Subject: Crossing Broadcast: Jay Ajayi and Bronzed Balls
Subject: 8 winners and 1 loser from the first half of the Eagles season
We’re halfway through a ridiculous Eagles season. Let’s take a moment to reflect and take stock of the winners and losers of the Eagles season so far. Spoiler alert: everyone is a winner.
We’re going to run out of platitudes at the rate this season is going. At the halfway mark, Wentz is as strong of an MVP candidate as anyone in the league. The 49ers game was his worst of the season and in it he threw two touchdowns and the offense scored 26 points. He’s cleaned up his deep ball issues from the beginning of the season, to go along with improving just about every aspect of his game. He needs to be better against the blitz, but he’s still young and that should improve with experience. Carson Wentz, baby, he’s our baby.
I’m going to wait until the season ends so we have a full body of work to discuss and appreciate but hoo boy do I—and many others—need to find a good crow dish to cook. (Crow l’orange? I’m thinking crow marsala, or parm.) The first few weeks weren’t an aberration: Nelson Agholor is a good player and key cog to this offense. He’s found a great home in the slot.
What was a weakness is now a strength: the Eagles have a good group of WRs. His poor route against the 49ers aside, Mack Hollins deserves more playing time, and he’s getting it. He might take over Torrey Smith’s starting job, which says as much about Hollins as it does Smith. Marcus Johnson has looked good when he’s played, not bad for a 5th stringer. The Eagles now have not just depth but young depth to surround their 25 year old quarterback.
Brandon Graham is on pace for double digit sacks, and Fletcher Cox has an even better sacks per game rate. Derek Barnett is looking every bit like the player he was drafted to be. Ten different players already have a sack. The Eagles pass rush is meeting its lofty expectations, and there’s still room to improve as they’re not even top 10 in sack rate.
Like Nelson Agholor, the early season success of the secondary wasn’t a mirage, these guys can play. Jalen Mills is a legitimate starter. Rasul Douglas has been solid, which is all you can realistically ask for from a rookie. Patrick Robinson has been a free agency steal. Cornerback is still the weakest unit on the Eagles defense, but it hasn’t been the liability we expected.
Owner of the best record in the NFL. Head coach and play caller of a second year MVP candidate quarterback and 4th highest scoring offense. Maybe he’s catching a lot of breaks, or maybe he’s a pretty good coach. The truth is probably, as usual, somewhere in between, but today that doesn’t matter: midway through the season, Doug Pederson is a big winner in every sense.
Howie Roseman/Joe Douglas
Roseman and Douglas have had a stellar season in veteran acquisitions. Every player the Eagles acquired in the spring with the intention of giving playing time to has performed: Alshon Jeffery is altering defenses. Torrey Smith is creating space underneath. LeGarrette Blount is producing. Tim Jernigan has been a big addition. Patrick Robinson has been huge. Chris Long is an effective rotational piece. Corey Graham has been a nice depth player. And we have yet to see what Ronald Darby can do but there’s every reason to think he’ll be good.
And then BOY THEY DONE DID IT. The Ajayi trade is a terrific move. With Wentz arriving ahead of schedule, the team is in a position where it can flip picks for players to fill holes. With the Eagles one of the few top-to-bottom good teams in a strange season, there might never be a better time than now. To get a bonafide starting talent at a position of need for cheap in both trade value and cap space is a hell of a move.
Carson Wentz. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The Flyers busload of prospects and young players. Whatever the Phillies are doing, I guess (is Rhys Hoskins the real deal?). It’s a new dawn in Philadelphia.
The Eagles have the best record in the league and just added more talent, so there’s no complaints. But they’ve lost three key players for the season to injury in Darren Sproles, Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks, and a fourth, Ronald Darby, has missed all but half a game, a dark cloud on an otherwise sunny day. Every team suffers injuries, but the Eagles have been hit pretty hard in the quality of them. At the halfway point, it feels like injuries are the only thing stopping this team from going far. The injuries that have already happened might be the drag that slows the team down.
Subject: Examining Jay Ajayi
Subject: Eagles News: Dolphins writer says Jay Ajayi trade is a
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 11/1/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
Spin this however you like, Dolphins trading Ajayi for 4th-round pick still comes out dumb - Miami Herald
The Miami Dolphins beat Tuesday's NFL trade deadline by making a very good, smart move. Alas, it was a very good, smart move for the Philadelphia Eagles. For the Dolphins, it was a very bad, dumb move or at the very least a perplexing one defying logic. The team can spin this any way this wish in an attempt to justify the trade, but I'm not buying it and I doubt most fans are, either.
What the Jay Ajayi trade means for the Eagles - BGN
How do the Eagles handle their running back situation moving forward? There are now five RBs on the roster. Who is the odd man out? (Hint: things not looking so great for Wendell Smallwood).
LeGarrette Blount still the starter, but Jay Ajayi could be Eagles' long-term RB solution - PhillyVoice
“All that stuff, playing time, is sorted out by the coaches, but LeGarrette continues to be our starter,” Roseman added. “We’re just really excited to have that group and add a good player.” “LeGarrette’s been productive when he’s gotten the ball,” Roseman said, adding that Blount took the trade news well. “He’s a warrior and he’s a two-time Super Bowl champion. And we’re really glad to have him. You know, I really shouldn’t get into starter roles – that’s really up to the coaches – but we’re counting on LeGarrette going forward."
More on Ajayi - Iggles Blitz
I went back and watched Jay Ajayi play against the Falcons (26-130) and the Ravens (13-23) to get a better feel for him. I came away very impressed. Ajayi is strong enough to break tackles and not go down on first contact. He’s also elusive enough to make defenders miss. That combination makes him a dangerous runner. LeGarrette Blount can run guys over, but he can’t do this.
Thoughts on the Jay Ajayi trade for the Eagles - Inquirer
You never know how a trade will work out until you see the player in his new situation, but I view this as a relatively low-risk price for a potentially big reward. Ajayi can be a difference-making running back, and he’s only 24. I’ve written before that running back is a weak spot on the Eagles’ roster even though they’ve been productive through the first two months. Not anymore. With Ajayi arriving, this is a much-improved backfield. The Eagles are a better team than they were when you received the Tuesday newsletter. That’s a good sign for a 7-1 team.
A peek behind curtain shows Eagles needed RB like Ajayi - NBC Sports Philadelphia
He's 24 years old, he's got a cap-friendly contract, he had a Pro Bowl season a year ago, and the Eagles are a better football team today than they were yesterday. You never want to give away draft picks, but this is a football team that's on the brink of some pretty special things, and when you're in the position the Eagles are in — 7-1 with a six-game winning streak and your eye on the No. 1 seed in the NFC — you do everything you can to get better. When you look at the Eagles' collection of running backs, you have a bunch of guys who've contributed in various ways this year but also a bunch of guys who also carry significant question marks.
Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount give Philly NFL's most bruising backfield - ESPN
Opposing defenses might want to buckle their chin straps extra tight when facing the Philadelphia Eagles. On Tuesday, the No. 4 rushing team in football added the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Jay Ajayi, acquired from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round pick. He joins a backfield that to this point has been led by the 6-foot, 250-pound LeGarrette Blount. Philly now has two of the top bruising backs in all of the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, Ajayi ranks first (81) and Blount third (69) in most forced missed tackles since 2016. That's some serious force lining up behind MVP candidate Carson Wentz.
Dolphins trade RB Jay Ajayi to Eagles - Pro Football Focus
Ajayi had a breakout year in the 2016 season as he ranked third in the NFL in PFF’s elusive rating with a mark of 76.0. Furthermore, Ajayi led the league with 58 forced missed tackles on runs, which was 11 more than what second-ranked Jonathan Stewart racked up. In addition, Ajayi ranked second in the league with 3.46 yards after contact.
Dolphins trade Jay Ajayi to Eagles - The Phinsider
Earlier this week, head coach Adam Gase had stated that he would look to get rid of players who were not buying into the system, and Ajayi seemed to be one of the players he was discussing. Now, it appears confirmed that Gase was frustrated with the performance from his running back, and the team has moved on from their 2015 fifth-round pick.
Roseman: Building For Now And The Future - PE.com
The old saying in the NFL is that if you are staying still, you are really going backward. So the Eagles, as they approached the league’s trade deadline at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, kept their ears and eyes open, understanding the opportunity for the rest of the season in front of them. And then a name popped up on the radar screen that Howie Roseman and the personnel department couldn’t ignore: Running back Jay Ajayi ...
Why the Ajayi acquisition made sense for Howie Roseman - The Athletic
It's easy to feel confident in the culture of your locker room with a 7-1 record, but as Sheil Kapadia wrote earlier this week, there are some tangible reasons to believe that's not just empty boasting. And more importantly, there's some reason to believe that the situation in Miami was toxic to begin with. Having a better organization than the Dolphins should be an easy bar to clear. Frankly, the concerns about Ajayi's character seem secondary. The bigger reason to worry might be his long-term health. He fell to the fifth round of the 2015 draft because his knees are bombed out and depleted, and the Dolphins have kept him out of practices for precaution's sake throughout his career. He's also had concussion issues since entering the league. Certainly, the Dolphins have more information on Ajayi's health than the Eagles, even if he did pass the physical.
Analysis: Why would the Miami Dolphins trade Jay Ajayi? - Palm Beach Post
The Miami Dolphins felt they were better off without Jay Ajayi, make no mistake. Coach Adam Gase had warned that he was going to play the players he felt knew what to do, whether the fans liked it or not. Gase had warned that he was going to find the players to do what he wanted, how he wanted, or he would play somebody else. It was embarrassing to Gase, the offensive play-caller, the offensive guru, to be at the head of the worst offense in the NFL. And something had to change.
Jay Ajayi Trade: Grading the Eagles' Move at NFL Trade Deadline - SI.com
The presence of a Pro Bowl-caliber running back also adds to the matchup issues the Eagles can already create with their current set of weapons, thus taking stress off Wentz’s shoulders. It was thrilling last Monday to watch Wentz scramble and wheel his way around an advancing Washington defense, but it also has to be terrifying for the coaching staff. Blount is a great power runner, especially as a closer late in games when worn down teams don’t feel like dealing with a runaway bus. Ajayi attacks with a different style and speed, as does Smallwood. Through the cold November and December slog, this is a trio of running backs good enough to lift a team in quarterback-neutral contests.
The Winners and Losers From the NFL Trade Deadline - The Ringer
Then again, Ajayi’s going from a very bad team without a quarterback in Miami to a very good team with one of the league’s rising superstar signal-callers in Philly. The Eagles have a great defense and are legitimate Super Bowl contenders―and as the old saying goes, winning cures all ills. Ajayi might actually benefit from a decreased volume of touches, especially if the report that the Dolphins front office made the trade because they fear that “knee issues stemming from a significant 2011 surgery are finally catching up to him.” Fewer carries equals fresher legs. Fresher legs equals more burst. More burst equals more broken tackles and breakaway runs.
Elway: Quarterback position “under evaluation right now” - Mile High Report
All signs point to a change at the quarterback position.
4 stats to know as Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos gear up for Week 9 meeting - PennLive
Denver's minus-11 turnover differential is the second-worst mark in the NFL. Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian has struggled to get into a rhythm all season, and he’s failed to protect the ball. Siemian’s thrown 10 interceptions this year, including six in the past three games. Denver’s stingy defense hasn’t been playing with many leads and haven’t produced takeaways at a high rate, accounting for just six on the season.
NFL Panic Index 2017, Week 9: Winners and losers from the trade deadline - SB Nation
The Eagles surprised us all by trading for now-former Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi. The Eagles sent a fourth-round pick for Ajayi, who should fit in flawlessly with LeGarrette Blount in the Eagles’ backfield. Blount has already been having a good season for the Eagles. On 100 rushes, he’s got 467 yards and two touchdowns. Blount is a very powerful back who will still be the starter per Howie Roseman. But Ajayi adds relief. In 2016, Ajayi had three games in which he rushed for at least 200 yards. He finished fourth in the NFL with 1,272 yards. Although his numbers were down this year in a lifeless Dolphins offense, Ajayi still ha promise — and he’s just 24 years old. Now, the Eagles’ offense features the two backs and one of the best pairs of WR1 and WR2s in the league. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor have combined for over 800 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Let’s also not forget about Zach Ertz, who leads the team in receiving yards (528) and touchdowns (6). Oh, and Carson Wentz has been pretty good too. He’s thrown for over 2,000 yards to go with his 19 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He’s looking like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now and a real MVP candidate.
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Subject: Your Wednesday Morning Roundup
Subject: Jalen Mills named NFC Defensive Player of the Week
Congrats to the Green Goblin.
Mills finished the game with three tackles (two solo), one tackle for loss, one pass deflection, and — most impressively — a pick-six that really gave the Eagles a spark. You can re-watch the play below:
Just a really good return by the second-year defensive back.
No one will be mistaking Mills for an elite, shutdown corner, but there’s no denying he’s given the Eagles some good moments this season. He ranks third in the league in interceptions (3) and passes defensed (10). Mills has certainly exceeded expectations relative to his draft position as a seventh-round pick in 2016.
Here’s a fun fact: Mills is the first Eagles cornerback to win a Defensive Player of the Week award since all the way back in 2007. Can you guess who it was?
(Jeopardy music plays)
Subject: The Flyers Halloween spooktacular!
The gang talks Flyers, Wayne Simmonds, and who might get a call up in a special Halloween edition of BSH radio!
On this Halloween episode of BSH Radio, the gang discusses potential revenge against Toronto for the Ghost injury, Sean Couturier’s continued offensive explosion and the progress the rookie defensemen have made in the season’s opening month. Steph does her best to out-nerd Charlie, while Bill and Kelly are the only ones who know how to pronounce “Reese’s Cup.”
Subject: Comcast Spectacor is Jumping on the eSports Bandwagon
Subject: Brock Osweiler to start at quarterback for Broncos against Eagles
The Denver Broncos are making a quarterback change. 2017 starter Trevor Siemian has been benched. The Broncos will be starting Brock Osweiler against the Eagles in Philadelphia this week, according to Mike Klis of 9News.
This change doesn’t come as a surprise considering how poorly Siemian has played this season. Through seven starts this season, Siemian has completed 61.5% of his passes for 1,669 yards (6.8 average), nine touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a mere 76.8 passer rating.
Siemian’s struggles have contributed to a Broncos offense that’s looked awful lately. Denver has only managed to score 29 points in their last three games combined (9.7 average). The Broncos have only scored three touchdowns in their last 40 drives.
Although benching Siemian was an obvious decision, it’s not like Osweiler inspires a ton of confidence. In 37 career games played, Osweiler has completed 59.8% of his passes for 5,101 yards (6.2 average), 26 touchdowns, 22 interceptions, and a 77.3 passer rating. He’s also fumbled nine times.
There was thought Osweiler was going to take over for Peyton Manning when the future Hall of Fame quarterback retired after Denver’s Super Bowl win, but Osweiler ended up signing with the Texans in free agency instead. Osweiler was unsurprisingly awful in Houston. He was so bad that the Texans had to give up a second-round pick to Cleveland just to get rid of him and his terrible contract. He spent the 2017 offseason with the Browns before they released him in final cuts this summer.
Osweiler is 13-8 in 21 career starts, which is misleading because it’s not like he’s been the reason behind those wins. The 6-7, 243 pound passer has benefited from playing on teams with great defenses.
The good news for Brock is that the Broncos still have a good defense. Denver will provide a challenge for a high-flying Eagles offense in Philly.
But the Eagles also have a defense that’s been playing well recently, so Osweiler’s job won’t be easy.
The Birds are big 8-point favorites heading into Sunday’s game. A win for the Eagles would mean being at 8-1 heading into their Week 10 bye.
Subject: Former 97.5 Program Director Matt Nahigian Is Headed To San Francisco
Subject: Flyers vs. Blackhawks preview: It
How many times are we going to see the Kane OT goal tonight?
Can someone please explain to me how meeting in the Stanley Cup Final one time, a time that shall never be mentioned again, equals a rivalry? No? Got it.
The Flyers face-off tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks, looking to bounce back from an overtime loss at the hands of the formerly winless Arizona Coyotes. The Blackhawks enter the contest just 5-5-2 having lost their previous three games. Both teams are coming in looking for redemption in a big way so hey, maybe there actually will be some heated action that NBC wants from Wednesday Night Rivalry.
One of the main storylines for the Flyers: center Nolan Patrick and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere will not be joining the team for the next two games in the Midwest. Both were placed on IR and defenseman Will O’Neill was recalled from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
PHI point leaders
- Jakub Voracek - 16 points (2G, 14A)
- Sean Couturier - 15 points (9G, 6A)
- Claude Giroux - 14 points (6G, 8A)
CHI point leaders
- Patrick Kane - 12 points (5G, 7A)
- Ryan Hartman - 10 points (4G, 6A)
- Brandon Saad - 9 points (6G, 3A)
Team metrics breakdown
- Flyers CF%: 49.20
- Hawks CF%: 48.93
These two are back to back in team CF% rankings, Flyers are 18th, Hawks 19th. The main difference however has been corsi against: the Hawks sit 24th in the league in that category while the Flyers sit 17th.
- Flyers xGF%: 51.33
- Hawks xGF%: 46.95
Unlike the difference in corsi, the difference in expected goals for is extremely noticeable right off the bat. Despite being 19th in the league in expected goals for, the Flyers edge the Blackhawks in this category by a wide margin. The reason is while the Hawks sit 12th in expected goals for, they are 27th in the NHL in expected goals against. What I’m trying to say is, the Hawks defense has been pretty brutal.
- Flyers PDO: 100.71
- Hawks PDO: 103.5
As you may have expected already, the Hawks goaltending has bailed them out so far this season. Corey Crawford has been outstanding for Chicago posting a .935 save percentage in his 10 games this season. His backup Anton Forsberg, by comparison, has allowed 11 goals in his three games including being pulled in the Colorado game.
The Corsica.hockey prediction models favor Chicago tonight by a margin of 53.8 to 46.2.
Subject: NFL Draft Prospect of the Week: Joshua Jackson
After only starting one game last year for the Iowa Hawkeyes, cornerback Joshua Jackson is one of the biggest impact players on their defense. The 6’1”, 200 pound redshirt junior has length, physicality, a great demeanor and is coming off the best game of his career.
Big 10 games are classically low scoring boxing matches and Iowa’s 17-10 win over Minnesota was no different. Minnesota had no passing touchdowns and only completed nine passes and the Gophers inefficiency can be largely attributed to Joshua Jackson locking down their wide receivers. Jackson was on the Minnesota receivers like white on rice in a snowstorm. He had four impressive pass breakups, including a key play in the end zone where he batted away a pass directly into the hands of another defender for a turnover.
Jackson is only a one year starter so it will be interesting to see if he trends towards entering the draft. He certainly has the build and tools NFL teams are looking for, even if he may lack the experience. If he continues to play at such a high level, however, the drat does not seem like something that would be out of reach for him.
Other performances of note:
- Ronald Jones, Running Back, USC: Ronald Jones turned in yet another stellar performance against, this time against ASU. On only 18 carries, Jones eclipsed 200 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns. His speed continues to be too much for defenses this year and his ability to break through tackles makes him even more dangerous.
- Harrison Phillips, Defensive Interior, Stanford: Stanford ran into a bit of a scare against a lowly Oregon State team last week but were able to escape due to their defense holding steady for four quarters. Most disruptive was their senior defensive tackle, Harrison Phillips. He was a monster against the run all night and Oregon State was left helpless trying to block him most of the time. The 6’4”, 295 pound defender is up to 3.5 sacks and 7 TFLs this year and he could be this year’s Stanford defender to keep an eye on.
- Maurice Hurst, Defensive Interior, Michigan: Speaking of defensive linemen; Maurice Hurst turned in another stellar performance against Rutgers. He got after the passer and made plays against the run; never giving the Knights a chance to get their day started. Hurst may only have 2.5 sacks this year but his 10 tackles for a loss indicate the type of disruptive player he is.
- Arrion Springs, Cornerback, Oregon: Arrion Springs continues his strong senior season with a three PBU effort against Utah in a blow out win for the Ducks. The impact defender has gotten his hands on at least one pass in all but one game this season and he should be a riser come this spring.
- Tremaine Edmunds, Linebacker, Virginia Tech: One of two Edmunds brothers making plays on the Hokie defense; Tremaine Edmunds turned in a stellar effort against Duke last week. He is a multifaceted weapon on defense who can cover, attack the run and rush the passer. Should be exciting to see his prospects rise.
Subject: Checking out the competition: Chicago Blackhawks with Satchel Price
Everyone is super high on their teams!
Leading into tonight’s Rivalry Night matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks, Steph Driver sat down with Satchel Price of Second City Hockey and to chat about what we can expect from these two teams. Discussion points included:
- The Blackhawks have lost three straight, congratulations on your upcoming victory!
- Which Flyer is going to get concussed from an uncalled boarding?
- Do you hate us like we hate you?
- When are you changing that godforsaken goal song????
Subject: Flyers shot selection, 5-on-5 goal scoring improved in October, but there
Not bad Flyers, not bad
In the month of October, the Flyers went 6-5-1 in 12 games good for 13 points and two points ahead of Boston, Washington, and Detroit for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Pretty good start for a team that has traditionally done the exact opposite, but is it sustainable? That’s hopefully what the Corsi report for the month will show us, or at least provide a better picture of where the team sits one month in.
Team report: 5-on-5 numbers show improvement
The Flyers record of 6-5-1 matches essentially what their raw team metrics say: this team is average. Philadelphia performed at a 49.20 CF% which ranks 18th in the NHL, with 495 Corsi for (ranked 17th) and 511 Corsi against (ranked 18th). The lowest CF% for a single game this season has been 41.18% which came vs Nashville in their home opener, the crushing 6-5 regulation loss. The high point of the month was, ironically but oh so fittingly enough, 58.62% in a loss to the Ottawa Senators.
The biggest change from last year to this one is the 5v5 goal scoring. The Flyers rank 12th in the league in 5v5 goals-for, and tied for 12th in goals against. While that may not seem impressive, they are 10th in the league in 5v5 goals-for percentage. Comparatively, the Flyers ranked 24th last season in the same category. Obviously this could be a case of small sample size, but this is definitely a good sign for a team who’s 5v5 struggles have been present for years.
Goaltending has improved, too
Another part of the Flyers early season success has been the play of the goaltenders at 5v5. Not only have they been getting quality starts more often than not from the duo of Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott, their GA/60 is among the best in the league. They rank 8th in the NHL just behind the reigning Western Conference champion Predators.
In terms of expected goals, the Flyers hang right around the same area, 12th in the NHL in xGF% at 51.33%. As you may have expected, the Flyers PDO (shooting percentage plus save percentage) is mid pack as well. They sit 16th in the league with a 100.71 PDO. All of these factors adding up to put the Flyers in a good, but not great, position to start the season.
Shot selection has improved
Last season a lot of the talk was the amount of offense coming from point shots, and not enough being done in high percentage areas. This season it looks as though head coach Dave Hakstol has realized this and worked to fix it.
Involving the defense in his offense is something Hakstol will always do and when it works it is downright beautiful hockey. The problem has consistently been the personnel he has on the back end not being fit to run this type of system — or like last year where no goalie could make a save and he had to dial back.
While the Flyers are still allowing too many chances in the home plate area, they are finally creating a better amount of chances there to keep up with opposing teams. It’s not perfect, but it’s at the very least a step in the right direction.
Success of the 1st and 4th lines, struggles for Patrick
Coming into this season, a lot of people looked at the Giroux - Couturier - Voracek line as a failure waiting to happen. What has actually transpired is the exact opposite, with each member of the top line being over 53% CF. The fourth line has not put together the raw point totals the first line has, but their possession numbers are actually more impressive. The “Honey Bees” have been outstanding this year, keeping teams hemmed in their own zone which is something us Flyers fans have been desperately craving from a fourth line.
Nolan Patrick has definitely struggled from a possession standpoint to begin his NHL career, and his apparent concussion suffered against Anaheim last week adds injury to insult. The main thing to remember, however, is of course SSS, but also that the majority of his time has been spent on a line with Dale Weise...not exactly the best use of a guy known for his offensive prowess. Yes, this struggle could continue for Patrick, but it could also dissipate with more experience - and a better line.
As for the defense, overall it has been pretty decent. Travis Sanheim has excelled in the CF% game which is no surprise since he’s been paired with analytics star Radko Gudas. Ivan Provorov put up decent numbers with Andrew MacDonald and was excellent with Shayne Gostisbehere — but with the injuries to both of them — Provy is seemingly with a new partner every game.
Yes, I too was surprised that Andrew MacDonald had that high of an expected goals-for percentage.
There are a few differences between the two tables and the most notable of course being that A-Mac didn’t actually fair too horribly in this department. Of course, his sample size is smaller than every other skater except for Brandon Manning and Jori Lehtera. The BSH Radio gang (minus Steph) even discussed the early season decent success of MacDonald, and if it would be sustainable.
Another key difference to note is the lack of the fourth line among the leaders in xGF%, even though they were the best line in terms of CF%. The top fourth line Flyer in this stat is Scott Laughton at 54.11%, while his linemates do not even reach 50% with Leier at 48.32 and Raffl at 47.98.
- The Flyers are more or less what they are
- Middle six needs to drive play at a better rate
- Defense needs to lower chances from home plate area
Looking at these stats there was a clear spot where the Flyers typically fell: middle of the pack. Which makes all the sense in the world because they sit tied for 13th in the NHL in points, just a bit better than mid pack. They currently are on pace for an 88 point season which in some seasons, gets you a playoff berth. I believe the Flyers are a better team than this at their full potential, but as for right now, metrics don’t lie.
The middle six containing the likes of Wayne Simmonds, Valtteri Filppula, Jordan Weal, Lehtera, Patrick (when he returns) and Travis Konecny, need to be better. With the first and fourth lines playing so well, it makes it nearly impossible to suggest breaking them up even slightly to help this group get better.
The Flyers offense has done a much better job of generating chances from high percentage areas, however the defense is still allowing these chances at a staggering rate. It hasn’t bit them too hard in the early going, but this is something Hakstol will need to work on for this team to keep the puck out of their own net.
All stats via Corsica.hockey and Natural Stat Trick
Subject: Jay Ajayi: 6 things to know about the new Eagles running back
Get to know the new Eagles RB.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded a 2018 fourth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for Jay Ajayi. In order to better get to know the new Eagles running back, here’s some inside insight from our friends over at The Phinsider. Dolphins writer Kevin Nogle was kind enough to answer several questions.
1 - How are Dolphins fans reacting to this trade?
Fans are all over the place with this trade. Some see it as a sign the Dolphins are throwing in the towel for this year. Some see it as Adam Gase overstepping his role to prove a point that he will get rid of anyone who he sees as not doing his job. Some see it as a good move to try to spark the worst offense in the league. It's an odd mix right now, and they are probably all correct - except maybe the throw the towel idea.
2 - Why was Ajayi available?
I'll give you a series of quotes from Adam Gase on Friday, and you can make the inference from there:
“I’m pissed. I’m tired of this. I’m tired of the offense being awful. Guys need to get their heads right. The coaching staff needs to do a better job because obviously our players not knowing is a direct reflection on them.”
“It’s we’re not putting the work in. That’s what it comes down to. If you can’t remember it, you shouldn’t be in the NFL. At the end of the day, guys have got to actually take this stuff home and study it. They’re not going to just learn it all in meetings. We’ve got to find guys that will actually put forth effort to actually remember this stuff and really, it starts with our best players.”
"We’ve got to kind of figure out really what’s best for us to do, how we really want to approach it; or I guess I’ve got to figure it out. I’ll look into it, but I’m done compromising with anybody. I’ll do what I think is best and those that want to come on board, great. Those that don’t, we’ll get rid of them.”
"The majority of the time, the offensive at least knows who to go to and knows what to do. You’ve got to get the other guys to know what to do too. (The offensive line) can’t block the running back’s guy. The running back, we never block the right guy. I don’t even know if we know who we’ve got. We’ve got to get that fixed. They can’t block their guy too. (The offensive line is) trying to do what they can and they’re fighting. There’s times where I wished they would do things better, but at least I’m getting effort.”
(Asked about Ajayi/running backs) “We’ve got to stop trying to hit home runs all the time. How about take the 4 or 5 yards that we’re going to get? It comes down to everybody doing their job. If we actually start doing that, it might help. It’s on the running back. Do your job. That’s what you’ve got to do. It’s not hard.”
"Offensively, it’s a joke. We’ve got too many guys that don’t want to take it home with them. Until our best players actually put forth some effort, it’ll be shit.”
"I’m going to play the guys that know what to do. The fan base might not like it, but oh well. We’re the worst offense in football. It’s hard to go lower than that.”
That was all from one press conference and pretty much points to Ajayi as an issue for the coaches and in the locker room. I don't know how much to pin directly on Ajayi, but Gase was clearly fed up with running backs who do not know their blocking assignments, and are trying to do too much - something that has clearly been an issue for Ajayi this year - leading to loss of yards rather than an easy 4-5 yards.
3 - What are his strengths?
Ajayi is an amazing one-cut running back who can create after contact. He runs hard and has the speed to break away. He is not afraid of getting 20-plus touches a game, and would actually prefer that. He is the type of runner who is actually better later in the game once he has warmed up than he is at the start of the game. Miami always had success when he reached the 15-20 carries mark.
4 - What are his weaknesses?
His knee is a concern, as it was when he was drafted. Not that he has shown any real issues with it, but it has been on the injury report this year and the Dolphins coaches seemed to be allowing him extra rest each week to make sure it does not become a bigger problem. Other than that, it goes back to what the quotes from Gase have said. Ajayi knows he is a good running back, and he is always looking to break the long run - but at times he is going to skip the obvious hole for a shot at the bounce-outside play, which leads to a loss of yards.
Finally, it sounds like there are more issues behind the scenes than we as fans or the media have realized, with Ajayi complaining that he is not getting enough touches, even when the Dolphins are winning games. In 2016, Ajayi got himself left behind for the Week 1 game at Seattle because he was pouting that Arian Foster was named the starter - and it sounds like some of that attitude has started to creep back in as this season has gone on. Nothing confirmed, but that seems to be some of the sense today.
5 - Where would you rank Ajayi among active NFL running backs? (Top 15? Top 10?) Just how good is he?
I think he is probably a top ten running back with the ability to explode into the top five. He has the potential to be elite, but he has to put it altogether. Dolphins fans expected a lot out of him this year, and while it is not all his fault (defenses do not fear Jay Cutler/Matt Moore and the offensive line has not been great) he has not lived up to those expectations yet. He is a fan favorite, and it is sad that he is not going to be in the Dolphins backfield anymore. As he picks up the Eagles' offense, I would expect him to overtake Blount and become a true feature back.
6 - Anything else that Eagles fans should know?
Ajayi is a lot of fun. Get ready to be surprised by his English accent sometimes, but he is such a great guy, loves the fans, and loves his job. He does need to work a little more - part of what Gase was complaining about - but he is a special talent that, should his knee not become an issue, he is going to be someone Eagles fans quickly come to love. Oh, and he is the first NFL player to have his own global Twitter emoji #JayTrain. I will miss tweeting #ChooChoo every week when he breaks long runs. Great pick up for Philadelphia.
Spider graph via Mockdraftable:
Subject: Jahlil Okafor Wants a Buyout or a Trade
Subject: The Two O
Finding goals over the next two games may be tough.
92.63% — the combined team-level save percentages of the two teams that the Flyers will play tonight and tomorrow.
Via hockey-reference.com, the Chicago Blackhawks enter tonight’s game having stopped 92.46 percent of all shots that they’ve faced so far this season (excluding empty-net goals against). That’s the third-best mark in the NHL. And if that wasn’t enough, the St. Louis Blues, the Flyers’ opponent on Thursday, have stopped 92.81 percent of all shots they’ve faced, which is second-best in the league so far. (Only the L.A. Kings, at a ridiculous 93.99 percent, are faring better in net than the Blues are.)
Chances are, the Flyers will be getting each of these teams’ number-one goalies, and beating those guys will be no small task. Chicago’s Corey Crawford (tonight’s confirmed starter) has been outstanding for a few years now and is strong yet again this year, posting a .935 save percentage through his first 10 games of the season. Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Jake Allen is faring pretty well for himself, as he’s stopped 92.1 percent of all shots he’s faced in the first 10 games of his own season.
We’ve seen the Flyers try to push towards the high-danger areas of the ice more in the first month of this season than we did at basically any point last season. After an attack that was heavy on point shots last season — one in which the team’s shot-attempt rates tended to outpace its expected-goal rates — the Flyers seem to be making more of an effort to get shots from the slot and to make plays that get the puck there.
But absent a whole lot of high-end talent, that’s not something that a team’s going to be able to do every night. Take Monday night’s loss to Arizona, for example. How many times, in the first 40 minutes of that game, did you find yourself wanting to throw your remote at your television because the Flyers tried to force the puck to a man in a dangerous area in front, only to see that pass either get swallowed up by a Coyotes defender or miss its intended target? That’s the downside of passing up the easy shot for a chance at a tough one: sometimes those passing lanes just aren’t going to be there, and if you keep taking those risks unsuccessfully it could start to get ugly (to the tune of “13 shots on goal in two periods against an 0-11 team”).
Against a team that has received truly horrendous goaltending so far this season, the way that the Coyotes have, it’s fair to ask whether the Flyers maybe should have done a bit more “letting it rip”, because with some teams and some goalies it makes sense to take those chances.
Tonight and tomorrow, though, the Flyers are walking into the homes of two of the stingiest goaltenders in the NHL this season. Guys like Crawford and Allen just don’t give up easy goals. Via corsica.hockey, Crawford is yet to give up a single “low-danger” goal this entire season, while Allen has given up three, two of which came at 5-on-5.
All of which is to say that the Flyers may be well-served to, once again, take some cracks at making that extra pass to the slot, no matter how well it may (or, y’know, may not) have gone the last time out. And that starts tonight against Chicago. Against a goalie who’s been near-impossible to crack and a Blackhawks defense that otherwise has some question marks, it’s worth a shot.
Subject: Carson Wentz is the Eagles
The SB Nation NFL team sites will be doing theme weeks all throughout the 2017 NFL season. This week’s theme is: “Who is your team's midseason MVP?”
This is an easy one: Carson Wentz.
He’s not even just the team’s MVP. He’s arguably the league MVP. After leading the NFL MVP odds a few weeks ago, Wentz has dropped to second place (behind Tom Brady) ... but he’s still clearly in the conversation.
The majority of SB Nation’s NFL team sites actually voted Wentz as the NFL MVP for the first eight weeks of the season.
Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz summed up this award: Wentz has shown tremendous growth over the first half of the season. His knowledge of the offense and execution on third downs, combined with his athleticism, make him a force to be reckoned with.
From Bleeding Green Nation: Wentz, the quarterback of the team with NFL’s best record, is the MVP. He’s really doing it all. He can unleash the deep ball. He can avoid pressure and place the ball with laser accuracy into tight windows. He can use his legs to extend plays and/or run down the field — the way he escaped a pile of defenders against Washington in Week 7 was incredible. But Wentz's game isn't based on flash alone. He's shown the ability to be consistent and sustain drives down the field. He's been absolutely awesome on third down all year long. It's unreal how quickly he's progressed from Year 1 to Year 2.
Voters also named the Eagles the best team in the NFL, which makes sense given they have the league’s best record at 7-1.
From Bleeding Green Nation: The Eagles are the best team in the NFL. At 7-1, owners of the best record in the league. Their +76 point differential also puts them ahead of every other team. The offense, led by MVP candidate Wentz, has a number of capable receiving threats. Their run game is boosted by the presence of LeGarrette Blount and a strong offensive line. On defense, Philadelphia is better at stopping the run than any other team. That forces other teams to be one dimensional through the air. The Eagles also have one of the best special teams units in the NFL thanks to coordinator Dave Fipp. This is a complete team that’s playing together and having a great time. Head coach Doug Pederson deserves a lot of credit for outperforming expectations.
Unfortunately, Pederson lost out to Sean McVay in “Coach of the Year” voting. But Dougie P did finish second, so that’s nice. He obviously deserves some level of credit for Wentz’s development.
For more on why the Wentz MVP hype is legit, check out this great video breakdown.
Carson Wentz is playing like the NFL MVP
Carson Wentz is truly playing like the NFL MVPPosted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Sunday, October 22, 2017
Question for you: Who is your non-Wentz MVP? That discussion is much more interesting. I’d argue it was Jason Peters. Zach Ertz obviously has a case as well. Malcolm Jenkins, Timmy Jernigan, Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce all deserve some love. Who would you pick?
Subject: Eagles Injury Report: One Eagles cornerback returns to practice while another is still limited
Update on the Eagles and Broncos injury situations.
It’s early in the week, but this could signal Darby still isn’t ready to return. If that’s the case, perhaps he’ll be ready to play against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11 after Philadelphia’s Week 10 bye.
In other Eagles cornerback news, Patrick Robinson returned to practice on Wednesday. That’s good news considering he suffered a concussion on Sunday and had to leave the Eagles-49ers game early. Robinson has been having a good season for Philly while playing both on the outside and in the slot.
For those wondering about Sidney Jones: there’s no real update on him. He’s still on the non-football injury list. The last we heard on October 16 was that he’s “not close” to coming back. The Eagles have until Week 12 to activate him from NFI. From there, they have a 21-day window where Jones can practice. After that, they have to either put him on the 53-man roster or shut him down for the season.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai was listed as a full participant on the injury report with a hip issue. It’s not ideal to see Big V banged up considering the Eagles’ lack of depth at tackle, but at least he’s fully practicing.
Philadelphia Eagles Injury Report (Wednesday)
CB Ronald Darby (ankle)
Denver Broncos Injury Report (Wednesday)
To be announced - check back for updates.