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[#] Tue Oct 03 2017 17:39:28 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles sign cornerback whose college teammates referred to as a

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Seems good.

The Philadelphia Eagles signed free agent cornerback D.J. Killings to their practice squad, according to an official announcement from the team.

The Eagles had a practice squad vacancy after promoting Justin Hamilton to the active roster on Saturday.

Killings is one of four players who worked out for the Eagles in Philadelphia last week. Here’s what we wrote about him at the time.

D.J. Killings - Great name. 22 years old. 5-10, 187 pounds. Undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft out of UCF. Had seven tackles and two passes defensed in the preseason. Waived by New England via injury settlement earlier this month. Here’s a good article with more info on Killings. His college teammates referred to him as a “genius.”

Killings seems like a nice developmental player worth taking a shot on. Philadelphia already has a lot of young corners but it can’t hurt for the Birds to keep taking chances on them until a solution is found.

UPDATED LOOK AT THE 2017 EAGLES PRACTICE SQUAD

CB D.J. Killings

WR Greg Ward Jr.

CB DeVante Bausby

QB Nate Sudfeld

C/G Josh Andrews

TE Billy Brown

LB Nathan Gerry

OT Dillon Gordon

RB Byron Marshall

WR Bryce Treggs





[#] Tue Oct 03 2017 17:59:28 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles practice squad wide receiver signs with Browns

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Bummer, but good for him.

Eagles practice squad wide receiver Bryce Treggs is leaving Philadelphia to sign with the Cleveland Browns. Treggs tweeted about the news on Tuesday afternoon.

This is good news for Treggs. He gets a chance to be on an NFL roster for at least three weeks and potentially more.

For the Eagles, however, this news is a bummer. Treggs had a good preseason for Philadelphia; he led the team in receiving this summer with 12 catches for 141 yards.

The Eagles didn’t really need Treggs around since they already have six receivers on the 53-man roster and another one (Greg Ward Jr.) on the practice squad. Still, Treggs gave them nice depth in case of injury.

Treggs originally joined Philadelphia’s roster after being claimed by the Eagles during final cuts last year. He had three receptions for 80 yards in nine games played.

Now that Treggs is moving on to Cleveland, the Eagles have an open practice squad spot. The Eagles filled the vacancy left by promoting Justin Hamilton by signing a former Patriots cornerback to their scout team on Tuesday. Expect the Birds to announce another practice squad signing this week.

UPDATED LOOK AT THE 2017 EAGLES PRACTICE SQUAD

CB D.J. Killings

WR Greg Ward Jr.

CB DeVante Bausby

QB Nate Sudfeld

C/G Josh Andrews

TE Billy Brown

LB Nathan Gerry

OT Dillon Gordon

RB Byron Marshall





[#] Tue Oct 03 2017 18:00:36 EDT from rss

Subject: The Eagles Won Social Media Today

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The Eagles responded to Colin Cowherd’s absurd take on Philly fans in just the best way possible.  

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/q-IBfgMBu28/the-eagles-won-social-media-today.html

[#] Tue Oct 03 2017 19:00:47 EDT from rss

Subject: This Is The Joel Embiid Rocky Video You Were Expecting

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.@JoelEmbiid might have some backup next time he goes on a run in Philly 😂 🏃 #TrustTheProcess pic.twitter.com/QiEmILKFk4 — NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 3, 2017 Trust the process.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/iCbuehfdEz8/this-is-the-joel-embiid-rocky-video-you-were-expecting.html

[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 07:19:19 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles News: The Cowboys are

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 10/4/17.

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

The Dallas Cowboys Are Back To Their Old Selves — Overrated - FiveThirtyEight
The bad news doesn’t stop there for Dallas. The Cowboys face a tough road if they hope to win the division, because even though the Giants are floundering, the rest of the NFC East has played better than we predicted in the preseason. And based on FiveThirtyEight’s Week 5 NFL Elo ratings, Dallas has the toughest remaining schedule of any team in its division; the Cowboys’ opponents have an average Elo rating of 1525, while the teams New York is facing average 1514, Washington’s opponents average 1499, and the rest of Philadelphia’s schedule averages 1496. The Cowboys and Eagles’ next five games could further increase the gap between those two teams — the Eagles currently have a one-game lead. Dallas’ next five opponents have an average Elo of 1549, and the Cowboys will face three of those teams on the road. Compare that with Philadelphia’s next five games — in which the Eagles’ opponents average an Elo of 1490 and only one game will be on the road — and the Cowboys’ playoff hopes could be essentially done by Week 10.

Carson Wentz’s on pace numbers through the Eagles’ first 4 games are encouraging - BGN
Wentz threw 16 touchdowns in 2016 so this would be a nice little jump. The Eagles’ franchise record for passing touchdowns in a single season is 32 by Sonny Jurgensen in 1961. 24 touchdowns would rank tied with Randall Cunningham (1988) and Norm Van Brocklin (1960) for ninth most in a single season.

Eagles report cards through the first quarter of the season: Offense edition - PhillyVoice
In the first couple games, it looked a lot like Wentz was going to have to do it all on his own again, like he did his rookie season, until the rushing attack picked up in Weeks 3 and 4 against the Giants and Chargers. Wentz has done an excellent job protecting the football, as he has thrown just two interceptions on the season. He has also made several plays that other quarterbacks simply cannot make by evading pressure and either finding receivers down the field or scrambling for yardage on the ground. He has also progressed on the mental side of the game, as Doug Pederson has allowed Wentz more freedom to get the Eagles into the right call at the line of scrimmage.

Big Red - Iggles Blitz
Discussing Reid’s departure is an incredibly nuanced discussion and not for mid-season, but let’s focus on the key points. Bill Walsh believed coaches needed to move on after a decade with one team. He felt players started to tune out the messages and the coaches got stale. A change of scenery was needed for both sides. There are rare exceptions like Tom Landry, Don Shula and Bill Belichick. For most coaches, change was needed. Think about what Andy has done differently in KC. He went back to calling the plays, something he gave up years ago in Philly. Reid had a strong GM to run the personnel side of things so he could focus on coaching. He changed his playbook, on offense and defense. The 4-3 was out and the 3-4 was in. The offense embraced college ideas and became the most creative in the league.

Lawlor: What Do We Know About The Eagles? - PE.com
The Eagles are 3-1 and alone atop the NFC East, so obviously things are great from that perspective. Beyond the numbers, the Eagles are passing the eye test. The Eagles were also 3-1 a year ago. They had beaten a pair of bad teams in the Browns and Bears and then played a flawless game in a blowout win over the Steelers. The Eagles then had a bye week and returned from that to lose a very sloppy game at Detroit, blowing it with some critical fourth-quarter mistakes. The team is better this season. They are already 2-0 in the division. They went 2-4 last year, with both wins coming late in the season. The Eagles are 2-1 on the road, winning at Washington and on the West Coast. In 2016, the team was 1-7 on the road, with the only victory coming over the Bears, who finished 3-13. The Eagles' only loss thus far was a wild affair at Kansas City, which is currently undefeated and might be the best team in the league.

Eagles Film Review: Still without a sack, Derek Barnett showing his motor - NBC Sports Philadelphia
Through four games, Eagles rookie Derek Barnett probably hasn't shown up on the stat sheet the way many fans predicted or hoped. He hasn't made any mistakes either. "He's had very few missed assignments," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "I don't want to give gold stars for that because that's what expected of us. But I think that's also a good sign coming from a rookie that's getting significant playing time, specifically in some key situations." The numbers aren't there yet, though. The 14th overall pick doesn't yet have a sack; he has six quarterback hurries and one quarterback hit. He has just five tackles. But as always, the numbers don't tell the whole story. Schwartz said on Tuesday that Barnett has had an up and down first four games but played a better game against the Chargers. Barnett had an impact on Sunday in the Eagles' 26-24 win.

Eagles' Lane Johnson using past suspensions as motivation - ESPN
"Damion Square this week, he came in," Johnson said. "We were actually in the weight room so it was kind of a see-through, there was a tent set up, and he said. 'What's up 'Roid Boy?' So I was like, 'All right.' So whenever we got on the field, we settled it." Square used to play in Philadelphia and is a former teammate of Johnson's. "He was joking, having fun," Johnson said, "but it's still the kind of stuff that makes you mad a little bit." Johnson recalls Arizona Cardinals pass-rusher Chandler Jones -- this week's adversary -- saying something to him after his first suspension when he was with the New England Patriots. Johnson hears chatter from time to time and uses it as motivation.

Upon further review: Wentz quietly impresses, Pederson breaks trend, Blount's big run - The Athletic
Yes, the Eagles’ running game was the star of the show Sunday afternoon, both because of impressive, varied ball-carrying by all three backs and because of the blocking they got from an offensive line that has played like one of the league’s best since the demotion of Isaac Seumalo in favor of the two-headed left-guard monster. But that pleasant surprise overshadowed a very impressive performance from the Eagles’ second-year quarterback. The biggest knock on Wentz’s 2017 season thus far has been his inability to connect on deep balls. He threw three beautiful mid-range deep passes Sunday, connecting with Zach Ertz for 38 yards and Nelson Agholor for 36 yards, while Torrey Smith dropped another. The passes to Ertz and Agholor were Wentz’s third- and fourth-longest completions of the season, behind only the opening-week, 58-yard touchdown to Agholor on a busted play and the end-of-half lucky deflection to Ertz against Kansas City, which went for 53 yards.

Carson Wentz doesn't have big numbers through four games, but he's avoiding the negative plays - Inquirer
The caution flag to wave is that it’s still early. At this point last season, Wentz had only one interception. The Eagles were also 3-1. But when the interceptions started coming more frequently, the wins came less frequently. Eleven of his 14 interceptions last season came in losses. In 20 career games, the Eagles are 3-8 when Wentz throws an interception. They’re 7-2 when he doesn’t throw an interception. No one can accuse Wentz of playing conservatively, either. He’s willing to throw down field and doesn’t always attempt high-percentage passes. His success comes when he demonstrates smart quarterbacking, finding the balance between being too aggressive and too careful.

Week 4 DVOA Ratings - Football Outsiders
A big part of the playoff odds report simulation is each team's schedules going forward, and this week is the season debut for the second weekly table that includes past and future schedule ratings. In the preseason we projected the Patriots with the easiest schedule in the league, but the rise of Houston and Kansas City means it has actually been the toughest in the league so far. That gets a lot easier from here on out, with the Patriots' remaining opponents ranked 25th (although only five of those are home games). Other teams whose schedules get much easier after September include Washington, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Houston, and -- I told you everything was coming up aces for Andy Reid -- Kansas City.

Prescott, Goff and Wentz Swap Roles in Season 2 of 'As the Quarterbacks Turn' - B/R
Dak Prescott is pressing. The league has caught up with him. His accuracy is spotty. He’s not on the same page as his receivers. The rookie magic has worn off. Jared Goff is a Pro Bowl candidate, or maybe an MVP or Hall of Fame candidate. He has "arrived," whatever that means. He has proved the doubters wrong. His decision making is brilliant, his throws pinpoint. The Rams were geniuses for drafting him. Carson Wentz has made great strides since his rookie year. Or maybe he has gotten lucky. He cannot throw the deep ball, except when he can. He’s immobile, except when he scrambles like king-sized Russell Wilson. Last year, the Eagles should have waited and drafted Prescott. Now, they were fools for not aggressively trading all the way up last year to nab Goff.

NFL fans booing pre-anthem protests shows that this was never about patriotism - SB Nation
The Ravens players and staff must be perplexed at fans still booing them. Not only because they’re losing — which they did again on Sunday — but because they’ve tried to compromise in their protests, kneeling before the national anthem and then standing for it. Yet fans are still angry. There seems to be no way to win, beyond going back to the way things were before Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee. That’s the real issue with the booing fans here; they’re angry that things haven’t gone back to the way they used to be. That the players haven’t shut up and fallen in line. That an illusion has been shattered. There can’t be any compromise with the protests because the only acceptable solution for those who are angry about them is for all of this to be forgotten. It’s not the form of protest that’s antagonizing; it’s that Kaepernick dared to point out a deep flaw in the country.

...

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[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 07:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: And here....we....go!

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

*IT'S GAME DAY, BITCHES!!!! Get pumped. Let's go.

*Okay but don't get like, too pumped, because here's the projected lineup. Brandon Manning in, rookie defensemen out. Great choice there. [Hockeybuzz]

*You'll notice that Matt Read has made his way all the way through to the Phantoms. [Inquirer]

*It's going to be a big year for the Flyers' big three players. [Inquirer]

*Apparently Ron asks a lot of his young players. One of the things he asks is to enjoy Allentown but whatever I'm not mad. [Daily News]

*So you have some time to kill before this extremely late night hockey game? We've got you covered. Pregame playlists. [BSH]

*And given that it is the first day of the new season, we've got predictions and previews galore. First up, 31 bold predictions from our old pal Frank. [TSN]

*Insider predictions for the league as a whole. [Sportsnet]

*The nuts over at USA Today are already predicting Cup winners! [USA Today]

*And now, the division previews. We've got one from Dave Isaac, one from the smart folks over at NHL Numbers, and one from the fine people at Puck Daddy. None are particularly favorable to us. The Metro is going to be LIT, you guys.

*On the analytical darlings and duds in the NHL as we kick things off. [TSN]

*And finally, the absolute best way to kill all this time before a 10PM start? An extended season preview episode of BSH Radio! [BSH]





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 08:03:56 EDT from rss

Subject: NFL Power Rankings Roundup Week 5: Eagles ranked as high as the top 3

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A look at what the experts are saying about the Birds.

Today we continue our weekly roundup of how various media outlets have ranked the Philadelphia Eagles in their NFL power rankings. It’s always interesting to see how the Birds stack up from an outside perspective. But first, let's start by revisiting mine.

Bleeding Green Nation

8 - The Eagles aren’t without flaws. There are concerns about the secondary. With that said, the Birds are tied for first in the NFC and their sole loss came while playing on the road against the NFL’s only remaining undefeated team. In other words, the Eagles are a good football team. (LW: 11)

SB Nation

7 - No explanation (LW: 8)

ESPN

8 - The Eagles have allowed the fewest points in the first three quarters of games this season but have allowed the second-most in fourth quarters. Philadelphia has three wins, but the past two were by a combined five points. If the Eagles can tighten up in the fourth quarter, they could start winning more comfortably. (LW: 13)

NFL.com

3 - High ranking for the Eagles. However, with what we know at this point in the season, how can Philadelphia not be here? Doug Pederson's outfit is tied for the best record in the NFC, leads the East and seems to have fixed the glaring weakness that every fan, blog and LinkedIn piece was fixated on during the preseason: the ground attack. In Week 3, the Eagles ran the football 39 times -- the most in three years. Against the Chargers, Philadelphia eclipsed that total while piling up 214 yards rushing. Glad the coaching staff took my advice and actually started using Leggie Blount. (LW: 6)

CBS Sports

3 - They won a tough road game at Los Angeles with a bunch of injuries on defense. That's impressive. (LW: 5)

Yahoo! Sports

6 - The Eagles have a pretty deep offense. Three backs got 10 or more carries on Sunday. Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith had 38 yards combined, but Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor had solid games. The Eagles lead the defending NFC East champion Cowboys by a game, and it doesn’t seem like they’re going away anytime soon. (LW: 10)

Washington Post

5 - It was a nice bonus for the Eagles to have that home-away-from-home game at StubHub Center. They already have beaten the Redskins and Giants and are the early front-runner in the NFC East. Few expected that. But with the Giants winless and the Cowboys not living up to expectations, their chances cannot be discounted. (LW: 8)

Bleacher Report

8 - We're finally beginning to see what we've been waiting for with LeGarrette Blount and the Eagles' running game. Against the Chargers, we saw just what they can do when running downhill. There were concerns about Blount in the preseason, but he wasn't the problem. The scheme, which utilized a lot of runs to the outside, was the issue. Blount isn't that kind of runner. That downhill running against L.A. was big. The defense was missing Fletcher Cox and did give up some big yardage to Philip Rivers and the passing game. However, the defense also got some key stops, and that ground game helped the Eagles control the tempo when it did. If Philadelphia can continue running downhill like this, the team will be better for it. It will help keep a questionable secondary off the field, it will lessen the pressure on Carson Wentz and it will open up the play-action game. The Eagles need more play-action because they don't have receivers who can consistently win downfield on their own. (LW: 13)

USA Today

8 - Run game has improved every week, culminating with 214 yards Sunday. Looks like LeGarrette Blount has settled in after zero carries two weeks ago. (LW: 6)

[BLG Note: Somehow the Eagles got dropped two spots by USA Today.]

Reddit

7 - The Eagles made the best of their West Coast home field advantage, besting the Chargers with 242 yards in the air and 214 yards on the ground, including this beast mode run by LaGarrette Blount. What remains to be seen is whether a fourth 3-1 start in the past six years will actually translate into season-long success or become yet another playoff-missing implosion in the long October and November stretch. (LW: 11)

Sporting News

10 - Carson Wentz may get some help from a strong running game after all, as the combination of LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood look ideal. The Eagles will need to hold up somehow defensively as long as Fletcher Cox and Ronald Darby are out. (LW: 10)

Pro Football Talk

9 - It’s a good thing the Browns didn’t think Carson Wentz would be good. (LW: 13)

Sports Illustrated

8 - No explanation (LW: 11)

Football Outsiders

12 - No explanation (LW: 14)

numberFire

10 - No explanation (LW: 8)


Analysis

The rankings range from as high as 3 to as low as 12. The most common ranking is 8. The average ranking is 7.5, which is up more than two spots from last week’s average of 9.7.

The Eagles are in a pretty good spot after the first quarter of the 2017 NFL season. They sit first in the NFC East at 3-1 with a 2-0 division/conference record.

Carson Wentz looks good. The offensive line is playing at a very high level and, as a result, the running game has come to life recently.

Philadelphia’s defense has some issues, namely in the secondary, but their line is able to mitigate some of those concerns. Jim Schwartz’s unit will receive a boost when injured players such as Fletcher Cox and Ronald Darby are able to return.

The Eagles will be able to cement their position in the top 10 with a win over the Cardinals this week. Arizona looks pretty bad. If the Eagles can’t take care of business, that’ll be a big concern.





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 07:44:30 EDT from rss

Subject: Crossing Broadcast: Hockey and The Herd

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Kyle, Adam and Russ discuss the baseball playoffs, Flyers and Sixers starting up, Colin Cowherd’s comments, the brilliance of Joel Embiid, and if the Eagles are for real.   We recommend subscribing in Overcast, the best iOS podcast player, and using the Voice Boost and Smart Speed functions, which improve sound quality (for all shows)…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/YCOwDBMCHaY/crossing-broadcast-hockey-and-the-herd.html

[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 09:21:19 EDT from rss

Subject: LeGarrette Blount nominated for two NFL awards that Eagles fans can vote on

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Vote for LG.

Following in the footsteps of the immortal Jake Elliott, Philadelphia Eagles running back LeGerratte Blount has been nominated for not one, but TWO NFL weekly fan vote awards thanks to his big Week 4 performance.

One of the honors Blount is up for is “FedEx Ground Player of the Week.” Blount rushed for 136 yards on a mere 16 carries (8.5 average). The big man also had a 20-yard reception.

68 of Blount’s rushing yards came on his fantastic Beast Mode run where he broke multiple tackles. According to ESPN, Blount’s 109 rush yards after contact are the most in the NFL this year and the fifth most out of any player in the last five years. Needless to say, Blount was awesome against the Chargers.

The other award Blount is up for is one of the two Elliott won last week: “Castrol EDGE Clutch Performer of the Week.” Blount helped the Eagles run out the clock to seal their win over the Chargers on Sunday. His 15-yard gain on 3rd-and-1 with 1:54 remaining officially sealed the deal.

You can go vote for Blount by clicking [here] and [here].

You can also go get yourself a new Philly Blount t-shirt, hoodie, mug, phone case, sticker, pillow, notebook, etc. by checking out the BGN Radio store.





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 08:43:24 EDT from rss

Subject: Your Wednesday Morning Roundup

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The Flyers are back. Officially. Their 51st year (50th of playing hockey if you take away the 2004-05 lockout year) kicks off tonight in San Jose against the Sharks. That game is scheduled to start at 10:30 on NBCSN. But it’ll probably be around 11 since home openers mean delayed starts. Pack up on Red…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/8Q7k4G0zUqI/your-wednesday-morning-roundup-7.html

[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 10:00:08 EDT from rss

Subject: Carson Wentz is proving his critics wrong

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A sophomore year surge

This time last year the Eagles and Carson Wentz were flying high, in their bye week at 3-0 and Wentz looking like the QB the Eagles drafted him to be. The season then immediately went south as his supporting cast fell apart, dragging down Wentz and bringing out the critics in full force. Heading into the season, the excitement went up another notch as Wentz got weapons to throw to and was prime to take the second year leap that many players do.

If it was fair to criticize Wentz at this point last year, then it’s fair to reevaluate those critiques at the same point this year. There’s 12 more games to go, but so far Wentz is putting those criticisms to bed.

Wentz and the Eagles can’t win without defense

In a great illustration of small sample size, arbitrary end points and obviousness, Wentz was criticized for not winning when the defense doesn’t play lights out.

Just two weeks ago, Wentz was 0-10 when the defense gave up 20+ points. Of the 15 quarterbacks sampled in Football Outsiders’ look at QBs in their first 18 starts, only two, Dak Prescott and Matt Ryan, had non-losing records when the defense gave up 20+ points. Those two had something else in common: 1600 yard rushers to hand the ball off to. (And both regressed in year two.) Everyone else predictably struggled, from Peyton Manning to Derek Carr. Wentz was also 8-0 when the defense gave up less than 20 points, the third QB with a perfect record along with Ryan and Andrew Luck. Only Derek Carr, who in his rookie season had a leading rusher with just 534 yards and whose starting WRs were James Jones and Andre Holmes, had a losing record when his defense kept the other team to fewer than 20 points. 11 of the 15 QBs had a winning percentage of over .800.

What this all tells us is that young quarterbacks play well when the defense plays great, and they play poorly when the defense doesn’t. A shocking revelation.

Now, two games later, Wentz is 2-10 when the defense gives up 20+ points, a record in line with Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, David Carr, Derek Carr, and Jameis Winston. Alter a sample size and you get a different result. And why set the threshold at 20 points? Because it’s a nice round number. Reduce it to 19 and the results change, with Wentz picking up another win. Move it to 21, a more logical goalpost in football since it’s three touchdowns, and Newton has just 1 win. Again, alter a sample size and you unsurprisingly get a different set of values.

He’s the reason why his supporting cast sucked

This year, Cole Beasley is 72nd.

The best Eagles WR is Nelson Agholor, who is 9th.

It would seem that Carson Wentz has greatly improved.

His QBR is bad

There’s no arguing that in 2016, Carson Wentz’s QBR was bad, finishing the season 26th. In 2017?

7th.

Cross that one off the list too.

Those air yards

Everyone’s favorite stat from 2016.

Air yards is a descriptive stat, not a predictive one. Its use is in telling us what happened, in describing how a quarterback has played, not how they are going to play. Additionally, coaches who call a heavy screen game will weigh down their quarterbacks. Alex Smith and Sam Bradford show poorly because they have been checkdown artists through multiple teams, play callers and supporting casts, and we can expect them to continue to be that throughout their careers. Even this season, with Smith QBing an offense that is the talk of the league, he’s still the same old Alex Smith. Smith is further hurt with screen happy Andy Reid, while Sean Payton calls a lot of screens that drag Drew Brees down a notch. And everyone has their ups and downs. Smith and Bradford’s best seasons are above average, while many near the top of the chart’s worst season are worse than a typical season from Bradford and Smith. There’s a lot of noise, and that’s to be expected in the NFL where every season is 16 games and rosters and play callers are regularly turned over.

Which is exactly the case with Wentz. Last season, he had no legitimate deep threat. Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff weren’t threatening anyone on the outside. Dorial Green-Beckham was awful, and Bryce Treggs wasn’t a solution. Further handcuffing him, Doug Pederson called a lot of screens last season.

Now, with two starting receivers who can get the ball deep and open up the middle of the field, Wentz is able to throw to all levels of the field, and doing so. After spending the 2016 season near the bottom of the list of air yards, he’s near the top. And he’s been freed from the chains of a screen pass heavy offense. Last season, Eagles running backs caught 21% of Wentz’s completions. This season, just 12%, the same as Jameis Winston, who was among league leaders in air yards in 2016 and 2017.

Other assorted nonsense

The arguments above at least had some basis in statistics, however faulty or contextually narrow they may be. The unemployed by the NFL tape grinders who took every opportunity to slag Wentz last season are another story. The self proclaimed QB experts that said that Wentz was inferior to Vernon Adams, who has been traded twice in the CFL; or inferior to Christian Hackenberg, who spent 15 games last season as a healthy scratch; or inferior to Cardale Jones, who is already on his second NFL team; or inferior to Connor Cook, who is still a third string QB; or inferior to Dalyn Williams, who didn’t even make it to a training camp last year; or inferior to Paxton Lynch, who two coaching staffs have decided is worse than Trevor Siemian; or inferior to Nate Sudfeld, who is now Wentz’s backup’s backup; or that the Eagles lost the trade with the Browns for Wentz, look even worse now. Similar points can be made about the reborn Jared Goff, but the Eagles weren’t in position to draft him.

Wentz is not yet a finished product. His deep ball must get better, there are improvements to be made on holding onto the ball for too long and he’s left some easy completions on the field by taking high risk shots. Which for now is fine, no quarterback is completely polished in their second year. But a quarter of the way through his second season, he’s clearly an improved player both statistically and to the eye. He’s proving just about every criticism of him wrong.





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 09:10:29 EDT from rss

Subject: Are We There Yet? Andy MacPhail Doesn

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Hey, sports fans. I have a little quiz for you here. It’ll be fun. Ready? Let’s go. Complete the following statement: Over the past five years, the Phillies have: A) Averaged 69 wins B) Not finished higher than fourth place in the NL East C) Not been closer than 23 games out of first place…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/MDXzw9AnuF8/are-we-there-yet-andy-macphail-doesnt-seem-to-think-so.html

[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 10:45:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 2017-18 Over/Under Game, Part 1: Individual Numbers

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Let’s make some (very fake) bets on how we expect Flyers players to perform this season.

Continuing a now-yearly tradition here at Broad Street Hockey, we’ll begin the season by positing 20 different over/under prop bets regarding this coming Flyers season, and asking our writers how they expect those particular lines to shake out.

Last year — our second time around on the exercise — we made our guesses on 10 different individual and team-level props, and at the end of the year basically found out that we don’t know jack. This time around, we’re expecting a similar end-result, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to try and do better. As such, below are our 10 individual lines; a bit later today, we’ll roll out the 10 team lines.

Feel free to make your own guesses in the comments, as well. Otherwise, enjoy!


1. Last season, Claude Giroux tallied 58 points while playing in every game for the Flyers. Over/under 62.5 points for Giroux this season.

Steph: OVER. This is the year! Expect great things from Claude Giroux.

Kyle: OVER. Last season G shot at a career low at 7%, a return to normalcy somewhere around 9.5 or higher should equal a bounce back season for the captain.

Jay: OVER. This is the season Giroux springs back to relevancy among the top offensive forwards in the Eastern Conference.

Kelly: OVER. Claude Giroux was not himself last season. He's going to bounce back in a big way this season and 65 points feels like the lowest to expect from the captain.

Mike: OVER. Coming off a “down” year, I look for the captain to play with a chip on his shoulder and regain his close to point-per-game form.

Kurt: OVER. I worry about us all cursing Giroux a bit here, the same way we did last year when we all took the over on his point line, but unless the top PP totally falls apart this season he should bounce back a bit this year just by percentages. Only a meaningful injury keeps him off that mark, I think.

Bill: OVER. The move to wing could benefit Giroux, allowing him more space to make plays and distribute from the outside, while Sean Couturier does a bit of the dirty work that may have contributed to Giroux’s wear and tear over the last couple of seasons. I could see the captain getting into the 66-point range.

Craig: OVER, but not by much. I think he’ll show he’s past the injury concerns from the last few seasons and will benefit from playing the wing with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. I think the new found depth of this team also helps. Slightly hesitant to say he’ll easily clear 62.5 points because of the power play. Those points for Giroux are more about him feeding the slot rather than who is being fed in the slot, but the lack of an obvious solution for Schenn’s role on the first power play is a slight cause of concern.

***

2. Travis Konecny collected 28 points in 70 games as a rookie. What's this year got in store for him? Over/under 41.5 points for Konecny in 2017-18.

Steph: UNDER. This is not a slight on Teeks, have you see who they are playing him with?

Kyle: OVER. I said over here but it really all depends on if he feels the wrath of Dave Hakstol for a second consecutive season.

Jay: UNDER. The sophomore slump doesn't hit all 2nd year players, but Konecny will feel the pressure and will fall just shy of 40 points.

Kelly: Right now, I have to say UNDER. I'm not sure what TK did to offend Dave Hakstol's sensibilities but woof, that third line. Going to be tough for Konecny to score while he's dragging two anchors.

Mike: OVER. In case you haven’t seen any preseason action TK11 has been all over the place making plays. Put him down for a 25-goal season.

Kurt: OVER. We’re going to freak out about the line he’s on now and then they’re going to move him to a different one in two weeks and he’ll keep playing great. Konecny had kind of become the forgotten man as Patrick and Lindblom dominated the discussion of this offseason — I don’t think he’ll be forgotten for much longer.

Bill: OVER. Konecny draws a bad assignment to start the year at even strength opposite Dale Weise. But being able to play give-and-go with Valterri Filppula and the improvement of the second power play unit should help Konecny enter and exceed the half-a-point per game plateau.

Craig: OVER. I think he’ll benefit from playing with more skilled players when on the top two lines or feasting on lesser competition if he is slotted on the third line. I also think the second power-play unit may score some goals this year and he’ll have a part in that.

***

3. Is this finally Sean Couturier's year to top that elusive 40-point mark? Let's aim a little higher, but just a little: over/under on Couturier tallying 44.5 points this season.

Steph: OVER. If you're playing next to Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, you better have 40+ points

Kyle: OVER. I'll go one step higher, if Couturier stays with Giroux and Voracek the entire season, he breaks 50 points. Making him a "true 2nd line center"

Jay: OVER. Book it, regardless if he is centering Giroux/Voracek or some other combination of forwards, our little Cooter will put up over 50 points this season.

Kelly: OVER. That first line is fun as hell and the potential for Coots to get a crap ton of assists is super high.

Mike: OVER. He’d be over this easily if he could bury any one of the countless breakaways he’ll whiff on this season. But seriously playing with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek will help tremendously (if he stays with them).

Kurt: OVER. This is basically just asking if he can keep up what he did in the last two seasons and not get injured. He can do that, right?

Bill: OVER. Couturier is going to benefit from the best line mates he’s had over his tenure with the Flyers, beginning the season between Giroux and Jake Voracek. Couturier has scored at a 46-point pace over the last two seasons, but has missed significant time with injuries. Health and an improved surrounding cast on the second power play unit should contribute to the long-awaited break out season for No. 14.

Craig: UNDER. I love Sean Couturier. I really do. However, what would Flyers’ fans argue about if Couturier was the team’s best play-driver and penalty killer, the team’s strongest player on the puck, AND also averaged 0.5 points per game? I don’t know. I feel like God doesn’t want us to be that bored, so Couturier will most likely put up 40 points in 82 games so he’s not technically a 0.5 point-per-game player and that can be thrown into any argument against him.

***

4. Jordan Weal came out of nowhere to be one of the Flyers' best forwards in the final two months of the 2016-17 season. He tallied eight goals and three assists in 23 games last year. Over/under 19.5 goals for Jordan Weal this season?

Steph: UNDER. I would be thrilled to be wrong.

Kyle: UNDER. As much as I love Weal, I just can't see him scoring many goals on a line with Patrick and Simmonds. Plenty of assists though.

Jay: OVER. Last season was no fluke for Weal, as some players just take longer to figure it out and/or get their chance to prove themselves.

Kelly: OVER. I think now that he's finally being given a chance he's going to light it up.

Mike: UNDER: Not really sure why fans and some select media think of Weal as a “core” player, but he’s easily replaceable and won’t come close to 20 goals.

Kurt: OVER. Because, I mean ... some forward has to score goals at 5-on-5 on this team, right? I’d love to see him get a shot with Giroux later in the season.

Bill: UNDER. It pains me to say Weal won’t break 20 goals, but playing with a net-front presence like Wayne Simmonds, he has an opportunity to rack up a few more assists than last season. Even with time on the second power play unit, there are only so many goals to go around. 17-19 seems like a realistic total for Weal.

Craig: UNDER. He shot 16.3 percent for a quarter of a season. He also got top-line minutes last year with Giroux and Wayne Simmonds. I think he’ll benefit from playing a full season, but I also think his shooting percentage regresses to the league norm, which I think will leave him in the range of 15 to 18 goals.

***

5. Nolan Patrick is on the Flyers. (In case you didn't hear, the Flyers went from 13 to 2 in the lottery and drafted Patrick.) What should we expect from him? Over/under 37.5 points for Nolan Patrick this season?

Steph: UNDER. And that's ok.

Kyle: OVER. Considering Patrick's commitment to defense along with offense, we shouldn't expect to see him Hak'd this season, and that's the only way I see him not reaching this point plateau.

Jay: UNDER. It pained me to even write that, but even the most talented of prospects struggle to learn and adjust to the NHL game.

Kelly: I'm going UNDER. But not by much. I'm thinking 35 points.

Mike: OVER. By midseason this kid is going to have things figured out and finish with a strong stretch run to give him a comfortable 45+ points. He’s just too skilled and his hockey IQ is too high for him not to be a high-impact rookie.

Kurt: OVER. Oh god I’m getting so optimistic someone help me this is just going to end in pain. But unless Patrick suffers an injury or hits a big-time rookie wall a year after playing in just 33 games, I think he’ll get here.

Bill: OVER. I can see Patrick being right around the 40-point range. He’s currently slotted as the second line center between Weal and Simmonds, two guys who have shown they can take advantage of a smooth playmaker of Patrick’s caliber.

Craig: OVER. Patrick looked good in the preseason and he was just utilizing his on-ice vision. He hasn’t benefitted from his heavy shot yet. I also think he’ll spend almost the entire season in the top six and will be most likely looking to set up the team’s leading goal scorer in Simmonds or be set up to score by either Giroux or Voracek.

***

6. Michal Neuvirth has played in 32 and 28 regular-season games in his two seasons with the Flyers. What kind of a share does he get alongside Brian Elliott? Over/under 35.5 games played (starts AND relief appearances) for Neuvirth.

Steph: UNDER. Michal Neuvirth has only played over 35 games a season twice in his NHL career, and they were both before the last lockout. I don't see this happening again right now, or ever.

Kyle: UNDER. I think he comes close, but the injuries will hurt his chances yet again.

Jay: UNDER. Brian Elliott establishes himself early that he is the clear superior goaltender.

Kelly: lol UNDER because of course

Mike: OVER. Before long the Flyers will find out that Brian Elliott STINKS and will have to go with Neuvy. However, Neuvirth is the better goalie anyways and can have a productive season if he can stay healthy (though that’s a big if).

Kurt: OVER. The Flyers seem intent on splitting their goalies’ time, and if last season was any indication they’ll do it no matter how well a given guy is actually playing, so yeah, I could see Neuvirth ending up a little higher in terms of starts and games than he has been in recent years. Health is obviously the big assumption there, but sometimes injury-prone guys just stay healthy by accident, y’know?

Bill: UNDER. Neuvirth hasn’t topped 29 starts in either of his seasons as a Flyer, and hasn’t exactly been a workhorse throughout his career. He has already missed time in the preseason and it’s tough to expect his health/luck to turnaround as he approaches 30.

Craig: UNDER. Neuvirth will play in at least 30 games this year. I think Elliott is the guy and will get 45 starts. I also think Alex Lyon will be getting some action this year, as Neuvirth is guaranteed to be injured at least once during this season.

***

7. Still talking about Michal Neuvirth! Neuvirth had a brutal year on the ice last year, posting a .891 save percentage. What's he going to bounce back to? Over/under .909 save percentage for Neuvirth this season.

Steph: OVER. For the sake of my sanity and that shiny new contract he didn't earn.

Kyle: OVER. The upgrades on defense should help Neuvirth stay in the .910's...or at least that's what I'll keep telling myself.

Jay: OVER. Settling back into a true backup role, Neuvy will perform to a decent SV%, but to nothing that would supplant Elliott as the true starter.

Kelly: I’m saying OVER because oh my god, if it's under it is going to be a very painful year.

Mike: OVER. I’m all-in on Neuvirth. BUY, BUY, BUY! He was bad last year (.891 SV%, 2.82 GAA) but he’s much better than that is his career (.911 SV%, 2.68 GAA) and is just a year removed from a stellar year for these same Flyers (.924 SV%, 2.27 GAA).

Kurt: UNDER, because we’re from Philadelphia and we should not really ever expect good things to happen to our goalies. He’ll still be better than last year, though.

Bill: OVER. While he won’t shoulder much of the workload, I can see Neuvirth bouncing back to the .915 he’d posted over the previous six seasons.

Craig: OVER. I have no rhyme or reason to this one, just don’t think it could get any worse for Neuvirth and think we’ll see more of his play from the 2015-16 season.

***

8. You may not have heard about this, but the Flyers have some defensive prospects that will be playing in the NHL this year! Two of them will be starting the season with the team, and one more figures to be making his mark before too long. How long until they're all here? Over/under 194.5 COMBINED games played by Flyers rookie defensemen this season. (That’s an average of 65 games for three rookie defensemen, basically.)

Steph: OVER. THE DREAM ISN'T DEAD THEY'RE KEEPING MORIN AND SANHEIM LET'S ROLL.

Kyle: OVER. I can't imagine it taking Ron Hextall and co. very long to realize Sanheim needs to be up sooner rather than later; barring injuries, I think all three play at least 65 games.

Jay: OVER. Not only will these two rookies log significant ice-time, the defensemen called up as injury replacements will likely be rookies as well.

Kelly: I'm saying UNDER despite hoping for the over, because I have zero confidence in the front office at the moment.

Mike: OVER. My brain isn’t equipped to handle this kind of complex math but the kids on defense are good. They’re just good and they’re gonna force their way into the lineup.

Kurt: OVER. 65 games this year on average between Morin, Hagg, and Sanheim seems like a reasonable expectation. Guys will miss games, guys will get rest and/or occasional Learning Scratches, but I think Sanheim will be back up before too long and they’ll all be at it.

Bill: UNDER. Hakstol and Hextall have broken me.

Craig: UNDER. If Morin and Hagg played all 82 games, that’s 164 games. Factor in possible injuries and Dave Hakstol benching both of them at some point this season because reasons, that realistically puts them around 145 combined. That means 50 games from Travis Sanheim, who will be sent down to the AHL at some point soon and there doesn’t seem to be a guarantee of when he’ll be called back up.

***

9. Ivan Provorov quickly emerged as the Flyers' top defenseman last year, ending the season right around 22 minutes per game played. Does he see even more responsibility come his way this season? Over/under 23:00 of all-situations ice time per game for Ivan Provorov.

Steph: OVER. All the rookies are going to necessitate more time by the top pair

Kyle: OVER. Even with my excitement of the rookie d-men, I think Provorov will be leaned on heavily to lead the way on the blue line.

Jay: OVER. By the end of the season, Provy is the #1 defenseman on the Flyers.

Kelly: OVER. Russian machine never breaks.

Mike: OVER. He’s not even 21 yet, he’s the best defenseman on the team and the scary part is he’s only going to get better. Count on coach Hakstol riding No. 9 a lot this season.

Kurt: OVER. He goooooood. And if the rookies can prove they deserve more time, my guess is that those minutes will come at the expense of Gudas and MacDonald, not Provorov.

Bill: OVER. Provorov saw nearly 23 minutes a game from February on last season, and topped 23 minutes 15 times in the final 31 games of the year. I don’t know how much playing time Hakstol will entrust the rookie defensemen with, especially early, and I can see a lot of that burden falling on Provorov.

Craig: OVER. With two rookies on the blue line and the expectation he will still be on the ‘top’ pairing with Andrew MacDonald, he should easily clear 23:00 ice time per game.

***

10. Oskar Lindblom DID NOT make the Flyers. He'll probably be up at some point this season. But when, and what will he do when he's there? Over/under 24.5 NHL points for Lindblom this season.

Steph: UNDER. I have nothing more to say on this matter.

Kyle: OVER. Just like Sanheim, I don't think it will take long for Lindblom to reach the NHL and when he does, he should see time in the top 6 and PP 1.

Jay: UNDER. I don't see Lindblom getting any kind of significant time with the Flyers this season.

Kelly: We'll see him in December, and he'll prove he should've been here all year. OVER.

Mike: UNDER. Someone will get hurt and probably create a spot for Lindblom sooner rather than later, but unless that’s a top-six role like the Flyers seem to want to get him into…can’t see him topping 25 points.

Kurt: OVER. I could very much see a rookie-year-Ghost-like scenario here in which he’s called up early on in the year, either due to a top-9 injury or some general offensive ineffectiveness, and while I’m not expecting him to take the league by storm like Ghost did I think he’ll do juuuuuust enough to clear this bar.

Bill: UNDER. Claude Giroux earned a promotion after Christmas of his rookie season, and ended the year with 27 points in 42 games on a team that scored a ton of goals. I see a similar path for Lindblom, but those results would be stunning. Twenty points seems like a more realistic (although still optimistic) measure, especially if he ends up playing fewer than 50 games.

Craig: UNDER. He's starting the season in the Lehigh Valley and if Nolan Patrick (who the Flyers drafted 2nd overall after jumping up from 13th overall) is projected 'to do well' and net around 35-40 points, I feel like 25 points for Lindblom on an abbreviated season isn't too likely. Especially when Konecny had a strong rookie season and put up 28 points in 70 games.





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 10:19:53 EDT from rss

Subject: Seth Joyner Hates Nerds

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Never one to mince words, former Eagles linebacker Seth Joyner is now going after dorks. It started with a Twitter response to John Clark of ̶C̶o̶m̶c̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶S̶p̶o̶r̶t̶s̶N̶e̶t̶  NBC Sports Philadelphia, who shared a story about the Phillies now having 14 analytics people on the staff: “Sports are being drive and taken over by computer nerds…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/peiCAvLUNpI/seth-joyner-hates-nerds.html

[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 12:15:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 2017-18 Over/Under Game, Part 2: Team Numbers

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What do we expect the Flyers to do at the team-level this year? Let’s find out.

Earlier today, we asked our writers for answers on 10 over/under prompts relating to Flyers players’ performances this season. Here, we’ll do the same thing at more of a team-level. Enjoy, and the comments are there if you think you can do better than us.


11. Nerd stuff! Over/under 51.0 adjusted 5-on-5 Corsi-For percentage for the Flyers this season, as measured by corsica.hockey? Last season, the Flyers were at 50.56 percent in this measure. (Corsi is the percentage of all shot attempts on the ice that are taken by one team.)

Steph: OVER.

Kyle: OVER. With Bellemare and VandeVelde off the team, this should only go up. Especially with the help on the blue line.

Jay: OVER. Without the dead weight of poor possession players like Boyd Gordon, Peter Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde, the Flyers will easily eclipse this mark.

Kelly: Given the Corsi numbers the first line has put up in preseason, I'm gonna go OVER.

Mike: OVER. We’ve seen it in the preseason, the Flyers are going to get more pucks to the net in 2017-18 and if they can continue to get shots through to the net like they have in the exhibition season, they’ll beat this benchmark.

Kurt: OVER. Hopefully this year they get there via fewer point shots from defensemen, but I think they’ll get there regardless.

Bill: Watch the game, computer boy. [Ed. note: Fuck you too, Bill.]

Craig: OVER. MacDonald still seeing plenty of ice time and Filppula centering the third line are concerns in this department, but the line of Giroux-Coutuier-Voracek could post a Corsi for percentage somewhere in the mid to high 50’s. Replacing Bellemare and VandeVelde with Laughton and Raffl on the fourth line should improve the team’s overall Corsi for percentage by a fair amount. Also, Filppula’s role on the third line could hurt the team’s 5-on-5 possession, but I wouldn’t count out Dale Weise and Konecny overcoming the anchor on their line to help put the trio above the 50 percent line on some nights.

***

12. The power play had its ups and downs last season, ending up 14th in the NHL on the year. Then the team fired Joe Mullen, brought in a new guy, and traded Brayden Schenn. Will things get better? Over/under 12.5 as the Flyers' end-of-season NHL rank in power play percentage. (IN OTHER WORDS: if you think the Flyers will finish 12th or better in the NHL in power play percentage, say OVER; if you think they will finish 13th or worse, say UNDER.)

Steph: UNDER. Brayden Schenn is a big loss, and both units have looked shaky in preseason.

Kyle: OVER. Despite their struggles in preseason, the powerplay units were starting to come alive in the final few games including the second unit which was essentially irrelevant last season. Just please move Couturier off PP 2 or change his spot on the unit.

Jay: OVER. The talent this team has for the powerplay makes no sense to be anything other than a top 5 PP team.

Kelly: I'm optimistically saying OVER. It hasn't looked great in preseason but I'm going to trust that Knobs figures it out.

Mike: OVER. Only because I think both units are better going into this season. The second unit was actually dangerous in the exhibition season and the first unit has too much skill and chemistry not to put up good numbers.

Kurt: OVER. I like Brayden Schenn and I think some people downplayed his importance on PP1, but at the same time ... that unit’s lost good players and ticked along multiple other times in the past six years. They’ll be fine. And the Patrick-led PP2 should be at least a slight improvement, I think.

Bill: OVER. I’m saying the Flyers will have a top-ten power play this year.

Craig: OVER. There isn’t an immediate replacement for Schenn, but like I said with Giroux’s point total, I think it’s more about who is doing the feeding and not the one being fed. There might be a drop off from Schenn to Filppula, but I don’t think it will be significant enough that the unit ends up in the middle of the league. Also, with a few flashes this preseason, I think the second unit might be able to chip in a few more goals than usual.

***

13. The penalty kill, meanwhile, finished 21st in the league last year at 79.8 percent, and it lost its two top penalty kille—sorry, couldn't finish that thought with a straight face. Anywho, how do they fare? Over/under 81.0 percent for the Flyers on the penalty kill this season. (For reference, 81 percent would have been 15th in the NHL last season.)

Steph: OVER. Imagine what they can be with real NHL players??

Kyle: OVER. Last season Bellemare was a mainstay on the PK, the upgrade in personnel alone should boost this number.

Jay: UNDER. This will be an area where the Flyers struggle at certain points throughout the season.

Kelly: UNDER. I don't think this improves much.

Mike: OVER. There is going to be some fresh blood on the PK a little this season and that is going to be a good thing. Did I mention no Chris VandeVelde? Huge plus.

Kurt: OVER. I LOVE the forward group that the Flyers will be able to roll with on the PK this year, and I think they make up for what will inevitably be some bumps in the road for a young defensive group.

Bill: PUSH. The Flyers will kill exactly 81% of their penalties in 2017-18. Take it to the bank.

Craig: OVER. Bellemare and VandeVelde are bad penalty killers, and Steve Mason might be the worst penalty-killing goalie in the league. Simmonds and Couturier did well together last season, so making them the first forward pair followed up by Laughton and Raffl seems like a huge upgrade over last year’s setup. Elliott isn’t amazing when his team is shorthanded, but he is better than Mason in that department.

***

14. Four rookies have made the team, two more seem pretty close to making it, and between injuries and strong/weak performances it wouldn't be too surprising to see guys move around a bit throughout the season. How much will we see of these guys this season? Over/under 4.5 rookies that play at least 41 games with the Flyers in 2017-18. (This includes Taylor Leier, who broke camp with the Flyers this week.)

Steph: OVER BECAUSE WE'RE KEEPING THEM ALL

Kyle: OVER. It's time to go full on Leafs!

Jay: OVER. Flyers will employ lots of large adult sons this season.

Kelly: OVER. I hope.

Mike: OVER. Five is a good number for this because the first couple call ups should be younger guys and that number will only grow if the Flyers are indeed out of things come spring.

Kurt: OVER. Patrick and at least two defensemen will definitely get here barring catastrophic injury, which means that two of Leier, Lindblom, and a third defensemen will need to as well. I think all three of those guys get their shots.

Bill: OVER. Why the hell not?

Craig: OVER. Patrick, Leier, Morin, and Hagg all play over 41 games. One of Sanheim or Lindblom play over 41 games this season.

***

15. In a truly bizarre twist of fate, the Flyers were second in the entire NHL last season in games won in a shootout. That can't last, right? Over/under 3.5 shootout wins for the Flyers this season. (The average NHL team won 3.3 shootout games last year.)

Steph: OVER. Hello have you met Nolan Patrick?

Kyle: UNDER. There's no way the Flyers get that lucky again, this is Philadelphia we're talking about.

Jay: OVER. They figured it out damnit! No one step forward, two steps back crap this season.

Kelly: This is going to depend on how Brian Elliott fares with us, but I'm going to say OVER. Why not.

Mike: OVER. Neuvirth stopped all six shootout attempts last year and Elliott went 10 of 12. Combined that’s pretty darn good and should earn the Flyers at least four or five shootout wins.

Kurt: UNDER. Come on.

Bill: OVER. Giroux, Voracek, Konecny, Weal, Simmonds, and no more Steve Mason. Everything’s coming up Flyers!

Craig: UNDER. The team may have succeeded last season, but they’re the Flyers. Losing in shootouts in a franchise pastime. It doesn’t matter who is sent out to shoot or who is in net.

***

16. Should we expect Ron Hextall to shake up this roster at all during the season? Over/under 1.5 NHL-level trades for the Flyers between now and the trade deadline.

Steph: OVER. Give me reason to hope, Ron. Get rid of this crap and bring me real players, Ron.

Kyle: UNDER. I expect this team to still be in playoff contention come the deadline, so if that's the case we have a good idea that Hextall won't be buying or selling.

Jay: UNDER. The Flyers contend for a playoff spot and keep the core intact.

Kelly: UNDER. I've come to believe Ron has no balls.

Mike: OVER. Hextall won’t go too crazy, but I could see three to four NHL-type trades from Hexy at some point during the season. Thanks to a stockpiling of prospects, Hextall has a lot of options as to what to do with his current (and future) assets.

Kurt: UNDER. Not because I don’t think he’s gonna try, but because I don’t really see many obviously tradeable and desirable assets on this team that it’d make sense to deal and/or deal for unless things go way, way out of control.

Bill: OVER. The Flyers will be in a race down the stretch and Hextall will finally part with some of his considerable assets to bolster the lineup.

Craig: OVER. I could easily see one trade being completed due to the volume of forwards who could play in the bottom six. Add in the fact it's possible the Flyers aren't in playoff contention or will want to add a veteran seventh defenseman if they are in playoff contention and I think it's likely we see two or more trades from Ron this year.

***

17. The Metropolitan Division figures to be as tough as ever this year, with basically every team but New Jersey having realistic playoff aspirations and some having much loftier goals than that. The Flyers will play 28 games against the Metro this year, four against each team. How will those games go? Over/under 14.5 wins against Metro Division teams this season.

Steph: UNDER. Things will be very bad. I think they lose all four against the Devils.

Kyle: UNDER. They'll come close, but I envision too many overtime games that will most likely end in OTL's or SOL's.

Jay: OVER. #ClutchTime

Kelly: UNDER. The division is so freaking good, and a few teams have gotten better, and I'm not confident yet that the Flyers have put together a team that can compete.

Mike: UNDER. The Flyers have struggled against the Rangers, Penguins, and Caps in recent years. They’ve also had their issues with the Canes and even Devils at times, so many Flyers wins will come elsewhere.

Kurt: OVER. I have no idea. Just beat the Devils four times, OK? I’m getting really sick of their shit.

Bill: This is really long. Where are the questions about plus-minus and fights. That’s what I’m here for. [Bless you, Bill. Honestly.]

Craig: UNDER. They split the series last year with Pittsburgh, but both wins came late in the season when a lot of the Pens’ roster was injured so that should be 3-1 or 4-0 for the Pens this year. The Hurricanes improved and the Flyers can’t win in Columbus, so I feel like that’s 4-4 at best. The one team the Flyers should sweep in the Devils always cause problems.

***

18. We've had a few nominees for big-time awards in recent years — most recently, Shayne Gostisbehere in the 2015-16 Calder race and Claude Giroux in the 2013-14 Hart race. Does any Flyer get themselves into awards consideration this year? Over/under 0.5 Flyers named as finalists for the Hart, Calder, Norris, Vezina, Lady Byng, or Selke awards for the 2017-18 season.

Steph: UNDER. It will be Nolan Patrick in consideration for the Calder, but Clayton Keller will win.

Kyle: OVER. Nolan for the Calder, Couturier for the Selke.

Jay: OVER. Couturier is a finalist for the Selke Trophy.

Kelly: OVER. We're going to have a Calder nom, I think.

Mike: OVER. While the Calder race is Artemi Panarin’s to lose according to most pundits, Nolan Patrick will be on a better team than Hischier and will put up more points (not goals) than the No. 1 overall pick to take home the Calder.

Kurt: UNDER. There are potential candidates for the Calder, Selke, and even the Norris on this team if you squint hard enough, but there’s just too much good talent in this league for me to expect it.

Bill: OVER. Sean Couturier will find himself in the Selke race now that he is the is on a line that can help him both dominate possession and score. He took a big step in the faceoff circle last season as well. If anybody is a Lady Byng finalist, they should be bought out immediately. Gentlemanly play? GTFOH. We're still the Bullies, dammit!

Craig: UNDER. I think Gostisbehere may be in the conversation for the Norris, Patrick will be in the conversation for Calder, and Couturier could be in the conversation for Selke, but I ultimately don’t see any Flyer up for any of these awards.

***

19. The point line out there for the Flyers this year started at 90.5, which would be a slight improvement from their 88 points last season. How much more confident are you than the people betting in Vegas? Over/under 92.5 points for the Flyers this season.

Steph: UNDER.

Kyle: OVER. Yay for optimism!

Jay: OVER. Flyers make the playoffs.

Kelly: UNDER. I want to say over, but I think the divisional games are going to kill us. We finish with 92 points, bank it.

Mike: OVER. The Flyers are going to be somewhere between 94 and 96 points this season. The offense will be better and the defense and goaltending will hold up.

Kurt: OVER. I think last year’s team was slightly better true-talent than 88 points and I think this year’s team is slightly better true-talent than last year’s team. I think they can make up at least five points there.

Bill: OVER. I’m guessing 94. Call it a hunch.

Craig: OVER. A lot of things went wrong last season, but the addition of Patrick and mobile rookie defensemen should help the Flyers win a few more games they may have lost last season. Also, if the Flyers see even average goaltending out of Elliott and Neuvirth, there should be a significant increase in their point total.

***

20. Finally, let's keep it simple: Over/under 0.5 Flyers playoff games at the Wells Fargo Center this spring.

Steph: UNDER.

Kyle: OVER. Let's get it done.

Jay: OVER. It's happening, playoff hockey will be back at The Farg.

Kelly: Two weeks ago it would've been an easy over. After seeing the final lineup decisions, I'm not so sure anymore. UNDER.

Mike: OVER. The Flyers are going to sneak into the playoffs and probably get waxed by someone in the first round. Unless it’s the Penguins, cause they’d totally upset the heck out of them again.

Kurt: OVER. I’ve answered basically every question in this series in the positive, for some reason, so at this point to say that I don’t expect this team to make it back to the playoffs would feel a little disingenuous. Plus, we’ve been alternating between “playoff year” and “non-playoff year” for six seasons now, and “playoff year” is up. Let’s do it.

Bill: OVER. The Flyers missed the playoffs from 1989-90 through 1993-94. Those are the only years in franchise history they failed to qualify for postseason play in consecutive seasons. They’ll get in, somehow.

Craig: I have to say UNDER. I think this team is one of the better teams the Flyers have iced in a while, and is better than the playoff team they iced in 2015-2016, but I think the Metro will be too much. You can point out ways the Pens and Caps have lost an edge, but they are still locks for the postseason. The Rangers are always in the mix with Lundqvist and losing Dan Girardi while adding Kevin Shattenkirk could pay off in a big way. I think the Blue Jackets take a slight step back this year, but they should still be fighting for at least a wild card spot, if not the third spot in the division. The Hurricanes have improved their goaltending enough that they should be in a playoff spot. That's the division and a wild card taken without addressing how a healthy Lightning team looks, how the Islanders look with Eberle in the lineup, and both the Senators and Sabres possibly battling for the final wild card spot. Again, I like this team, but I think, as the season starts, it looks unlikely they make the postseason (so be prepared for them to finish second in the division).





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 12:35:35 EDT from rss

Subject: The Philadelphia Eagles

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Vote in the polls!

The SB Nation NFL team sites will be doing theme weeks all throughout the 2017 NFL season. This week’s theme is: “Who is your best newcomer?

In honor of today’s theme post, I’m going to grade the Eagles’ most notable newcomers. You can grade the players yourselves by voting in our polls (click here if you can’t see them).

Tim Jernigan

Tim “You used to call me Timmy” Jernigan is my personal pick for the Eagles’ best offseason addition.

Through his first four games, Jernigan has logged six tackles and 1.5 sacks. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. See below.

Jernigan is an upgrade over Bennie Logan, who was and still is a very good defensive tackle in his own right. Logan was mainly heralded for his run defense. Jernigan is strong in that area while also being able to generate pressure as a pass rusher. He’s generated eight hurries this season, per Pro Football Focus. Jernigan grades as PFF’s 10th best defensive tackle out of 120 players at the position.

The Eagles would be pretty screwed without Jernigan right now. With Fletcher Cox out, Philadelphia would be down to Beau Allen and Elijah Qualls as their starting defensive tackles. Both of those players have shown promise but they’re not as good as Jernigan.

Jernigan is scheduled to be a free agent after this season so it’ll be interesting to see if the Eagles will re-sign him. After swapping third round picks with the Ravens in order to get him, I would think they’d want to hold on to the 25-year-old tackle for the long-term.

GRADE: A-

Alshon Jeffery

Here’s a look at Jeffery’s numbers through the first four games: 17 receptions, 215 yards, two touchdowns. Jeffery ranks tied for 39th in receptions and 31st in yards. It’s safe to say Jeffery hasn’t produced like the No. 1 wide receiver the Eagles paid him $14 million this season to be.

With that said, it’s still only been four games. Jeffery could benefit from getting more adjusted to playing with his new quarterback, Carson Wentz. Jeffrey also deserves credit for drawing some big pass interference penalties. Those don’t show up on the stat sheet but they clearly have a big impact. Jeffery had one such play in the Eagles-Giants game to set up Philly’s offense in a goal-to-go situation.

Ultimately, though, Jeffery needs to be better. He’s missed out on some opportunities to win jump balls. He’s not producing at an elite level despite being paid like an elite player.

GRADE: B-

Torrey Smith

Smith has been targeted 19 times. He has 10 receptions for 134 yards. The good news is that Smith has shown he’s still able to get deep as a vertical threat. The bad news is that Smith is struggling to catch the ball. He’s already had four drops this season. After Sunday’s Eagles-Chargers game, Smith tweeted that he’s having “the worst stretch of his career.” The Eagles need him to turn things around.

GRADE: C-

LeGarrette Blount

Blount got off to a slow start: he averaged 3.3 yards per carry in Week 1 and then didn’t even receive a single carry in Week 2. Since then, he’s been great. Blount’s 249 rushing yards rank 13th in the league so far. His 5.9 average ranks fifth among qualified players. It’s been really fun to watch him run hard and break tackles in the open field. The next challenge for Blount will be proving to be productive against better run defenses. The Giants and the Chargers rank as two of the league’s worst units in this regard. He’ll be facing stiffer competition moving forward. For now, he’s done his part.

GRADE: B+

Patrick Robinson

See, I’d say Robinson has been the Eagles’ best addition, but as soon as I do that he’ll start to play poorly and everyone will blame me for jinxing him. I do think Robinson has been the Eagles’ best newcomer relative to the price, though. It only cost $1 million to sign him. No big contract or draft picks given up. He’s only a slot corner, so I don’t want to go overboard when talking about his impact, but he’s been good.

Robinson ranks fourth out of 111 cornerbacks this season. Eric Rowe is still dead last at No. 111.

Robinson has only allowed one reception for every 14.3 coverage snaps, which ranks fifth best in the league. In 100 slot coverage snaps, Robinson has allowed seven catches for 128 yards and one touchdown. He also has an interception and four passes defensed. Robinson has tackled well; he ranks second overall in PFF’s “stop percentage.”

GRADE: A-

Chris Long

Long has three tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble through four games. The veteran has been a nice addition to the Eagles’ roster as a rotational backup defensive end.

GRADE: B+

Chance Warmack

Warmack has gotten some playing time since the Eagles decided to play a rotation of him and Stefen Wisniewski at guard. Warmack has been outplayed by Wis, though, so it’s curious why he continues to get snaps.

GRADE: D+

Derek Barnett

The Barnett hype has cooled after a strong preseason from this year’s No. 14 overall pick. Barnett had generated seven pressures (one hit, six hurries) in 58 pass rush snaps. The rookie ranks 33rd out of 60 defensive end in PFF’s Pass Rush Productivity stat. He’s still searching for his first sack, but I wouldn’t say Barnett has been bad by any means. It’s important to keep in mind he only turned 21 years old in June and he’s going up against veteran offensive tackles.

GRADE: C

Jake Elliott

Elliott is 8/10 this season with misses from 30 and 52 yards out. But honestly, who even cares about those misses after his 61-yard field goal to beat the Giants? Elliott came up big against the Chargers in Week 4 by going four for four.

GRADE: NFL MVP

Rasul Douglas

Douglas has been up and down since been thrown into the fire in Week 2. He showed off his great ball skills with a pick in Week 3 but he also showed his lack of speed against the Chargers in Week 4.

GRADE: C

Ronald Darby

Darby would’ve had the chance to be on the list if he didn’t get hurt in Week 1. For now his grade is incomplete.

GRADE: Incomplete

Sidney Jones

Sid The Kid is eligible to come off the NFI list as soon as Week 7. We’ll see if that’swhat happens. For now, there have been now real updates on his status.

GRADE: Incomplete

Others

Some (non-injured) players haven’t really played enough to warrant their own sections so I’ll mention them here instead.

I’d give Corey Clement a C because 1) alliteration and 2) he’s been his solid but unspectacular, as expected.

Mack Hollins deserves a Hall of Fame grade for catching everything thrown his way.

Shelton Gibson is going to be a healthy scratch all year barring multiple injuries to the five receivers ahead of him on the depth chart.

Donnel Pumphrey: F-minus.

Nathan Gerry gets a “PS” for being on the practice squad.

I’d give Elijah Qualls a C-.

Nick Foles gets an A+ for clipboard holding.





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 13:15:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Flyers vs. Sharks history: When a pick swap goes wrong

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Sure, no one could’ve known a seventh-rounder would end up being this good, but ... still.

The 2003 NHL Entry Draft is considered one of the best drafts in the league’s history. With 82 of the 292 selections playing in 100 NHL games or more, and 29 players with 100 goals or more, there is good reason why many people still talk about this particular draft class. The Philadelphia Flyers and their general manager at the time, Bobby Clarke, apparently decided that only 11 picks from this draft class instead of 12 wouldn’t be the worst thing.

With that in mind, the Orange and Black proceeded to ship a seventh-round pick (the 205th overall selection) to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, which turned out to be the 170th overall selection. Not only did the Flyers come away with NHL difference-makers in Jeff Carter and Mike Richards with two of those picks, they also landed four other NHL players in Colin Fraser, Stefan Ruzicka, Alexandre Picard, and Ryan Potulny.

However, there was one more name available that was taken with the 205th overall selection.

Joe Pavelski, who begins his 12th season in the NHL tonight, was taken by the Sharks at the 205th pick. To date, he has eight 20-goal seasons, three of which are 30-goal seasons and another of which was a 40-goal season. Since the start of the 2013-2014 regular season, Pavelski has the second-most goals with 145, trailing only Alex Ovechkin’s 187. He also has the third-most power-play goals in the league in that time behind Ovechkin’s 85 and Wayne Simmonds’ (aka The Wayne Train, aka Mr. Train, aka Hockey’s Best Wayne Ever) with 58.

On top of this, Pavelski is considered one of the best in the NHL, if not the best, at redirecting pucks in front. It would have been hard for any late-round draft pick to top Pavelski’s success, so it’s not the fact Philadelphia’s pick at 170th overall in 2004 never panned out. It’s more about how much this pick didn’t pan out.

Clarke and company took Ladislav Scurko, a forward who posted 44 points in 37 games for HK Spisska Nova Ves’ U-20 team and five points in 30 games for the franchise’s 1. Liga team. If you recognize the name Scurko, I have a hunch it’s not because of this stat line or the fact he averaged 0.66 points per game in 143 WHL games between 2004 and 2007. It’s most likely because in January of 2008 he killed Marek Liptaj, a hockey referee who was living with Scurko at the time of the murder.

It's believed that Liptaj had lied to Scurko about having cancer, which was apparently the reason why Scurko had let Liptaj live with him. Scurko and Liptaj then got into an argument over finances while on a drive one day, and Scurko stabbed Liptaj 14 times. Scurko then buried Liptaj's body in a nearby Slovakian forest and confessed to the murder in April of 2009 after the body had been discovered a few months earlier in December of 2008. Due to a 'diminished state of sanity,' the former Flyers' draft pick was sentenced to just eight years in prison.

Scurko spent a little over two years in prison and returned to hockey in 2011-2012 as a member of HK Slovan Gelnica in Slovakia's third-highest level of professional hockey. With the exception of the 2014-2015 season, Scurko played in lower-tier Slovakian leagues from 2011-2012 until 2016-2017. This season, Scurko is an alternate captain for HC Detva, a team that is currently 0-7-1 in Slovakia's Tipsport Extraliga (the highest level of hockey in Slovakia).

Needless to say, this pick swap for the Flyers was a little unlucky. More times than not, a late-round pick swap doesn’t result in that much of an impact for an organization at the NHL level. Sometimes, however, the pick you traded away becomes one of the best goal scorers in the league while the pick you obtained becomes a murderer. Not much the Orange and Black could have done about this trade besides realize that … sports are bad.





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 13:54:33 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles bring back a wide receiver to fill out the practice squad

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Welcome back.

The Philadelphia Eagles signed free agent wide receiver Rashard Davis in order to fill out their 10-man practice squad, according to an official announcement from the team. The Eagles had an open spot after Bryce Treggs signed with the Browns.

Davis spent a few weeks on the Eagles’ training camp roster after signing with Philly in mid-August. Here’s what we wrote about him at the time.

The 5-9, 180 pound Davis is a Charlottesville, Virginia native. In four years at James Madison, Davis racked up 114 receptions for 1,549 yards (13.6 average) and 11 touchdowns. In 2016, Davis returned 15 punts for 426 yards (a whopping 28.4 average) and four touchdowns. That’s pretty good!

Davis caught two passes for 12 yards in the preseason. He also returned four punts for 12 yards.

Davis is obviously a long-shot to contribute in the NFL but maybe he’s worth developing as a returner. His college numbers were really impressive in that regard.

For more on Davis, check out this highlights video (music NSFW).

UPDATED LOOK AT THE 2017 EAGLES PRACTICE SQUAD

WR Rashard Davis

CB D.J. Killings

WR Greg Ward Jr.

CB DeVante Bausby

QB Nate Sudfeld

C/G Josh Andrews

TE Billy Brown

LB Nathan Gerry

OT Dillon Gordon

RB Byron Marshall





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 14:11:42 EDT from rss

Subject: NFL Draft Prospect of the Week: Roquan Smith

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It was hard, once again, to single out last week's most impressive draft prospect. While a lot of players filled up the box score that I will mention later, it should be worth mentioning a rising star in Roquan Smith. Not only is the Georgia linebacker coming off his best performance of the season, but he has consistently strung together impressive games in a year he is draft eligible.

Georgia's rivalry game with Tennessee always comes with a lot of weight, regardless of the rankings, but Georgia annihilated the Vols in a 41-0 beatdown. That shutout was a team effort on part of the defense, but Roquan Smith led that unit all night; setting the tone with his speed and ferocious playing style. Not only did he fly around the field in coverage and limit the Volunteer's intermediate passing game, but he had 10 tackles and six "stops" (which constitutes an offensive failure per PFF) on top of that.

The 6'1", 225 pound linebacker is built more like a strong safety than an NFL linebacker, but it is hard to discount his size when he has yet to miss a tackle this season and is constantly fighting through traffic to make plays not he ballcarrier. His speed and overall athletic ability overcompensate for his lack of size.

As a junior in the middle of the best season of his career, it looks like Smith is trending towards being a highly touted prospect. The new NFL is looking more and more for speed at the linebacker position and often sacrifice strength and size to find it. While Smith is smaller, he looks like a prototype for the modern NFL with what he can do on the field in terms of athleticism, football IQ and overall physicality. As he continues to lead Georgia's defense in their strong season, he will rise in mock drafts throughout the year.

Other Performances of Note:

  • Josey Jewell, Linebacker, Iowa: Despite the close loss to Michigan State, Josey Jewell did everything in his power to help the Hawkeyes win. The physical linebacker was monstrous against the running game all day and looked solid in coverage. With 16 tackles, three for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble; it is hard to not let his performance go ignored. Jewell will be an interesting study this season because he is more of an old school linebacker, but he is a real playmaker at the college level.
  • Bryce Love, Running Back, Stanford: Impossible to talk about this week without mentioning Bryce Love and his brilliant performance against Arizona State. Carrying the ball 25 times for 301 yards (12 YPC) and three touchdowns is absolutely absurd. Love broke 12 tackles (per PFF) during that game and picked up 175 of his yards after contact. On the season, Love is the first back to eclipse one thousand yards in college football, averaging over 11 yards per carry. Love's playmaking is going to put him in the Heisman conversation, but his speed should have him talked about as a legit NFL prospect as well.
  • Michael Gallup, Wide Receiver, Colorado State: With eight catches for 212 yards and two touchdowns in a blowout win over Hawaii, it's hard not to appreciate Michael Gallup. The 6'1", 200 pound senior is following up an impressive junior season with what looks like will be an even more productive final year. Gallup is the main weapon for the Rams and continues to shine when called on. While he is not outstanding in any facet, his well rounded game will get him notice for the NFL draft.
  • Quenton Nelson, Guard, Notre Dame: Mike McGlinchey is not the only stud on Notre Dame's offensive line. Quenton Nelson is 6'5" and 320 pounds of ass kicking. He is a strong, physical lineman who sets the ton in the running game and holds it down in the passing game. Against Miami (OH), Nelson bullied dudes once again and continues to show he is one of the top offensive linemen in the country.
  • Jordan Chunn, Running Back, Troy: While Bryce Love had the most productive weekend for a running back, it is hard to discount what Jordan Chunn did in Troy's upset win of LSU. Chunn pounded the rock 30 times for 190 and a touchdown, including a massive 74 yard scoot. The 6'1", 235 pound fifth year senior is a strong, hard running back with some surprising speed, as LSU found out, and he could be a late round prospect to keep an eye on come draft season.




[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 14:29:20 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles Film Review: Jim Schwartz

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Despite a win, the big plays are concerning.

Welcome back to the Eagles Film Review. For the second straight week, the Eagles’ defense faltered late and gave up big plays. For the second straight week, the Eagles’ offense was able overcome the defensive shortcomings. In this week’s film review, we’ll take a look at the Eagles’ effort and performance on defense against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Pass Coverage

I’ve watched this play at least 100 times. After consulting with Ben Solak, Sean Cottrell and Charles McDonald, we came out to the possibility of the Eagles playing an inverted Cover 2, but likely a Cover 4 with pattern matching responsibilities. In Cover 4, the defensive backs cut the deep part of the field into quarters. The tricky part here is that the safeties never get depth and the run action sucks them up. Asking the safeties to drop into Cover 4 from that point is a tall task, and only two safeties in the league can (maybe) do it. Rasul Douglas hesitates because there should be somebody deep in the next zone, but Rodney McLeod is stuck in no-mans land. The Chargers run what is called a Yankee concept, where one receiver on one side of the field runs and underneath crossing route with depth and another running deep towards the post or over like Tyrell Williams does here. What fools the safeties is the formation and execution. The Chargers are in max-protect with only two receivers, that lends you to believe that pre-snap, the Chargers will run. They don’t, and the secondary completely mishandles this play. If the safeties were at some sort of depth, namely McLeod, then he may have reacted differently with Williams going vertical with his stem. Again, this concept is hard to defend/anticipate because all of the play keys suggest it’s going to be a run, instead it’s more of an all or nothing pass play, and the Eagles give up all.

Keenan Allen has never been known for his speed, but instead his craftiness and route running ability. Here that is on display as the Eagles play man coverage and ask Rasul Douglas to mirror Allen. The unfortunate part of this is mirroring is not in Douglas’ wheelhouse of strengths. Allen gives Douglas a nice head fake before breaking back outside and with the Eagles in man coverage, there’s nobody to stop Allen once he gets the boundary on the far side of the field. This play seems even more costly after you factor in it was on third down, with about a minute to go in the half. The Chargers settled for a field goal on the drive, but after a questionable decision to punt from Doug Pederson, it stings that much more.

This is the Chargers running that same Yankee concept again, but the Eagles play it perfectly this time and takeaway both of Rivers’ reads on the play. The end result: a throwaway.

This long catch set up another Chargers touchdown. Fran Duffy believes it Cover 4 again, but it looks slightly like Cover 3 based on how the players drop, or in McLeod’s case, come up. McLeod plays as the hook to curl defender to allow Jordan Hicks to release into the flat. The problem here is that the offensive play design vacates the middle of the field and schemes Keenan Allen open. The funny thing about what the Eagles are doing is that they've played a lot of zone due to personnel and matchups. The point of that is to limit big plays and funnel offensive players into areas where they’ll be tackled immediately, but the Chargers schemed well for that. They used play fakes and combination routes to clear out zones and create throwing lanes for Phillip Rivers. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the schematics.

This is a theme I’ll talk about in a moment with the pass rush, but when the Eagles forced Phillip Rivers out of the pocket, he couldn't do anything. On the play the coverage holds strong as Rivers runs out of the pocket to extend the play, but nobody comes open in the man coverage look. Because of Rivers’ mobility, or lack thereof, the Eagles were able to rush him differently and force him off his spot without a serious threat of him making plays outside the pocket.

Pass Rush

I thought the Chargers offensive line held up well in pass protection against the Eagles defensive front, but taking out one of the top three defensive tackles changes the game. That being said, the Eagles had success forcing Rivers to abandon the pocket, which was disastrous for the Chargers.

On the first drive, the Eagles forced a fumble when Rivers abandoned the pocket and tried to find a receiver downfield. I don’t believe he had to abandon that, but Derek Barnett flashing across the offensive tackle’s face make have spooked him. Rivers tries to make something happen downfield and Chris Long notches the strip sack as the the Eagles recover.

Again, the Eagles don’t have to play contain or anything like that, allowing the edge rushers to cross the tackle’s faces. Rivers is forced out of the pocket again and is nearly intercepted. I was worried that with the absence of Flecther Cox, the Chargers would be able to keep Rivers clean up the middle, but his lack of mobility allowed them to rush him differently than somebody like Alex Smith or Dak Prescott.

More, of the same above as Brandon Graham rushes inside in Rivers’ line of vision and forces him outside. Unfortunately, I can't say that I watched the Chargers in preparation for this game, but it does appear that the Eagles had a game plan of forcing Rivers outside the pocket and generating a rush inside without Cox in order to do so. If that was the game plan, it was executed well and worked the way the Eagles wanted when they forced him to do so.

Run Defense

I’m not going to post much about the run defense, because aside from one or two plays, they were dominant.

Brandon Graham was a bit eager to get off the snap all game long, as I believe he was called for a few encroachment penalties, but when he timed the snap, he was causing his typical disruption. On the second play, Derek Barnett blows up the run after the left tackle fails to knock him off balance at all. This was the story of the run game for the most part. The Eagles were meeting the Chargers’ running backs at or behind the line of scrimmage, continuing the Chargers woes in the run game.

The exception to the stellar run defense was another big play. Here the linebackers and defensive line read their keys right, but Hicks and Kendricks don't seem to close the cutback lane at all. I would have to assume the Hicks has to be smarter here, but Kendricks probably should've slid more to close it off instead of immediately taking pursuit. I know Jim Schwartz’s defense is aggressive and it’s hard to tell how he teaches linebackers to play it, but there has to be responsibility here from one of the linebackers. This run is different from the Kareem Hunt touchdown run because the run keys are read correctly. On the Hunt touchdown, Hicks lost the pulling guard and ball carrier and left a vacated gap. Here the running back had good awareness and vision to notice the cutback lane and take it. Outside of this blip, the run defense was dominant.

Overall, the defense was good at forcing the Chargers off the field before they could put together long drives. The Chargers’ longest drive of the game consisted of eight plays and lasted two-and-a-half minutes. For reference, the Eagles had six drives that consisted of at least eight plays and six that lasted no less than four-and-a-half minutes.

What hurt the Eagles, as it has continuously this year, is the big play. For what it’s worth, a lot of the big plays — Shepard touchdown, Williams touchdown, Allen catches, and Chargers run — have all occurred without Fletcher Cox or Ronald Darby on the field. The fact of the matter is that each team has injuries to overcome and going forward the Eagles need find out how to limit them with their healthy personnel, especially with a team coming into town Week 5 that relies on the big play.





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