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[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 07:04:39 EDT from rss

Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: Well, we won

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

*Well, a 1-1 start on a west coast road trip isn’t bad. On to Anaheim! RECAP!

*Let’s look back at the opener with all the things we should’ve taken away from the big win in San Jose. [BSH]

*And ten observations from the folks at the newspaper. [Inquirer]

*And if you’ve missed Charlie’s 10 things column from his time at BSH, good news: his first one of the season over at The Athletic is a freebie. Enjoy. [The Athletic]

*Did you know Wayne Simmonds’ hat trick was the first opening night hatty in team history? That’s pretty cool. [Sons of Penn]

*Hey, the Phantoms’ season kicks off this weekend! Here are five players to watch up in Allentown this season. [The Morning Call]

*So one thing that I think sometimes happens with fans is that when the team is winning games, criticism of front office decisions goes out the window and is met with derision. The team won Wednesday night, and it was awesome. But that doesn’t mean Hakstol should be off the hook. [BSH]

*But anyhoo fun stuff: Steph and Bill were on TV again! [BSH]

*Hmm this article on the Metro Division’s top ten left wings seems to have left off the top left wing in the Metro Division. [Japers’ Rink]

*It’s pretty cool when hockey players get to play for the team they rooted for as kids. Let’s hear from Kevin Shattenkirk about how awesome it feels. [The Players’ Tribune]

*And finally, let’s all hope that the Flyers don’t see a lot of overtime this season, because it is absolutely going to kill us all. [Science Mag]

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 09:00:04 EDT from rss

Subject: Carson Wentz Report: Week 4

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Best game of his career?

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

Welcome back to this week’s edition of the Wentz Report. For those that are new, this is a weekly film breakdown that focuses on Carson Wentz’s weekly, and cumulative performance. The previous three Wentz Reports can be found here.

Interceptable Throws (IT)

In previous reports, I’ve used the term interceptable pass. In an effort to distance from that term, I’m going to start using interceptable throws. This will still cover the same idea and concept Interceptable passes did — ill advised throws that were or should have been picked off with context provided.

This first one is on a short corner to Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery doesn't exactly get his head around quickly to locate where the ball is going, but to the short side of the field, if Wentz wants to throw this, he likely has to throw it further towards the sideline and a little sooner to eliminate the risk. You also have to tip your cap to Casey Hayward. Bad throw or not, this was a really good play from the veteran corner who was as good as advertised this past week.

What really stinks about this pass is that Wentz did everything right beforehand. The blitz comes and Wentz slides well to elude the rush, and then launches to the opposite side of the field, way down the field. Looking to the left, it looked like Wentz had a receiver open and he even glanced that way.

The still image shows Wentz looking in that direction as he’s sliding and the receiver, who appears to Mack Hollins, with separation. It’s hard to tell if his eyes were in that direction, but his head definitely was and the receiver had separation. I’m not sure if maybe the safety shifting that way discouraged the throw, but it looks like he would've had enough room to drop it in there with the way he was playing on Sunday. Instead of going to that receiver, he went across the field to Marcus Johnson and Johnson had to become a defensive back to break up the interception.

Managing the Pocket and Throwing against Pressure

Overall, Wentz did a good job of managing the pocket, but it’s easier when your offensive line is dominant most of the day.

It’s easy to criticize a quarterback’s completion percentage against pressure, but context of a play is important. Often a quarterback is trying to get rid of the ball to avoid a sack because the play hasn't had time to develop, or the receivers aren't winning. While Wentz has had his struggles against pressure, opportunities to win in those situations are dependent on more than the quarterback.

In the play above, all of Wentz’s reads are to the left side of the field, even the hi-lo routes from the right side. Wentz doesn't move off the receivers on the left side to anticipate Ertz coming open across the middle. The pressure gets in Wentz’s face and a dangerous pass comes to Ertz late. As far as pocket manipulation, Wentz really had nowhere to move here to extend the play with the right end flashing past him. It would help Wentz if he was able to get through this progression quicker or throw it away to keep the ball out of harm’s way.

As for this one, no receiver came open before Wentz started dancing. There was no where to reasonably go with this ball and on the edge of field goal range, Wentz can’t take a sack here. The stat sheet shows that he threw an incompletion against pressure, but context shows that he got rid of the ball, kept it out of harm’s way and kept his team on schedule for points on third down.

I believe this is one Wentz could've made, but no chip comes from Smallwood as he comes out of the backfield as a rusher comes blistering towards Wentz. The Chargers showed man coverage the entire way and Wentz, as I’ll point out later, recognized it pre-snap all game long and made the right plays. Here he wants Ertz, as Ertz had been winning one-on-one all game long, but the blitz gets there and Wentz can’t get enough on it as it falls incomplete. It’s hard to know what Smallwood’s responsibilities were off the play-action, but typically you’ll see a chip or a check and release from the halfback in these situations. Wentz recognized the matchup he wanted, and had it, he just couldn't deliver.

Here Wentz knows he’s going to get hit and still delivers an accurate pass to Alshon Jeffery to move the chains. The pressure is generated as right guard Brandon Brooks has to pick up stunt from the defensive line. This in turn leaves Lan Johnson on the edge with two pass rushers. Against the blitz, Wentz hangs tough and delivers. This all happens with Wentz snapping his head back across the field to find Jeffery.

This play was designed to get Wentz on the move, but when it’s not there you have to throw it away. While the plays Wentz makes out of structure are awe inspiring, when they aren't made, they often lead to big hits and occasionally mistakes. Here Wentz takes the hit and chucks a pass towards the end zone. While I didn't think the defender had enough of a chance to deem this an IT, it’s a dangerous throw and a risk that didn't need to be taken. The Eagles scored a touchdown here, but redzone turnovers are backbreakers. The smart move is to just throw it away and play for another down. the next play the Eagles scored, but there will be times, if this trend continues, where these plays will turn into turnovers and if they do, it shouldn't be a shock.

Pre-Snap Reads, Progressions and Footwork

It’s been only four games, but it seems like the days of Wentz locking onto his first read and staring them down have disappeared. I’m noticing it so little at this point that I’ve started specifically looking for it to double check.

As far as footwork, I’ve noticed some occasional collapses, but those are also fading. Again, with this game it was easier to stay clean and not sacrifice mechanics because the offensive line did an outstanding job.

I want to start with the Eagles’ first touchdown on Sunday. First, this was a good play design by Doug Pederson. The combination of Ertz and Jeffery creates a hi-lo read and the defenders come up on Ertz who crosses their faces. That leaves a vacancy and opens a throwing lane to Alshon Jeffery. Wentz is quick and decisive with this throw and the Eagles take and early lead. I want to get back to the play design though. The halfback slipping out of the backfield occupies the flat defenders and forces the defenders to play with outside leverage and off of Jeffery. Another good thing about the hi-lo read is that it keeps both reads in the quarterbacks line of vision, allowing them to react quickly.

This is a good pre-snap read from Wentz and allows him to decide where he wants to go with the ball. The Chargers show man coverage again, so it will be up to Nelson Agholor to get separation off the line and win one-on-one. Throughout his cadence, you can see Wentz peeking that way to ensure the Chargers stay aligned in this look. Agholor wins off the snap and gets the boundary. Wentz proceeds to drop a dime in the bucket for a big gain.

This is a play that I talk about a lot, the three-level stretch concept, or the Sail concept. This route combination is designed to stress three levels of a defense and schemes receivers open really well. It’s the same concept that the Eagles ran against the Giants on the catch by Jeffery that set up the game winning filed goal from Jake Elliott. The Chargers stay disciplined though and only concede the underneath route to Ertz, which Wentz easily completes. This again is quarterback friendly as it keeps all three reads in the quarterbacks line of vision and allows him to hit his receiver based on the defense’s reaction. What I want to point out as well is Wentz’s footwork. Again, clean pocket as Ertz did a phenomenal job knocking a rusher to the ground before releasing, but the lower body mechanics were consistently good in this game.

Wentz’s mechanics and progressions are on display here again as he works to both side of the field and moves his body well through these progressions. He finds Torrey Smith on the final drive for a nine-yard gain.

Similar to the last play, Wentz doesn’t see anything he likes and snaps back to the other side of the field where he has Alshon Jeffery. His lower body moves well with him again as he gets it inline with his target to keep the offense on schedule. The offensive line holding strong helps here, but we’re not seeing a pause from Wentz mid-play to reel it back in.

Again, on third down Wentz’s first read to his left isn't there, or is #Shortofthesticks. Wentz doesn't panic, or hesitate to think, but instead snaps his head and lower body around to hit Wendell Smallwood for a first down. Again, it’s only four games and Wentz looked good in four games last year, but we’re seeing more consistency within his improvement. Time will tell if these traits hold in Week 10 or Week 12, but for now they’re helping to propel Wentz to success.

I wanted to throw this one in, because it’s the second time in three weeks where I’ve noticed Wentz reading a defense making the right decisions that he didn't make last year. Above, the Eagles run the Dagger concept. Last year, Went threw an interception to Kam Chancellor on this route combination. In Week 2 against the Chiefs, Wentz didn't make this throw because Marcus Peters was wandering underneath and this week he notices the defender dropping underneath in the throwing lane. Learning, growing and actively reading these coverages from snap-to-snap show the progression of Wentz. He’s reading and reacting post-snap accordingly. For bonus points, he throws the ball away and lives to play another down.

Accuracy and Anticipation

I genuinely thought overall, this was the best game of Wentz’s career, and it could have been even better.

This might be the best throw of Wentz’s career. If not, it has to be top three and it’s unfortunate Torrey Smith couldn't hold on. The Chargers drop everybody pre-snap to defend against the conversion. Wentz drops back, looks off the safety to his left, keeps his feet moving perfectly and throws with outstanding trajectory. Unfortunately, Smith can’t hang on as the coverage was good. As excellent as the ball placement is, this is an anticipation throw. Smith hadn't gotten into his break before Wentz wound up to throw. My favorite part of the throw?

Right over the outstretched defender. A perfect pass and well executed play on Wentz’s part.

Here the Eagles run the RPO action again and the pre-snap look helps make the decision easier. The Chargers are showing man coverage again, meaning Ertz will be isolated one-one-one against his defender with a deep safety in the middle of the field. The run action from the offensive line draws the linebackers up and clears the middle of the field. Wentz leads Ertz perfectly and hit’s him in stride to increase the success rate.

It would figure that the day Wentz’s deeper accuracy starts to click, Torrey Smith has a case of the dropsies. Again this is a perfect pass to Torrey Smith up the seam and he simply can’t hang on. Wentz executed well, but Doug Pederson deserves credit for calling plays that benefit Wentz mechanically. Pederson knows that mechanics don't fall in line at once, and can often take years to perfect and line out. This play call benefits Wentz because he doesn't have to do too much with his feet. He does enough, but most of this throw is made with his arm. On an episode of Birds Breakdown earlier this year, Sean Cottrell, also of BGN, noted that different plays require different footwork or lower body mechanics. Credit to Pederson and for putting Wentz in position to make plays, but also credit Wentz for executing efficiently.

Again, this is all arm and a perfect throw over the defender, right in the bucket to Ertz. Similar to the last play, Wentz executes the necessary footwork. This throw goes right to the perfect spot and leads Ertz to more open field.


It was hard to be critical of Wentz in this game. He had near perfect blocking and a run game to rely on, but Eagles fans have been screaming he’s needed that since Dak Prescott had unparalleled success with both. I mentioned in the open that Wentz had the best game of his career and it could've been even better. Two drops from Torrey Smith and a touchdown that Wentz himself may have missed. I try to be fair and show where Wentz struggles and succeeds on a consistent basis each week. If one pass goes high or his footwork gets out of whack for one play, that’s an anomaly for a single game. If he’s consistently throwing passes high and behind receivers, that will be shown because it’s a consistent them throughout a single game.

Cumulatively, Wentz has improved drastically on his footwork and mechanics. His showing motion also seems to have tightened up and his mechanics are holding up more efficiently in pressure as opposed to how they did last year. Wentz is effectively moving through his progression and has shown accuracy in improvement. One area of concern that remains is Wentz still tends to erratic with the football, as evidenced by his ITs. He has to take better care of the ball and cut down on hits. The ability to extend plays is exciting, and can turn into big plays, but it’s not going to always be that way. It wouldn't be surprising to see a game like his one in Cincinnati last year if he doesn't tighten it up.

Despite Wentz’s perceived improvements, only time will tell if they stick. The Eagles were 3-1 nearly a year ago before Wentz started to breakdown. It’s now up to him to continue upon his improvements and if he can, the Eagles will continue their early season winning ways.

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 07:52:53 EDT from rss

Subject: Crossing Broadcast: Flyers Hockey and The Ben

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Kyle, Adam and Russ discuss the Flyers’ first two games, Sixers’ preseason game, and preview the Eagles-Cardinals game.   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) and speed up small gaps in the conversation. Download Overcast…

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 10:00:12 EDT from rss

Subject: Flyers 0, Kings 2: What we learned in a late game resurge

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Some observations for your morning...

Some things seen and observed in last night’s meeting against the Kings.

All stats from Corsica, Natural Stat Trick, and HockeyViz.

1. Slow starts

Last night saw the Flyers looking like they were slipping back into start-of-last-season form, as they faced a relatively slow start to the game. The Kings dominated early, and the Flyers spent much of the first period on the defensive; trying and struggling to get out of their own zone. They were still able to generate pressure, outshooting LA 10 to 9 in the first period, but were unable to translate this pressure into points on the board. And while not looking entirely out of sync, they struggled to get much going in the way of continuous momentum.

Part of this had to do with their early struggles getting through the neutral zone. Hemmed into their own zone, they would attempt to break out, only to be blocked by the Kings' defensive efforts in the neutral zone. The Flyers were able to clean up this area for the second half of the game, but the first half where they were unable to do so saw them struggling to put up as much offensive pressure as they ultimately— with the benefit of hindsight— needed to.

2. Welcome to the show, Travis Sanheim

One of the biggest surprises coming just before the start of last night's game was the news that Brandon Manning was scratched, and Travis Sanheim would be making his NHL debut. Twitter was buzzing with fans ready to see what he could bring to this matchup. And it was a little rough.

Sanheim showed a bit of nerves, giving up some turnovers, and taking what would be a high sticking double minor at the end of the second period. Like at the beginning of the preseason, we saw him looking a bit hesitant early in the game, less willing to jump in on the rush than he did in the later part of the preseason. He started to get settled in the third period, middling out, showcasing his mobility, and even putting a couple of shots on goal. So, shaky start aside, it wasn't all bad, and what was is likely just a matter of Sanheim getting settled in to the move up, and getting out of his head.

3. Sean Couturier’s gotta convert eventually, right?

So Couturier's looked pretty good over the past two games. He's been one of the consistent pressure generators— racking up eight shots over the first two regular season games. And he's brought not just shots in general, but high danger shots, and has been robbed by the goalies in both games. He's bringing impressive— and indeed much needed— pressure, but hasn't been able to close, to whomever's fault that may be. But he's going at a pretty good clip, at this point, and one would assume that if this continues, he'll be able to capitalize on something eventually, right? This remains one of the big question marks looming over Couturier, and it will be interesting to see what the next game will bring for him— a step forward, or more of the same.

4. Shot location check-in

Get ready everybody, it's picture time. We talked a lot last season about the Flyers' shot generation, especially as this related to location, and we're still talking about it. One of the biggest complaints last season was that the Flyers were leaning to heavily on high to low plays, which, after showing some initial promise, proved to be largely unsustainable. And they may just be working to turn this around.

 via naturalstattrick

The heat map on the right shows the distribution of Flyers shot attempts over the course of last night's game against the Kings. It shows that, while the Flyers are still dipping into these high to low plays, the highest (density) of shot attempts are coming from up close to the net.

 via hockeyviz

Compare this to the Flyers even strength shot attempts in Wednesday's game against the Sharks, and you'll see that that distribution looks markedly similar. And while the success of these shots obviously lean disproportionately, at this time, towards Wednesday's game, it's encouraging to see this type of diversification taking place.

5. Michal Neuvirth opens strong

Another player making his season debut last night was Michal Neuvirth. Coming off a distinct down season in 2016-17, but a solid preseason, there have been a number of questions lingering as to what kind of performance Neuvirth would bring to the new regular season. And while it's still too early to answer that definitively, he's certainly off to a good start.

Neuvirth posted a .926 save percentage, stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced. And many of those shots weren't easy, coming on an odd man rush, or when he was screened, for example. He received what help he could from the players in front of him, but at the end of the day, it was all Neuvirth all the way, holding steady for a team trying to catch up. And so he's starting off well, working towards proving that he can make a comeback, this season, and that he has earned the trust— and contract extension— that the organization gave him.

6. Power play evens out

After a stellar performance in San Jose— where the Flyers' power play went 3/5 on the night and 3/3 on the first three attempts— last night's attempt was less so. They were unable to convert on any of their five power play opportunities, dropping their season efficacy to 30 percent. And while their play last night wasn't horrendous— it still saw both power play units creating pressure and scoring chances— but it also saw them revealing some weak spots. The couple of Kings breakaways that were allowed, the potential for short handed goals, were unfortunate results of that.

And of course, credit must be given where credit is due— and one wonders how different the results on the power play may have looked, had Jonathan Quick not played absolutely lights out.

If nothing else, last night's game served as a wake up call, a warning not to assume that the power play is suddenly fixed after one great game— and on the flip side, a suggestion not to assume that everything is garbage after just one lackluster game.

7. Taylor Leier keeps pace

After a solid first game in San Jose, Taylor Leier brought another strong effort and performance last night. The hallmarks of his game— the speed and craft— remained steady and present, but we also saw him holding his own against his opponents who largely (no pun intended) oversized him. Particularly striking was his strength along the boards, as he refused to be outmuscled.

We're also seeing him continue to click with line mate Scott Laughton. One of the benefits of having a whole season of playing together in the Lehigh Valley, the two are showing distinct chemistry and familiarity with each other's games. We saw this at first when they were placed together on the fourth line, and it's continued as they're now working together on the second penalty kill unit. It's what you like to see early in the season— chemistry with few growing pains— and it seems it's only going to get better from here.

8. Conditioning

One of the major things stressed by the coaching staff early in the preseason was that they would not be upset by, would be expecting even, a drop off in energy late in those first games, as a result of the heavy conditioning they were running the team through in practice. Building up this endurance in the preseason was a major element stressed, and it's certainly paying off as we move into the regular season.

We talked about how the Flyers struggled early in the game, but they completely turned this around for the third period. Late in the game, they absolutely dominated play, keeping the Kings hemmed into their own zone, and outshooting them 17 to 5. They showed no signs of fatigue, and made the well rested, season opening Kings look like they were the ones playing the second of back to back games. And, even if the results weren't all there, this is one of the most exciting of new elements the Flyers are bringing this season— the prospect of wearing down their opponents early and pulling away late in games.

9. Possession numbers check-in

Looking at the Flyers’ Corsi percentages from last night, they reinforce the arc of the game that we’ve touched on, through eye testing. The Flyers’ raw CF% went 49.95, 43.9, and 68.29 percent through the three period of regulation, averaging out at 52.94 percent (score adjusted to 54.06 percent). This late jump in the numbers for the third period ties in with the Flyers winning the conditioning battle, and outplaying a fatigued looking Los Angeles late in the game.

On the surface, the average CF% when looked at in isolation looks not too shabby, but the variation from period to period may be concerning. The Flyers will hope to, at the very least, even out their performance, as they head into Anaheim on Saturday.

10. The only damn thing [Kurt and] I know

One of the things that made the Flyers' victory in San Jose so exciting was the fact that, in winning, they beat the odds. Going into that game, Corsica's collection of statistical models had them averaging out at a 43.1 percent chance of winning.

These same models had the Flyers' chances to beat the Kings even lower, dipping just below 40 percent. And those odds, unfortunately, they couldn't beat.

So sometimes science is a liar. But sometimes it's not.

You win some, you lose some, I guess.

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 09:06:32 EDT from rss

Subject: Your Friday Morning Roundup

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The Flyers won’t go 82-0-0. The season is over. They were shut out by the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 thanks to goals by Trevor Lewis and Tyler Toffoli. The Flyers outshot the Kings 35-27, but Jonathan Quick played a stellar game against a possibly fatigued Philadelphia squad. The team’s power play looked great Wednesday night,…

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 09:43:34 EDT from rss

Subject: Blanks A Lot: Ten Takeaways from Kings 2, Flyers 0

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If Wednesday night was the equivalent of an unexpected fun night at the bar when you have an impromptu meet-up with your friends and it turns out to be a great time with lots of laughs and lots of craft beers, then Thursday night was the equivalent of the next morning’s hangover. On a work…

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 11:40:38 EDT from rss

Subject: Ronald Jones is more than just fast

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Get to know an Eagles RB target.

Something I harp on a lot when looking at draft prospects is the importance of the big play. Players who sack the quarterback consistently, can create turnovers on defense or score a touchdown at any moment on offense are players you prioritize in accruing prospects to build a team. While it is not the only thing, the threat of a big play on either side of the ball can change the dynamic of how a unit operates and how the other team reacts to them. Even this year with the Eagles, the presence of Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffrey have made defenses less aggressive at compressing the field in fear of losing over the top and has opened the offense up for Zach Ertz et al.

So, with the big play threats at receiver, wouldn’t it be nice to have a running back who does this?

Ronald Jones has been one of the more explosive players since his freshman year at USC in 2015. Jones rushed for at least 980 yards in each of his first two seasons, totaling 20 touchdowns on the ground in that time. This season, with 450 yards through week five and six rushing touchdowns, Jones is in for his best season yet.

Standing at 6’0” and 200 pounds; Jones has a tall, lanky and unorthodox build for a running back. His type of build is certainly going to raise some questions heading into the draft season, especially about his ability to take hits and break tackles. Naturally, our brains think of players in the framing of an archetype. For Jones, being a lightweight and speed oriented player, it might be easy to immediately think he isn’t physical and that he is finesse player.


One of my favorite things about Jones is just how physical he is for any sized running back, not just one his size. Sure, the nature of physics means he can only be so strong at his size, but it does not stop his sheer will when he has the ball in his hands.

When people talk about Jones, it is obvious that they will lead with how fast he is, but look how he just shrugs off arm tackles at the line of scrimmage and bounces through contact at the end of the run. This whole run is impressive considering it starts with a cut to the hole behind the line of scrimmage where he breaks an arm tackle and speeds through to break a few more tackles before the run ends. As a runner, Jones is a compete package of speed, agility and physicality as a runner.

It is pretty insane how quickly Jones can change direction and accelerate through his cuts. His make-you-miss moves are deadly enough but the fact that he seemingly gets faster with every cut is deadly.

Once again, his speed can outrun most angles by defenders but he can also shrug off high tackle attempts at speed. He is a yards after contact master/

This is probably one of my favorite runs by Jones, against Stanford of all defenses. Making that defensive lineman miss behind the line of scrimmage, only to accelerate to the end zone is just an unfathomable feat of his athleticism. Truly special movement ability.

A back with Jones’ speed would be an asset to most teams in the passing game, yet USC has features him very lightly as a receiver. With only 21 career catches, it is hard to say either way if Jones is a good receiving threat out of the backfield. However, every seven of his catches have gone for touchdowns and he certainly has the yards after catch ability to make him a dynamic outlet for an NFL passing game.

So it is to be seen if Jones gets more targets this season but considering what he can do as a receiver, it would be smart for USC to get him more involved there.

NFL Comparison: Ronald Jones’ skillset and running style is vividly reminiscent of Dalvin Cook coming out of Florida State. Cook, of course, fell to the second round but was having a very impressive rookie year this year before injuring his knee. Jones has a similar game that’s predicated on game changing speed and toughness.

Jones will need to overcome questions about his size heading into the NFL, but it is hard to find much fault with him on tape. He is a complete runner who shows promise catching the football. In what looks to be a loaded running back class, Jones might get overlooked on draft day, but his talent is borderline first round worthy. I am sure he is going to open a lot of eyes at the NFL combine.

For the Eagles, Jones’ skill-set would give them something they do not have on the roster right now and considering Doug Pederson’s success with Jamal Charles in the past, I bet he would be chomping at the bit for a running back with Jones’ speed. While I don’t think he will be a first round target, he is the type of player you sprint to the podium for in the second round and don’t look back.

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 11:29:32 EDT from rss

Subject: Can Any of the Phillies

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The Phillies will be quick to tell you all about the young starting pitching depth they’ve assembled over the past few seasons. Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, and Mark Leiter Jr. all debuted in 2017, joining other young arms like Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vincent Velasquez, and Zach Eflin. Throw in 22-year-old Tom Eshelman, who was…

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 12:20:32 EDT from rss

Subject: Cardinals writer gives 3 reasons why the Eagles will beat Arizona

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Focusing on the enemy’s weaknesses.

The Eagles are heavy favorites heading into their Week 5 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Most odds-makers have the Eagles favored by 6.5 points.

On paper, the Eagles should win this game. The Cardinals don’t appear to be all that great. Arizona’s only two wins have come in overtime against bad teams (Colts, 49ers).

But things aren’t always that simple. Some feel like this weekend could a “trap game” situation, which is a little ridiculous to me because people said that prior to the Eagles’ last two wins as well. Still, it’s the NFL — Any Given Sunday and all that jazz.

If you’re feeling worried about this game, today’s post might have you feeling a little more confident about the Eagles’ chances.

Bleeding Green Nation already took some time to chat with Revenge Of The Birds on Thursday in order to preview this Week 5 matchup.

Today, we're back with three reasons why each team might lose. This format forces us to consider each own team's weaknesses, rather than just think of why each team is awesome.

So here are three reasons why the Cardinals could lose, as written by ROTB’s Seth Cox. Stay tuned to Revenge Of The Birds to see why I think the Eagles could lose.

Why the Cardinals will lose

The Arizona Cardinals are coming off their second win of the season. Their two wins are both overtime wins, one against the Indianapolis Colts and one against the San Francisco 49ers, two teams who look like they could be fighting for the first pick (unless Andrew Luck comes back).

On the flipside, their two losses are against the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys, two teams who look like playoff contenders in the NFC.

Now, they get another playoff contender in the Philadelphia Eagles, on the road, in a 10am Arizona start time.

If that isn’t a reason the Cardinals will lose, here are three more.

Offensive Line

The Cardinals have allowed the most sacks in the NFL, tied with the Houston Texans at 17, but the last two games, they have allowed 12 sacks, that’s against the Cowboys and 49ers, not exactly known for their ferocious front.

Yet, in those two games, Carson Palmer has thrown the ball 99 times… NINETY NINE! So, in the last two games, with wet paper towels manning the offensive line, the Cardinals have dropped back to pass 111 times.

It actually makes sense though, because against the Cowboys they carried the ball 21 times for 49 yards, 2.3 yards per carry, and 22 carries for 51 yards… 2.3 yards per carry. So, throwing the ball an extraordinarily high amount of times makes sense.

That will play into the Eagles strength on defense, their front seven.

They have ten sacks as a team, they have only allowed 283 yards rushing on the season. It is a matchup of strength for the Eagles vs weakness for the Cardinals, it favors the Eagles big time.

Cardinals Offense Hurting the Cardinals Defense

The Cardinals are building a good defense, but right now they are very much a bend but don’t break unit. That worked against bad offenses in Indy and San Fran, but didn’t work against the better, more efficient offenses.

What has been happening is the Cardinals offense has a bad series and ends up going three and out, then the Cardinals defense starts to bend, giving up a couple of first downs then forcing a punt. It hasn’t failed where the opposition will pin the Cardinals deep and then the offense goes three and out again, and all of a sudden, you see the opponent starting on the Cardinals side of the field.

Then it seems to be formulaic.

The Cardinals defense is best when playing from ahead and the offense is continually putting pressure on the opposition.

When they need to be the reason the Cardinals win ... against good teams, they have not risen to the occasion.


This isn’t an excuse. I don’t believe in blaming outside factors, injuries, refs, weather, for losses, but the reality is, this team was a fringe playoff team if completely healthy. Now, without their best player, David Johnson, two starting offensive lineman, D.J. Humphries and Mike Iupati and now without their second best pass rusher, Markus Golden, and the guy who was supposed to be their best interior pass rusher, Robert Nkemdiche, going against a team that looks like a very good NFC team, it looks like it could be too much.

The Cardinals will have to play flawless, plus take advantage of any and every mistake the Eagles make. It is asking a lot if 100% healthy, but now it seems like a huge uphill battle.

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 13:30:27 EDT from rss

Subject: Josh Norman Injured: Redskins cornerback WILL miss Eagles game

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Bad news for Washington.

Redskins cornerback Josh Norman suffered a rib fracture and (small) lung puncture during Washington’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night. As a result, Norman will be out for the next four weeks, according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport. Norman confirmed the news on Twitter.

This news is relevant to the Eagles since Washington and Philadelphia will face off for the second time this season in Week 7.

Norman played well when the Eagles faced him in the season opener. He did a good job of limiting Alshon Jeffery to a relatively quiet day (three receptions, 38 yards). Now Norman won’t be around to cover Jeffery at Lincoln Financial Field.

Although the Eagles beat them comfortably in Week 1, Washington has arguably looked like the biggest threat to Philly’s current NFC East lead. Norman is a significant loss, though.

Washington is fortunate one of the weeks (this week) Norman will be out is their bye. The veteran corner will still miss games against the 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys before potentially returning against the Seahawks.

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 12:29:03 EDT from rss

Subject: Mike Missanelli Admitted That He Was Fired From His 6 ABC Gig For Comments About Beth Mowins

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Mike Missanelli took calls on the Cam Newton fiasco yesterday. This is a topic that’s right in his wheelhouse. Perhaps it is his wheelhouse, since he had to admit that he was fired from his 6 ABC show because of comments he made about ESPN broadcaster Beth Mowins a few weeks ago: “Now, full disclosure, I…

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 14:05:54 EDT from rss

Subject: Fantasy football start/sit advice guide: Best and worst picks for NFL Week 5

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Disclaimer: Starts and Sits are relative to where a player is ranked on the aggregate. In other words, a “Start” is someone I like more than most, and a “Sit” is the opposite. So if I say to start Tyrod Taylor and sit Dak Prescott, that doesn't mean I'd start Watson over Prescott, it just means I think Watson will exceed his expectations while Prescott will underperform his. Cool? Cool. Let's get it. -Seltz



Alex Smith (@ HOU) – I hate to gloat, but I'm going to because I think it's the right thing to do. I kind of killed it with my starts and sits last week. No biggie, just saying. Chief among my calls was telling you to start Deshaun Watson. That worked out, eh? What does this have to do with Alex Smith, you might be asking yourself. And to that I say, nothing. It has nothing to do with Alex Smith. Well, I guess it loosely does because Smith and Watson are going mano a mano this week, but it was really just an excuse to brag. To quote Eric Cartman, “Whatever, I'll do what I want.” Ok, even I'm starting to hate myself, let's get to Smith who I actually do like a lot. He's finished in the top 10 (#1, #6, #9) at quarterback in three out four weeks, yet is the consensus #14 ranked QB heading into this weekend. Houston is banged up in the secondary and just allowed two rushing touchdowns to Marcus Mariota. Smith has some sneaky rushing ability (56 yards and TD last week), in case you didn't know. I expect him to – again – deliver a top 10 QB performance.

Tyrod Taylor (@ CIN) – There aren't any other quarterbacks that are incredibly undervalued this week, forcing me to turn to the guy who's perpetually undervalued. Tyrod seems to always elicit a blah response from people, but he continues to outperform his expectations. This week, Tyrod's being written off because he's better at home than on the road and Jordan Matthews is out and blah blah blah. See, those are legit blahs. Unlike the Tyrod Taylor responses which are unrighteous blahs. Anyhoo, what people haven't talked about is that the Bengals have allowed the most rushing yards to opposing QB's – 100 yards, 7.1 YPC – and Taylor is good at running. So, yeah.


Dak Prescott (vs. GB) – I feel like I'm always hating on Dak in these columns. But I swear it's not my fault. It has nothing to do my hatred for the Cowboys – a hatred that burns with the fire of a thousand suns – and it has nothing to do with the ANNOYING Dak is better than Wentz crowd. The reason I keep hating on Dak is because experts keep ranking him way too high. Dak is the consensus #4 quarterback heading into Week 5. Here is where Dak finished at QB in Week 1-4: #12, #11, #10, #9. Again, he's #4 facing a Packers defense that has allowed the sixth-least fantasy points to opposing QB's. See? I told you it wasn't my fault.

Carson Palmer (@ PHI) – Man, you guys are totally going to think I'm a homer. But hear me out. Palmer has been hit and sacked more than any other quarterback in the league. The Eagles are good at hitting and sacking QB's. Not to mention, Palmer is old, rickety, and traveling west-to-east to play at 1pm eastern time. While I think, assuming he doesn't get hurt, Palmer will have enough volume/opportunity to not be a complete zero, I certainly don't believe he'll finish in the top 10 at his position, even though he's ranked as such.



Bilal Powell (@ CLE) – Would it be uncouth of me to take another victory lap for my stellar call to start Powell last week? Yeah, you're probably right. It would be a jerk move. But for the record, I did...tell you to start Powell...which was a pretty good call...but you know, whatever. Alright, I'm done. I promise. Focusing back on this week, look for Bilal to pick up right where he left off last week against the Jags. He faces a bad Browns defense that has been particularly friendly to running backs in the passing game, which is where Powell tends to shine. Plus, with Matt Forte out, Bilal will get the lion's share of the work. You can't argue with the share a lion would take. I mean, it's a lion. They can probably take as big a share as they want, I would think. They are the King of the Jungle, after all. In addition, Bilal is a great name. Who doesn't want to root for a guy named Bilal? Nobody, that's who. I have gone way off the rails here. To quote Vince Lombardi, “What the hell's going on out here?!” Let's move on.

Duke Johnson (vs. NYJ) – Duuuuuuuuuke. That's me chanting for Duke Johnson as he puts up points for my fantasy team. And I've been chanting more often than not of late, as the Dukester ( has scored a rushing touchdown in back-to-back weeks while also leading the team in targets (10 and 7). The Jets have have been a fountain of fantasy points for opposing RB's – 4th most points allowed in standard leagues and 3rd most in PPR – and Duke has overtaken Isaiah Crowell as the Browns running back you want to start. Which doesn't sound all that attractive now that I'm reading it out loud, but it's meant to be a positive, at least for this week anyway.


Joe Mixon (vs. BUF) – Mixon is another guy who will keep showing up as a sit until he proves that he deserves his inflated ranking. Here is what I wrote about Mixon last week:“Am I the only one who doesn't think Joe Mixon is going to be a superstar? I think I'm the only one. I gotta say, it's lonely over here on “Joe Mixon ain't all that” Island. But I'd rather be lonely than wrong. Luckily I'm never wrong.”

Apparently, I'm still lonely on my island as Mixon is the consensus #15 RB this week. But I'm still not wrong. That's too high. Last week with a similar ranking Mixon ended up with 17 carries for 29 yards. He also chipped in an thrilling four catches for 19 more yards. Did I mention that was against the Browns? I didn't??? Well yeah, it was against the Browns. Lol right? Buffalo is way better than the Browns. Way, way, way, WAY better. After this week, I think my island may be getting a little less lonely.

Jordan Howard (vs. MIN) – Howard's value has been super touchdown dependent this season. Outside of his monster game against the Steelers, Howard has rushed for only 112 yards at paltry 2.8 YPC clip. Most importantly, Minnesota's defense is hella good. Do people still say hella? I'm guessing no. It's a stupid word. I apologize for using it. Seriously though, Minny's D is legit and they've been especially studly against the run. Honestly, I would be shocked if Howard finishes anywhere near his consensus #11 ranking.



Larry Fitzgerald (@ PHI) – I hate the old “that guy kills us every time we play him” thing because there is so much change over from year to year in the NFL. Having said that, Larry Fitzgerald kills us every time we play him and I hate it! Sadly, I see myself continuing to hate it as the Cardinals are deficient in reliable passing options and the Eagles have been know to allow some passing yards from time to time. Especially to Larry Fitzgerald. That dude kills us every time.

Jarvis Landry (vs. TEN) – I hate suggesting anyone or anything that has a close proximity to Jay “gives no bleeps” Cutler. However, the Titans have been good at defending team's #1 WR's (aka Davante Parker for Miami) and much less good at defending everyone else in the passing game. Landry would fall under “everyone else” but also leads the team in targets this season. One last thing that sways me towards Landry, the Dolphins are playing their first home game of the season. They've been to L.A., New York, and freaking London without playing a game at home. I feel like that has to help the Dolphins at least a little bit...maybe...probably not, but it's crazy they haven't played a home game yet, right? Yeah, wild wacky stuff.

BONUS Sleeper Start: Geronimo Allison (@ DAL) – Allison is the definition of a home run play. With Davante Adams likely out this week, Allison will have the chance to step up and run more routes. Aaron Rodgers has said he's a big fan of Geronimo – both the receiver (for sure) and the Native American (maybe). Plus, Dallas' secondary is atrocious. It's really, really bad.


Doug Baldwin (@ LAR) – Baldwin is still dealing with a groin issue that has kept him limited him for close to two weeks now. And despite putting up no more than 63 yards (and no touchdowns) in three of his four outings this season, Baldwin is the consensus #14 WR this week. He's coming off a 3 catch, 35 yard performance against a bad Colts secondary and is facing much better Rams secondary. So I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'd rather start Doug Pederson in a coaching fantasy league than Doug Baldwin in a normal (aka actually a real thing) fantasy league. And let me tell you, I am not someone who would go about starting Doug Pederson in a fictional made up coaching fantasy league lightly. Point made...I think.

Amari Cooper (vs. BAL) – This may be kind of obvious, but it's worth saying. It's time to forget draft day values and evaluate what you're seeing on the field. Despite being a high pick for many, Cooper has sucked. He's sucked SO hard. How hard you ask? Here's how many receiving yards he's had in the last two weeks: 15. COMBINED! I'll say it again, in the last two weeks Amari Cooper has accumulated 15 receiving I get it. It's tough to let go. It's tough to admit that some guy you picked up off waivers is probably a better start than the dude you took in the third round. But it's time to do that with Cooper. Especially with Derek Carr out and the Raiders facing a good Ravens defense.



Antonio Gates (@ NYG) – The Giants have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. By a lot. They've been horrendous defending tight ends. While this has led many to look at Hunter Henry as a strong play this week, Gates is ranked six spots lower in the consensus rankings and offers way more bang for you buck in DFS formats. And for what it's worth, Gates has actually out-targeted Henry, and has seen a more consistent dose of targets on a week-to-week basis. Now I'm not saying Henry is a bad play either, I just think Gates represents the better value of the two.

Jesse James (vs. JAX) – Jesse James. He of the two first names. Also, he of the 20 targets this season, fourth on the team after Brown, Bell and Bryant. We've talked multiple times in this space about Ben Roethlisberger's home/road splits, so you should know that Ben at home is the good one. And while the Jags have done a great job defending wide receivers this season, they've done a bad job against tight ends. Plus, Ben has a penchant of looking for James in the red zone.


Jimmy Graham (@ LAR) – Graham always seems like an afterthought in Seattle's offense. For some reason, they just can't figure out how to use him right. Or he's just not that good anymore. Either way, he's been a consistent under performer from week to week, including last week's 4 catch, 61 yard showing in a game where the Seahawks scored 46 points. Yet, despite all of this, Graham is the consensus #5 tight end heading into a matchup with a good Rams defense. Needless to say, I don't get it. #Analysis

Martellus Bennett (@ DAL) – Bennett continues to be ranked in the top 10 among tight ends each week, and each time he proceeds to not finish in the top 10 at the position. For one, the Packers have never used their tight ends effectively. That hasn't changed with Bennett. Second, Dallas is awful at defending wide receivers, but significantly better at shutting down tight ends. Third, welp, I don't have a third and now I feel like a fool. A FOOL! Moving on.



Baltimore Ravens (@ OAK) – Baltimore's defense is good. Oakland is without Derek Carr and starting E.J. Manuel. That's it. E.J. Manuel. What more do you need to hear?


Arizona Cardinals (@ PHI) – Arizona just lost one of their best defensive players (starting linebacker Markus Golden) and they're facing a juggernaut Eagles offense. Done and done. Just kidding, about the juggernaut thing. But the Eagles offensive line is playing like a juggernaut right now, and they should matchup up well with a now Markus Golden-less Cardinals front seven. The Eagles may not score a ton of points, but they'll score their fair share. More importantly, I don't see the potential for a lot of sacks or turnovers for Arizona, which vastly limits their potential as a viable fantasy defense.



Some guy who's playing in a dome or who's on a team with a good offense.

[BLG Note: Jake Elliott, obviously.]


Any guy who doesn't qualify the above set standard for “Start.”

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 14:09:42 EDT from rss

Subject: Five Reasons to Watch the United States Men

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“There are 17,380 hockey fans in Philadelphia,” the old joke used to go, “and they all go to every game.” It may have been true for hockey. It’s very true for Philadelphia soccer, where the Union rarely get that many fans to Talen Energy Stadium to begin with. Soccer remains a hard sell here, and…

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 15:38:51 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles vs. Cardinals Final Injury Report: Wendell Smallwood questionable, 2 players ruled out

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Final update.

The Philadelphia Eagles released their third and final official injury report in advance of their Week 5 game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Two Eagles players have been officially ruled out: starting defensive tackle Fletcher and starting cornerback Ronald Darby. Neither player was able to practice this week.

With Cox out, the Eagles will start Beau Allen at defensive tackle next to Tim Jernigan (who is not listed on the injury report, which is a good sign). It remains to be seen if Jaylen Watkins, who is questionable, or Rasul Douglas will start at corner with Darby out. The Eagles originally relied on Watkins when Darby went down but Douglas has shown some potential while filling in. [UPDATE: Sounds like it’ll continue to be Douglas, which is the right move.]

At running back, Wendell Smallwood is questionable. Doug Pederson said he suffered a knee injury in Week 4 but wouldn’t give much more information than that. Smallwood hasn’t practiced all week so it seems unlikely he’ll play despite being listed as a game-time decision.

Pederson said Smallwood potentially being out doesn’t have an impact on the Eagles’ run game, which is a weird thing to say. He played the most snaps of any Eagles running back in Week 4. If Smallwood is out, expect an increased workload for LeGarrette Blount and undrafted rookie Corey Clement. The Eagles also might give some touches to Kenjon Barner. Philadelphia has until 4:00 PM ET on Saturday to call up Byron Marshall from the practice squad if they wish.

Third safety Corey Graham is questionable despite being a full participant in practice all week. The Eagles were using him in a rotational role prior to his injuy in order to free up Malcolm Jenkins to move around the formation. We’ll see if that continues on Sunday.

Backup defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao is questionable after being limited in practice all week. If he can’t play, Elijah Qualls and Justin Hamilton will be in line for more playing time. Perhaps Vaeao will be ready to play by the Eagles’ Week 6 game on Thursday.

Starting defensive end Vinny Curry did not practice on Friday but it wasn’t injury related.

Philadelphia Eagles Injury Report (Friday)


CB Ronald Darby (ankle)

DT Fletcher Cox (calf)


RB Wendell Smallwood (knee)

DT Destiny Vaeao (wrist)

S Jaylen Waktins (hamstring)

S Corey Graham (hamstring)

Arizona Cardinals Injury Report (Friday)

Official Cardinals injury report to be announced. Check back for updates.

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 15:45:14 EDT from rss

Subject: BSH Radio reacts to the 2-0 loss against Los Angeles

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Bill Matz is back with his post-game reaction after a shutout loss to Jonathan Quick and the Kings

It’s a second consecutive night of Flyers After Dark, unfortunately the results of Thursday night’s game in Los Angeles did not match the previous night’s effort in San Jose.

Bill Matz returned to the Broad Street Hockey Facebook page for a post-game live video chat with fans and friends following the 2-0 loss to Jonathan Quick, Jeff Carter and the Kings.

Travis Sanheim’s up-and-down NHL debut, Philly’s pass-first mentality, Michal Neuvirth’s standout performance and the sudden power shortage on the man advantage are all topics of discussion as Bill fields questions and gives his thoughts on the season’s second game.

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 15:02:59 EDT from rss

Subject: Rookie Report: Derek Barnett

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One of the most exciting things about each new football season is watching rookies develop and seeing whether or not they can elevate their teams to new heights. This year, much of that attention is on Derek Barnett, who the Eagles are counting on to be a key contributor to their pass rush rotation. Since…

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 16:22:40 EDT from rss

Subject: Eric Rowe trade draft pick tracker: Week 5 edition

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A weekly update on the Eagles’ 2018 draft picks.

Before the 2016 season started, the Philadelphia Eagles traded cornerback Eric Rowe to the New England Patriots in exchange for a conditional pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. This means the Eagles can receive one of two picks.

1 — Eagles receive New England’s third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft if Eric Rowe plays at least 50% of the Patriots’ defensive snaps.


2 — Eagles receive New England’s fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft if Eric Rowe plays less than 50% of the Patriots’ defensive snaps.

Where this pick ultimately lands is significant for the Eagles. Philadelphia currently doesn’t own any Day 2 picks due to both the Carson Wentz trade and the Ronald Darby trade.

Since this is an important pick, I’ll be doing a weekly update on Rowe’s playing time to see if the Eagles will get the third-round selection or not.


WEEK 1: Eric Rowe plays 37 out of New England’s 69 defensive snaps. That’s good for 54%. If the season ended today, the Eagles would get the pick! It would also be the first overall pick in the third round since the Patriots have the worst record in the NFL right now. ;)

Week 2: Eric Rowe plays 34 out of New England’s 65 defensive snaps. That’s good for 52%. Rowe actually started over Malcolm Butler in the Patriots’ win over the Saints but Butler ended up playing more snaps due to Rowe suffering a groin injury. So far, Rowe has played 71 out of 134 snaps this season, which is 53%. It’s a close margin, but the Eagles are currently projected to get the third-round pick.

Week 3: Eric Rowe plays 0 out of New England’s 71 defensive snaps. That’s good for 0% (duh). Rowe was inactive due to the groin injury he suffered in Week 2. The good news (?) is that Rowe was listed “questionable” after being limited in practice all of last week. Maybe he’ll be able to return this week. The Eagles better hope Rowe gets healthy because now he’s only played 71 of 205 snaps this season, which is 34.6%. One thing to keep in mind regarding the Rowe tracker is that Malcolm Butler still appears to be on the trade block. If Butler gets moved, Rowe’s playing time should receive a boost. The NFL trade deadline is set for 4:00 PM ET on October 31.

Week 4: Eric Rowe plays 19 out of New England’s 63 defensive snaps. That’s good for only 30%. Rowe left the Patriots’ game against the Panthers due to a groin injury, which is what caused him to be out in Week 3. It seems like this might be a nagging thing for Rowe. Not good for the Eagles’ chances of getting the third-round pick. Rowe has now only played 90 of 268 snaps through the first quarter of the season, which is 33.6%. The Patriots don’t have their bye until Nov. 5 so Rowe might continue to miss some games due to injury. The Eagles’ best hope still is that Rowe gets healthy and the Patriots trade one of their cornerbacks (Butler) to open up playing time for him. If it’s any consolation, the Patriots are now 2-2. It’s looking like they might not be picking at the very last spot of the fourth round.

Week 5: Eric Rowe plays 0 out of New England’s 72 defensive snaps. That’s good for 0% (thanks). Rowe was inactive due to the groin injury he re-aggravated in Week 4. Rowe has now only played 90 of 340 snaps through the first five games, which is 26.5%. If you weren’t resigned to getting the fourth-round pick by now, it’s probably time you start. The Eagles really need 1) Rowe to get healthy and 2) the Patriots to give less playing time to Malcolm Butler and/or Stephon Gilmore. For what it’s worth, Rowe is the 111th corner out of 111 corners graded by Pro Football Focus this season.


Current projected Eagles 2018 Draft Picks



4th - (from the Minnesota Vikings)

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


5th - (from the Seattle Seahawks)


[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 17:02:53 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles Injury Updates: Latest on Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones

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When will they be back?

I’ve seen a lot of people asking about the statuses of injured Eagles cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones lately so I figured it’d be good to write a post about them instead of individually replying to all of the tweets I keep getting. Here’s the latest.


To recap, Darby suffered a dislocated ankle in Week 1 (September 10). It was reported at the time that it was a four-to-six week recovery.

This Sunday (October 8) marks four weeks since Darby got hurt. He still hasn’t returned to practice.

Here’s what head coach Doug Pederson said about Darby when asked about the corner earlier this week.

He's getting there. He's -- we'll continue with rehab this week, and get him moving a little bit more. He's on schedule. But with the severity of the injury, as you saw in the Washington game, it’s just going to take time.

And here’s what Pederson said when asked if Week 7 is when the Eagles are expecting him back.

That's kind of the target deadline, if there is one. But I'm not going to hold it as a hard deadline. I'm not going to put him in a box. These things take time. You saw the replay and you saw the ankle. It just takes time.

Here’s what defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had to say about Darby (and Jones).

Q: What have you noticed about him as he's going through rehab and staying engaged as he works to come back?

Schwartz: Yeah, I think I put him and Sidney Jones in that same category. They have been very engaged in the meetings. They found a way to make use of their time, even though they have been on the shelf. And when it comes time for those guys to be back on the field, whenever that is, they have both put themselves in good position to be ready when their body is capable. When their body is capable, I have no idea. I'll leave that to other people.

Darby has already been ruled out for the Eagles’ Week 5 game. It seems unlikely he’d be ready to play in time for Philadelphia’s game against the Carolina Panthers in Week 6 since it’s on a Thursday night.

Week 7, however, is a Monday Night Football game for the Eagles. That would give the team’s best corner an extra day to be ready to play. The Eagles’ MNF game on October 23 would mark six weeks (and one day) from the time Darby suffered his ankle injury.

If Darby can’t return by then, maybe he’ll be ready for Week 8 against the 49ers. Or Week 9 against the Broncos. At the very latest, it seems like he’d have to be ready in time after the Eagles have a bye in Week 10 and then play the Cowboys in Week 11.

Until Darby returns, the Eagles will likely start Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas at corner. Getting Darby back would be a big boost for a struggling secondary.


As you’ll recall, Jones suffered an Achilles injury on March 11.

Prior to the start of the season, I wrote an explanation of what the Eagles placing Jones on the non-football injury list meant. Go check that out for more info.

The main thing to know here is that Jones is eligible to return as soon as Week 7. That doesn’t mean he WILL be returning in Week 7. Just that it can happen.

The fact that Jones recently sent out a tweet saying “7 !!!” has caused people to speculate he might start practicing that week. Jones has since deleted that tweet. Could be something, could be nothing.

Here’s what Pederson had to say about Jones this week. Note the part about conditioning.

Q: With CB Sidney Jones, after he had the surgery they said four to six months with six probably being a little more realistic. The surgery was in March, which means September would have been that six-month mark. When he comes off of NFI, it’ll then be seven months. Do you anticipate that he's going to be ready to go when he comes off NFI and how long do you think it might take for him to assimilate into the defense once he does?

Pederson: That's a lot of questions. [Laughter] Again, with Sidney, he is progressing, obviously. And as I said all along, there's really no time table for him. We just want to make sure he's one hundred percent. But you look down the road, there's not only the health issue, but getting into football shape, too, even to be ready to play. So I'm not going to stand here and give you a time table exactly. He's another one that we said all along we want to make sure he's one hundred percent before we put him out there.

And here’s what Schwartz had to say (in addition to what he said in the Darby section of this post).

Q: Not asking you for any kind of update on his progress or return, but CB Sidney Jones, what do you need to see from him, if and when he is ready, before you are comfortable putting him on the field?

Schwartz: That's way too far in the future to comment on that now. When we get him back on the field, we can cross that. There will be a time that we have with NFI or whatever it is to get him on the field and practice. I think we can cross that bridge when we get there. I know he's very engaged. He travels with us on games. He goes to every walk-through. And it can be tedious sometimes going out there and watching everybody stretch. Going out there and going to a meeting the night before the game, knowing that you're not going to play. But I think that it's all beneficial for him in the long run and when he is able to play; again, whenever that is, he'll have benefitted from those experiences mainly because of the effort and the conscientiousness that he's put into that. I've been proud of him that way, and it's a difficult situation to stay engaged, but [he] asks questions in the meetings and is up on just about everything we do and he's been working hard to rehab, also.

Starting in Week 7, the Eagles will have six weeks to decide whether Jones is ready or not to start practicing. If he is ready, the Eagles will then have 21 days to either activate him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the entire season.

Interestingly, Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice believes Jones will play this year.

It goes without saying the Eagles shouldn’t rush Jones back if he’s not 100%. It’s fair to wonder how much he can even contribute after missing an entire offseason’s worth of practice reps. He also needs to get back into football shape.

If he’s healthy, though, Jones (and his agent) will likely push to play. It’ll be tough for the Eagles to just completely shut him down for the season if he’s fully healthy and ready to go.

The Darby and Jones situations will be worth monitoring over the next few weeks. The Eagles have gotten to 3-1 without them so far. Their potential returns could serve as a boost to the defense.

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 16:27:39 EDT from rss

Subject: The Sixers and Opposite Ends of the Spectrum, Part 2: A Realistic Best-Case Scenario

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As with the first installment of this series, let me get the very obvious out of the way first. In an ideal Sixers universe, Joel Embiid plays somewhere in the 60-70 games range and the 12 to 22 games he doesn’t play are a case of rest and caution rather than injury. But we live in a…

[#] Fri Oct 06 2017 22:07:15 EDT from rss

Subject: Eagles vs. Cardinals Week Five: Five Friday

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Five Friday “For Sures” For Week Five. I’m an alliterative animal.

Greetings, gang! It’s an extra-special edition of Five Friday For Sures, given that the word “Five” is in the title twice.

That’s actually all it takes to say this specific episode is special. I don’t make the rules, guys.

As the Cardinals cruise into town, Carson and Co. look to continue climbing above the competition in the NFC East. While Washington oughta waltz by a weak San Francisco squad, Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay ride into Arlington to rumble with the injury-riddled Cowboys. Eli and the Giants look to lose another to the listless Los Angeles Chargers, limping to an oh-and-five start.

All roads lead home.

1) I stab somebody

As our fearless leader, Mr. Lee Gowton, let me know earlier, left guard remains ludicrously neglected. To grade Stefen Wisniewski’s game to this point as anything less than great goes against all logic. Though a lighter guard (305 lbs), Wisniewski’s gritty play has raised the level of the Eagles’ ground game—specifically, LeGarrette Blount has greatly benefitted from Stefen stepping in to Isaac Seumalo’s vacated spot (203 rushing yards over the past two games).

The Warmack/Wisniewski swapping, however, simply won’t stop. For two weeks, Warmack and Wisniewski have lined up at left guard for one drive, and waited in the wings on the next. While Philly has found fresh life under these circumstances, the stats show that this charade actually eats away at the Eagles’ efficacy:

Drop the pretenses; play Stefen Wisniewski. And, when Doug predictably doesn’t decide on a starter for more than a single drive, I will stab somebody. Seems a decent solution and square deal, in my eyes.

2) Larry Fitzgerald leaves Philly in fits

9 targets, 6 receptions, 100 yards, and 1 touchdown. Despite the despicable absence of a five, fear should fill Philadelphia fans as memories flash across their minds. People should put Fitzgerald’s patriotism under the public eye—he’s been beating bald eagles for years. (It’s a joke please calm down.)

Those stats are Fitz’s average across seven bouts with the Birds. What merits mention is the job done by Malcolm Jenkins in the most recent meeting: In Chip’s final chapter with Philly, Fitzgerald fizzled to 3 receptions, five targets, and 43 yards under Jenkins’ fierce coverage. In a 40-17 drubbing that dropped the hammer on Kelly’s draconian regime, Jenkins’ S/CB strength shone as a singular bright spot.

But Patrick Robinson’s re-emergence as a serviceable slot corner causes quite the conundrum: who covers Larry? With rookie Rasul Douglas and much-maligned starter Jalen Mills manning the corners, keeping Malcolm as a middle-of-the-field defender helps mask the poor play of the fledgling Eagles. But say Robinson struggles: send Jenkins to the line of scrimmage and suffer the consequences of single-high, or substitute, safety play. Something’s gotta give.

Larry’s gonna cause Pat problems. He’s too strong, too savvy, and still has solid suddenness through his routes. Expect Eagles’ defensive pressure to cause QB Carson Palmer to feed Fitzgerald, as well. I like 15 targets, 10 receptions, 100 yards, and .5 touchdowns (don’t ask, it’s just all gotta be oriented around five).

3) Carson keeps the ball security streak strong

Since 1997, only five first-year QBs finished with a greater sum of INTs + Fumbles than Carson Wentz’s ‘16 season. Protecting the pigskin has never been a priority for the young pro. The longest Wentz went without a turnover? Weeks 1 through 3.

Curious of Carson to kickoff his rookie campaign so safely, and only later make more mistakes—but the sophomore slinger finished September with two turnover-free performances: against the Bolts, and against Big Blue. With an accordingly accurate and acute game against Arizona, Carson matches his career-best of three turnover-free contests.

The Cardinals have created only three takeaways to date, and Carson’s Eagles are 7-2 (7 - 2, incidentally, is five) when Wentz is without an INT. This surprisingly safe stretch for Carson continues on Sunday.

4) Haason Reddick returns to old haunts

It’s homecoming for Haason, who hailed from Haddon Heights High School in Camden before continuing his football career at Temple and as an Arizona Cardinal. Once a walk-on, Reddick rotated positions regularly as an Owl, coming to Temple as a cornerback and evolving into an EDGE defender. Scouts salivated over his athletic ability as a stand-up linebacker, justly comparing him to Jamie Collins and Ryan Shazier.

Reddick returns to Philadelphia, his role regularly expanding over his quarter-season as a Cardinal. After OLB Markus Golden’s gruesome injury, more growth awaits Reddick—he moves back from ‘backer to EDGE, expectations of production at his old position on his back.

Reddick’s family will be in Philadelphia in full force, and FOX’s broadcast couldn’t consider bypassing a story as homegrown as Haason’s. Photo montage? For sure. The Reddick clan clamoring in the stands? Certainly. A snarky soundbite about stepping it up against his old city? So these things go.

5) Thank God

...that’s over. Do you have any idea how hard that was? Good grief.

Palmer bombs an early TD to John Brown and Philly’s offense struggles in the first half, until Carson heats up to start the second period. Blount rolls with a 15/90/2 line, Agholor shows out for 5/70/1, and Jordan Hicks grabs a 40-yard pick-six. Andre Ellington has 100 yards receiving, Palmer takes 3 sacks (2 for Vinny Curry), and Brent Celek—who?!—Brent Celek catches a touchdown. It’s his only catch of the day.

In all seriousness, I’m very interested to see if Wentz can continue his remarkably safe play of late. I’ll predict he fumbles the ball at least once (he averages 0.9 fumbles/game across his career)—it’s the interceptions against a talented, but under-performing secondary that intrigue me. If he avoid Patrick Peterson (likely shadowing Alshon Jeffery), he should be fine.

Jeffery? 6 targets, 2 catches, 19 yards.

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