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[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 10:30:02 EST from rss

Subject: Pizza and Power Struggles: Jerry Jones vs. Roger Goodell

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Look, I’m not one to brag or tell you that I can see into the future, but I just want to begin with what I wrote last Thursday, moments after Ezekiel Elliott’s appeal to further delay his suspension was denied by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals: “I can’t wait for Atlanta to blow the…

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 10:53:38 EST from rss

Subject: Staples of the Eagles

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A look into the plays that the Eagles utilize with success

Waiting through the Eagles’ bye week has been a bummer. To help ease the absence of our favorite 8-1, Super Bowl-bound team, I’ve decided to compile a mini-series that focuses on plays the Eagles run with frequency out of different formations with different personnel and how they’re successful.

The Three-Level stretch

There are a variety of different names for this play. Some call it the Y-sail, some call it flood. The concept remains the same: stress a zone defense by forcing them to pick their poison. The play works well against either cover 2 or cover 3 because the route combination guarantees that there will be an open receiver.

The Broncos come out paying what appears to be cover 3 zone. To the play side you can see that the Eagles have three receivers, matched up with two defenders. One of those three players will be open. Nelson Agholor, who is closest to the line of scrimmage run to the flat, Torrey Smith who is to his left will run a vertical route and Alshon Jeffery who is closest to the sideline will run a a corner route. Alshon is the main target here as the Eagles want to hit that corner route. Sometimes the vertical route will be there, but more often than not, it’s just a decoy to create a hole for the corner. The flat route is used to get underneath defenders to drive up and vacate that zone even more to make the throwing lane to the corner even more open. The result of the play is an incompletion, but the throw was there to be had. You can see Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby on the back end carry the vertical and pass it off to the safety, but in cover 3 he can’t risk driving up because if he does Smith can run open as Wentz tries to hit him near the boundary.

One of the cool things about Doug Pederson’s offense is how he runs these same concepts consistently out of different alignments and personnel groupings. The previous play against the Broncos featured one tight end and one running back — recognized as 11 personnel — while this play utilizes 12 personnel — one running back, two tight ends. The Giants aren't in a zone here, but the play-action fake distorts the coverage and everyone’s favorite safety Landon Collins doesn’t bother to cover Zach Ertz who is running to the corner. The running back chips before releasing into the flat, but the play design and personnel help this win. Typically out of 12 personnel sets, you’re not going vertical with the ball, that keys the Giants to a possible run play. They bite on the play action and miscommunication occurs, getting that corner route open.

Just as they did in the previous play, Pederson and the Eagles disguise the play with the personnel. Here the Eagles have 13 personnel — one running back, three tight ends. The Giants bring the blitz off of the play fake and Darren Sproles, the running back, has to stay in and pick it up. This works because again, the player in the flat’s job is to bring the defender up. Play fakes can do that just as effectively. The corner route to Ertz is open here, but a late miscommunication between the corner and safety allows Bryce Treggs to slip behind the coverage on the vertical route. Wentz notices Treggs getting behind the coverage and throws a bomb to move the Eagles down the field. Again, the vertical route typically serves as a decoy, but there are times, depending on how the play unfolds, Wentz will take the deep shot. The play to Treggs is an example of that, and Mack Hollins’ 64-yard touchdown earlier this season against Washington is another one that was a result of this same play.

Again, this play is versatile and successful because the Eagles disguise it well and run it out of several different formations and personnel groupings. Out of the pistol with two receivers to the left, the Eagles use play action again to pull the linebackers up. Jordan Matthews sells a nice inside fake before pivoting back to the corner. The underneath defender is concerned with Darren Sproles, and the safety and corner, having already been burned once by Treggs are concerned about him beating them deep. This opens up the pocket to the sideline for Matthews to slip in, wide open.

While the three-level stretch does an excellent job of scheming less talented receivers open, one of my favorite aspects of it is how easy it makes the quarterbacks job not just from the perspective of creating open receivers and throwing lanes, but it keeps three reads to one side, all in the same line of vision. As you can see in the play, Wentz pumps, which brings Giants cornerback Eli Apple up and vacates the zone for Alshon to slip in behind him. It looks like Wentz is hesitating after seeing Apple drive, and afterwards sees Alshon open up, which forces him to reload. With the reads grouped together so easily, Wentz is afforded this luxury instead of having to move across the field or completely reset on a play.

While the version above is a little different, it stresses the same concept. We all know that Doug Pederson has brought over concepts from Kansas City with his play designs. This is a version of the play that I have yet to notice the Eagles run this year to this year, at least exactly like this, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it pop up in the play book going forward. The Chiefs utilize their receiver underneath by having him run a smoke route while the other receiver on that side of the field goes vertical. Travis Kelce, who’s on the opposite side of the field, runs a crossing route designed to get him into the vacancy similar to how the corner routes are schemed in the plays I’ve already shown. This play works so well because the underneath defender doesn't have eyes on Kelce where he’s on the other side of the field and the deep safeties are occupied with the vertical route. The only way to defend this is for a defender to successfully carry Kelce to the sideline, and that’s typically going to be a mismatch. This is a version of the stretch that I’d love to see Pederson incorporate to get more mismatches for Zach Ertz or Alshon Jeffery going forward.

I hope I was able to shed a little light on how the Eagles utilize scheme and personnel to get looks that they like. If there are any other plays you notice with frequency, feel free to drop a comment or send a tweet to @TJackRH. I’ll try to get two or three of these rolling and then get to some suggestions. Hope you enjoyed!

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 11:25:14 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles officially cut cornerback to make room for Dannell Ellerbe signing

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Done deal.

The Philadelphia Eagles signed free agent linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to a one-year contract, according to an official announcement from the team on Monday morning. The news was first revealed on Sunday.

In order to make room for Ellerbe on the 53-man roster, the Eagles released cornerback Dexter McDougle.

The Eagles acquired McDougle in a trade with the Jets back in August. Philly sent backup safety Terrence Brooks to New York in the deal.

McDougle played 54 defensive snaps (9.3%) and 135 special teams snaps (49.8%) in eight games this season. Along with play special teams, the 26-year-old served as the main backup to slot corner Patrick Robinson.

McDougle didn’t play poorly, but he became expendable now that starting corner Ronald Darby is expected to return against the Cowboys this Sunday.

The Eagles figured they’d rather have some extra linebacker depth since Jordan Hicks is out for the year. Ellerbe is a veteran player who could serve as an upgrade over Joe Walker.

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 11:31:11 EST from rss

Subject: How

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Even when the Eagles aren’t playing, they’re still winning. The NFC East completed the trifecta this weekend, going 0-3 and doing it in style. The Cowboys looked like shit, the Redskins disappointed at home, and the Giants looked like the Giants. At the risk of jinxing it, next Sunday could wrap up the division for…

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 12:56:46 EST from rss

Subject: Ronald Darby says he

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He’s baaaack.

It’s happening: Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby told reporters he’s going to play in Philadelphia’s Week 11 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.

The expectation was that Darby was going to be able to play after the Eagles’ Week 10 bye. Now the player is confirming the news.

Darby has been out ever since he suffered a dislocated ankle in the Eagles’ Week 1 win over Washington. At the time of the injury, it looked like his season was going to be over. It’s great that he’s going to make it back to the field.

The 8-1 Eagles have been more than capable of weathering the storm in the absence of their best cornerback. Give credit to the trio of Patrick Robinson, Jalen Mills, and rookie Rasul Douglas for stepping up in his absence.

It remains to be seen how the Eagles will use Darby upon his return. The feeling here is it’d be surprising to see him get 100% of the defensive snaps off the bat. He suffered a pretty serious injury and he needs to get back in game shape. Maybe there’s some kind of rotation in store.

Darby was impressive in his time with the Eagles in training camp and preseason after Philadelphia traded for him. Now he’ll get the chance to show what he can do in real games. If he can play up to expectations, the Eagles’ defense — which has already been playing well — just got another boost.

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 13:30:57 EST from rss

Subject: At This Rate, 2020

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With apologies to Crosby, Stills & Nash, it’s getting to the point where it’s no fun anymore to report on significant layoffs at ESPN. But there’s no point in ignoring it, so here’s the Los Angeles Times: “Financial pressures on Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN will lead to the layoffs of another 100 employees this year in a further…

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 14:00:53 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles players are celebrating Tim Jernigan

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This team is something special.

If you somehow needed more evidence that this Philadelphia Eagles squad has great team chemistry, look no further than the reaction to the news of Tim Jernigan’s contract extension.

The Eagles signed Jernigan to a 4-year, $48 million deal during the bye last week. His teammates took notice as they returned to Philly for their first day back at practice.


Here’s how the $48 million man reacted.

One really cool thing about all of this reaction is that Jernigan hasn’t even been in Philly all that long. The Eagles traded for him back in early April, which was seven months ago. That kind of just speaks to how great the locker room environment is right now. The Eagles are winning and everybody is happy. #Culture.

Here are some more player reactions to Jernigan’s contract extension from last week.

And here’s exactly why Jernigan got paid a lot of money.

He good.

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 14:00:02 EST from rss

Subject: Flyers prospect report: Carter Hart posts his first shutout of the season

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Goals, goals, goals

Phantoms update: The Phantoms could really use Myers/Morin; how much time does Martel have left?

11/8 - 4-2 WIN vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers
11/11 - 6-1 LOSS vs. Hershey Bears

Mark Friedman (D): 2 GP, 1 shots
2014 3rd Round Pick, 86th overall

Still no points in his last 8 games for Friedman. He has just two assists in 14 games this season for the Phantoms.

Mike Vecchione (C): 2 GP, 1 assist, 4 shots
Undrafted Free Agent

Vecchione has been fairly consistent points-wise this season, only being held off the scoreboard in 4 of his 15 games this season. The rookie has 13 points (2 G, 11 A).

Nicolas Aubé-Kubel (RW): 2 GP, 1 assist, 3 shots, 2 PIM
2014 2nd Round Pick, 48th overall

NAK will need to curb down the time in the penalty box as he has already eclipsed more PIM (19) than games played (15) in the early going in the season. His assist on Wednesday gave him 9 points (4 G, 5 A) in 15 GP.

Danick Martel (RW): 2 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist, 5 shots
Undrafted Free Agent

Another week, another goal for Martel to add to his already league-leading collection. His 14 on the season are 5 ahead of the 2nd most. His 19 points overall are good for 2nd in the AHL. After the decline in secondary scoring recently for the Flyers, you will likely begin to see a public outcry for Martel to “get his shot”.

Oskar Lindblom (LW): 2 GP, 1 goal, 2 shots
2014 5th Round Pick, 138th overall

Oskar gets his 3rd goal of the season to go along with his 6 assists already. All 9 of his points have come in the last 9 games.

Mikhail Vorobyev (C): 2 GP, 1 assist, 0 shots
2015 4th Round Pick, 104th overall

Vorobyev has begun to pick things up as he has been paired up with Lindblom as of late. The Russian rookie has 7 points (1 G, 6 A) in 15 games.

Alex Lyon (G): 8 GA, 69 saves
Undrafted Free Agent

Not really a nice week for Lyon. He battled hard on Wednesday in the Phantoms 4-2 win, stopping 42 shots en route to a victory. Lyon then followed it up with a clunker on Saturday. The 2nd year Phantom has a .897 SV% in 11 games.

Phantoms Notes: Both Philippe Myers and Samuel Morin remain out of the lineup with injuries.

Notable Canadian junior performers this week:

Connor Bunnaman (C/LW), Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
2016 4th Round Pick, 109th overall

  • 11/10 - 1 goal, 4 shots, 10 for 13 FOW
  • 11/11 - 1 goal, 5 shots, 5 for 12 FOW

It may have taken Bunnaman his first 6 games to net a goal, but in his last 11 games he has plated 11 of them. He is the Rangers leading goal-scorer and only 3 points off the team-lead in the points. Here is his 10th goal of the season.

Anthony Salinitri (C/LW), Sarnia Sting (OHL)
2016 6th Round Pick, 172nd overall

  • 11/10 - 2 goals, 6 shots, 2 PIM, 1 for 1, FOW
  • 11/12 - 1 goal, 1 assist, 4 shots, 7 for 10 FOW

Salinitri finally breaks that goal-scoring drought with a monster weekend. He had gone his previous 8 games without one. Salinitri has 19 points (7 G, 12 A) on a stacked Sarnia team this season.

Morgan Frost (C), Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
2017 1st Round Pick, 27th overall

  • 11/10 - 2 goals, 4 shots, 7 for 26 FOW
  • 11/12 - 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 shots, 15 for 25 FOW

Frost is on pace to obliterate his totals from last season (62 points in 67 games). He has 27 (10 G, 17 A) in 20 so far in 2017. While this may not be as impressive as the Eeli Tolvanen’s of the world, we could perhaps view this as “hey, this is pretty great!”. Here is one of his goals from Friday.

Isaac Ratcliffe (LW), Guelph Storm (OHL)
2017 2nd Round Pick, 35th overall

  • 11/10 - 2 goals, 4 shots
  • 11/12 - 1 goal, 2 assists, 5 shots

With the amount of shots he has taken this season (76 in 18 games), some were bound to go in. For a power forward scoring winger, Ratcliffe hasn’t had the greatest start in his draft +1 season. However, on a poor offensive team like Guelph, he is their leading goal-scorer with 8. You can see his goals here and here.

Maksim Sushko (RW), Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
2017 4th Round Pick, 107th overall

  • 11/11 - 1 assist, 2 shots
  • 11/12 - 6 shots, 0 for 1 FOW

After a torrid pace to open the season, Sushko has quieted a bit with only 2 points (2 A) in his last 6 games. Overall, he still has an impressive 15 points (9 G, 6 A) in 16 games.

Matthew Strome (LW), Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
2017 4th Round Pick, 106th overall

  • 11/10 - 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 shots, 1 for 2 FOW
  • 11/12 - 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 shots, 4 PIM, 3 for 10 FOW

Finally, here come the points for Strome. That’s 9 points in his last 4 games. He has 16 (8 G, 8 A) in 17 this season. Check out this nasty move for a goal. Keep doing these things Strome, do it for Krut.

Carsen Twarynski (LW), Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
2016 3rd Round Pick, 82nd overall

  • 11/10 - 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots, 4 PIM, 0 for 5 FOW
  • 11/11 - 2 shots, 2 PIM, 1 for 4, FOW

It’s been a nice 4th WHL season for Twarynski so far as he’s seen an uptick in his offensive numbers with Kelowna. He has 18 points (10 G, 8 A) in 16 GP.

Carter Hart (G), Everett Silvertips (WHL)
2016 2nd Round Pick, 48th overall

Hart must be feeling much better as he plays back-to-back games for the 2nd weekend in a row and posts a shutout in the 2nd game to boot. Our bastion of hope in net has a .933 SV% in 6 games.

Pascal Laberge (C), Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
2016 2nd Round Pick, 36th overall

  • 11/8 - 3 shots, 4 PIM, 2 for 7 FOW
  • 11/9 - 1 shot, 6 PIM, 4 for 12 FOW
  • 11/11 - 4 shots, 2 PIM, 13 for 17 FOW

Perhaps its time to start worrying about Laberge and what he projects to be at a higher level. The once promising 2nd rounder has only 4 assists and no goals in his last 12 games. This is very much a “prove it” season for Laberge after a injury-filled mulligan last season.

German Rubtsov (C), Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
2016 1st Round Pick, 22nd overall

  • 11/9 - 2 shots, 5 for 10 FOW
  • 11/10 - 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 shots, 3 for 9 FOW
  • 11/11 - 1 assist, 2 shots, 3 for 9 FOW

While he certainly wasn’t disappointing in his time with Chicoutimi, Rubtsov has certainly picked up the pace even more, compiling 7 points (2 G, 5 A) in his 5 games with A-B. Overall, he has 18 points (5 G, 13 A) in 16 games. Here is his goal from Friday.

Notable European performers this week

Ivan Fedotov (G), Toros Neftekamsk (VHL)
2015 7th Round Pick, 188th overall

Things not looking great for Fedotov.

Kirill Ustimenko (G), MHK Dynamo St. Petersburg (MHL)
2017 3rd Round Pick, 80th overall

Ustimenko has a .921 SV% in 20 games.

Euro Notes: Felix Sandström, Linus Högberg, David Bernhardt, Olle Lycksell and David Kaše were all out of action as the SHL took a break for the Champions Hockey League tournament.

Notable NCAA and USHL performers this week:

Wade Allison (RW), Western Michigan University
2016 2nd Round Pick, 52nd overall

What, you can’t have hat-tricks every weekend? With no points against Minnesota-Duluth, the sophomore sits at 14 points (6 G, 8 A) in 11 games.

Tanner Laczynski (RW/C), Ohio State University
2016 6th Round Pick, 169th overall

  • 11/10 - 2 assists, 3 shots
  • 11/11 - 1 goal, 2 shots

Laczynski continues to build upon his impressive freshman season (32 points in 34 GP) with a solid sophomore effort with 13 points (4 G, 9 A) in 12 games.

Cooper Marody (C), University of Michigan
2015 6th Round Pick, 158th overall

  • 11/10 - 2 assists, 2 shots, 2 PIM, 13 for 20 FOW
  • 11/11 - 2 assists, 4 shots, 11 for 18 FOW

Not for nothing, but it’s worth noting that Marody (16 points) is now 9th in NCAA scoring and just 3 points off the lead. His 13 assists are 2nd most in college.

Brendan Warren (LW), University of Michigan
2015 3rd Round Pick, 81st overall

  • 11/10 - 4 shots, 0 for 1 FOW
  • 11/11 - 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 shots

Warren picks up his 3rd goal and first assist of the season. You can see the goal here in the highlight reel for the game.

David Drake (D), University of Connecticut
2013 7th Round Pick, 192nd overall

Alert the presses, David Drake got his first point of the season this weekend.

Wyatt Kalynuk (D), University of Wisconsin
2017 7th Round Pick, 196th overall

  • 11/10 - 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 shots
  • 11/11 - 3 shots

Kalynuk gets his first goal of the season and of his collegiate career, woo! He has 7 points in his freshman season. You can check out his goal here.

Terrance Amorosa (D), Clarkson University
2013 5th Round Pick, 132nd overall

  • 11/10 - 4 shots
  • 11/11 - 1 goal, 1 assist, 4 shots

Amorosa finishing off his collegiate career in style, banking 11 points (3 G, 8 A) in 12 games. He is college’s highest scoring D-man along two other blue-liners.

Noah Cates (LW), Omaha Lancers (USHL)
2017 5th Round Pick, 137th overall

  • 11/10 - 0 shots
  • 11/11 - 1 shot

It’s been a struggle for Cates this season. He has 3 points (2 G, 1 A) in 12 games.

Matej Tomek (G), Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
2015 3rd Round Pick, 90th overall

  • 11/10 - DNP
  • 11/11 - DNP

Tomek has clearly established himself as the backup early on with his .885 SV%. He’ll struggle to get in games at this rate.

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 15:07:56 EST from rss

Subject: Dallas Week: Why Supporting the Cowboys Probably Makes You a Poser

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We all know one of these guys: “Born and raised in Mayfair! But I’m a lifelong Cowboys fan because my dad knew Tom Landry’s uncle.” “Love the star on the helmet! Used to watch Roger Staubach on television back in ’74.” “Well I grew up in Idaho, but we didn’t have a team, so I…

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 16:49:09 EST from rss

Subject: Byron Maxwell returns to Seattle a few weeks before Eagles-Seahawks game

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The Eagles will be seeing a familiar face soon.

Byron Maxwell is back where he started. Following a season-ending Achilles injury to star cornerback Richard Sherman, the Seahawks have brought Maxwell back to Seattle.

Maxwell was a disappointment at his last two NFL stops. The Philadelphia Eagles traded him away one year after signing him to a long-term contract. After one year starting for Miami, the Dolphins benched him and then cut him last month.

Maybe the 29-year-old corner can get back to playing well now that he’s back with the Seahawks. That’s where Maxwell made himself into a top free agent corner.

We’ll see. Literally.

We will see Maxwell on the field when the Eagles travel to Seattle in Week 13 to play the Seahawks. That’s good news for the Eagles if he plays like the Maxwell who was prone to getting beat in coverage.

Seriously, though, that figures to be a tough game for the Eagles. Seattle hasn’t look great recently, sure, but they’re still 42-7 in their last 49 home games.

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 17:02:02 EST from rss

Subject: Sean Lee Injury: Cowboys linebacker unlikely to play in Eagles game

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Big loss for Dallas.

Bad news for Dallas: starting middle linebacker Sean Lee is unlikely to play in the Cowboys’ game against the Philadelphia Eagles this week. NFL insider Ian Rapoport is suggesting Lee could be out beyond this week after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 10.

When healthy, Lee is obviously a very good player. The problem is he’s often battled injuries throughout his career.

The impact of Lee’s absence was on display in the Cowboys’ 27-7 loss to the Falcons on Sunday. Atlanta started having more offensive success when he had to leave the game.

Here’s some more context on Lee’s importance via ESPN.

The Cowboys have allowed opposing quarterbacks to post a passer rating of 85.6 with Lee on the field, which has risen all the way to 107.8 with Lee sidelined.

Even worse, opposing offenses have averaged 3.5 yards per carry with Lee at linebacker and more than 5.5 yards per attempt with Lee on the bench.

Losing Lee hurts a Cowboys defense that already ranks 23rd in DVOA and 17th in yards per play. Dallas also ranks 24th in opponent yards per rushing attempt, so that suggests the Eagles should be able to have success on the ground this week. Jay Ajayi could be line for a big game.

In other Cowboys injury news, it’s unclear if Tyron Smith (back/groin) will be able to play. Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey is out for this week’s game, so Dallas will have to rely on Mike Nugent once again. Nugent missed a 38-yard attempt against the Falcons.

The Eagles’ 53-man roster, meanwhile, is looking pretty healthy coming off their bye. Starting corner Ronald Darby and leading receiver Zach Ertz are on pace to return on Sunday Night Football.

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 20:37:05 EST from rss

Subject: Panthers vs. Dolphins: How to watch Monday Night Football, game info, live streaming, odds, more

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Watch MNF here.

Week 10 of the 2017 NFL regular season ends tonight with a game between the Carolina Panthers (6-3) and Miami Dolphins (4-4). It’s an interconference matchup.

The Panthers have won two in a row. They’re looking to stay alive in the NFC wildcard picture. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have lost two in a row. Things aren’t looking so great for them.

As far as the Philadelphia Eagles are concerned, this game isn’t super important. A Panthers loss would be preferable but they’re not really a huge threat to the Eagles. I question exactly how good the Panthers really are. And Philly has a head-to-head tie-breaker over them anyway.

Find everything you need to know about tonight's game below.

Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers TV Schedule

Game time: 8:30 PM EST

Channel: ESPN

Date: Monday, November 13

Announcers: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters

Location: Bank of America Stadium | Charlotte, North Carolina

Online Streaming: WatchESPN


Miami Dolphins: +9 (-110)

Carolina Panthers -9 (-110)


Open thread: discuss Monday night’s game in the comments below.

[#] Tue Nov 14 2017 00:24:44 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Power Rankings 2017: Week 11 Edition

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Ranking all 32 NFL Teams.

Week 10 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.


1 - Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: 1) - Bye week. Next up for the Eagles is a road game against the Cowboys. Philly can virtually lock up the NFC East with a win.

2 - New England Patriots (LW: 3) - After some shaky early season performances, the Patriots have rounded into form. It’s helped that they’ve played a bunch of bad teams lately.

3 - New Orleans Saints (LW: 4) - The Saints have won seven games in a row. The offense is firing on all cylinders and the defense is playing well. New Orleans is the biggest threat to the Eagles in the NFC.

4 - Los Angeles Rams (LW: 5) - Sean McVay’s Rams are averaging 32.9 points per game. That ranks first in the NFL.

5 - Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 6) - The Jags won in spite of Blake Bortles yet again. If this team had a good quarterback, they’d be much more threatening.

6 - Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 2) - Steelers moving down four spots after a win? Yep, they didn’t look very good against a bad Colts team. Pittsburgh is fortunate they can rely on their defense because their offense isn’t playing great.

7 - Minnesota Vikings (LW: 9) - Case Keenum threw four touchdowns against Washington. It seems like he’s playing over his head and is bound to regress. But maybe not. We’ll see.

8 - Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 8) - Bye week. Next up for the Chiefs is a road game against an awful NYG team. We all know how good Andy Reid is after the bye.

9 - Seattle Seahawks (LW: 10) - The Seahawks didn’t look awesome in their win over the Cardinals, but they got the job done. The bad news is Richard Sherman is now done for the season. RIP to the LOB.

10 - Carolina Panthers (LW: 11) - Carolina beat up on a really bad Miami team.

11 - Detroit Lions (LW: 12) - The Lions overcame a slow start against Cleveland in order to advance to 5-4.

12 - Atlanta Falcons (LW: 14) - After losing four of their last five games, the Falcons got back on track with a win over Dallas. Adrian Clayborn earned an extra $750,000 by notching six sacks on Sunday. Not bad.

13 - Dallas Cowboys (LW: 7) - Dak Prescott predictably failed to overcome the losses of Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott. He faced a lot of pressure and totally collapsed. Sean Lee getting hurt didn’t help Dallas either. This team was exposed in Atlanta.

14 - Tennessee Titans (LW: 17) - Four wins in a row. The Titans are first in the AFC South at 6-3. It hasn’t been pretty but they’re finding ways to win.

15 - Green Bay Packers (LW: 19) - Green Bay is still alive after finding a way to beat the Bears. Solid outing by Brett Hundley: 18/25, 212 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 110.8 passer rating.

16 - Washington Redskins (LW: 13) - Kirk Cousins doesn’t come up big in big games. In a game where Washington really needed a win at home, Cousins finished with a 78.7 passer rating. Enjoy making him the highest paid player in NFL history, Dan Snyder.

17 - Baltimore Ravens (LW: 17) - Bye week. Up next: a road game against the Packers.

18 - New York Jets (LW: 15) - Leading up to Week 10, this upstart Jets team was showing some good fight. And then they went out and lost to the Bucs with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Gross.

19 - Buffalo Bills (LW: 16) - When the Bills were 5-2, there was some talk about how Sean McDermott isn’t getting enough “Coach of the Year” love. Buffalo has since lost their last two games by a combined score of 81 to 31.

20 - Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 21) - The Bolts have mastered losing in close games.

21 - Oakland Raiders (LW: 22) - Bye week. Next up: home game against the Patriots. Big test.

22 - Houston Texans (LW: 20) - Houston is doomed with “Tom Savage” at quarterback.

23 - Arizona Cardinals (LW: 24) - Arizona is 1-4 in their last five. They’re going nowhere fast. Drew Stanton got banged up so the Cardinals might be down to Blaine Gabbert.

24 - Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 25) - The Bengals are on pace to have their first back-to-back losing seasons since 2008. Will the Bengals finally move on from Marvin Lewis? I’ll believe it when I see it.

25 - Chicago Bears (LW: 26) - Chicago managed to lose at home to a Packers team that didn’t have Aaron Rodgers. Still bad.

26 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 29) - They won, but they’re still bad.

27 - Indianapolis Colts (LW: 28) - It almost looked like the Colts were going to beat the Steelers. Indy played better than expected. They still have the worst point differential in the NFL.

28 - Denver Broncos (LW: 23) - Denver owns the NFL’s second longest losing streak at five in a row. Their offense averaged a mere 13.6 points in those games. Brock Osweiler has to be the least inspiring starter in the NFL, right?

29 - Miami Dolphins (LW: 27) - How the hell does this Dolphins team have four wins? They’re awful. Outscored by 112 to 45 in their last three games.

30 - San Francisco 49ers (LW: 31) - The 49ers are on the board with a win!

31 - New York Giants (LW: 30) - I really thought about putting the Giants dead last. They’re just playing such uninspired football right now. Getting decisively beat by the 0-9 Niners is about as bad as it gets. New York issued a statement indicating they’re sticking with Ben McAdoo for the season. It’s hard to take them at their word considering how awful he’s been.

32 - Cleveland Browns (LW: 32) - You know what time it is.

[#] Tue Nov 14 2017 06:00:04 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Lane Johnson told his grandma she needs to stop rooting for the Cowboys

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 11/14/17.

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

Lane Johnson Told His Grandma Rooting For Dallas To ‘Shut Up If You Want To See 75’ - CBS Philly
Lane Johnson is in his fifth season with the Eagles. So for the 27-year-old right-tackle from Groveton, Texas, this is his ninth “Dallas Week.” Being a Texas native, Johnson has a lot of Cowboys fans in his family — including his grandma. “Just pretty much all my family is from Texas and a lot of them say they’re Eagles fans, but I think deep down they root — like even last year, the Cowboys going to the playoffs,” Johnson told the media on Monday. “I heard my grandma in there rooting for Dallas. I said, ‘If you want to live to see 75 you better shut your [expletive] up.’ Just messing with her.”

NFL Power Rankings 2017: Week 11 Edition - BGN
Eagles still on top.

Mailbag: Which NFC team is the biggest threat to the Eagles in the playoffs? - PhillyVoice
The Saints presently have a seven game winning streak, during which they are outscoring their opponents 229-100, and their two losses have come to a pair of 7-2 teams in the Vikings and Patriots. This team is for real, and one the Eagles would be lucky to avoid in January. The Rams, meanwhile, are the No. 3 offense in the NFL (6th passing, 5th rushing), so they have good balance as well. However, I just tend to trust Brees a little more than Jared Goff, who is having a breakout season, but doesn't have Brees' consistent year-to-year greatness yet.

Learning to Fly - Iggles Blitz
This team shows real signs of dominance. They can score points in a hurry. They completely shut down the running game of every team they play. The offensive line just had their best game of the year and can be outstanding at times. The Eagles run game got a boost from Jay Ajayi and he could make a big difference going forward. The defense could get even better if Ronald Darby can stay healthy and play to his potential. One of the reasons that it often took a few years to build a team is that they had to learn how to win. The Eagles seem to already have that ability. Last year they lost close games due to sloppy play and mistakes. This team looks very different. They convert the key 3rd down late in the game. They don’t turn the ball over. They make the key play on defense to stop an opponent who is trying to score.

Analyzing Darby's Return, Adding Ellerbe -
How it works when Darby is all the way back – whether it’s at Dallas or in the weeks to come – remains to be seen. But Darby is going to be a starter, and he’s going to add a level of athleticism that gives the Eagles a cornerback who can run with the fastest receivers in the game, down the stretch and, hopefully, in the postseason. If the Eagles have Darby and Mills on the outside and Robinson in the slot, with Malcolm Jenkins on the field in a quasi-linebacker role and Corey Graham at safety, that’s a lot of versatility in the cover game. Add in the way the Eagles rush the quarterback from the front four and you’ve got a pass defense built for success.

Eagles should be prepared to lose QBs coach John DeFilippo, possibly as a head coach - Inquirer
But the Eagles, barring some sort of collapse, should be prepared for their staff to be ravaged by teams looking for coordinators and head coaches. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Frank Reich would also likely be in play for top spots, while running backs coach Duce Staley and defensive backs coach Cory Undlin could be in contention to head units on their respective sides of the ball. The recipe for drafting and developing Wentz, however, will draw teams hoping to taste some of the Eagles’ two-year turnaround. Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson are, of course, the architects of that plan. And Reich has been part of the execution from the start.

Family of 'The Dutch Destroyer' receives warm welcome at Bison game - WDay
They managed to not only capture the heart Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz, but of Bison Nation, too. The family of Lukas Kusters, known as the Dutch Destroyer, took in all things Bison at Saturday's game against South Dakota. It's all too familiar sound in North Fargo: Bison Tailgating. It's as guaranteed as snow up in the Valley. But in the sea of green and gold, there were some first time faces. Faces, that have captivated America: the family of 10-year-old Lukas Kusters. "It's incredible being here. We've been welcomed in such a huge way," said Rebecca Burmeff, Lukas' mother.

Nine contenders for six spots: Sorting through wild NFC playoff field - ESPN
Even worse, opposing offenses have averaged 3.5 yards per carry with Lee at linebacker and more than 5.5 yards per attempt with Lee on the bench. The Cowboys are a top-heavy team built around a handful of (mostly) highly paid stars, and when those players aren't available, they don't have the depth to adapt. Elliott, Smith and Lee each made the All-Pro team last year while combining to miss a total of two games due to injury before all sitting out a meaningless game against the Eagles in Week 17. Next week, the most meaningful -- and important -- game of Dallas' season will come against a much-improved Philadelphia team on Sunday night.

Duce Staley expects 'bumps along the way' with Eagles' RB rotation - NBC Sports Philadelphia
Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley will flat out admit there might be an occasion when one of his guys isn't satisfied with his workload after a game. Staley doesn't seem to think that's a problem or a bad thing, either. How the Eagles juggle their suddenly crowded backfield will be one of the biggest storylines to follow in the second half of the season. Both Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi and alleged starter LeGarrette Blount are known to have displayed their displeasure over a perceived lack of carries in the past. Now they're on a roster together, along with three other ball carriers.

Trey Burton talks Eagles' locker room, injuries and what could be a 'special season' - CBS Sports
The tight end credits the team's success to an intensified bond and an 'unbelievable head coach.’

'He's a hitter': Philadelphia Eagles new LB Dannell Ellerbe eager for opportunity with Birds - PennLive
Ellerbe, for his part, said he's healthy. He's spent the past three months working out with his eye on an opportunity that he believed would come -- even if he didn't know it'd lead him onto one of the NFL's best teams. "It was just a matter of when," Ellerbe said. "I can't deny my talent, I've just had some hiccups along the way with injuries and things. So, I'm just happy to be here, ready to help them win."

NFL tells Jerry Jones to cease and desist - PFT
Jerry Jones officially is on notice. According to Ken Belson of the New York Times, the six owners on the NFL’s Compensation Committee have sent a letter to the Cowboys owner telling him to cease and desist with his efforts to block Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension. The letter mentions a range of possible sanctions, including fines, stripping of draft picks, and suspending Jones. (PFT reported on Sunday night that some owners have discussed the possibility of initiating a proceeding aimed at forcing Jones to sell the team.)

A look at the Cowboys playoff possibilities, are they really done for the year? - Blogging The Boys
The Cowboys playoff chances as calculated by the same ESPN methodology after the Falcons game comes in at a low 24.9%. ESPN projects there are nine teams left in playoff contention in the NFC, they have conveniently dropped the Green Bay Packers out of the picture even though they have the same record as some of the contenders. Of those nine, the Cowboys have the worst odds of making it, with the Falcons next at 25.8%. The Cowboys already face the issue of losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Falcons if it comes to that. The Lions come in next at 32.5%. After that, you have teams that are actually in playoff position if the season ended today.

2018 NFL mock draft: Baker Mayfield lands in the top 10 - SB Nation
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson: The other bookend pass rusher at Clemson could find his way into the first round for many of the same reasons Ferrell could. Like Ferrell, Bryant has 6.5 sacks this season and is a good power rusher.


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[#] Tue Nov 14 2017 06:00:01 EST from rss

Subject: Tuesday Morning Fly By: Let

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

*Because this schedule is weird we are back for some more Minnesota Wild action tonight, this time in Minny. Here’s hoping for a goal this time. That’d be neat. Dave Hakstol has decided to mix up the middle six for this game, so it’ll be interesting to see what comes of it. []

*Ivan Provorov continues to be the brightest spot on the Flyers’ back end, and it doesn’t seem like that’ll change anytime soon. [The Athletic]

*The Flyers are struggling to score goals which means guys like Danick Martel, who isn’t struggling to score goals with the Phantoms, are going to get a little attention. []

*Speaking of the Phantoms, let’s take a look at how the kids are doing. [BSH]

*Mark Recchi is a guy a lot of Flyers fans still like for some reason, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame yesterday. Here he is in his own words, reflecting on his career. [The Players’ Tribune]

*So, now that this year’s class is in, who should we expect to get the HOF call next year? [ProHockeyTalk]

*And finally, I hope you like lockouts, because we’re definitely going to have another one in a couple of years. [ESPN]

[#] Tue Nov 14 2017 07:25:12 EST from rss

Subject: Jon Dorenbos Chronicled His Trade, Medical Discovery On Ellen

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The most popular former NFL long snapper and former Philadelphia Eagle Jon Dorenbos did his first interview since having open heart surgery. In typical Dorenbos fashion, the former America’s Got Talent finalist never got his spirits down as he was seen cheering up other patients in the hospital while he was recovering. Dorenbos talks with…

[#] Tue Nov 14 2017 07:30:26 EST from rss

Subject: Lane Johnson Threatened To Kill His Cowboys Fan Grandma (Jokingly)

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Lane Johnson took Dallas Hate Week to a whole new level. This game means a lot to the NFL-leading Eagles. It’s the Cowboys, in Dallas, with a win essentially clinching the NFC East for the Birds, and will also help smooth the path to a first-round bye and home field advantage in the playoffs. It…

[#] Tue Nov 14 2017 08:00:08 EST from rss

Subject: The Eagles haven

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Don’t feel bad when other teams come into town missing star players.

It’s easy to think that, when your team has gone 8-1 and you hold the top spot in the NFC with more than half the season in the books, everything has gone right. And, to be fair, a lot has gone right for the Eagles this season.

Carson Wentz has emerged as the league’s leading MVP candidate. The running back situation has worked itself out, and the addition of Jai Ajayi gives the team a true home run threat. Nelson Agholor has emerged from the catacombs of ineffectiveness to become an excellent slot receiver. The offensive line has performed well. The secondary has been better than anyone could have expected. The defensive line has been as good as promised. And Doug Pederson has been both a creative Xs and Os guy as well as a coach who has fostered a locker room in which everyone is pulling in the same direction.

Look, the Eagles have been fortunate. Dallas is without Ezekiel Elliot, who is suspended for at least the next three games, and the Cowboys will likely play the Eagles on Sunday night without one of their best defensive players, linebacker Sean Lee, who might miss several games with a hamstring injury.

But there is no reason to feel bad about this. The Cowboys aren’t the only team in the league dealing with injuries. In the NFC East alone, the Giants have lost their best player, Odell Beckham Jr., for the season, and Washington has lost a slew of players from both their offensive and defensive lines, including defensive star Jonathan Allen.

People like to point fingers at a team’s record and try to diminish an 8-1 start by noting (falsely, mind you) that the Eagles haven’t played anyone good. That many teams in the division are dealing with injuries, or suspended players. That they’ve been lucky to get where they are.

Yeah? And?

Let’s also not forget the Eagles have suffered a series of coulda-been crippling injuries, too.

Ronald Darby was injured in the second quarter of the season opener. In the Giants game, the Eagles were down to their fourth-string safety (special teams captain Chris Maragos, who also landed on IR). They lost their most electrifying offensive player, Darren Sproles, for the season. They lost their best offensive lineman, Jason Peters, for the season. They lost their best linebacker and the captain of their defense, Jordan Hicks, for the season. They even lost their kicker (Caleb Sturgis) for the season, and played multiple games without their amazing tight end, Zach Ertz.

Through it all, the Eagles have not only survived, they traded for a kicker off the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad who won a game on a walk-off 61-yarder.

A little lucky? Sure. But that’s not exactly something the Eagles have had much of over the last five decades.

When you lose an All-Pro quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, there’s almost no way to recover from that. But the Packers have had a decade of elite Aaron Rodgers, and no one cried for the Eagles back in 1991 when Randall Cunningham had his knee blown up, essentially ending their season in Week 1. No one got misty for the Birds when Donovan McNabb broke his leg and Koy Detmer separated his shoulder in subsequent weeks in 2002, forcing the team to finish the season with A.J. Feely. No one shed any tears when McNabb was knocked out of the 2006 season and Jeff Garcia had to resurrect their playoff hopes.

Julian Edelman. DeShaun Watson. David Johnson. Dalvin Cook. Spencer Ware. Joe Thomas. J.J. Watt. Richard Sherman. The list of injuries to NFL mega stars goes on and on. The NFL is all about “next man up,” and aside from Wentz’ emergence as one of the best young quarterbacks in the game, the Birds’ ability to do that, despite a number of crippling injuries, is the main reason they’re 8-1.

EVP of football operations Howie Roseman has done a remarkable job providing the team with solid depth at most positions, even with a lackluster draft this year, and the coaching staff deserves credit for coaxing as much out of the talent they have at positions that were presumed weaknesses.

So don’t let anyone tell you the victories are cheaper because they came against a Cowboys team without Elliot and Lee. The Cowboys certainly wouldn’t feel bad about beating an Eagles team without Sproles, Peters and Hicks. All NFL teams have to figure out a way to win amidst bad fortune.

The Lombardi Trophy wasn’t any bigger when Kurt Warner or Tom Brady surprisingly led their teams to their first Super Bowl victories, nor was it any smaller when Brady beat the Eagles in 2004 for their third title in four seasons. The trophy remains the same size no matter how you get it.

So, ignore the noise about the quality of the opponents. Ignore the noise about taking on teams when they’re at their worst. Enjoy the good fortune, and recognize the Eagles have done what many other teams have had a hard time doing.

Next man up.

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post from our friend John Stolnis from The Good Phight.]

[#] Tue Nov 14 2017 08:24:59 EST from rss

Subject: RADIO WARS: Chris Carlin Is Reportedly Leaving WIP, and 97.5 Has a New Program Director

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I’m admittedly a little late on this, but it seems Chris Carlin and his loud-mouthed New York shtick are leaving for… well, New York, where he’ll replace one of the biggest sports talk radio personalities of all-time. From the NY Daily News: It will take three voices to replace Mike (Sports Pope) Francesa. Industry sources…

[#] Tue Nov 14 2017 09:27:25 EST from rss

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If the Sixers shoot 21.9% from three and turn the ball over 20 times, can they win a game? Yes, yes they can. They can do it on the strength of their “big three”– Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and the soon-to-be paid Robert Covington. The trio was excellent on Monday night/Tuesday morning, scoring 85 of…

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