course.

With the split-squad games out of the way and cuts expected to start taking place as soon as today, the Flyers on the ice at TD Garden will look more like the Flyers you’ll see on opening night and beyond. Those names include Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds among others in action this evening.

Look for the youngsters like Nolan Patrick, Travis Sanheim and Sam Morin in particular to try and make a strong impression tonight playing with many of the Flyers’ NHL regulars. Also look for Brian Elliott to make his Flyers debut in net.

The roster for tonight straight from the Flyers:

FORWARDS

DEFENSEMEN

GOALTENDERS





[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 10:54:30 EDT from rss

Subject: The Eagles Didn

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The Eagles’ running game has been the topic du jour since the Birds traded for Ronald Darby and partially fortified their undermanned secondary. We deviated for a day or so to bitch about screen passes, but now we’re right back to square one. Much of the debate focuses on why the running game is struggling…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/zRAcOJxnVMU/the-eagles-didnt-draft-a-good-running-back-but-everyone-will-survive.html

[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 12:26:55 EDT from rss

Subject: Joe Paterno Was Just a Creature of College Football

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The latest Joe Paterno story slipped into the news cycle two Saturdays ago, nestling itself between the ongoing revelry of a new college football season and the impending calamity of Hurricane Irma. Given the distractions that presented themselves that weekend, you would be forgiven if you missed it, or, more likely, quickly digested the lede before…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/fc_GIYpDiH4/joe-paterno-was-just-a-creature-of-college-footballs-toxic-culture.html

[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 15:06:26 EDT from rss

Subject: Flyers continue cuts, send 18 to AHL/CHL

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Today’s cuts include two of the bigger names on the prospect list

Today the Flyers shortened their preseason roster even more by cutting a total of 18 players. Thirteen of them are heading to the AHL to prepare for the Phantoms season, and five will head to their respective CHL teams.

Two of the biggest names from this group have to be Philippe Myers and German Rubtsov. It was not expected for either of them to make the opening day lineup, but we now know for sure that at least to start the season, we will not see the two in orange and black heading to the AHL and QMJHL respectively.

For Myers, while he wasn’t bad in his short stint this preseason, he did not get off to the greatest of starts and still showed some minor flaws in his own zone that would have played an impact in the decision to send him to the AHL. It also simply comes down to a numbers game, we’re going to be lucky if we see Travis Sanheim make the team and it would have been almost a miracle to see Myers squeak his way onto the opening day roster even with a good preseason. Now, he will get the opportunity to learn more and develop in the AHL, just as Sam Morin, and Robert Hagg have done the past few seasons.

As a sidenote, the Phantoms defense should be incredible to watch next year even with the loss of Hagg and Morin most likely. It will consist of Sanehim (assuming he doesn’t make the roster), Myers, fellow roster cut Mark Friedman, and AHL superstar T.J Brennan. Those three alone create excitement for Lehigh’s blue line.

As it was with Myers, Rubtsov faced the same numbers game dilemma. The depth at forward for the Flyers is so deep at this stage that it only made more sense to have him return to juniors, and play a full season for the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. According to eliteprospects.com, he 22 points in just 16 games for them last season, now let’s see what he can do in a full season at the still tender age of 19.

Some other notable cuts include our hopeful goalie of the future in Carter Hart. He will return to the Everett Silvertips of the WHL for his fourth full season there in hopes of his third straight WHL Top Goaltender award. Ivan Kosorenkov, brought in as an UDFA and after making a solid first impression, will head to the QMJHL to play with the Victoriaville Tigres.

For the full list of cuts, click here





[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 14:35:30 EDT from rss

Subject: The Sixers and Opposite Ends of the Spectrum, Part 1: A Realistic Worst-Case Scenario

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The Sixers over/under win total for the 2017-2018 season currently sits at 40.5. That’s an extreme jump from the 27.5 over/under win total heading into last season. It’s an impressive number, considering that the 13-game year-to-year difference (plus or minus) is second only to the Houston Rockets’ 15-game difference (41.5 to 56.5). There’s obvious reason…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/-1q7tvTTz7A/the-sixers-and-opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum-part-1-a-realistic-worst-case-scenario.html

[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 17:08:21 EDT from rss

Subject: A winless Matt Rhule is still the right coach for Baylor

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Baylor football may very well go 0-12 this year, depending what happens on November 4th in Lawrence, Kansas. Circle that one on your calendar. It’s Bears vs. Jayhawks for ninth place in the Big 12 Conference, a matchup between the movable object and the stoppable force. It’s sad to think about because I really like…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/5jBKBVxFo4Q/a-winless-matt-rhule-is-still-the-right-coach-for-baylor.html

[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 18:44:48 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles Game Preview: New York Giants are directionless and crumbling

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The newest edition of BGN Radio is here! (Episode #262). In this episode, we preview the Eagles vs. Giants game in Week 3, talk about how New York is a mess, analyze key matchups to watch, and much more.





[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 17:20:32 EDT from rss

Subject: NFL Injury Report: Key starters for Eagles and Giants sit out of practice

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Both sides are banged up.

The Philadelphia Eagles released their second official injury report on Thursday ahead of their Week 3 game against the New York Giants.

The Eagles’ injury report is exactly the same as the one from yesterday. That’s bad news for Philadelphia because starting safety Rodney McLeod is still not practicing. And neither is McLeod’s backup, Corey Graham. And neither is Graham’s backup, Jaylen Watkins.

And so the Eagles are down to their fourth string option at safety next to Malcolm Jenkins. It seems like Chris Maragos might get the start at that spot. Maybe the Eagles will try to give a few snaps to the newly claimed Trae Elston. Elston, wearing the No. 35 jersey, practiced with Philadelphia for the first time on Thursday afternoon.

At cornerback, with Watkins out, rookie Rasul Douglas is slated to start opposite of Jalen Mills on the outside. Philly will also keep Dexter McDougle on the active game day roster.

The Eagles aren’t the only team in this week’s matchup dealing with significant injuries, however. Three Giants starters were did not practice for the second day in a three: cornerback Janoris Jenkins, right tackle Bobby Hart, and middle linebacker B.J. Goodson.

Jenkins is an especially big loss for New York as one of the team’s better defenders. 2016 first-round pick Eli Apple, Jenkins’ replacement, didn’t play great against the Lions’ receivers on Monday night.

Star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is still limited in practice. After only playing 60% of the Giants’ offensive snaps in Week 2, OBJ said he expects to play “a lot more this week.” It’s been five weeks since he suffered an ankle injury that was expected to involve a six-to-eight week recovery, so it remains to be seen how effective he’ll be.

Rookie tight end Evan Engram is still in the NFL’s mandatory concussion protocol. He must be cleared by an independent doctor before being able to play.

The final Eagles-Giants injury report will be revealed tomorrow on Friday afternoon.

Philadelphia Eagles Injury Report (Thursday)

Did Not Participate

CB Ronald Darby (ankle)
S Rodney McLeod (hamstring)
S Corey Graham (hamstring)
S Jaylen Watkins (hamstring)
DT Destiny Vaeao (wrist)

Full Participation

DE Brandon Graham (triceps)
CB Jalen Mills (thumb)
LB Najee Goode (forearm)

New York Giants Injury Report (Thursday)

Did Not Participate

LB B.J. Goodson (shin)
RT Bobby Hart (ankle)
CB Janoris Jenkins (ankle)
LB J.T. Thomas (groin)

Limited Participation

WR Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle)
TE Evan Engram (concussion)

Full Participation

LB Keenan Robinson (concussion)





[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 14:27:32 EDT from rss

Subject: NFL Trade Rumors: Reporter suggests Eagles swap Mychal Kendricks for Malcolm Butler

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The Eagles still need CB help, but Butler isn’t exactly a bargain-bin asset.

A little over a month after the Philadelphia Eagles said “enough’s enough” and finalized a trade for Ronald Darby to upgrade the cornerback position, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer suggests another swap could be in the works, or at least should be.

Sharing 10 thoughts for the MMQB column this week, Breer says he expects NFL teams “will call on the availability of (New England) Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler” after the once-disgruntled defensive back didn’t start for Bill Belichick’s unit on Sunday. And with the in-season trade deadline fast approaching on Oct. 31, Breer identified one potential trade partner: The Eagles.

Who would be the trade partner? The Eagles make sense. And they have a versatile front seven piece that would fill a major need for the Patriots and has been tied to trade talks in the past: linebacker Mychal Kendricks.

This, to be clear, is only speculation from Breer. This isn’t a report claiming the Eagles and Patriots are having talks, going to have talks or ever will have talks regarding Butler’s availability as a trade chip. But how logical is the speculation, you ask?

Firstly, as to whether or not Belichick and Co. might actually deal Butler, who is playing under a first-round restricted free agent tender in 2017, Breer is as justified as anyone to suggest the corner could still be moved. Not only because the veteran Pro Bowler and former Super Bowl hero was a perpetual topic of trade rumors in the offseason and literally paid a visit to the New Orleans Saints during contract negotiations but because, as Breer points out in his column, Belichick “showed last year with (linebacker Jamie) Collins that he won’t hesitate to move on.”

Now, as to the Eagles being linked to Butler, the idea makes sense on the surface. Even after dealing for Darby, Philadelphia is needy in the secondary. Safety Malcolm Jenkins went on record himself to call the defensive backfield “paper thin,” according to Philly.com’s Zach Berman, in advance of the Eagles’ Week Three game. Darby will be sidelined for weeks to come with an injury. Behind youngsters Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas, the team has only veteran slot man Patrick Robinson and recent New York Jets castoff Dexter McDougle. It’s not like the safety spot is any less banged up to assist, either.

As BGN’s Brandon Lee Gowton pointed out to me, landing Butler, no matter the cost, might also benefit the Eagles when it comes to getting compensation for jettisoned corner Eric Rowe. Since Philly will receive a future third-round draft pick — instead of a fourth-rounder — from the Pats if Rowe plays at least 50 percent of New England’s defensive snaps, purging Butler from Belichick’s roster seems like a surefire way to elicit some better draft capital.

In reality, though, there are probably more reasons to assume this is nothing more than, well, what it is — speculation. Sure, the Eagles could use corner help, and Butler sounds like a big name to bring in, especially if you’re pairing him with Darby down the road. But the Eagles aren’t exactly in the position to be throwing around more draft picks after giving up a third-rounder (in addition to Jordan Matthews, remember) for Darby, especially if those draft picks are going toward a guy who seems bent on angling for a lucrative contract extension in 2018, when, if all goes according to plan in Philadelphia, recent second-round pick Sidney Jones should be ready to play anyway.

As far as Kendricks goes, he makes the most sense as a potential trade chip considering the circumstances and, you know, the fact that he admitted to requesting a trade in the offseason. But unless the Eagles are on a warpath for corners like Butler, they might just be content with keeping No. 95, who’s had quite the start to 2017 even in limited snaps at linebacker.





[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 13:09:42 EDT from rss

Subject: NFL Picks Week 3 2017: Predictions by Football Writers

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Predicting the winners of this week's NFL games.

The Bleeding Green Nation writers picks are in for Week 3 of the 2017 regular season schedule! Each week we'll predict the winners of each and every NFL game. We'll tally the results along the way and see who comes out on top at the end of the season.

After Week 2, Tyler Jackson and the collective BGN Community are tied for first place. I always knew our readers were the smartest. That’s why you choose to read us! ;)

The Philadelphia Eagles have their home opener this week against New York. To no surprise, the Eagles are unanimously favored over the 0-2 Giants.

Feel free to post your own predictions or discuss the writer predictions in the comments. You can also vote for who you think will win the games. I’ll tally those results in a “BGN Community” column. Vote in the polls beneath the table. (Click here if you can’t see the polls.)

Let's get to this week's picks!

VOTE

Vote for YOUR picks below. (Once again, click here if you can’t see the polls.)





[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 12:50:25 EDT from rss

Subject: On Zeke, Lurie, racism and human beings (or, how to deal with non-sports sports debate)

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If we aren’t willing to listen, how are we to move forward?

What do Jeffrey Lurie, Shaun King, Ezekiel Elliott, Roger Goodell, you, me and your 748 friends on Twitter have in common?

We all have a voice.

What each person does with his or her voice is up to them. But everyone’s got one.

Collectively, we give society something of an incessant voice, especially if we’re talking about the harbinger of expeditiously delivered and fervently defended ideologies that is social media. Together, we form narratives. Sometimes — many times — the narratives clash. Sometimes they dissipate. Or, if we’ve all stumbled, either knowingly or haphazardly, onto the rare unanimous opinion, those narratives can serve as a building block for a unified step forward.

Alright, you’ve doused us with your prose. Now what’s the point?

Welcome to 2017, where you will not find sports commentary without also finding — and then engaging, observing or having to embrace ignorance of — social activism and political debate. Where you will be summoned to judge another human being’s character over the Internet. Where, ultimately and inevitably, your own voice can be used against you.

Case in point: I am writing all this on a website about the Philadelphia Eagles.

And, truthfully, I wish I wasn’t. (Cue the pitch-fork comments: “Then you shouldn’t have wasted your time in the first place!”). Generally speaking, I think most would agree with me when I say one of the appeals of sports, of pouring into a football team turned family, is the escape it provides and the tight community it can foster. It might be different as a kid idolizing the giants of the gridiron, but as you mature, isn’t watching, waiting for and talking about football — or any sport or hobby, for that matter — just a slice of our Heaven; a way to find joy amid the ups and downs of life? It’s why, after I’ve shared these thoughts and perhaps conversed with some of you as a result, I’m anxiously anticipating those times when all we’re talking is Birds.

When the messiness of all those voices — those conflicting narratives — seeps into the daily headlines of the very Birds to whom I refer, however, it seems more appropriate than ever to explore just how we, as football fans but also, more importantly, as free citizens and human beings, might proceed.

And, boy, has that messiness seeped.

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I could see it seeping into the debate about Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and the NFL suspension he is fighting for alleged domestic violence. The debate has seemingly become about pushing certain agendas instead of having concern for the short- and long-term well-being of both a 22-year-old man and the 21-year-old woman he allegedly harmed.

I could see it seeping when the Eagles’ own Malcolm Jenkins received support for his raised-fist demonstration during the National Anthem from teammate Chris Long in the preseason. It was a sign of unity for some but an undoubted, albeit oft-inexplicable, mark of disdain for others who have been turned off by what they deem “anti-American” protests. Some have criticized No. 27 for his “disrespect” despite Jenkins, in between endeavors with government, law enforcement and even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the community, explicitly making clear he has family in the military and wants “reform,” not opposition to the flag. (A flag, by the way, that symbolizes his freedom to say or do what he chooses.)

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

And I could sure see it seeping when, just recently, the Eagles took it upon themselves to refute “unfair” and “inaccurate” insinuations by New York Daily News columnist and Twitter celeb Shaun King that Lurie had nixed any possibility of Colin Kaepernick joining the team simply because of the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s anthem protests in 2016. Out came King, hollering online, out-of-context quotes from a local column as his support and targeting Lurie for what King perceived and conveyed as racism. On top of that, out came tens of thousands of unnerved spectators on both sides of the tussle, some further embittered as they bantered behind the character limits of Twitter and other long-winded thoughts in the comments section of my summary for CBS Sports, which, in only a few hours’ time garnered the most traffic of anything I’ve ever written.

It’s exhausting stuff after a while, and that’s just a graze of the surface. It’s also very real stuff. Very important stuff. Even if, on most Sundays, our focus can stay on the field, we can be content yapping about just that.

But how do we navigate all of the messiness? How can we possibly avoid the burnout of partaking in these not-so-sporty sports discussions, let alone reverse the course of an increasingly divisive society, and yet still engage in or at least fruitfully observe the madness?

It starts with remembering that we all have a voice. That our voice matters. And that everyone who has a voice and chooses to use it, for better or worse, is imperfect and human like the rest of us.

We often forget, especially when matters as life-altering as these are reduced to reality-TV sideshows of a game we all love to watch, to even begin to put ourselves in others' shoes.

The courts will have their say when it comes to ordeals of a legal matter. But even then, and just as much when alleged crimes aren’t involved, what we often need is dialogue. Or, even simpler, a willingness to have a dialogue.

We don’t need shouting matches with no intention to listen to alternative viewpoints. We don’t need put-downs published merely for “likes,” at the tragic expense of progressive conversation. Where does any of that get us except backed further into our own comfortable corners, maybe a little fired up for our beliefs, but ultimately no closer to understanding nor showing an ounce of compassion for those who disagree with us?

Dialogue, in the case of the recent off-field Eagles headlines, might have done wonders. In the case of the Shaun King spat, we got a glimpse of that after the fact when, after speaking with Jenkins, King admitted he had misrepresented Lurie.

Maybe everyone could benefit from putting themselves into the shoes of others before making judgements and finding faults in opposing viewpoints.

In the age of social media, of course, it’s increasingly hard to imagine that happening, at least online. As Leon H. Wolf once wrote, per “America’s Original Sin” by Jim Wallis:

“Everyone feels tremendous pressure to form an opinion quickly and state it loudly with certainty. Once this has been done, people are highly resistant to changing their minds and they become impervious to new evidence, often dismissing out of hand outright facts just because they are reported by a given source ...”

We see this all the time in sports commentary. Everyone likes to get brash with their quarterback assessments or game predictions and then stand by them for far too long. That’s part of the fun.

But when that carries over to bigger issues, like responding to another person’s accounts of social inequality or another person’s long-held respect for servicemen, it’s dangerous to clamp our ears shut while we’re busy spewing our own voice into the world and into others’ lives. I don’t think I need to tell you this can be applied to a lot more than conversations about the NFL’s dirty laundry. At its core, this prioritization of everyone’s voice, this sometimes-painstaking but oft-rewarding challenge to view other imperfect people as people.

I leave you with this, a few words from a troubled time, centered on some familiar passions and from the mouth of someone more profound than me ... a speech, as transcribed in Philip Yancey’s “Soul Survivor,” from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

A big danger for us is the temptation to follow the people we are opposing. They call us names, so we call them names. Our names may not be “redneck” or “cracker”; they may be names that have a sociological or psychological veneer to them, a gloss; but they are names, nonetheless -- “ignorant,” or “brainwashed,” or “duped” or “hysterical” or “poor-white” or “consumed by hate.” I know you will all give me plenty of evidence in support of these categories. But I urge you to think of them as that -- as categories; and I remind you that in many people, in many people called segregationists, there are other things going on in their lives: this person or that person, standing here or there may also be other things -- kind to neighbors and family, helpful and good-spirited at work.

You all know, I think, what I’m trying to say -- that we must try not to end up with stereotypes of those we oppose, even as they slip all of us into their stereotypes. And who are we? Let us not do to ourselves as others (as our opponents) do to us: try to put ourselves into one all-inclusive category -- the virtuous ones as against the evil ones, or the decent ones as against the malicious, prejudiced ones, or the well-educated as against the ignorant. You can see that I can go on and on -- and there is the danger: the “us” or “them” mentality takes hold …





[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 11:00:14 EDT from rss

Subject: The not so highs and mile lows of the NFC East

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#SacksAreComing for you

Week 2 is in the books and thank god Week 3 begins because that was some awful football on Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys 1-1

Last Week: Lost to the Broncos 42-17

This Week: Visit the Cardinals on Monday Night

Ya’ll see that Cowboys game? Of course you did. Yeah the Broncos defense is one of the best in the league and has some of the best players at their positions. Blah blah blah. The Cowboys offense is supposed to be their equal, and on Sunday they got bullied. The Chargers put up more yards per play last week than the Cowboys did, and they didn’t have garbage time to rack up yardage and they’re mostly crappy anyway. Ezekiel Elliott had a marginally better game than if he was suspended. Dak Prescott looked lost, La’el Collins looked like a backup playing out of position, and Dez Bryant was barely a factor. “It’s the Broncos defense” isn’t an excuse when you’re supposed to wallop teams because “it’s the Cowboys offense.” Muhammed Ali didn’t go “well, it was Joe Frazier.” But this looked like Conor McGregor trying to box. And there’s no excuse for giving up four touchdowns to Trevor Siemian. Cowboys defense: still sucks.

Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

Last Week: Lost to the Chiefs 27-20

This Week: Host the Giants, good luck Carson!

Watching Jake Elliott miss a field goal in his first NFL game on Sunday, I thought to myself “why don’t they just have Carson Wentz kick?” He already does everything else for this offense. A year after being 5th in the NFL in pass attempts, Wentz is 4th. He wouldn’t have to throw so much if the team could run the ball. If they could, he wouldn’t be the team’s leading rusher, but they can’t, so he is. And since no one is doing any blocking, he’s 2nd in the league in times sacked. He’s entirely the Eagles offense. Might as well have him kick the points too.

Washington Redskins (1-1)

Last Week: Beat the Rams 27-20

This Week: Host the Raiders on Sunday Night Football

If there are “moral victories” then there must be “moral defeats” right? The Redskins win over the Rams sure felt like one. They gave up a 28 yard pass play to Los Angeles’ punter. They needed a Jared Goff interception to put the game away, which is even worse than saying “they needed an Eli Manning interception to put the game away.” Their wide receivers combined for 78 yards. They scored 7 points in the second half. Have fun against the Raiders!

New York Giants (0-2)

Last Week: Lost to the Lions 24-10

This Week: Visit the Eagles, good luck Eli!

Why did we ever consider this team to be a threat for the post-season? Once again they can not block anybody. Once again they can not run the ball at all. Once again they have nothing on offense beyond Odell Beckham, Jr. Once again they have no coaching advantage. After Sunday you’ll stop hearing about how only 12% of teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs. Of course only 12% of them do, a vast majority of teams that start 0-2 are crap. The Jets, Browns, Bears, 49ers, Colts, Saints and Bengals are all 0-2 and crap. The Giants are too.

Tweet of the Week





[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 09:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Carson Wentz Report: Week 2

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How did the Eagles signal-caller respond to a heavy workload?

There are a lot of narratives that have divided the NFL community when it comes to the opinion of Carson Wentz. This will be a weekly installment that focuses solely on the Eagles’ young signal caller, with analysis, evidence and statistics along with context to provide a deep dive on Wentz’s play.

Welcome to Week 2 of the Wentz report. As mentioned above, this is a weekly film room piece that will be used to evaluate Carson Wentz on a week-to-week and cumulative basis. You can find last week’s Wentz report here.

Interceptable Passes (IP)

Each week I present passes that could be deemed interceptable — called IPs for short. These are subjective and each person can view them differently. Some may view them as catchable passes on the wide receiver, but the objective here is to look at the play, the context of the play design and what was supposed to happen. Just because I show a play here does not mean I believe it is an IP, but each one will be noted accordingly. Again, this is completely subjective, and it’s why I show each pass I chart as an IP.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Wentz is just trying to move the ball down the field with only a few seconds left in the half, still this is a wild overthrow that lands in the arms of the defensive back, and ultimately pops into the air into Zach Ertz’s hands. I feel like I’ve seen something similar to this before, where a deflected pass that should've been intercepted goes the other wa....

There we go, even Tom Brady, the greatest to ever play benefits from these plays. Even if the ball is intercepted, it isn't likely at all that this ends up hurting the team, which is what this boils down to.

I believe it would've taken an insane catch for this to be intercepted, so I am not going to chart this as an IP. It’s a tough play to judge because there was contact and a flag probably could've been been thrown for offensive pass interference, but it wasn't. Had it been, I likely would've charted it as an IP, but again this a subjective statistic is a lot of cases and I can see an argument for it being an IP.

I didn't chart this as an IP either. Typically when balls are tipped like this, it’s anyone’s guess as to where they're going. I believe there could've been a better throw here, but just like the Ertz catch, I don't necessarily think that the result is indicative of the play. If we want to criticize a process despite the result, we can also criticize a result despite the process.

This one does go up as an IP, but again, down 14, less than two minutes left, the Eagles had already lost the game and were going to take risky shots downfield. With the pressure collapsing on Wentz he took a deep shot downfield that the safety had a chance to intercept, but it went through his arms. Again, situation and context are important.

Managing the pocket

Isaac Seumalo destroyed this play from the start. The Chiefs only rushed three, and Jason Kelce didn't provide much help. I believe Wentz could've used his athleticism and spun out to his left, but I’m not going to fault him. Jonny Page mentioned in his offensive breakdown, but Kelce and Seumalo are both particularly small for their positions. Compare the size of Brandon Brooks at right guard to Seumalo at left and there’s a noticeable difference. What I will say is Wentz has to be more careful with the ball. All quarterbacks are susceptible to fumbles in the pocket, but the moment he see that red jersey flash to his right, he has to hold onto the ball.

This was another sack that was unavoidable. Seumalo loses again off the snap and as soon as Wentz hits the top of the drop he’s having to elude a man right in his face. There is no where to go with the ball and Dee Ford gets a grown man sack on Wentz.

I thought this was beautiful footwork and subtle movement. The way Wentz moves in the pocket on this play neutralizes the pass rush. This is one of the most encouraging things to see. With how the offensive line has struggled thus far, an assist from the quarterback is always going to help.

It looked like Wentz was getting ready to throw the ball to Ertz crossing the middle, but the ball came out when Brandon Brooks was pushed back into Wentz. It would've been tough, but I feel like if Wentz would slid to the left behind Peters, he could've extended the play and bought himself more time. That still would've been hard because Brooks wasn't in Wentz’s line of vision to see that he was getting pushed like that.

Somebody had mentioned that in addition to sacks that Wentz could have avoided, they wanted to see those that he actually did avoid. In the play above Jason Peters gets beat pretty badly inside and it compromises the whole pocket. Wentz uses his athleticism to avoid the sack, and while doing so, he’s keeping his eyes downfield, still looking to make a play in the passing game.

Slides right, neutralizes the rush and clears a running lane to the right when nothing develops downfield.

Reads, Progression and footwork

I can't take credit for what I’m about to point out, as Fran Duffy made this point on Twitter, but the Eagles are running the Dagger concept, which is a staple of their offense. A slot receiver will run straight up the seam and the outside receiver will run a deep dig route or square in. Last year against Seattle — the second play — Wentz threw an interception on this concept the Cam Chancellor, this year he diagnoses what the Chiefs are doing with the cornerback, Marcus Peters, dropping from the right to the left to undercut the dig if Wentz goes there. Wentz sees that and elects to pull it down and rush for a few yards. That’s a huge step forward, and kudos to Fran.

With the pocket being pushed, Wentz makes the easy throw to move the chains, but I want to focus on his eyes here. You can see him look off the safety Ron Parker by looking to his left, then the middle before moving over to Ertz. This prevents Parker from drifting and potentially disrupting a throwing lane. The Chiefs are playing tight coverage to the other side of the field, but not towards Ertz.

Wentz works through his progression, keeps his feet moving and even hitches up in the pocket as he steps into the throw. These are basic fundamentals you expect from your quarterback but often we’d hear that Wentz locked onto his first target, would stop and think if his first read wasn't there and his feet would get stuck in the mud. If those were your criticisms, Wentz has improved on them through two games to the point that they're looking like irregularities, but time will tell if that holds up.

This is an important play that needs context, otherwise it can be used to drive the narrative Wentz is missing receivers. The running back motions out wide to start and the linebacker kicks out to show Wentz that pre-snap, it’s man coverage. Wentz knows at this point that he’s going to have 1-on-1 matchups across the field. It looks like the objective is to lead the receivers on the left across the field, but the Chiefs drop eight into coverage, taking away the middle of the field. Alshon was open deep but he wasn't in the design of that play to be anything more than the fourth option or to clear out space if the play extended that far. As far as the pocket goes, Wentz could've been more subtle and slid to his right, but either way, he was going to have to scramble to the other side. I thought the throw to Ertz could've been better, but this play was important to point out because the broadcast showed Alshon and Smith open after the play, which is false. By the time Wentz would've been able to realistically throw the ball in the design of the play, neither of those players would've been open and the ball would've likely been put in harms way. Still shots of this play may be used to pile on the narrative that Wentz misses open receivers, but that would be false.

Again, the footwork is much improved so far from year 1 to year 2, but there are still times like this when the feet will stop moving, or lose fluidity. Speaking with Mark Schofield on this matter, he said that there is an improvement, but you want to stay fluid so that you can slide if you need to escape pressure or scramble.

Throwing with anticipation and accuracy

I mentioned this last week, but there were numerous occasions last year in which Wentz was late on a slant throw and it would take away the opportunity for YAC or result in a tough catch that the wide receivers would drop. So far this year, we’re seeing better, consistent throws from Wentz in these intermediate areas. In the play above the Eagles run a simple slant/flat concept. What this does is clear out a defender and open a throwing lane for Wentz. The pass is right on Alshon Jeffery and he doesn't have to reach behind him to grab it.

This is a bit of a nitpick, but Wentz has room to lead Torrey Smith further across the field on this play. Smith did himself no favors trying to spin back around after the catch, but there is a lot of green grass for Smith to keep running into if Wentz hits him in stride and leads him across the field a little more. I think Wentz is still feeling Smith out a little and I’ll elaborate on that. I’m not entirely sure he’s quite acclimated to Smith’s speed and what he brings to the deep passing game. Last week he overthrew him and this week there were a few other plays that appear throughout this article that make you think they're still working on their chemistry. I do want to credit Wentz for keeping the feet moving well through his progressions on this play.

Again, this one nitpicks, but Wentz doesn't lead Ertz into space upfield. The pass is on him, and accurate, not behind him, but theres opportunity for YAC here that is squashed. I thought originally he was trying to eliminate the underneath defenders from getting a hand on it, but from the broadcast angle he gets it pretty well over the linebacker Justin Houston. Again, the result of the play was good, and it’s being picky, but leading receivers into more space can take a quarterback to the next tier. Putting the ball right on the receiver is still an improvement upon throwing it too high and behind him.

Initially, I thought this was an IP, but a closer look shows that it hit Agholor square in the hands, he just drops it. It was a perfect pass, and tough to make with a defender draped on you, but it was a pretty catchable ball. Wentz throws it pretty accurately and based on the broadcast angle it looked like only Agholor would come away with that ball.

Another knock on Wentz was his tendency to sail passes, or for them to be a little high, and that happen here. I can’t tell for sure if Alshon, who is coming on the first slant, is where he wanted to go with this or not, but he freezes and then throws it high for Smith. I’m assuming he wanted Alshon, but middle linebacker Derrick Johnson doesn't bite on the play fake quite as hard and drops into the throwing lane. Wentz then quickly moves to Smith and puts the pass high. The edge defender also jumps to bat the ball down while Wentz is in mid-motion, which may also contribute to him putting that ball high. Another possible explanation is that his stance is too wide and he doesn't get set correctly. I believe that’s the explanation on the high throw.

Here it is again, move though the progressions from left to right, lead Ertz into space for a gain of six yards after the catch, rinse, repeat.

Final touchdown of the game is a nice anticipation throw to Nelson Agholor in the back of the end zone. Wentz works through his progressions on the left, back to the middle of the field where he starts his throwing motion before Agholor gets into his break. The ball is delivered perfectly for a touchdown.

Miscellaneous

The pause on this play was a bit weird, but I’m assuming he waiting for Smith to get further downfield. Based on the position of the corner and receiver, Wentz puts the ball where only his guy can get it. Is it a little high? Yes, but by the nature of the play. That’s still a catchable ball that Smith should have hauled in.

Torrey Smith is on the bad end of another play here. Wentz does an excellent job to pump fake the defender and clear him then he moves to his left and launches downfield. I believe there was an opportunity to lead Smith further down the field into open space and still avoid the safety, but Wentz never fully resets after eluding the rusher. He had time to reset and make this an easier throw, but he didn't know how far behind him that rusher was. Deep in your own territory, that rusher could've knocked the ball loose from behind, and that would be a disaster. A moment was there, but I can't fault Wentz for this. Regardless of how far down the field Wentz leads Smith, that’s easily a catchable ball that Smith should haul in.

1-on-1 situation here, it looks like the Eagles are trying to run a rub route and Wentz hits Alshon on the back shoulder where only his guy is going to make a play. It’s a little under thrown, but the key is only your receiver is going to make a play on the ball and Wentz keeps it out of harms way and capitalizes on the weapon at his disposal.

Watching the broadcast, I thought maybe Bennie Logan had Wentz’s foot, but no, Wentz just threw a really, really bad pass. All aboard the #CarsonCoaster.

After rewatching the tape, I genuinely thought Wentz played a good game. He threw the ball 46 times and I had him down for only two IPs. To drop back and pass 46 times and keep the ball out of harms way like that is remarkable. Wentz does need to work on the fumbles, that appears to be an issue for him that could lead to more trouble down the road.

To go on the road in this environment and play as well as he did with no help from a run game, speaks volumes to who he is as a player and what he can be for the Eagles. There are some breakdowns in nuances, but Wentz is starting to show that they're more of an anomaly instead of the norm. The biggest takeaway is that he’s getting better and showing improvements in areas of weakness, now he needs to sustain them.





[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 07:30:46 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Tim Jernigan is a beast

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 9/21/17.

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

The Carson Wentz Disconnect - BGN
The statistics without context, the film analysis without perspective, the rigid personal bias without room for admitting mistake — it’s all what “they” get wrong about the Eagles, and more specifically, the team’s franchise quarterback.

Seumalo Out, Warmack In - BGNRadio.com
John Barchard chats about Warmack getting reps with the 1s, the impact of the change at LG and the communication from Doug's mouth to his actions on the field. Plus he gets into BLG's article about the poloazing takes on Carson Wentz.

Eagles vs. Giants: Five matchups to watch - PhillyVoice
Conversely, the Eagles' defensive line has very clearly been the biggest strength of the team so far. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox are off to career years, Timmy Jernigan has created a lot of disruption next to Cox in the middle of the defense, and even Vinny Curry, Chris Long, and Derek Barnett have shown promise. The Eagles have battered both of the opposing quarterbacks they have faced. The Eagles are fourth in the NFL with eight sacks, while the Giants are fourth-worst in the NFL with eight sacks allowed. Still, I don't even think that adequately tells the story of how good the Eagles' defensive line has been, and how bad the Giants' offensive line has been.

Eagles Mailbag: Pumphrey pick mind-boggling - The Athletic
The Donnel Pumphrey pick itself, though, defies explanation. Maybe the Eagles were counting on Dalvin Cook falling to them in the second round, or maybe they were sniped on another running back in the third round. Those are the breaks of the draft. But to trade up in the fourth round for what amounts to a gimmick player looks just as silly now as it did at the time. As Sheil pointed out earlier this week, the most rushing yards in a season by a player Pumphrey's size over the last 10 years is Garrett Wolfe's 120. Pumphrey checked in at the Combine at 5-8, 176. This is cherry picking a bit, but if we're generous with the parameters to 5-10, 185, here's the list of running backs who played in the NFL at that size in the 15 years prior to last spring's NFL Draft. Four of those players are mislabeled as runnings backs, one of them is a complete historical anomaly and the rest are gimmick players primarily used on special teams. If the Eagles watched Darren Sproles up close for the last four years and came to the conclusion that they could find another player just like him, they learned entirely the wrong lesson.

Eagles rookie Corey Clement might get his shot against Giants - Daily News
Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley is a big fan of Clement. “He does it all well,” Staley said a few weeks ago. “He reminds me of one of those old-school Honda Accords. You can put a lot of miles on them and they’re going to be consistent. And that’s what he’s been I’m pleased with where he is. He’s one of those guys who comes to work, puts on the hard hat, grabs his lunch pail, goes out on the field and wants to know more and more and more.’’

Like I Said - Iggles Blitz
Seumalo struggled mightily in pass protection, but he also wasn’t doing much on run plays. Warmack will have his own issues in pass protection, but he will get some movement in the run game and that can be valuable. The Eagles must run the ball better. Having a LG who can move his guy off the ball can make a difference, especially with a runner like LeGarrette Blount. There are a couple of possible reasons for making the switch now. There are 14 games left in the season. If you put Warmack in now, you give him and the rest of the O-line a chance to get into a rhythm. When an OL really gets it going as a group, they can have a huge impact on a season.

Goodell, Lurie join players to understand protests - ESPN
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Philadelphia Eagles' owner Jeffrey Lurie joined several players to learn more about the issues players are protesting by taking a closer look at the inner-workings of Philadelphia's criminal justice system. Goodell and Lurie accepted a request from safety Malcolm Jenkins, receiver Torrey Smith and retired wideout Anquan Boldin and were joined by Eagles teammates Chris Long and Rodney McLeod. The group met with police commissioner Richard Ross, former inmates and community advocates of criminal justice reform, and observed several bail hearings at the Defender Association of Philadelphia.

Big Question: How Do Eagles Ignite Run Game? - PE.com
The Eagles can be a functional running team. I don’t know if they’re going to be a dynamic running attack this season. They need better play all around. Maybe give Corey Clement a shot. Certainly get Wendell Smallwood involved. Use LeGarrette Blount when the situation is right. The interesting part of this is that the Eagles have converted more than 55 percent of their third downs and rank second in the NFL in that category. The Eagles are moving the football. They’re scoring some points. In Kansas City, the red zone was again a bugaboo, as it was last season. Fix that, run the football more effectively, and the Eagles have something going on offense.

Malcolm Jenkins not concerned about status of Eagles' banged-up secondary - CSN Philly
It was Oct. 31, 2010 -- Halloween evening in New Orleans. Steelers vs. Saints at the Superdome in a Sunday night national TV game. It was nearly seven years ago, but Malcolm Jenkins remembers it clearly. Because this week reminds him of that week. Because that night the Saints played with six defensive backs. And on Wednesday, the Eagles practiced with six defensive backs.

Week 2 DVOA Ratings - Football Outsiders
If the Week 2 DVOA ratings look strange to your eye, it's probably just because we don't yet include opponent adjustments. Otherwise, our early ratings match what the naked eye has seen on the field. None of the undefeated teams are ranked lower than 12th, with one exception. None of the winless teams are ranked higher than 24th, with one exception. All of the 1-1 teams are ranked between eighth (Tennessee) and 23rd (Houston).

Giants At Eagles, Week 3 Odds: Giants Are Heavy Underdogs - Big Blue View
The New York Giants have no time to wallow in self pity after their 0-2 start. They travel to Lincoln Financial Field Sunday to face the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles (1-1), and the Giants are a 6-point underdog entering the game. That, of course, means oddsmakers think the Giants will leave Philly 0-3 and with their playoff aspirations pretty much shattered before the season reaches the quarter-pole. Voters in our Fan Confidence Poll to this point overwhelmingly believe the Giants won’t be a playoff team.

Memo: NFL players ask Roger Goodell for support in racial equality campaign - Yahoo
Current and former NFL players campaigning for racial equality and criminal justice reform wrote a lengthy memo to league commissioner Roger Goodell officially seeking overt league support in their effort, including an endorsement for an activism awareness month, Yahoo Sports has learned. The 10-page memo, obtained by Yahoo Sports, was sent to Goodell and executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent in August, requesting wide-ranging involvement in their movement from the NFL. The memo seeks an investment of time and education, political involvement, finances and other commitments from the league. It also sought to have the NFL endorse the month of November as an activism awareness month, similar to the periods of league calendar dedicated to breast cancer awareness and military recognition.

AFC Player of the Week: Cody Parkey wins Special Teams honor - The Phinsider
The Miami Dolphins made s surprising roster move prior to Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season when they claimed kicker Cody Parkey off waivers, replacing Andrew Franks, who did not appear to have any competition throughout training camp or the preseason. The move paid off on Sunday, when Parkey connected on four field goals, including the last minute game winner. Now, Parkey has been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance.

The Giants’ failures belong to Ben McAdoo - SB Nation
McAdoo was hired to give the Giants an offense that could score 30 points a game. Now in his second season, they’re nowhere close to being that team.

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[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 23:00:14 EDT from rss

Subject: Flyers vs. Bruins recap: Pay the electric bill, Ron

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You get a slashing call! And you get a slashing call!

The Flyers can look to one thing that cost them in their 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins on Thursday and it couldn’t be more obvious: their power play.

Philadelphia went 0-for-9 on the man-advantage against the Bruins and could have easily walked away from TD Garden with a win if it weren’t for their flat-out failures with the man advantage.

Travis Sanheim provided the only offense for the Flyers with a third period tally that was quickly answered by the Bruins within a few minutes. In overtime it was a Kenny Agostino breakaway that would seal the 2-1 win for the Bruins 3:20 into the period.

First period

The Flyers’ first power play unit got some early time thanks to an interference call on Jesse Gabrielle, but Claude Giroux and crew looked out of sorts and managed just one shot on the man-advantage. The man who took the hit was Travis Konecny, who missed a few shifts but returned later in the period.

Jake Voracek drew a penalty by using his speed to pounce on a loose puck near the Bruins blue line and get in on Tuukka Rask, but he was hooked and didn’t generate much of a scoring chance. On the ensuing faceoff Wayne Simmonds got called for slashing to end the Flyers’ second power play before it really began. The officials are really on point with the slashing calls in the preseason, that’s been pretty clear.

Brian Elliott made a nice glove save on Anders Bjork off a quick rush up ice from the Bruins’ rookie at the 11:13 mark. The veteran made another nice save off Bjork in close on the following possession, moving well laterally to get in position with bodies in front of his crease.

With Wayne Simmons off for yet another slashing call, the Bruins power play got setup in the Flyers zone but couldn’t capitalize thanks to a few good blocked shots from the Flyers defense to hold Boston scoreless. Radko Gudas, in particular, had a good shift on that kill, registering a clear and a shot on goal just after the penalty expired.

The Flyers’ best chances came late in the first period with Wayne Simmonds and Michael Raffl being stopped in front of the crease by Rask. Raffl got a nice feed from Travis Konecny from near the goal line but couldn’t elevate the puck in tight on the Bruins’ netminder.

Thanks to five penalties in the frame, the first period was largely disjointed for both clubs and none of the 19 combined shots on goal were particularly dangerous. The Flyers did a nice job in the faceoff dot though, winning seven-of-ten draws.

Second period

Konecny was at it again to start the second period, setting up Sean Couturier for a scoring chance in front but Rask was up to the task just after intermission. Couturier’s redirection found the belly of the Bruins’ goalie, but it was nice hookup by the two Flyers forwards.

With Radko Gudas off for tripping the Bruins setup their top power play unit and peppered Elliott only to be turned away by the Flyers’ new goalie. In particular Elliott was strong in denying Patrice Bergeron on a jam play in close at the tail end of the penalty.

The Flyers were yet again unable to generate anything on the man-advantage after Claude Giroux was hauled down by Paul Postma, failing to generate a single shot on goal during their fourth power play of the night. But if zero shots on a power play is bad, the Bruins turned a three-on-one from center ice into a straight turnover with no shot or chance a few minutes after that Flyers power play. On replay it was a great back check by Michael Raffl to make it a three-on-two essentially.

In the second half of the period the Flyers really started to gain their legs, creating some extended zone time and forcing Boston into a couple of back-to-back penalties. The Flyers ended a six-minute power play shot drought with shots from Valtteri Filppula and Wayne Simmonds and established good zone time only to be turned aside by Rask with Bjork in the box.

The Flyers were 0-for-6 on the power play through two periods, though the last of the which turned up a few nice chances only to be denied by Rask, who was very sharp in making 12 stops in the frame. Elliott wasn’t tested as much as his counterpart, doing the bulk of his work early in the period but turning aside all eight shots he faced.

Third period

Alex Lyon took over in net for Elliott, who stopped all 18 of the shots he faced in his debut with the Flyers. Lyon is, of course, in the mix for a potential NHL call up from Lehigh Valley should the Flyers need one this season.

Playing at 4-on-4 Travis Sanheim finally opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the left circle that fooled Rask to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead at the 4:57 mark. It looked like an innocent shot from the Flyers’ prized prospect, but it found the back of the net behind Rask and that’s all that matters really.

The bad news was that the Flyers’ 1-0 lead didn’t last long, just 1:42 in fact.

Paul Postma answered with a seeing-eye point shot that found it’s way past Lyon to tie the game at 1-1 with 13:15 left in the third. Lyon was screened and likely never saw the shot. Riley Nash and Kenny Agostino assisted on the tying goal.

Lyon came up with perhaps his best save on a Bruins two-on-one at the 11:14 mark, standing tall at the top of his crease to stop Jesse Gabrielle and keep the Flyers even. Gabrielle then got a interference call and 10-minute misconduct for grabbing the stick of a Flyer from the Bruins bench during play.

Despite a late flurry from the Bruins, extra time was needed to decide this one.

Overtime

Claude Giroux nearly ended it just under a minute into the extra frame, but the captain’s shot from the right circle rung of the post to the left of Rask, who was beat on the play. Moments later it was Filppula’s turn to hit the post after being sprung on a breakaway.

The Flyers wish they buried either of those chances because Kenny Agostino skated in all alone on Lyon, beating the goaltending with a great deke to score and give the Bruins the 2-1 win. It was a bad pinch by Andrew MacDonald and bad coverage by Giroux that allowed Agostino the open ice.

Looking ahead

The Flyers will be back in action on Monday, starting back-to-back games against the Rangers starting with a visit to New York and then hosting the Rangers on Tuesday.





[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 21:13:17 EDT from rss

Subject: 49ers vs. Rams: How to watch Thursday Night Football

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Everything you need to know.

Week 3 of the 2017 NFL season officially kicks off tonight. Goes by quick, doesn’t it?

Tonight’s game features ... [looks at schedule] ... another lousy set of football teams. Of course. Peak Thursday Night Football.

As I was saying, tonight’s game features the Los Angeles Rams (1-1) and San Francisco 49ers (0-2). It’s an NFC West matchup.

Both teams are coming off close losses. The Rams were edged out by the Washington Redskins last Sunday. The 49ers only managed to lose by three points despite facing the Seahawks in Seattle.

The Eagles will play both of these teams this season. Philadelphia is set to host the 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 8. The Birds will play the Rams in L.A. in Week 14.

Find everything you need to know about tonight's game below.

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers

TV Schedule

Game time: 8:25 PM EST

Channel: NFL Network

Date: Thursday, September 21

Announcers: Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (color analyst) and Heather Cox (sideline reporter).

Location: Levi’s Stadium | Santa Clara, California

Online Streaming

Watch the live stream on the NFL's mobile app. International viewers can use NFL Game Pass. Replay on NFL Game Rewind.

Odds

Rams -3 (-120)

49ers +3 (+100)

Over/under: 39 points

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Open thread: discuss Thursday's game in the comments below.





[#] Thu Sep 21 2017 20:34:49 EDT from rss

Subject: Know Thine Eagles Enemy: Giants Film Review

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Watching the Giants offense was painful, but I did it. Just for you.

The Giants are 0-2.

Honestly, everything I type from here on out will likely make this post less popular. Really should just cut it there and let it sit as is.

As I said (horn-tootin’ time) multiple times on Twitter and the Locked On Eagles podcast, preseason predictions for the Giants to win the NFC East baffled me. Having delved into two weeks of tape in preparation for the Sunday battle incoming, it’s worse than I even thought. Nobody on that offensive line looks like a good football player; injuries have made LB go from thin to thinner; Eli has never Eli-ed as hard as Eli is Eli-ing this season.

I’ve got GIFs for this film review, but maybe I’ll just randomly sprinkle in another Manning face or two. They make me chortle.

Giants Offense

Then Ben McAdoo offense, somehow, has gotten less complex and cutting-edge over the years. Originally the kid brother of Mike McCarthy’s system in Green Bay (which works because of the most talented quarterback of our generation, for what it’s worth), it has regressed into one-read spacing concepts that a half-decent Madden QB could run. As Eli has aged, his velocity has declined—and, subjugated to constant physical and psychological torture behind that embarrassment of an offensive line, his decisiveness and poise have fallen off the cliff as well.

Let’s look at a 3rd and 4 against Dallas. This is a play the Ben McAdoo offense should convert with ease--this passing game is built to pick up 5 yards with ease. The Cowboys D, however, identified the rub concept given the 2 WR stack to which Sterling Shepard motions. LB Sean Lee and DB Anthony Brown switch when Shepard breaks.

Ideally, Eli sees this and moves to a second read, or a checkdown. But the pressure allowed by the offensive line gives him very little time to make a decision, or an easy alley through which to escape. He puts a bad ball on Shepard, who has no YAC opportunity. 4th down.

That should be routine, but it isn’t. If the Eagles’ secondary, admittedly depleted, can still communicate well enough with one another to avoid these pick concepts, their pass rush should make it impossible for the beleaguered Eli to create anything outside of structure.

Communication will be key for Philadelphia’s defense—duh, it is every week in the NFL. But the Giants offense employs a lot of pre-snap motion, capitalizing on their versatile personnel to gain alignment and matchup advantages. Evan Engram, rookie TE out of Ole Miss, is the poster child for this strategic deployment—but starting TE Rhett Ellison also fits the mold.

By using slot WR Brandon Marshall to block the closing safety, the Giants run as simple of a Lead Iso as you’ll ever see. RB Orleans Darkwa does well to sniff out the cutback lane and pick up a free 11 yards.

This play seems pedestrian—there’s really very little to break down—but it encapsulates the spirit of Ben McAdoo’s offense. It wants to win pre-snap, to get you set up with disadvantageous numbers, alignment, match-ups—something. Execution then becomes simple and mistake-resistant (supposedly). Versatile defenders such as MLB Jordan Hicks and S Malcolm Jenkins must put their multiple natures on full display come Sunday. Their ability to defend the run one play, drop in coverage the next, and blitz a third, while help Philadelphia disguise and mutate their defensive looks.

The Giants will likely look to attack the Philadelphia corners, Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas, the latter of which will make his first career start in the Linc. Last week, in the face of a potent passing attack spearheaded by dynamo WR Tyreek Hill, Jim Schwartz dialed up a ton of safe zone coverages (Cover 3 and Cover 4) on the back end. I expect zone coverage again in Week 3, to protect Mills and Douglas from potential man-on-man matchups with Giant WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall.

Given Mills’ and Douglas’ lack of deep speed, hiding them in Cover 2 shells can be expected. In Cover 2, the safeties cover the deep halves of the field, while the corners stay closer to the line of scrimmage and to the boundary, covering the ‘flats.’

On this long 3rd down, New York catches Dallas in a Cover 2 look. A mirrored “Flat-7” concept is dialed up. On both sides of the field, one receiver leaks into that flat area in front of the Cover 2 CB, while another receiver runs the 7 route, or corner route, to the space behind the CB. Eli hits WR Roger Lewis for a first down.

When watching the game, check out the Eagles safeties. If there are two in the back, both on one half of the field, chances are Philly’s playing a Cover 2 concept. Eli and Ben McAdoo will look to attack the gaps in this coverage to find success in the passing game.

Giants Defense

The better, but still lackluster unit for New York, the performance of Big Blue’s D on Sunday likely comes down to one thing: health. LB Keenan Robinson seems to be back from a concussion, but both LB B.J. Goodson and stud CB Janoris Jenkins were held out of Thursday practice with a shin and ankle, respectively. While both exclusions may simply be precautionary, these statuses—especially Jenkins—should be monitored moving forward.

Jenkins is an especially important omission, not only because he’s likely their best defensive player, but because his backup—second-year pro Eli Apple—has had a very rough opening to 2017. The Giants like to use pattern matching concepts when they’re spread out by multiple WRs. Pattern-matching, essentially a hybrid between man and zone coverage, allows defenders to change their coverage responsibilities relative to the routes run by the receivers in their area.

On this play, the Giants are pattern matching. Apple, the corner nearest the sideline, is reading the action of the slot WR. Should that WR break toward the sideline, Apple will leave his current WR to close on that slot WR—but, the slot WR doesn’t break outside, so Apple is responsible for the sideline WR, wherever he goes.

The linebacker and safety identified are also making reads: because the slot WR breaks inside, the LB knows he is responsible for him; because that slot WR attacks the deep area of the field (post route), the safety knows he has to climb over top of the post, leaving Apple one on one with the go route and Marvin Jones.

All this goes to say something simple: the Lions got Marvin Jones one-on-one with Eli Apple. Advantage Detroit. Don’t let Matt Stafford’s poor throw distract you from the fact that Jones handily beats Apple. A better ball is a touchdown. Whether or not Wentz can hit that throw remains to be seen.

A throw we know Wentz can hit is the Dagger concept, a staple of offenses such as Reid and Pederson’s. If you missed Fran Duffy’s awesome breakdown of Carson’s development throwing the dagger, you suck. Check it out to stop sucking (bottom of page).

Either way, the Eagles love their Hi-Lo read concepts, and this play run by the Lions definitely shows up in the Philly playbook as well.

The go route from the slot receiver removes the deep safety, and the dig route from the boundary receiver enters that recently-vacated space. On this long third down, Stafford is pressured, and does well to scramble for a first. It will be imperative for Philadelphia’s premier tackles, Jason Peters and Lane Johnson, to handle NYG edge rushers Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, giving Wentz enough time in the pocket to hit these long-developing route concepts.

The legend goes that Giants are a tough team against which to run the football—they’re not. DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison is a bastion in the middle, but one defender does not a defense make. The injuries that have maligned the LB corps attribute to this slow start defending the run. In short: the Eagles have an opportunity to gain some traction on the ground in Week 3.

Darren Sproles has been the most successful running back on Philadelphia’s roster, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Sproles finds a lot of his success on zone runs, where his explosiveness and vision serve him well—as does his diminutive frame. The Lions found success running Theo Riddick, a Sproles-esque back, on outside zone concepts, away from Damon Harrison.

Having been killed by the quick screen game (another way to attack pattern matching) the Giants used a 3-3-5 look to crowd the line of scrimmage and take away the bubble screen. Undrafted rookie LB Calvin Munson is the only box defender not head up on the line. He takes a good angle, but Riddick gets skinny and finds a nice little alley for a pick up of 8 yards. Check out the spot-on impersonation of a washing machine there at the end, too.

I don’t care if the primary back for Philadelphia is Beau Allen—for the sake of Carson Wentz’s longevity, they need to attempt less passes. Getting Sproles going as a runner will not only help them create a balanced attack in-game, but ensure Wentz still has an operable shoulder come 2022.





[#] Fri Sep 22 2017 07:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: Douze jours, mes amis

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

*The Flyers made a big round of cuts yesterday afternoon and The Germ and Phil Myers were among the casualties. [BSH]

*The Flyers had a very nice little OT preseason win Wednesday night; let's look back at what we learned. [BSH]

*New poppa Michal Neuvirth is ready to get back to his "normal self" in net for the Flyers. Which um...I guess that means hurt a lot? [Courier-Post]

*Nicholas Aube-Kubel had a pretty rough season last year, but hopes to use that experience to get better this year. [Inquirer]

*Dale Weise also had a rough year last year. Should we expect something more this season? [BSH]

*Friedman has 31 Thoughts this week and quite a number of them are about our hockey team. You'll want to read this one. [Sportsnet]

*Well, NHL hockey in China has happened and the Kings are the victors. [ProHockeyTalk]

*Mark your calendars, Jaromir Jagr is going to announce were he is playing on October 5. [SB Nation]

*So, who do we think will bounce back next season? [TSN]

*Making resolutions for the new season seems fun. I, for one, resolve to wait until Dave Hakstol does something stupid before screaming into the void about him. Here are DGB's New Season Resolutions; what are yours? [Sportsnet]

*And finally, slide on into the weekend by watching this highlight of Nolan Patrick's greasy pass to Ghost in overtime over and over again. [CSN Philly]





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