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[#] 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.





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 15:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Getting to know the competition: San Jose Sharks

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In the first of 82 game day previews, Kelly has a chat with Sie Morley of Fear The Fin to find out what to expect from tonight’s opening night game

It’s hockey season, baby!

Kelly and Sie Morley from Fear The Fin take some time to get an idea of what to expect in the very first game of the season between two teams that have a lot of questions to answer. Topics include:

  • How will the Sharks fill the gaping hole left by long-time leader Patrick Marleau?
  • What’s the general feeling about the Flyers from the San Jose fan base?
  • How will the Flyers’ young talent fare against San Jose’s veteran core?
  • Will Joe Thornton score four goals and make all of our dreams come true?

Tonight’s game airs at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN in Philly and at 7:30 p.m. PT on NBCSN out in San Jose. You can find Sie on the SB Nation Sharks blog, Fear The Fin, and follow her on twitter @nowyousieme. Let’s go Flyers!





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 15:16:47 EDT from rss

Subject: 10 Reasons This Eagles 3-1 Record Is More Real Than 2016

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From The Eagles.

This feature is a weekly piece on BleedingGreenNation.com titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.


The comparisons are impossible to avoid: In Week 4 in the 2016 season the Eagles were on the road, in Detroit, holding a late fourth-quarter lead when running back Ryan Mathews coughed up the football as the offense looked to ride out the clock and win to go to 4-0.

Detroit recovered the Mathews fumble, moved into field goal territory and took a 24-23 lead in the last minute of the game. Quarterback Carson Wentz threw deep for Nelson Agholor on the next possession and the pass was intercepted and the game was over. Detroit 24, Eagles 23.

Last Sunday, the Eagles were on the road, in Los Angeles, holding a late fourth-quarter lead and they used 13 plays to wind out the final 6 minutes, 44 seconds off the clock. Eagles 26, Chargers 24.

Both teams, the 2016 Eagles and the 2017 Eagles, were 3-1 after that game. Here are 10 reasons why this team is in better position than that team.

1. Lane Johnson is on the field and playing better than ever. This could be the most significant reason of all. Johnson, of course, started his 10-game suspension for violating the NFL’s Substance-Abuse Policy after that Detroit game and the offense took a direct hit. Quarterback Carson Wentz’s numbers sagged. He took more hits. The running game was not as productive. Losing Johnson was game-changing. Last year the Eagles were 5-1 with Johnson on the field. This year they’re 3-1 with him on the field. That is not a coincidence.

2. Doug Pederson is a year better as a head coach. What that means, exactly, is yet to be defined. He’s got tough in-game decisions to make every week, and a head coach is on the spot in every game. But what you see with Pederson is a coach who has more confidence having gone down this road before, who has a football team that plays hard for him every week and whose locker room really likes him. The players know that Pederson has their best interests in mind.

3. Carson Wentz has 20 NFL starts under his belt. He’s so poised, so polished and far more advanced now than he was 12 months ago. It’s not even close.

4. The defense is deep enough to withstand some injuries. No Fletcher Cox up front. No Ronald Darby at cornerback. Safety Rodney McLeod missed a game and a half. Jordan Hicks missed half a game at middle linebacker. The defense is giving up too many “X” plays, but is still taking the football away and making critical stops. This D will be very good if healthy late in the season.

5. Tight end Zach Ertz has delivered on a great start that puts him on pace for 104 receptions and 1,304 yards and in his last 16 games he’s caught 95 passes. His run blocking has also improved. Ertz is now a complete and, yes, elite tight end.

6. The running game is legit. The offensive line has come around, Pederson believes in the running game and the Eagles are three-deep at running back. As long as LeGarrette Blount continues to run like an angry man, and Wendell Smallwood stays on the field and Corey Clement continues to develop, the Eagles have something on which they can depend. The running game. Who woulda thunk it?

7. Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith and, yes, Nelson Agholor, give the Eagles a wide receiver trio that threatens defenses. That wasn’t the case last year. But Jeffery commands attention, Smith has gotten open and has speed to stretch defenses and Agholor has been outstanding as the third receiver. I’m not saying these guys are the best trio in the league. I’m just saying that defenses have to respect the threat, something they didn’t have to do a season ago.

8. The Eagles can win on the road. They’ve got two wins already at Washington and at Los Angeles, and that’s going to carry them a long way in the fight for the NFC East. We can lump in here the win-the-close-games angle, a double reason here to feel like this 3-1 is better than that 3-1. Don’t you feel like a corner has been turned?

9. This is a good coaching staff. See how Jeff Stoutland is manipulating the left guard spot along the offensive line? Have you given kudos to Mike Groh for turning this wide receiver corps around? Isn’t Cory Undlin deserving of some credit for having his young cornerbacks competing so hard on every play? And doesn’t Duce Staley merit a hand clap for helping Blount shift gears and for using Smallwood in ways to replace Darren Sproles and for getting an undrafted rookie like Clement ready to go and contribute right away in the NFL?

10. Finally, the Eagles have a weapon at kicker and once again a great core on special teams. Jake Elliott has made his last six field goals and has averaged 48.7 yards per kick on those six makes. The Eagles have a new long snapper (Rick Lovato), a new placekicker (Elliott) and a new punt/kickoff return man (Kenjon Barner) and the special teams are still winning the battle of hidden yardage.

Am I right on here? Still to be determined? Certainly, the Eagles have to play at a high level with a tough stretch ahead – Arizona at home, at Carolina on a short week, Washington at home – to make good on the 3-1 start. It just feels different this year. Reason is, from this perspective, is because it is different.





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 14:19:41 EDT from rss

Subject: One Eagles Left Guard is Playing Better than the Other Left Guard

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It’s like an Oprah Winfrey giveaway at the Eagles’ left guard position. You get some snaps! And you get some snaps! Everybody gets some snaps! When’s the last time you heard of a rotation at any offensive line position? The Patriots mixed and matched a few years back. Nothing Eagles-related comes to my mind, but…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/eWbEaS6yClg/one-eagles-left-guard-is-playing-better-than-the-other-left-guard.html

[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 16:50:04 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles Injury Report: Wendell Smallwood among four players who did not practice

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Update on the Eagles’ injury situation.

The Philadelphia Eagles released their first injury report on Wednesday in advance of their Week 5 game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Four players did not practice: running back Wendell Smallwood, starting defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, starting defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, and starting cornerback Ronald Darby.

Wendell Smallwood

It’s surprising to see Smallwood listed on the report because there was no obvious indication he got hurt in Week 4. Then again, Smallwood has been injury-prone since being drafted.

It’s hard to know what exactly to make of Smallwood’s injury until we have more information on the severity. For now, it’s a concern that he missed practice. The Eagles are already thin at running back with Darren Sproles out for the season. Smallwood is the one filling his role.

If Smallwood can’t play, the Eagles will have to rely on the trio of LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner. Byron Marshall is still on the practice squad.

Fletcher Cox

Cox still hasn’t practiced since suffering a calf injury in Week 3. Here’s what Doug Pederson had to say about his status on Wednesday.

Day-by-day, honestly. He's doing well, he's progressing, and we'll see where he is later today.

Last week, Les Bowen reported Eagles players believe Cox may miss this week and possibly next as well. It remains to be seen if that’s true, but the fact he missed practice on Wednesday isn’t encouraging.

Beau Allen is in line for another start if Cox can’t play. He played well in Week 4 but he’s still no Cox.

Tim Jernigan

Jernigan missed practice on Wednesday. When asked if he’s in jeopardy of missing this week’s game, however, Pederson said: “No, not at all.”

Being without both Cox AND Jernigan would be very tough for the Eagles. Allen, sixth-round rookie Elijah Qualls, and recently-promoted-from-the-practice-squad Justin Hamilton are the only other fully healthy defensive tackles on the roster.

Ronald Darby

Pederson said Week 7 is “kind of the target deadline” for Darby but also cautioned that he’s “not going to hold it as a hard deadline.”

The original timeline given for Darby’s return was four-to-six weeks. It’s likely safe to say he won’t play this week. It also seems like it would be hard for him to get ready for the Panthers on Thursday Night Football in Week 6. Week 7 seems like a realistic best case scenario.

Note that the Eagles’ bye isn’t until Week 10.

Destiny Vaeao

After being out since suffering an injury in Week 1, Vaeao returned to practice on Wednesday in a limited capacity. Getting Vaeao back would be ideal since the two starters, Cox and Jernigan, are dealing with injuries.

Corey Graham

Graham missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. He returned to practice as a full participant on Wednesday. That’s good news because the Eagles were thin at safety when he was out.

Jaylen Watkins

Like Graham, Watkins missed two games with a hamstring injury. Now he’s back. He gives the Eagles more depth at both cornerback and safety.

Philadelphia Eagles Injury Report (Wednesday)

Did Not Participate

CB Ronald Darby (ankle)

DT Fletcher Cox (calf)

DT Tim Jernigan (heel)

RB Wendell Smallwood (knee)

Limited Participation

DT Destiny Vaeao (wrist)

Full Participation

LB Jordan Hicks (ankle)

S Rodney McLeod (hamstring)

S Corey Graham (hamstring)

S Jaylen Watkins (hamstring)

Arizona Cardinals Injury Report (Wednesday)

To be announced - check back for updates.





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 16:37:45 EDT from rss

Subject: Bill Simmons Pulled a Muscle Doing a 180 on Markelle Fultz

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Let me just start off by saying that I LIKE BILL SIMMONS. I’m not one of the haters. Most of the sports media complex simply rags on him because he is more successful than them. But, his reversal on Markelle Fultz is laughable. Bill Simmons on Markelle Fultz, then and now @BillSimmons pic.twitter.com/5PvjpdmVgY — Kyle…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/MsrFDJZ5nkk/bill-simmons-pulled-a-muscle-doing-a-180-on-markelle-fultz.html

[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 18:08:04 EDT from rss

Subject: Flyers at Sharks preview: Let

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It’s game day.

Today’s the day. It’s finally the day, you guys. Tonight, the Flyers open up their regular season in San Jose against the Sharks.

After a preseason that presented as something of a mixed bag, with some distinct highs and lows, the Flyers are looking to start out strong against one of the powerhouses of the Western Conference. With new faces abound and the season’s tone on the line, here are three things to look for in tonight’s game.

  1. Nolan Patrick on the up and up

That's right. We can finally say it. Nolan Patrick is a Philadelphia Flyer and he's making his NHL debut tonight. Arguably the team's most talked-about rookie, Patrick had an impressive training camp and preseason. He started off solidly, even if he didn't set the world on fire, and has improved steadily in each subsequent game. He picked up three assists over the course of the preseason run, showcasing striking vision and plus passing ability and accuracy.

His line with Weal and Simmonds will definitely be one to look out for. The three of them have been together for much of the second half of the preseason, and while they showed some immediate chemistry— likely in part a carryover from Simmonds and Weal's at the end of last season— the line has continued to click as they spent more time playing together. And they've looked dangerous.

And speaking of lines that are working, you can also be on the lookout for...

2. Fourth line efficacy

Beyond being a marked improvement over last season's fourth line— which is admittedly not a high bar— this season's rendering has looked really impressive, through the tail end of the preseason. The early chemistry between Raffl and Laughton was apparent, as they connected for a goal, and beyond. They've brought a nice mix of physicality and offensive pressure to the mix, while the addition of Leier— who has also spent a good deal of time playing with Laughton with the Phantoms— builds on this, while also lending some extra speed and craftiness to the line. It will be interesting to see how this line manages to balance all of these elements, if they can sustain this momentum, and how they match up against other all NHL fourth lines.

3. Can the power play do anything?

One of the biggest non-cut related questions coming out of the preseason was relating to the power play units. A strength and respite for the team at the end of last season, who struggled to score at even strength, has now been struggling to capitalize on the numerous opportunities they have been presented with this preseason. To be fair, they haven't been horrendous, have been able to generate shots and pressure, but they haven't been able to capitalize in a way that's closer to proportionate to these efforts. The second unit started to click in the last few games, and the first unit scored a goal in the last game, but still lagged a bit behind.

So the question remains of whether anything will change— if the tactics will shift, the personnel will be shuffled, or if those already on the unit will be able to turn their luck around.

And what do the statistical models say?

12 out of 12 favor the Sharks, with the Flyers’ best odds coming in at 47.2 percent, their worst at 38.0 percent, and averaging out at 43.1 percent. The team and fans, of course, will hope that they can storm into San Jose and beat these odds.

Puck drops at 10:30 EST tonight. The game will air on NBCSN and 97.5 The Fanatic.

You can check out the lines from practice (via Dave Isaac) below.

Forwards

Giroux-Couturier-Voracek

Weal-Patrick-Simmonds

Weise-Filppula-Konecny

Leier-Laughton-Raffl

Defensemen

Provorov-MacDonald

Manning-Gudas

Gostisbehere-Hagg

Goaltenders

Elliott

Neuvirth





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 18:57:06 EDT from rss

Subject: Which Arizona Cardinals player would the Philadelphia Eagles take?

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Pick one and only one.

A common post the SB Nation NFL team sites have been done in the past and will continue to do throughout this season is "Which [opposing team's] player would [your favorite team's] fans take?" With the Philadelphia Eagles set to play the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, it's time to address the question and familiarize yourself with the opponent's roster.

OFFENSE

David Johnson. Next question. Nah, that’s too easy. He’s injured anyway, so we’re not including him in this discussion.

Instead, how about a name that Eagles fans dread: Larry Fitzgerald. Sure, the Eagles aren’t totally desperate for wide receiver help and Fitz is 34 years old. But the dude still has it. He’s logged 26 receptions for 276 yards and two touchdowns this season.

Another big reason to choose Fitzgerald in this hypothetical situation is because, as we all know, he’s an Eagles Killer. In eight total games against Philadelphia (including playoffs), Fitz has 50 receptions for 845 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s just nuts.

I don’t care how old he is. He’s always going to be a concern when the Eagles play the Cardinals ... until he’s just not there anymore.

The Cardinals have some other threatening receivers. John Brown has burned the Eagles before. J.J. Nelson is averaging 15.2 yards per reception and has two touchdowns on just 13 catches this year. Jaron Brown is averaging 14.6 yards per reception.

Outside of these players, the Cardinals don’t have a lot of offensive talent. Their line is bad. Their tight ends are bad. Carson Palmer, who turns 38 this season, is obviously an established quarterback but he’s struggled this year (78.2 passer rating).

Philadelphia’s struggling secondary will be tested by the speed the Cardinals have at receiver. It’ll be critical for the Eagles’ defensive line to generate pressure on Palmer.

DEFENSE

Patrick Peterson is the name that immediately comes to mind when you think of the Cardinals’ defense. The Eagles’ cornerback picture will look improved when Ronald Darby (and maybe Sidney Jones?) comes back, but for now they could use an upgrade. The Cardinals will likely use Peterson to shadow Alshon Jeffery this week.

Chandler Jones is another notable name on Arizona. The edge rusher had 11 sacks last year and he already has four this season. The Eagles have a lot of pass rushers already but you can really never have too many.

With the Eagles dealing with injuries to both Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan, maybe Corey Peters would be nice to have around. He ranks seventh in Pro Football Focus’ Run Stop Percentage metric and has totaled seven pressures this year. The Eagles have ran the ball well in their last two wins but they’re expected to face a tougher run defense this week.

Tyrann Matheiu, the Honey Badger, doesn’t seem to get as much hype as he used to. For what it’s worth, he ranks 100th out of 111 corners graded by PFF this season.

Tyvon Branch is PFF’s No. 1 graded safety in all of the league. That’s surprising since he’s not exactly a household name. Here’s some more info on Branch’s performance via our friends over at Revenge Of The Birds.

Tyvon Branch continued his excellent play on Sunday. Branch's 88.8 overall grade was the highest grade of the Cardinals' players and with his performance, he owns a 91.1 overall season grade, the highest among safeties. Branch leads all safeties with 10 run stops and 15 tackles on runs.

Sounds like another reason why the Eagles could struggle to run the ball as effectively as they have in recent weeks.

TAKEAWAY

It’s between Peterson and Fitzgerald for me. Peterson fills the bigger need, but Fitz just absolutely kills the Eagles. It’d be so nice to not have to deal with him. But I’m taking Peterson and then going to regret it when Fitz goes off again this week.

YOU DECIDE

If you were deciding for the Eagles, who would you take? Vote in the poll below (click here if you can’t see it).





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 20:37:33 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Eagles Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas approval polls: October 2017

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Make sure to vote in the poll!

Now that the first four Philadelphia Eagles games of the 2017 NFL season are over, it’s time for our monthly approval polls. We’ll kick this series off with two of the team’s biggest decision makers: Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas. (NOTE: If you can’t view the polls, CLICK HERE.)

The last time we checked in on Roseman’s approval was back in September. He finished 84% which was down from his post-NFL Draft May rating of 94%.

I’m thinking Roseman’s approval will be going back up in this month’s poll. The Eagles are sitting pretty at 3-1 and first overall in the NFC East. To Roseman’s credit, a number of his offseason additions are contributing to the team’s success. Tim Jernigan looks pretty good. Chris Long is contributing in a rotational role. Patrick Robinson is proving to be a great bargain bin signing. LeGarrette Blount is coming off heck of a performance against the Chargers.

The free agent additions aren’t looking all perfect. The Eagles need more production out of Alshon Jeffery, especially when he’s being paid $14 million. Torrey Smith has really struggled with drops. Chance Warmack is getting playing time but he’s not looking great. Re-signing Stefen Wisniewski turned out to be a good move, but the fact he’s starting over 2016 third-round pick Isaac Seumalo, who is now a healthy scratch, isn’t the most ideal situation.

Speaking of the draft picks, none of the Eagles’ rookies are looking like home run selections so far. And that’s OK! It’s only been four games. Derek Barnett has been contributing nicely as a rotational backup. Rasul Douglas is showing some promise while working through some struggles. Mack Hollins has produced when called upon. Elijah Qualls is a depth player. Corey Clement was a solid undrafted pickup.

Some of the other picks aren’t looking so hot. Shelton Gibson is likely to be a healthy scratch all season long. Fellow fifth-round pick Nate Gerry is on the practice squad. Donnel Pumphrey was a healthy scratch as the team’s fifth-string running back before being placed on injured reserve. We still have to see what becomes of Sidney Jones.

One thing I definitely think Roseman deserves credit for: the moves he didn’t make when it came to players like Jason Kelce and Mychal Kendricks. He easily could have moved on from those two. Kelce hadn’t been himself for a couple seasons prior to this year. Kendricks, while talented, isn’t fully utilized by the coaching staff. Roseman could have sold low on those players and it would’ve been reasonable at the time. But he kept them around and both players actually look good.

The MOST important factor when it comes to grading Roseman, however, is Carson Wentz. That’s the guy Roseman tied his wagon to. So far, Wentz is looking like a legitimate franchise quarterback. He’s not quite on that superstar level yet — which is fine, it’s only his second year — but Wentz is showing improvement.

I have my reservations about Roseman. I think it’s hard not to approve of what he’s done for the most part, though.

Do you approve of the job Howie Roseman is doing as executive vice president of football operations of the Philadelphia Eagles? Vote now in the poll below and leave your thoughts in the comments. If you can’t view the poll, CLICK HERE.

Roseman Approval Polls:

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[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 21:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Flyers vs. Sharks lineups, TV / radio / live streaming info and discussion thread

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Another Flyers season begins, this time in San Jose.

Tonight’s season opener is a 10:30 p.m. local start time, with puck drop likely closer to 11 p.m. after pre-game festivities. The game is on NBC Sports Network nationally, including in the Philadelphia area. The radio broadcast can be heard locally on 97.5 The Fanatic.





[#] Wed Oct 04 2017 22:02:15 EDT from rss

Subject: Ben Simmons Introduced Himself Tonight

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Ben Simmons played basketball in Philadelphia. It was preseason hoops, but who cares about that right now. He started at point guard tonight and boy did he have himself a night. Highlights from his preseason debut after the jump: He started the game right out of the gate: Ben Simmons' first bucket… An assist from…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/8XR_zNL1WC0/ben-simmons-introduced-himself-tonight.html

[#] Thu Oct 05 2017 02:34:35 EDT from rss

Subject: Flyers at Sharks recap: Wayne Train runs over Sharks in season-opening win

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Power play shines in season opening win on road.

The Flyers used a potent power play and a Wayne Simmonds hat trick to beat the Sharks, 5-3, in their season opener on Wednesday night in San Jose.

Shayne Gostisbehere and Jake Voracek had three assists each and the Flyers went 3-of-5 on the man-advantage to help overcome a pair of blown leads (2-0, 3-2) to spoil the Sharks’ home opener.

Brian Elliott stopped 32 of 35 shots to earn the win in his Flyers debut.

First period

The Flyers looked out of sorts early as the Sharks hemmed them in their own zone, picking up a couple scoring chances from the stick of Brent Burns, but Brian Elliott stood tall to avoid putting the Flyers in an early hole.

And those saves from the new guy in goal would turn out to be huge as the Flyers would get their offense going sooner rather than later.

Travis Konecny nearly opened the scoring, but the second-year forward was beaten by the post next to Sharks goalie Martin Jones on a breakaway just under five minutes in.

But not long after captain Claude Giroux would strike first to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead at the 8:28 mark off a nice feed from Jake Voracek. A hard forecheck by the Flyers forced a turnover that ended up moving quickly from Voracek to Giroux to the back of the Sharks’ net.

The Flyers would grab the first power play of the game a few minutes later and they’d cash in with a Jordan Weal goal off the rush to push the lead to 2-0. Travis Konecny made a nice chip pass to Weal, who caught the Sharks’ netminder off guard with the quick shot from the right circle.

San Jose would answer back with an impressive tip-in from Kevin Labanc at the 17:17 mark to pull the Sharks to within a goal at 2-1. Brenden Dillon and Joe Pavelski assisted on the goal. Dillon’s point shot deflected off Elliott into the air and Labanc was there to swat it out of the air and into the back of the net.

But the Sharks weren’t done yet. With just 18.9 seconds left in the period Labanc would score his second goal of the night — this one on the power play — to tie things up at 2-2. A failed Dale Weiss clearing attempt ended up on Labanc’s stick as the Sharks erased the Flyers’ short-lived two-goal lead.

Second period

If you didn’t think momentum carried over between periods, all you had to do was look at the way the Sharks closed the first and how they opened the second.

The Sharks would get the jump on the Flyers to start the second aided by an early penalty to Robert Hagg, playing in his first NHL game. The Flyers would kill off the penalty but Brian Elliott would have to withstand somewhat of a shooting gallery from the Sharks on the power play and in the first six minutes of the frame.

After spending the first half of the period chasing around the Sharks, the Flyers would get a golden scoring chance from Sean Couturier, but Paul Martin was there to block the stuff attempt to save his goaltender. Moments later it was Jones’ turn to bail out his defense, robbing a Couturier shorthanded attempt after a bad Brent Burns turnover to keep the score tied at 2-2.

The Flyers made their push toward the end of the period, getting a couple nice shifts from the Giroux line and earning a power play with 2:32 left.

Wayne Simmonds didn’t need long on the power play to give the Flyers back the 3-2 lead at the 17:36 mark. Off the faceoff Gostisbehere let loose a rocket from the point that redirected off Simmonds’ skate and past Jones.

In was a busy period for Brian Elliott, who turned aside all 13 shots he faced in the frame — including some nice saves late — to preserve the Flyers’ lead heading to the third.

Third period

After killing off three-straight penalties after Labanc’s second goal, the Flyers couldn’t kill a fourth-straight early on in the third.

Logan Couture tied the game at 3-3 with a bank shot off the skate of Andrew MacDonald in past Elliott just 3:12 into the period. The Flyers were playing a dangerous game with all the penalties and it would cost them in the form of an unlucky bounce. Brent Burns and Joe Thornton would get assists on the tying goal for the Sharks.

The Flyers would nearly re-take the lead off a pair of nice deflection chances inside of 13 minutes from Valterri Filppula and Travis Konecy, but neither was able to beat Jones. The Sharks would answer with a great chance of their own, but Elliott was able to stop Labanc in close.

After a bad offensive zone penalty to Labanc following the Elliott save, the Flyers were back on the power play and looking to add to their already two power play goals on the night.

Wayne Simmonds’ second of the game would break the tie and give the Flyers a 4-3 lead at the 9:27 mark. Simmond tipped home a Gostisbehere wrist shot this time around to beat Jones. Voracek and Gostisbehere both picked up their third assists of the game on the goal.

The Flyers’ lead would get saved by the post to the left of Elliott with eight minutes to play, as Joonas Donskoi broke in on a breakaway and beat the netminder but drew iron instead of a tying goal.

Still in need of a tying goal, the Sharks would put the Flyers on the man-advantage for the bulk of the remaining 4:44 of regulation. They survived the first penalty to Melker Karlsson, but the second call to Joe Pavelski for high-sticking Dale Weise would bleed the clock down even further.

Even after a Radko Gudas boarding call, the Flyers weren’t to be denied on this night. Wayne Simmonds skated to a loose puck and fired the puck into the empty net for the hat trick and the exclamation point on the Flyers’ 5-3 win.

Next up: Flyers at Kings, Thursday at 10 p.m. on NBCSPhiladelphia and on 97.5 The Fanatic





[#] Thu Oct 05 2017 01:50:07 EDT from rss

Subject: Wayne Simmonds Leads the NHL In Goals

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Wayne Simmonds scored a hat-trick in the Flyers’ 5-3 season opening win against the San Jose Sharks. He’s tied with Connor McDavid of the Oilers for the league lead in goals after he scored three against Calgary. He was part of a dominant power play unit which went 3-for-5 on the night, and scored two…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/F2VI8DOQ7YE/wayne-simmonds-leads-the-nhl-in-goals.html

[#] Thu Oct 05 2017 07:15:06 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Philadelphia

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 10/5/17.

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

O-Line Rankings: Pass Blocking Efficiency - PFF
2. Philadelphia Eagles. PFF Elite pass blocking efficiency: 85.4. PFF’s No. 1 O-line on paper heading into the season, the Eagles started slowly but have improved dramatically over the past couple of weeks. They have allowed 31 total pressures, but have been pass blocking for more snaps than all but four other teams.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ best newcomer is ... - BGN
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.

BGN Radio Daily #29: Afternoon QB with BLG - BGNRadio.com
BLG goes over the Eagles' win over the Chargers, talks about why Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson deserve a lot of credit, gets excited about the run game, and gives reasons to feel good about this team moving forward. Oh, by the way: first place in the NFC East!

Eagles report cards through the first quarter of the season: Defense edition - PhillyVoice
DE Vinny Curry: Curry has done some nice things in the run game, but playing on the edge on the blindside of the quarterback, you want impact plays, and Curry has made none so far this season. Grade: C

Bruce Arians compares Carson Wentz to Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger - ESPN
"I loved him coming out [of college]," said Arians in a conference call with Philadelphia reporters Wednesday ahead of this weekend's game between the Eagles and Cardinals. "He really reminded me a lot of Andrew Luck: big, strong, physical, played in a pro offense. Had that linebacker mentality playing quarterback, and it shows up, his toughness. Can really hurt you out of the pocket and in the pocket. He is such a good athlete. He reminds me a lot of Ben [Roethlisberger] in a lot of ways how he just throws guys off in the pocket and makes big plays downfield."

Carson Wentz excelling where it counts - on third down and in the red zone - Daily News
Carson Wentz’s overall passing numbers through four games are nothing to write home to North Dakota about. The Eagles quarterback is 16th in passing (90.5), 26th in completion percentage (60.5), 19th in touchdown percentage (4.1) and 16th in yards per attempt (7.2). But where Wentz is making noticeable strides in his development in this, his second season in the NFL, is in the situational aspect of the game, particularly on third down and in the red zone. Wentz is sixth in third-down passing with a 107.2 passer rating, which is more than 40 points better than a year ago, when he finished 28th.

All-22: How the Eagles finished off the Chargers and improved to 3-1 - The Athletic
Through four games, the Eagles rank ninth in offensive efficiency. They were 20th last season. There will be weeks in the future when Pederson relies more heavily on Wentz. But through the first quarter of the season, the Eagles have shown they can move the ball in multiple ways. Sunday's win featured a dominant performance from the offensive line, a rejuvenated LeGarrette Blount and a smart game plan by Pederson and the offensive coaches.

WR Torrey Smith Confident In Season's Second Quarter - PE.com
On Wednesday, Smith talked to a group of reporters at the NovaCare Complex and further discussed his state of mind and his dedication to improving his pass-catching consistency. “It’s frustrating because I had a great (Training) Camp, a great offseason, period,” said Smith, who has 10 catches for 134 yards in the Eagles’ 3-1 start. “I was building off of that momentum. It wasn’t a bad start to the season versus the Skins (Smith had one reception for 30 yards on three targets in the opening-day win at Washington) and then these last few weeks I’ve left some plays on the field that really hurt us in those games. “I’ve just got to back on track, which I will. I’m not panicking; I’m not in the tank or anything. I’m a little embarrassed by it more than anything. It’s not the start that I wanted. I’ve let my teammates down.”

Jim Schwartz Q&A: Missing Fletcher Cox, Kendricks' frustration, facing Fitzgerald - NBC Sports Philadelphia
Q: You guys have allowed 52 fourth-quarter points, most in the NFL. How concerning is that and what do you see happening? Jim Schwartz: "Yeah, we've been thinking on that. We were in the exact opposite position last year. Last year, we were struggling a little bit in the first half and second half we were pitching shutouts. I think there's a lot of layers to everything that goes on on the football field. Fifty-two points in any quarter is too many. Whether it's the first or the fourth, we've got to do a better job of keeping points off the board."

Which Philadelphia Eagles player would the fans want on the Arizona Cardinals? - Revenge Of The Birds
The Eagles OLine - ask me to take just one and I don't know which one I would pick. Do you take one of the five best left tackles in the NFL or one of the three best right tackles? Do you take one of the five best centers? Do you take one of their improving young guards? Just give me this offensive line and the Cardinals are the favorites in the NFC West. If you make me pick one, it's Lane Johnson. Young, controlled contract wise, give me two bookends and hope Humphries plays up to his potential.

Browns sign receiver Bryce Treggs, waive injured Jordan Leslie - Dawgs By Nature
“Philly agreed to match [the Browns’ offer], but at the end of the day, I want to get on the field, I want to play,” Treggs said after Wednesday’s practice, per team press release. And the Eagles didn’t offer to match the Browns’ offer with a spot on their active roster, so he would have remained on their practice squad. Considering that, it’s a no-brainer why he decided to come to Cleveland. Opportunity was a big factor, but it was Hue Jackson’s personal call and history with his family that made the decision even easier.

Philadelphia’s Brandon Brooks is taking care of business - NFL Player Engagement
Philadelphia Eagles guard Brandon Brooks wanted to be ready just in case this football thing didn’t quite work out as planned. Medical school? Law school? They were options he considered. Then, as he began to do some internships in the business field, he found his next calling. Fortunately for Brooks and the Eagles those plans are for the future, as the big lineman from Milwaukee has established himself as a quality NFL guard. Still, he’s ready for chapter two whenever that happens. “You come into the NFL you grow up pretty quickly,’’ Brooks said. “I came from a small school (Miami (Ohio). I was fortunate, not a lot of guys were going pro. So, academics were always focused on, once I got to the NFL, I realized as good as it is, bad things can happen, too.

Cam Newton thinks it's funny when a female reporter asks about routes, and that's not OK - SB Nation
Cam Newton made a sexist remark at his press conference on Wednesday afternoon, when he said, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.”

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[#] Thu Oct 05 2017 07:42:12 EDT from rss

Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: Fire Dave Hakstol

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

*Okay, one game down. Who made it through to the final horn? RECAP!

*So starting the season on the road sucks, particularly when the road is many time zones away, but if you recall, the Flyers were total trash on the road last season. We’ll get to know early if that’s improved. [CSN Philly]

*As per long-standing tradition, your friends here at Broad Street Hockey have placed our bets on what the Flyers will do this season. First up, the over/unders on individual performances. [BSH]

*We also wagered on how the team will perform as a whole. These are shockingly optimistic, folks. [BSH]

*The Flyers and Sharks have some interesting history you may not know about. It involves a pick swap. [BSH]

*We’ve got season previews out the ass over here, but this one feels particularly relevant for us: every NHL team is actually bad. [Deadspin]

*Puck Daddy has the Flyers on the outside of the playoff bubble looking in. Jerks. [Puck Daddy]

*Let’s go team by team and see what we should expect this season. [Philly.com]

*Friedman’s always amazing 30-ish Thoughts this week has a little nugget about our Captain contained within. [Sportsnet]

*With a new season comes new narratives. Here’s the storylines to watch. [Fox Sports]

*Finally, the NHL is a young man’s game now, and that has made the game better. Which is why it’s fantastic that our coach likes his dynamic young talent to watch games from the press box. On to LA; let’s go Flyers! [Washington Post]





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