Subject: Jay Ajayi Trade: Eagles acquire Dolphins running back in exchange for draft pick
WHOA, the Eagles have a new running back! NFL insider Ian Rapoport is reporting the Philadelphia has traded a fourth-round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for Jay Ajayi! The Eagles have since officially confirmed the trade.
Everyone kept saying the Eagles were going to be active before the NFL trade deadline, but no one saw this one coming.
Ajayi, a fifth-round pick in 2015, is a talented player who is signed through 2018. The 24-year-old has rushed for nine touchdowns and 1,924 yards on 447 career carries over three seasons. He also has 48 receptions for 308 receiving yards. Ajayi was named to the Pro Bowl after rushing for eight scores and 1,272 yards (4.9 average) in 2016.
Ajayi is only averaging 3.4 yards per carry this season, but Miami’s offensive line ranks 28th in run blocking by Football Outsiders. And it’s not like defenses had to be worried about the Dolphins’ quarterbacks.
The Eagles have gotten some decent production out of LeGarrette Blount this season but none of their current running backs are legitimate No. 1 options. The lack of a true lead back was a big concern heading into the season. Now they have Ajayi, Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner on the roster.
Philadelphia is obviously off to a great start this season at 7-1. They have the making of a Super Bowl contender. Howie Roseman is being aggressive and trying to make the team even better for a potential playoff run.
As for the pick involved in this deal, the Eagles already had three fourth-round selections in the 2018 NFL Draft. Rapoport reports Philly will give the Dolphins their second highest of the trio. As of right now, that would either be the pick from the Patriots or the Vikings. So, a late fourth.
Subject: Coyotes 4, Flyers 3: No treats, just tricks
Some observations for your [spooky] morning
Last night was mischief night, and the Flyers were certainly up to some of that. If you consider mischief to be not winning. Or something. But here’s what we learned, in the midst of all that.
1. That was an ugly start, friends
In keeping with what seems to be the new tradition, I guess, the Flyers faced a rough start. The first few minutes didn’t look that way, as they seemed to point to the Flyers holding at least a bit of an edge. And then Martinook scored 2:20 in. And that one was ugly-- as he moved in on goal with speed, Elliott tried to make a block that left him flat on his stomach, and all Martinook had to do was get some elevation, and the puck was clear into the net. The Dvorak goal five minutes later was a shame to behold, but ultimately the result of a bit of bad luck, deflected off an Ekman-Larsson shot straight from the point, it got lost and took an unfortunate bounce in.
But it wasn’t all bad luck that haunted the Flyers this first period, most of it was just plain bad play. The Flyers were held to just three shots on goal through the duration of the period, compared to the Coyotes’ 13. They struggled in moving through the neutral zone, often found themselves hemmed into their own zone. So, yeah, it was rough. And with all the talk, after the last few games, of not digging themselves into a hole early in games, they certainly didn’t do themselves any favors last night.
2. Revolving door of defensemen
The Flyers rolled with just six defensemen on their brief stint in the great white north this past week, and seemed comfortable in taking the risk that accompanied it. This came back to bite them a bit, when Gostisbehere went out late in Saturday’s game against Toronto, leaving them with five healthy regulars, and ultimately a true vacancy to fill. And you know what that means. It’s Samuel Morin time, ya’ll.
Called up early on Monday, the Flyers found that Morin was suffering from some kind of “nagging injury,” and would not be able to play against Arizona. So to Mark Alt it was. And he did just fine.
Over the course of the game, Alt posted a respectable 47.47 adjusted CF%. He showed flashes of speed and strong skating. He was quiet, but in a way that you like to see from your more defensive defensemen. Alt was solid and steady, and did exactly what the Flyers were hoping he would. He didn’t provide the same level of play that they were missing from Ghost’s absence, but he shored up the gap, and didn’t leave them hanging.
3. The name game
I saw an absolute abomination on Twitter last night. Someone took it upon themself to give the fourth line the nickname “The Firm.” I don’t know why. But it doesn’t matter. It’s absurd. They are the Honey Bees, and will forever be the Honey Bees. Every other nickname can get lost.
Now that we have that cleared up, how did the Honey Bees do last night? In short, not great.
For one of the first times all season, they were virtually invisible, to the eye test. They avoided any major mistakes, but didn’t show the same level of flash that we’ve come to expect from them. They were all but neutralized.
And by advanced metrics? They got torched. The line averaged a 30.90 percent adjusted CF%, and had their ice time cut to just under nine minutes, on average. Of course, before we get too ahead of ourselves, it’s important to acknowledge that it was a rough night for all lines, on the whole, but to see such a significant dip in production from the otherwise dynamic fourth was definitely a disappointment.
4. The slump which creeps
So we talked already about how the first period was bad. It was real bad. But, the feeling exiting it was that the Flyers have been able to pick things up in the second period-- scoring sixteen goals in the middle twenty minutes-- and things couldn’t possibly get much worse, right? Wrong. But I’ve talked enough already. Why don’t we let a picture do some talking.
So the beginning of the second period saw the Flyers holding steady in not holding possession, and then slumping even further. They were able to swing the momentum a bit more in their favor as the period went on, and were able to prevent the Coyotes from scoring any more goals before the period expired, but even so, it was hardly the second period rally we were hoping for.
5. Brian Elliott and quality starts
Yesterday, Kurt brought us a fabulous article about the Flyers’ goaltending situation, and their quality starts, to date. If you haven’t checked it out yet, definitely do.
As a refresher, we’ve seen so far that Flyers goaltenders this season have either posted Quality Starts-- playing above replacement (.885 save percentage) while allowing two or fewer goals-- or Really Bad Starts-- registering a save percentage below .85. Elliott’s performances to date have been polarized, but last night served as something of an equalizer.
Against Arizona, Elliott recorded a .882 save percentage, allowing four goals on 35 shots faced across three periods and overtime. So he fell short of the Quality Start, but also avoided the dreaded Very Bad Start. So everything sort of leveled out for him, numerically.
But, as far as the eye test is concerned, Elliott’s performance looked a little rough. The Martinook goal was ugly. We saw a few moments where he seemed to just plain lose sight of the puck, wasn’t able to react to it in time, or only just. He made some big saves, but also some big misses. So, still even, in theory, but we’re going to be looking and hoping for better, going forward.
6. Clean starts
As the Flyers started into their “we’re gonna go down in the beginning of the game and maybe or maybe not pull ourselves back up” trend, one area that was stressed by players and coach alike was keeping their composure. When down one or a few goals, they had to try not to get frazzled and take any needless penalties, And, for the most part, they did that last night.
On the whole, it was pretty clean game, early on. It took teams 32:18 seconds to pick up any kind of penalty, and even then it was offsetting roughing minors, and we remained at even strength. Not surprisingly, with both teams held scoreless since about halfway through the first period, it took some time with the man advantage to bring the scoring back-- with a goal by Perlini at 1:23 in the third and one by Couturier at 2:14. In fact, each of the Flyers’ three goals came when they had the man advantage, and this was, in short, less than ideal. In a way, last night they seemed to be haunted by last season’s even strength scoring struggles, and will have to hope that they can shake it off, as they head back out on the road.
7. Third line continuing to click
Let me give you a little peek behind the curtain. Around halfway through the third period, my lone note to myself about my thoughts for this section was “the third line is the only thing/line that doesn’t make me want to light myself on fire.” And while things got better from there, we finally got some other high points, the sentiment remained more or less true.
For the first time all season, the third line was the single most productive one on the ice, in terms of puck possession and play driving. The line averaged an adjusted CF% of 65.74 percent, earning five on five ice time that was only just a bit shy of what was given to the second line.
With the middle six having looked more or less stagnant through the beginning of the season, it’s encouraging to see this line finally starting to put something together. And it seems only a matter of time before they start to be rewarded with goals, as well.
8. Sean Couturier is still the only good thing about anything
Again, this may be a bit of an overstatement, but is it really? Couturier once again was the one to open up scoring for the game, and last night he earned himself his eighth and ninth goals of the season, marking fifteen total points. There are very few singular efforts in hockey, anyone will say so, but Couturier did a fantastic job of asserting himself last night, with his efforts keeping the Flyers’ hopes of picking up at least a point in the standings alive. He’s been one of the more consistent players through the early part of the season in both scoring and play driving, as he found himself ranked third among his teammates in adjusted CF% (51.64 percent).
Twelve game in still feels a bit early to proclaim this an excellent trend that’s developing, even if signs are pointing towards it. But, wholly sustainable or not, it’s been quite the start for Couturier.
9. A bit of overtime?
Don’t mind if I do. Scoring two goals-- thanks to Jordan Weal and Couturier-- in the last minute of the game to tie it up guaranteed the Flyers would head into overtime and pick up at least one point on the evening. It was an exciting, albeit a bit unexpected, comeback, and a really stellar group effort. Even before the last few minutes of the game, when the Flyers pulled Elliott, brought out the extra attacker, and scored the two goals, they had spent the duration of the period swinging momentum back in their favor. They were able to pull their expected goals up to 2.4 for the game-- compared to the Coyotes’ 2.86-- after having spent the first two period trailing by this metric. They swung back and more or less evened things out, making the big late-game push.
But post game comments continue to loom over this game, in retrospect. I think Voracek put it best himself when he said simply “we didn’t deserve to win tonight.” And it feels harsh, but you have to think a team can’t have a start like this one and just expect to come back every time. They spent a lot of this game looking bad, and worse than they should with the talent and depth available to them. They have a lot of cleaning up to do, but for now it’s on to the next.
10. The only damn thing I know
So last night was the Halloween game at the Wells Fargo Center, and you were sure to find certain distinct and delightful markers of it. Costume contests. Zombie renderings of the players on the big screen. Me eating a whole bunch of candy in the press box. On the whole, the atmosphere was nice and fitting of near-Halloween. But there was just one thing missing.
The Flyers had an excellent opportunity in front of them, and like many good things they’re presented with, they squandered it. But it was in front of them the whole time.
Radko Boo-das. Come on.
Subject: Jay Ajayi trade reactions:
The Eagles have a new RB!
All the NFL insiders said the Philadelphia Eagles were going to be active and aggressive prior to the league’s trade deadline. They were right! The Eagles made a big move on Tuesday to acquire running back Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round draft pick.
Here’s how everyone is reacting to the big news.
Ajayi behind that Eagles OL btw is going to look SOOOOO much better than he did in Miami this season.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) October 31, 2017
So in a 12-hour stretch, Eagles add Jay Ajayi and Cowboys lose Ezekiel Elliott.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
Jay Ajayi only averaging 3.4 yards per carry this season but Dolphins OL ranks 28th in run blocking. Plus Miami obviously has bad QBs.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 31, 2017
Philly building for postseason. Great defense and stable of power backs. Weather proof.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) October 31, 2017
THIS ACCOUNT WILL REMAIN FIRMLY ENTRENCHED IN ALL CAPS FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) October 31, 2017
IMAGINE SITTING THE PRICEY CB YOU GOT FROM PHILLY ON TUESDAY AND THEN A WEEK LATER TRADING WITH HOWIE *AGAIN*. HE LAUGHS AT YOUR FOOLISHNESS— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) October 31, 2017
The Ajayi trade is kind of unbelievable. Low cost in both trade and cap, quality of player, the aggressiveness of the move... love it.— overthrow for Christ (@Southern_Philly) October 31, 2017
That's the risk, but when he plays one snap he's immediately the most productive RB the Eagles have spent a 4th on this year https://t.co/oKTQA6COdj— overthrow for Christ (@Southern_Philly) October 31, 2017
Someone find me Howie Roseman so I can kiss him on the lips. https://t.co/fR2Ov9mx9d— ware wolfe (@TheBenNatan) October 31, 2017
Howie is a wizard.— James Seltzer (@JamesSeltzer) October 31, 2017
Wow. Have to see what happens with Blount but what a get ... and suddenly Kenyan Drake the Dolphins starter https://t.co/GVeokch4Tj— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 31, 2017
Not sure Ajayi will get the volume he had in Miami unless Blount is cut. Somewhat redundant. Still need receiving specialist in mix too— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 31, 2017
Jay Ajayi is signed through next year and makes close to nothing. This trade is bonkers.— Ben Livingston (@bliv94) October 31, 2017
The Eagles already have the 4th best rushing attack in the league.— Ben Livingston (@bliv94) October 31, 2017
Now they have Jay Ajayi AND LeGarrette Blount?
This is just unfair.
Jay Ajayi had no blocking in Miami, and he still did things like this pic.twitter.com/hmj0xnbBi8— Ben Livingston (@bliv94) October 31, 2017
Ajayi for a 4th is a really nice short-term/long-term move.— Noah Becker (@Noah_Becker) October 31, 2017
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) October 31, 2017
Still just 24 and had a heck of a season last year. Liking Ajayi and Blount combo a lot. https://t.co/zmMwnklefW
— Sidney Jones IV (@SidneyJonesIV) October 31, 2017
Eagles (seeking LT) and Dolphins could both make more moves and other RBs (Hyde/Gore) could be moved still as well— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 31, 2017
Fourth-round pick is tough to swallow, though. Could get a player like Donnel Pumphrey in that round.— Bo Wulf (@Bo_Wulf) October 31, 2017
This also means they don't need to address RB in the draft, a major plus considering Eagles don't have a 2nd+3rd-rd pick— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) October 31, 2017
Something to keep in mind about Ajayi trade: Dolphins don’t believe he has much left in his knees. Longer-term play. Something to watch for.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) October 31, 2017
Source tells me Ajayi extremely combative with Dolphins coaching staff in recent weeks. Verbal confrontations.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) October 31, 2017
Ajayi gives #Eagles very reliable 1st and 2nd down RB. Team now has legitimate running game. He can handle volume of carries.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) October 31, 2017
Blount's inconsistency was part of why #Eagles made this deal. Ajayi's addition alleviates that issue. He'll be the main RB going fwd.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) October 31, 2017
The Dolphins are Howie's personal trade partner punching bag— Dan (@dklausner) October 31, 2017
eagles got a potentially elite RB for a 4th round pick that's still on his rookie deal and people are out here praising adam gase— charles mcdonald (@FourVerts) October 31, 2017
Eagles are not moving Blount from what I gather. He'll have a role there even after this trade— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 31, 2017
Subject: Some Thoughts on the Jay Ajayi Trade
Subject: Eagles-Dolphins Trade: Miami sends Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia for 2018 draft pick
Everything you need to know about the big deal!
The Philadelphia Eagles made a big deal with the Miami Dolphins prior to Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline. The Eagles now have a new lead running back after sending one of their three fourth-round selections in the 2018 NFL Draft to the Dolphins. Read on for everything you need to know about this trade!
Subject: Learning How to Finish: Four Observations from Sixers 115, Rockets 107
Subject: Eagles trade draft pick for Jay Ajayi: Grade the deal
Vote in the poll!
Now that there’s been time to react to the big deal, it’s time to put it to a vote: how you would grade this trade? Here’s a look at some of the positives and negatives.
- As I said all along, running back was a need for the Eagles. LeGarrette Blount has done some nice things this season; he ranks 11th in rushing yards and is averaging 4.7 yards per carry. But there are times when he’s not so effective. For example, he only has 77 yards on 30 carries over the last two weeks. He’s also only averaging 12.5 carries per game so it’s not like the 30-year-old is a total workhorse at this stage of his career.
- Now opposing defenses will have to deal with both Ajayi AND Blount. Those are two physically punishing rushers right there. Good luck tackling these dudes all game long.
- Ajayi’s presence means the Eagles are counting on Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner less. Smallwood is injury-prone and hasn’t been very effective this year. Clement gives great effort but his limitations are apparent. Barner ideally shouldn’t be seeing offensive playing time.
- Ajayi is only 24 years old and he’s signed cheap through 2018. The Eagles made a splash without significantly impacting their limited cap space.
- Blount is going to be a free agent after this season. He turns 31 in December so paying him could be tricky. Now the Eagles have an in-house replacement for him if/when this year is over.
- Ajayi potentially improves the Eagles’ pass protection from the RB position.
- The Eagles had three fourth-round picks so it wasn’t super difficult to give one up.
- The Eagles are serious about making a Super Bowl run this year. Howie Roseman isn’t content with settling. That’s nice to see.
- The Dolphins were willing to part with a talented player for a reason. There are concerns about Ajayi’s attitude and work ethic.
- There are also concerns about Ajayi’s knees.
- One has to wonder how the Ajayi addition will impact the Eagles locker room. Will Blount handle this move well? Is messing with the team’s chemistry a good idea after getting off to a 7-1 start?
- Ajayi is only averaging 3.4 yards per carry this season, which ranks 43rd out of 49 running backs. That’s not entirely his fault; it’s not like he’s had great blocking. Still, there are concerns about Ajayi’s tendency to try and make a big play at the risk of getting tackled for a loss or no gain.
- Ajayi isn’t a huge factor as a receiver. He has 48 catches in 31 career games.
- Even though the Eagles had three fourth rounders, they don’t have a Day 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. So now they’re only down to: a first, two fourths, two fifths, and a sixth.
My grade for this trade is an A- rating.
Great job my Roseman to be aggressive and take a chance on a talented player like Ajayi. Not unlike Blount, the guy is just really fun to watch. He runs hard and he’s fast. He can make big plays on the ground. He ran for over 200 yards in three games last season (back-to-back in one instance). That’s crazy.
The Eagles offense already dangerous. They own the NFL’s longest streak of consecutive 25+ point games. Now Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz have another weapon to work with.
There are some legitimate concerns with this deal, as I noted in the “negatives” section above. Overall, though, I think this is a trade worth making. Spending a fourth on Ajayi isn’t a major risk.
How about you? Grade the trade by voting in the poll below (click here if you can’t see it).
Subject: Jordan Hicks officially placed on Eagles injured reserve list
Hicks suffered a season-ending Achilles injury during the Eagles’ Monday night game against Washington in Week 7. Despite his injury status, however, the team carried him on the roster for a week. Now he’s officially on IR.
The Eagles are obviously using Hicks’ vacant roster spot to make room for the recently acquired running back Jay Ajayi. Philadelphia sent a 2018 fourth-round pick to Miami in exchange for the 2016 Pro Bowler.
If the Eagles make any more trades or roster moves moving forward, they’ll have to cut a player(s) to make room for them.
Here’s a complete list of the eight players the Eagles have lost to the IR list this season. There are some real key names on this list.
OT Jason Peters
LB Jordan Hicks
DT Aziz Shittu
WR Dom Williams
Subject: Just a Bad Loss: Seven Takeaways from Coyotes 4, Flyers 3
Subject: Jay Ajayi trade is another in a series of smart moves by the Eagles
No risks, no rewards
The Eagles trade for Jay Ajayi was a stunning one. And it looks like another in a line of smart acquisitions by the Eagles this season. While running back was certainly a need at today’s deadline, if the Eagles traded for one the expectation was for a rotational back who could be trusted in pass protection. They went further than that, adding a bonafide starter to a rushing attack that is already 5th in the league in yards per game. It’s a win-now move that also will pay dividends next year and possibly beyond, and is entirely in line with the Eagles personnel moves this season.
The Eagles’ plan this season has been pretty clear: get Carson Wentz a supporting cast that will enable him to take the next steps in his development, while adding pieces on both sides of the ball that can grow with him. Nothing about that plan is notable, as everyone else with a young QB tries to do that as well. It’s the aggressiveness with which they have done so that is impressive.
The Alshon Jeffery one year contract was bold and risky, but it’s paying off on two fronts: Jeffery has been a boon to the Eagles offense, but without putting up huge numbers (so far) it doesn’t look like it will be hard to keep him. The team took chances on Torrey Smith on the outside and Nelson Agholor on the inside, and they’re paying off as well, Smith has been the spacing deep threat they needed, and Agholor has turned his career around. LeGarrette Blount was also a risk, he’s been a great signing.
The risks of signing Blount—30 years old and coming off his highest workload—are another reason why the Eagles were wise to trade for Ajayi. With 100 carries and 4 receptions through 8 games, Blount is on track for the second highest workload of his career, marginally outpacing his current second highest workload season of 206 touches in his rookie season in 2010. At some point the tread falls off every running back’s tires, and the loss of Darren Sproles meant the Eagles had to lean on Blount more than intended, adding more wear and tear. Ajayi gives them a new lead back, and should keep Blount as fresh as can be. If and when Blount is grinding out first downs in January, this trade will be a factor.
However, as with every move, there are risks involved. Ajayi had reportedly worn out his welcome with Adam Gase, not “buying in to the team culture”, along with Jarvis Landry. Considering that the shine has come off Adam Gase this year, it all sounds a bit like Chip Kelly, but that Ajayi was apparently complaining about playing time in wins can’t be ignored. In his press conference on Monday, Doug Pederson said that given the strong locker room the Eagles have, fit would, at least for him, be a concern if a player was traded for. He might get a test with Ajayi, but with Pederson and his players seemingly pushing all the right buttons this year, the Eagles should trust that it will work out.
Ajayi’s lack of production is a concern, though context is key here. The Dolphins offensive line has been a mess this season, Ajayi’s 3.4 yards per carry is both terrible and by far the best on the team, with Damian Williams sporting a 2.7 yards per carry average and Kenyan Drake a 2.5. But they have just 22 total rushing attempts, a nearly worthless sample size beyond further indicating that the issues with the Dolphins run game starts in the trenches. There’s plenty of reason to think he will bounce back behind a good line. If there weren’t some warts Ajayi wouldn’t have been available in the first place.
Teams don’t get better by sitting still. Regardless of the outcome, the Eagles aggressive and at times unorthodox process of adding talent and young talent around Carson Wentz is a worthwhile plan that should hit more than it misses. The trade for Dorial Green-Beckham last year didn’t pan out, but like the Rueben Randle experiment it was a low risk move. Neither young receiver worked out, but they didn’t cost anything of value.
This year the Eagles have been even more aggressive, acquiring a 24 year old starting running back (Ajayi) and 23 year old starting cornerback (Ronald Darby), which were two of their biggest roster holes in 2017 and draft needs for 2018, for the cost of a 3rd, a 4th and free agent-to-be Jordan Matthews. (Spinning it back a bit, they got Derek Barnett and Jay Ajayi for Sam Bradford.) The chances that the players who will be taken with those picks are better than the players they were acquired for are slim, the risk in these trades is minimal. More teams should be making these types of moves. There’s still half a season to be played, but barring Alshon Jeffery signing elsewhere in free agency (and the Eagles then being unable to fill the void with a veteran) the team looks to have no desperate needs in the draft. That’s quite a turn around.
The Eagles continue to excel at trades, and with Carson Wentz as the franchise, they can increase the risks they take if they so chose. Given their smart shopping, they should choose to do so.
Subject: The Two O
Sean Couturier’s early third-period goal last night was his first power play tally in ... wait, how long??
Why’s that game against the Sens significant? Because it was the last time Couturier scored a power play goal prior to Monday night.
Yes, Couturier went an entire regular season’s worth of games between goals on the power play. Following that game against Ottawa, Couturier went four more regular season games in April 2016, one playoff game (before injuring his shoulder against the Capitals), all 66 games that he played in 2016-17, and 11 games this season before finally scoring again with the man-advantage on Monday night in Arizona.
Broad Street Hockey dot com has never been afraid to dabble in unabashed pro-Sean Couturier commentary, but the fact that he’s largely failed to produce points on the power play for a long time is no secret and something we’ve discussed in the past. One of the constants among the team’s struggles with its second power play unit over the past few years has been Couturier’s presence there, and coming into this year it was fair to ask whether he should be playing on the power play at all. Courtesy of Charlie O’Connor’s review of Couturier’s 2016-17 season:
Over the past four years, Couturier was granted 525:42 minutes at 5v4, primarily with the second unit. However, in those minutes, he’s been able to muster just 17 total points, with only six counting as primary points (goals and first assists).
For perspective, there have been 188 forwards over the past four seasons to skate in at least 400 minutes at 5v4. Couturier ranks 186th in Points per 60 among that group, at 1.94. In Primary Points/60, he’s dead last at 0.68. Jori Lehtera is the next worst primary point producer — at 1.14, nearly double Couturier’s rate.
But an interesting thing happened last night: Couturier’s goal came while he was out with the top power play unit, not the second one. This change may have first taken place in Saturday’s game in Toronto, but many observers at the time seemed to think that Couturier was only out in Valtteri Filppula’s spot because Filppula had been on the ice for a long shift right before that power play started.
On Monday night, though, Couturier was there again, and it seems clear that this is going to be a thing for at least the short-term future.
I noted it in my column, but Couturier confirmed after the game that his time in the slot on PP1 wasn't a one-off. It's his job now.— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) October 31, 2017
Couturier’s sudden presence on the top power play unit is most likely attributable to the hot start that he’s had elsewhere. His seven goals entering Monday night led the Flyers, and all seven of those came at even strength. Are the Flyers trying to seize on Couturier’s strong start and carry it over to other areas of the game? Is the chemistry that he’s shown with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek what got him this role between them on the power play?
If so, one has to think that Couturier won’t be waiting 18 months and two offseasons to get his next power play goal. The spot in the high slot on the top power play has historically treated its past residents — such as Scott Hartnell and Brayden Schenn — pretty well. Even Filppula, a pass-first and pass-second kind of player, scored three power play goals in the first month of this season from that spot.
Couturier’s past struggles on the power play deserved the scrutiny that they received, but he may be a better fit stylistically in the high slot than he is at the half-wall, where he’s spent most of his time with the second power play unit. Combine that fit with the high-end personnel that the Flyers have on their top power play and the clear opportunity that a spot with them presents, and Couturier should be in the best position to succeed on the power play that he’s ever been in at the NHL level.
The inability of Sean Couturier to reach the 40-point mark during each season of his career as an NHLer can largely be attributed to his struggles on the power play. But if he’s able to turn his early success into a full-time spot with the top unit? Coupled with the blazing-hot start he’s off to at even strength? He could hit 40 points by the All-Star Break.
Subject: Choo-Choo! Here Comes The Jay Train to Finish Off the NFC East
Subject: NFL Power Rankings 2017: Week 9 Edition
Ranking all 32 NFL Teams.
Week 8 of the 2017 NFL regular season schedule is in the books. Now it's time to see where all 32 teams rank. For reference purposes, here is a link to last week's NFL Power Rankings.
BLG's WEEK 9 NFL POWER RANKINGS
1 - Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: 1) - The Eagles didn’t play a great game against the 49ers but still won 33 to 10 anyway. Credit to Jim Schwartz and the Philadelphia defense for picking up the slack on a day where Carson Wentz wasn’t at his best. The Eagles are still in sole possession of the NFL’s best record and best point differential. ALSO: the Eagles just traded for Jay Ajayi so that’s another big weapon for them.
2 - Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 2) - Pittsburgh’s defense continues to look strong while the offense has no shortage of weapons. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Nelson Agholor are showing that maybe USC skill players can succeed in the NFL after all.
3 - New England Patriots (LW: 3) - Only beat the Chargers by one possession at home, but a win is a win. New England’s quarterback depth took a hit by trading Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers. The Pats would be screwed if Tom Brady gets hurt anyway but now even more so.
4 - Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 4) - After losing two in a row, the Chiefs bounced back with a win over Denver. It was a good week for KC since the rest of the AFC West lost. Andy Reid is set to run away with that division.
5 - New Orleans Saints (LW: 5) - Make it five in a row for the Saints. New Orleans Saints only beat the Bears at home by one possession, so it’s not like they were dominant, but they still got the win.
6 - Seattle Seahawks (LW: 6) - Seattle looked unusually vulnerable at home against the Texans. It took a late effort to win. The Seahawks boosted their roster on Monday night by adding Duane Brown at left tackle. It wasn’t cheap for them, but they desperately needed offensive line help. As some might say, the rich get richer.
8 - Buffalo Bills (LW: 8) - The 5-2 Bills have won four out of their last five games. Buffalo is undefeated at home this season, where they’re outscoring opponents by an average of 27.8 to 17.3.
10 - Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 10) - Bye week. Jacksonville’s defense got potentially even tougher with the addition or Marcell Dareus. Up next: home game versus Cincy.
12 - Atlanta Falcons (LW: 14) - Much-needed bounce back game after losing three in a row.
13 - Houston Texans (LW: 15) - I’m moving the Texans up despite their loss because they showed great effort by going toe-to-toe with the Seahawks in Seattle. Deshaun Watson is looking like the real deal.
15 - Detroit Lions (LW: 12) - The Lions have lost three in a row. They’re 1-4 in their last five games.
16 - Green Bay Packers (LW: 11) - Bye week. Next up: a home game against the Lions.
17 - Baltimore Ravens (LW: 27) - Not really sold on this Ravens team, but a 40-0 win is pretty good no matter how you slice it.
18 - Washington Redskins (LW: 18) - Washington’s season outlook ain’t looking so hot. They just lost to Dallas and they’re dealing with a lot of injury issues.
Broncos have scored 29 points in their last 3 games combined. 9.7 average. 3 TD in last 40 drives.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 31, 2017
Up next: at Eagles on a short week.
20 - New York Jets (LW: 20) - The Jets have lost three in a row, but all three games have been close. They’re not lacking effort.
21 - Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 21) - The Bolts lost by eight points in Foxborough. There are worse losses to be suffered. Travis Benjamin’s inexplicably terrible punt return (watch here) didn’t do the Chargers any favors in this game.
22 - Tennessee Titans (LW: 23) - Bye week. Now they’ll play a home game against the Ravens.
24 - Oakland Raiders (LW: 22) - The Raiders defense hasn’t been looking so hot. They’ve allowed an average of 27.8 points in their last four games.
25 - Miami Dolphins (LW: 16) - Pathetic 40-0 loss on Thursday Night Football. They’ll be moving forward without one of their most talented players in Ajayi.
26 - Chicago Bears (LW: 24) - The Bears finally let Mitchell Trubisky pass the ball! And it wasn’t pretty. He finished 14/32 for 164 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, and a 46.9 passer rating.
28 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 28) - This team is looking like trash. Dirk Koetter should be on the hot seat after four straight losses.
29 - New York Giants (LW: 29) - Bye week. With the Rams coming to town, the G-Men are staring 1-7 right in the face.
30 - Indianapolis Colts (LW: 30) - Only lost to the Bengals in Cincy by one point. Moral victory!
31 - San Francisco 49ers (LW: 31) - C.J. Beathard got beaten to a pulp as the 49ers dropped to 0-8 on Sunday. The good news is they’ve got an actual quarterback with a pulse now after trading for Jimmy Garoppolo. Their season outlook is a little brighter.
32 - Cleveland Browns (LW: 32) - You know what time it is.
Subject: Eagles announce jersey number for Jay Ajayi
Formerly worn by a great Eagles player.
It’s a number that’s obviously associated with one of the greatest Eagles running backs in franchise history: Brian Westbrook.
The reality is that Ajayi didn’t have a lot of numbers to pick him. He couldn’t wear his Miami Dolphins number, No. 23, because Rodney McLeod owns that jersey. Ajayi’s college number, No. 27, is occupied by the Eagles’ other starting safety: Malcolm Jenkins.
The only numbers Ajayi had to choose from were: 25, 37, 46, or 49. 25 wasn’t a real option, either, because the Eagles haven’t handed that out since LeSean McCoy, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, was traded in 2015. The other numbers are pretty garbage.
36 wasn’t even truly available to Ajayi but the Eagles took it away from practice squad cornerback DeVante Bausby to give it to him.
It probably won’t be long before Eagles Ajayi jerseys go on sale. Now you know what number he’ll be wearing if you want to purchase one of those.
Subject: Six spooky ice-sport stories, starring the Flyers
These are all definitely real.
You meet your friends at Xfinity Live, an hour before the game is supposed to start. The idea of so many people so close together unnerves you in some small, silly way, but you go anyway. You promised yourself you’d put in an appearance. You watch the game, and you begin to enjoy yourself.
You get an order of nachos, four Bud Lights, and three whiskey sours over the course of several hours. When the game is over, you ask the bartender to cash you out. You tap your fingers idly on the bar, waiting as they smile behind the cash register and as they then slip you the thin receipt.
Total: $1,356.59. The bartender laughs at you, and suddenly the laughter infects the dying room, spreading like wildfire. You turn, eyes wide, to see two hundred people pointing at you, mouths sliced wide in sick, open smiles. They yell. They jeer. You feel tears prick at your eyes. You think you’ll suggest Chickie’s next time.
The first time you hear it, you think it’s something from the PA system. It’s so loud, so clear. A wolf’s wild howl just before the Flyers take the ice for warm-ups. No one jolts the way you do. You ignore it. It must be new. You may not get it, but you accept it.
The second time you hear it, you realize it’s not being hosed in at all. It’s slightly deeper in tone than before, coming from the bowels of the building, and it sends a shiver up your back. Your friend is standing up against the glass, banging on it trying to get Sean Couturier’s attention.
“Hey,” you say, tugging lightly on their sweater, “what was that?”
Your friend turns back to you, eyes narrowed.
“What do you mean?” they ask.
“The...howl?” you say. “It was loud as fuck.”
“It was Travis Konecny,” they say, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world.
“What do you mean?” you ask.
“God, you’re such a fake fan,” they smile at you, shoving at your shoulder. “He’s a werewolf.”
“I--,” you start, but you don’t know how to finish, so you just shut up.
The third time you hear it, you don’t just hear it. You see it. Your seats are by the tunnel, so you watch as Travis Konecny steps forward just a little, half of his face illuminated, half drenched in shadow. He hunches his shoulders. Suddenly, you watch as his teeth tear into a young rabbit. He swallows before he bays into the cool, recycled air, and your whole body shakes in fear. He smiles, and you feel the image burned in your eyes like a hot iron on flesh. When you close your eyes in the evenings, you’re sure that you will see his mouth stained red and that you will hear his howl, a shriek that will echo throughout your nightmares.
The Flyers have lost eight in a row, each loss more embarrassing than the last. You shut the television off in a fit of rage after they lose a ninth. Immediately, you open the Twitter application on your phone and begin typing an expletive-filled tweet to the official Flyers account.
You’re done with this team. You consider giving your jerseys to Goodwill. There is no improvement. There is no change of direction. You simply cannot support this organization. You spend some time researching other hockey teams to support. You could be a Blue Jackets fan, you think. Maybe. Sure. You’ll give it a shot. You rub at your eyes until you see stars. Maybe the Dallas Stars. You don’t know. You lay awake that night. Sleep does not come to you the easy way it normally does.
You toss to the side. You crush your pillow under a fist, trying to make it more comfortable. You turn for several minutes more. You reach over to grab your phone off the night table. You pull up Stubhub. Your brake cables are cut. You are a shameless vulture. Tickets are twenty bucks.
Every goal against, you see him. Just behind the net. Staring at you. Staring into you, staring through you. A tall figure, cloaked in black, hovering just an inch above the ice. He glows all around, an icy white that attracts the eye. His face is just a shadow, but you can see his eyes through the impenetrable shade, dark green and gleaming like priceless emeralds.
Every time someone falls, every time the puck hits net and the fans sigh with heavy chests, there he is. It fills your stomach with concrete, threatens to carry you to the bottom of the Delaware.
Soon, he follows you. You try to run. He finds you. He always finds you. Soon, you stop running. There is no point. He is in your rearview window. He is at the end of your bed. You see him in the trees and in the sea. You find him at the bottom of your basement stairs, and at the apex of your attic. He is everywhere, you realize. He is everywhere, and he is nowhere. When he reveals his face, you knew. You knew all along. Of course it’s him. 47, he whispers, sharp-toothed and bitter. You scream with an open throat tilted skyward, blood curdling in your veins like hot milk.
“The #Flyers have traded Shayne Gostisbehere and a 2018 first and a 2019 second round pick to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Johnny Gaudreau,” you read.
I’m dreaming, you think.
For the first time in your life, you realize why people try pinching themselves. You pinch the skin of your forearm. Pain. You try your leg. Pain. You’re awake. Johnny Gaudreau is a Philadelphia Flyer. Your heart aches for Shayne Gostisbehere, and you know you will miss him, but the joy overwhelms your sadness.
That evening, you tuck yourself around your spouse and dream happily of the line combinations, of the celebrations and the smiles that will surely come. You wake in the night, a sickness in your gut. You need to check again. It wasn’t a dream, though.
You know it’s not a dream when, the next day, the Flyers flip Johnny Gaudreau for Shea Weber, and you cry. Stigmatas open on your hands. You cry. “I’m happy to finally be back in Philadelphia,” Weber says. He was never here in the first place, you think wildly, trying to clear the blood from your eyes.
They finally bring the Cup back to Broad Street. The parade is scheduled the week after. The city buzzes with joy, the streets of littered with the wreckage of the party. The sun shines high in the sky, bright blue and dotted pleasantly with clouds. You stand on the edge of the sidewalk, just barely off the street. You’ve pissed in a bottle three times already. Alcohol warms your stomach, and sweat sits on your brow. They will be passing by soon. You raise yourself up on tiptoes. You catch a glimpse. The brightest silver you’ve ever seen, white in the sun. It nearly blinds you, so you shield your eyes before the trucks roll down the street. Orange, white, and black confetti rains down from Heaven. I will never be happier than I am in this moment, you think, taking it in. This will last me a lifetime.
Mike Richards turns and waves. You tamp down a scream. A young Claude Giroux locks eyes with you and winks before crushing a beer on his forehead and letting it drench him. You laugh, but the day spirals away from you. You feel yourself tumbling off a cliff. You fall into a mattress. You wake up, rustling in sheets that have tangled around your legs. You fall from your bed, and realize you’ve pissed yourself in the night.
The Flyers lost Game 6 to the Chicago Blackhawks seven years ago. The puck is still missing.
Subject: Source: The Sixers Will Not Pick Up Jahlil Okafor
Subject: NFL trade deadline passes without Eagles acquiring an offensive tackle
Sticking with what they’ve got.
The 2017 NFL trade deadline has passed without the Philadelphia Eagles making a major deal.
But one thing the Eagles did NOT do is acquire an offensive tackle before the deadline passed. Several reports indicated Philly was looking for a tackle, but ultimately a deal failed to materialize. The Duane Brown trade, which ended up being expensive for the Seahawks, likely caused the market price to be too high for the Eagles’ interest.
And so the Eagles will move forward with Halapoulivaati Vaitai as their starting left tackle in absence of Jason Peters. Isaac Seumalo will continue to be the top backup to Vaitai and Lane Johnson. After Seumalo, it’s former defensive tackle Taylor Hart. Former tight end Dillon Gordon is on the practice squad. So, yeah, that’s not very encouraging depth.
If the Eagles want to add another tackle to the roster, they’ll have to do it through free agency at this point. It’s worth noting the Eagles worked out two offensive linemen on Monday.
Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was asked how he feels about the team’s offensive line on Tuesday.
We draft and develop players, and V [Halapoulivaati Vaitai] was probably one of the most improved players on our football team during training camp, and you draft those guys, you develop them, you put them through the program so that they get opportunities like this. We have a lot of confidence in him and the rest of the offensive line is intact and we have some veteran players behind that that have started games and been success in the National Football League.
So I guess to answer your question: Good.
Subject: The Giants suspended ANOTHER player for violating team rules
What a mess.
DRC eventually returned and the Giants even won a football game (!) since then but don’t worry, they’re still a huge mess.
The latest example is that starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins has now become the second Giants player to be suspended indefinitely by the franchise in just the past several weeks.
Jenkins is set to miss the Giants’ game against the 5-2 Los Angeles Rams this week. There’s a very good chance New York drops to 1-7 after this week’s game.
While it would ultimately be ideal if the Giants could pick up some meaningless wins in order to hurt their draft position, that just seems like a fruitless exercise at this point. They’re a total mess.
I can’t stress enough how great it is the Giants kept McAdoo before the Eagles could hire him. The guy clearly has no control over his team’s locker room.
Doug Pederson, meanwhile, is looking like a Coach of the Year candidate after leading Philly to a 7-1 start.
Subject: What the Jay Ajayi trade means for the Philadelphia Eagles