Subject: Wild 3, Flyers 0: What we learned from a second straight shutout
The Wild really need to change their name
Nine times out of ten with these stats, I’m observing a pretty dominating performance from the Flyers, not the Wild. They drove play at a fairly solid rate and even won the corsi battle after adjusting for score and venue. The much-maligned pairing of Ivan Provorov and Robert Hagg was excellent in this game by the metrics. Though I do think the pairing is still average at best, I hope this game serves as a building block for the two young defensemen and this can be a sign of things to come.
Yes, Valtteri Filppula lead the team in xGF%, and Jori Lehtera was not too far behind in fifth, but taking a look at their 5v5 TOI, which was 9:42 and 7:43 respectively, this doesn’t exactly scream they’re good now.
The middle six still needs work, even with the move to put Jordan Weal at center. I thought Weal had a solid game but when Dale Weise is on your wing along with a clearly hampered-by-injuries Wayne Simmonds, the play driving prowess of Weal goes for naught most of the time.
Flyers raw CF%: 61.25
Flyers adjusted CF%: 59.01
Despite trailing for all but 12 seconds of this game, the Flyers adjusted CF% only knocks off a little over two percentage points. Once again, this team played fairly well and probably deserved a win, but Devan Dubnyk and the ferocious stick checking from the Wild were just too much.
This Minnesota team is unreal at using stickchecks to disrupt plays. You get barely within in their range, and a threat just dies.— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) November 15, 2017
So the Flyers dominated possession and still lost. Where did they go wrong? Look no further than the trusty heatmap:
Yes this looks like the Flyers had a good amount of shot attempts from the slot as well, but for the majority of this game the only dark blue spot was right there on the point. Even worse is that IT WAS ONLY THE ONE SIDE OF THE POINT. Going to point shots is bad enough when struggling to create offense, but it’s even worse when most of those attempts were without screens in front of Dubnyk, and from only one side. As soon as the Flyers entered the zone you could predict the entire sequence most of the time before it happened.
A key example of this was in the second period, when Radko Gudas received a perfect pass at the top of the point following a rush up-ice, and had plenty of room to skate in and make it at least a little more difficult for the Wild goaltender. Instead, he takes a unscreened one timer from the point that Dubnyk calmly corralled and stopped play.
1. Can the Minnesota (anything but) Wild be banned from the NHL?
There will be no fancy stat rant in this at all, I just want to talk about how sorry I feel for Minnesota Wild fans. Now yes, I get that statement probably makes no sense, but how in the world do their fans put up with that for 82 games? Having only been born in 1995, the trap game of the 90’s to early 2000’s Devils do not serve as a memory for me — but after seeing the Wild play hockey back to back games I THINK I GET IT. That is some of the most boring, uneventful, just flat out horrible to watch hockey I have seen. If only it didn’t work so damn well for them...
2. EVERYBODY IT’S ON. SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS (from the point)
Earlier this month, I wrote a piece on how the Flyers shot selection at 5v5 had definitely improved from last year at least in October. The past two games against Minnesota have shown the exact opposite, with Minnesota clogging the slot area and blocking seemingly every cross-ice pass the Flyers attempted. It’s great work by Minnesota, and a horrible job of adjusting by Philadelphia.
This team is taking way too many point shots yet again. Is part of that due to solid checking by Minnesota in the slot area? Absolutely. But the Flyers seem extremely hesitant to go back to the slot if it at first does not succeed. There needs to be an adjustment made to find new ways to get the puck in high danger scoring areas if they want their 5v5 scoring to be a real threat.
3. Dale Weise needs to be off this team
Weise has spent just a little over a year as a Philadelphia Flyer. In his 78 games in orange and black, he has scored 10 goals and assisted on eight for 18 points. So far this season he has three points in 14 games. I understand his role is not to score goals and that will never be his role, but I struggle to find anything this guy does well.
I have a hard time believing that almost anyone we have playing on the Phantoms right now could be any worse than what Weise has been in his short time as a Flyer.
4. Brian Elliott kept them in it
As the Flyers offense was stymied all night long, Elliott managed to keep them within reach until he was pulled for the extra attacker at the end. The Flyers’ netminder didn’t face a whole lot of shots, but when he did they seemed to be prime scoring chances for the Wild, and Elliott was up to the challenge. Devan Dubnyk was the better goalie tonight, but his opponent had himself a pretty solid night as well.
5. It might just be time to split the first and fourth lines
I understand this is going to be an extremely unpopular take, and it’s not even one I like making. The top line of Giroux - Couturier - Voracek has been easily the biggest positive from the season so far and I don’t want to see it go. However, if the middle six continues to be a dumpster fire in possession metrics and on the scoresheet, a change might need to be made.
Couturier could stay the number one center and still be productive without Giroux on his wing, plus with Giroux facing possibly weaker competition on the “2nd line”, it might be the right move for Dave Hakstol. Ideally the Flyers center core would look like this when Nolan Patrick returns from injury.
That’s an obvious upgrade from the current state of Couturier, Weal, Filppula, Laughton.
Do I think this will happen soon? Probably not. I feel like the coaching staff will wait until Patrick has played a few games, and see how the middle six looks with him back in the lineup. If the struggles continue even with Patrick back in the mix, the center lineup above could very well be on the way.
Stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Corsica.hockey
Subject: Shooting Blanks: What
Subject: Nerlens Noel is Sitting on the Dallas Bench
Subject: NFL Draft Prospect of the Week: Bradley Chubb (again)
This is not the first time Bradley Chubb has been featured on this list and it is doubtful it will be the last time. Chubb has had some dominant performances this season, but had one of his best games yet against Boston College last weekend.
Against a Boston College team that has gotten more dangerous on offense this season; Chubb posted five solo tackles and four tackles for a loss, including 2.5 sacks. To put a cherry on top, Chubb also forced a fumble on one his sacks. A truly dominant performance.
For those keeping track, Chubb has now matched his 2016 sack (10) and TFL numbers (21.5) with two more games to go in the regular season. Another monumental moment, Chubb surpassed some guy named Mario Williams on Saturday as NC State’s sack leader. Now with 26 sacks during his career, Chubb is going down in school history.
Chubb’s dominant season has put him at the front of a relatively weak draft class. As a senior, he is a surefire first round pick (health permitting) and could easily be taken in the first 10 selections. It will be exciting to see Chubb play out the rest of the season, finish strong, and then go into the pre-draft process with a lot of hype.
Other performances of note
- Braden Smith, Guard, Auburn: Auburn pulled off a massive upset when they blew out the #1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday. While the domination was in every phase, it is hard to overlook how Braden Smith helped maul the Bulldog defense into submission. Auburn’s offense was humming and Smith’s incredible effort as a run and pass blocker was key in the Tigers’ big day.
- Bryce Love, Running Back, Stanford: The Washington Huskies defense is among the best units Bryce Love will see during his career and yet he was able to torch them in a 166 yard, three touchdown game. Love matched his career high for carries in a game (30) but was able to deliver as he single handedly took down the Washington defense. Love is now up to 181 carries for 1622 yards (almost 9 YPC) and 15 touchdowns. With three games left, at least, Love has a good shot at breaking 2000 rushing yards and breaking Stanford’s single season rushing yardage record (2,019).
- Calvin Ridley, Wide Receiver, Alabama: Alabama had quite the scare against Mississippi State last weekend but some clutch performances on offense and defense kept the Tide undefeated. Calvin Ridley had one of the best games of his career and easily his most productive game of the season when he posted five catches for 171 yards (a bonkers 34.2 YPC). Ridley showed off superior athletic ability, route running and strong hands as he was dominant at all levels of the field. Ridley is an older prospect and one that is underused in Alabama’s offense, but he is no doubt an exciting player who will have an immediate impact in the NFL.
- Maurice Hurst, Defensive Tackle, Michigan: Another regular on this list, Maurice Hurst turned in another dominant performance last weekend against Maryland. Maryland’s ground game never got cooking and their passing game was hopeless because of Hurst consistently being able to disrupt the line of scrimmage. Hurst has had a productive senior season and his consistency should put him among the top senior prospects for this year’s draft.
- Joshua Jackson, Cornerback, Iowa: For the third week in a row, Joshua Jackson rightfully earns a spot on this list. Even though Iowa could not beat Wisconsin, Jackson had TWO interceptions returned for touchdowns AND he forced a fumble. He scored all of Iowa’s points.... As a cornerback. For those keeping score, Jackson has five interceptions and a forced fumble in the last two weeks. So, on the season, Jackson is up to seven interceptions, 16 passes defended and a forced fumble. Not bad for the 6’1”, 192 pound junior cornerback. With dominant performances on a weekly basis, it would be strange at this point if Jackson decided to return to school.
- Rashard Fant, Cornerback, Indiana: Rashard Fant intercepted his first pass this season in a 24-14 win over Illinois. The 5-10, 180 pound senior may be a bit slight in stature but he has a big time game. He has broken up an incredible 52 passes in his four year career at Indiana and picked off five passes in the process. While he is not the classic turnover machine at cornerback, he is a feisty player who can make an impact against the run and is dependable in coverage. Will the NFL knock him for his size or see him for the complete defender he is?
Subject: Vinny Curry has quietly stepped up for the Eagles this season
Each Wednesday, the SB Nation NFL team sites explore a special theme. This week's theme is: “Your team’s under the radar defensive lineman.”
For me, this isn’t an easy pick. I’d say most of the players on the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive line are underrated — from a national perspective, at least.
Fletcher Cox is the exception since he’s a former first round pick who has been to two Pro Bowls at this point.
I’d say a lot of people probably don’t realize how good Tim Jernigan is. Then again, he just got rewarded with a 4-year, $48 million contract, so he’s not totally flying under the radar.
Brandon Graham gets a lot of love from Pro Football Focus each year. As the longest tenured member of the Eagles’ defense, his presence isn’t a secret.
Among the Eagles’ starters, then, that leaves Vinny Curry as the most under the radar player.
In his first year as a starter, the 29-year-old defensive end has been real solid. Curry has 18 tackles and three sacks through the first nine games of the season. While that might not seem overly impressive, consider Curry ranks second overall in PFF’s Run Stop Percentage (stops constitute a "loss" for the offense). Curry has 11 stops in 92 run snaps played.
Once upon a time in Curry’s career, he couldn’t even get on the field due to his poor run defense. Heck, he struggled to get snaps last year despite the fact he received a contract extension and the guy ahead of him on the depth chart, Connor Barwin, was failing to make much of an impact.
Things weren’t looking great for Curry when the Eagles signed Chris Long in free agency and then selected Derek Barnett in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Those players have ended up being nice contributors (and also contenders for the most underrated d-linemen), but Curry beat both of them out for the starting job. That’s good, too, because it allows Barnett and Long to be strong role-players instead of forcing them into starter’s reps, which isn’t as ideal.
Curry is a significant contributor to an Eagles defense that ranks No. 1 at stopping the run (fewest rushing yards per game allowed) and No. 1 in rushing the passer (most total pressures this season). It was questionable how much he’d contribute to this defense after a disappointing 2016 campaign, but he’s done a good job this season.
After seeing Adrian Clayborn notch six sacks against the Cowboys’ left tackles last week, Curry must be licking his chops at the potential opportunity to go against Chaz Green or Byron Bell this Sunday.
Barnett and Long, who I’ve already mentioned, also deserve consideration here. I’ve already written about both players a lot this season. I can’t say the same for Curry.
Here’s what I recently said about Barnett.
Stats: 300 total snaps (261 defense + 39 special teams), 13 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 field goal block.
Barnett has only played 45.2% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps this season, which ranks seventh among Philly’s defensive linemen. He wasn’t noticeably making a big impact early in the season but the rookie has seemingly come on lately. Barnett is getting pressure and showing up in the run game. Barnett ranks 20th out of 64 defensive ends in pressure rate; he has 25 pressures in 191 pass rush snaps. According to Pro Football Focus, Barnett actually ranks first overall in “run stop percentage” among all NFL 4-3 defensive ends.
Back when Barnett was selected at No. 14, 73% of voters here at BGN said they approved of the pick. I think that number would (or at least should) be higher today. Barnett’s been a nice addition as a rotational player in Philly’s defense. It’s important to remember that he’s still only 21 years old and pass rushers take time to develop in the NFL. He’ll eventually grow into a starting role.
We’ve been talking about Long all season due to his charitable contributions. As a player, he ranks 13th out of 40 defensive ends in pressure rate (three sacks, six hits, 18 hurries in 198 pass rush snaps).
Big Beau Allen is another great pick. The Eagles’ backup defensive tackle has generated 16 pressures in 181 pass rush snaps, which ranks as the 10th best rate among 4-3 DTs. Allen also ranks 16th out of 71 players at his position in Run Stop Percentage. Honey Beau Beau was able to fill in effectively while Cox was dealing with an injury earlier this season. It’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles handle his contract situation since he’s a free agent after this year.
Subject: Does Anyone in Philadelphia Care About eSports?
Subject: BSH Radio reacts following a 3-0 loss in Minnesota
Shut out again, Bill Matz searches for answer in the AHL.
The Philadelphia Flyers hockey club has been shutout of both games in this home-and-home series with the Minnesota Wild and Bill jumped on the BSH Facebook Live postgame to chat about the disappointing offensive effort on Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
Philadelphia’s defense and goaltending remained solid, with Brian Elliott posting his posting his third consecutive game allowing only one goal, and has now allowed two or fewer goals in eight of his twelve starts, including five of his last six outings.
But the offense was a different story once again. Minnesota stymied every opportunity the Flyers had, challenging every shot with a stick-on-stick check, limiting Philly’s time and space all night. Despite outshooting the Wild 30-20 (and, really, 30-18 when you consider the two empty net goals), the orange and black did not really threaten for most of the night as they battled tight defense and turnovers throughout the evening.
Potential call-ups who could remedy them offensive power outage (paging Oskar Lindblom and Danick Martel), evaluating the Brayden Schenn trade, looking forward to the upcoming NXT: War Games event and allowing for the idea that the Flyers are taking L’s so that the Eagles don’t have to is all a part of this hour-long postgame chat.
And hey, subscribe to our YouTube channel and watch our videos there!
Posted by Broad Street Hockey: For Philadelphia Flyers Fans on Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Now that’s a face only a mother could love.
Subject: RADIO WARS
Subject: Eagles announce jersey numbers for Dannell Ellerbe and Will Beatty
Plus the Eagles explain how they’ll fit in.
Ellerbe will wear No. 57, which was previously worn by 2016 seventh-round defensive end Alex McCalister. The last Eagles linebacker to wear No. 57 was Travis Long. Ellerbe previously wore No. 59 his entire career. Joe Walker currently has that number, so he’ll get to keep that, but Ellerbe could take playing time away from Walker.
Beatty will wear No. 66. He wore No. 65 with the Giants, which is currently occupied by Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson. The last Eagles player to wear No. 66 in a regular season game was Andrew Gardner. In an ideal world, Beatty won’t have to play for the Eagles this season.
For more on Gardner and Beatty, check out what Philadelphia’s coaching staff had to say about the signings.
Doug Pederson on Ellerbe and Beatty
Q. How much did LB Dannell Ellerbe’s and T Will Beatty’s experience in the postseason factor into the decision to bring them on the team now?
COACH PEDERSON: As far as the postseason none, but adding talent to our roster, everything. And that's what we do every single time we make a signing or a trade or a personnel decision, is to, as I've said and [Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Howie [Roseman] has said all along, that we continue to bring talent and add talent to our roster.
Q. In signing Beatty, he hasn't played much obviously the past few years. What made you want to bring him in at this point?
COACH PEDERSON: At this point, he has played games. He's been a starter in this league, and that's valuable. He comes in and just gives us that added depth that you like to have at not only the offensive line, but any position that we bring a player in for.
Q. What does that do to G Isaac Seumalo’s situation? Does he continue to take reps at tackle or does he move inside to guard?
COACH PEDERSON: Isaac is still going to work his rotation inside and outside. It doesn't affect Isaac. Will has to come in here and he has to learn just like any player, even Ellerbe. These guys have to learn our system first before we can fully engage them, just like [RB] Jay Ajayi. They have to learn and show us that they're capable of understanding our schemes before we put them out there.
Jim Schwartz on Ellerbe
Q. At linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, how does he fit in?
JIM SCHWARTZ: That's another one to be seen. He's a veteran player. He's played different positions. He's played different schemes. So a lot of times, getting those guys up to speed is a matter of getting terminology right and things like that. He hasn't been on the field for a pretty long time, so there's a semblance of getting back in football shape too. We'll let that play out and see where it goes. But it's good to have a veteran player there that has a lot of experience, and he's got both of those.
Q. Is he competing with LB Joe Walker as a base middle linebacker?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Yeah, I think we'll start him probably learning all three positions. Then also the nickel and the nickel Sam position, and we'll see where it goes.
Q. Why do it that way instead of trying to -- if he has a lot on his plate, trying to learn the defense?
JIM SCHWARTZ: If he was a rookie, it might be different. But he's a veteran player and he's played all of those positions in the past. When you come in halfway through the season, he's going to have to be available wherever it comes up, and we'll see where that takes us. But I think the thing that gives us confidence there is there is nothing that we are going to ask him to do that he hasn't done somewhere along the line. There's nothing he is learning for the very first time. It's all a matter of getting terminology down and getting in football shape. Those are really his challenges.
Subject: How did the Flyers
Obviously they didn’t produce a goal, but did they at least hold their on when it came to dictating play?
Keeping the highly productive line of Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek and the play-driving unit of Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl together, Hakstol shifted bodies in the middle six. A line centered by Jordan Weal featured Dale Weise and Wayne Simmonds on the wings, while Valtteri Filppula centered a combo featuring Travis Konecny and Jori Lehtera.
Unfortunately for the Orange and Black, nothing came of these changes in terms of goals being scored. However, we can take a little bit of a deeper dive into how the middle six performed at 5-on-5 in the road loss. Keeping in mind the Flyers trailed by one goal for 58:39 of last night's contest, there can be some takeaways from the slightly score-effected possession numbers, as well as their performance when it comes to the high-danger area in front of the net known as the “home-plate” area. (All stats via firstlinestats.com.)
Team Stats, 5-on-5
Fenwick: Flyers 34, Wild 23
Shots: Flyers 27, Wild 16
Fenwick from home plate area: Flyers 14, Wild 14
Shots from home plate area: Flyers 13, Wild 11
Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
Fenwick from home plate area: 5-4
Shots from home plate area: 4-4
With a 63.16 Fenwick for percentage last night, the line of Giroux-Couturier-Voracek did pretty well in terms of territorial play. When it came to quality chances though, it was a little bit closer. Although they finished with an 8-6 shot advantage, the Giroux-Couturier-Voracek line had five unblocked shot attempts from the home plate area to Minnesota’s four while they were on the ice and saw both teams produce four shots on goal from the home plate area apiece.
Going up against Tyler Ennis-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund for most of the night, Philly’s top line had a 54.55 Fenwick for percentage (6-5) against this unit, but saw the Wild’s top line produce three shots from the home plate area to their one. Most of Giroux-Couturier-Voracek’s damage came in the second period, where they posted an 81.82 Fenwick for percentage (9-2), 75 shots for percentage (6-2), and a 66.67 unblocked shots for percentage (4-2) from the home plate area while connecting on three of those four shot attempts.
Dale Weise - Jordan Weal - Wayne Simmonds
Fenwick from home plate area: 3-3
Shots from home plate area: 3-2
The new-look second line had decent numbers on the night, as they posted a 61.54 Fenwick for percentage and out shot the Wild 6-4 when on the ice together, but a lot of that was thanks to a change in line matching in the third period. After seeing Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Jason Zucker for the first two periods and very early in the third period, Weise-Weal-Simmonds (thanks to Dave Hakstol or Bruce Boudreau) saw the Daniel Winnik-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin line for most of the final stanza.
The Niederreiter-Staal-Zucker line held the new second line to a lowly 20 Fenwick for percentage (1-4) while generating three unblocked shot attempts from the home plate area to Weise-Weal-Simmonds’ one. Against the Winnik-Eriksson Ek-Kunin line, however, Weise-Weal-Simmonds posted a 75 Fenwick for percentage (3-1) out shooting the line 2-0 with one shot surfacing in the home plate area.
Travis Konecny - Valtteri Filppula - Jori Lehtera
Fenwick from home plate area: 2-1
Shots from home plate area: 2-0
Although they didn’t have the most significant impact when on the ice, the trio of Konecny-Filppula-Lehtera had a fine evening in terms of controlling play, as they posted a 66.67 Fenwick for percentage while out shooting the opposition 4-0. The new third line spent most of the night against the Winnik-Eriksson Ek-Kunin line, who they posted a 100 Fenwick for percentage (2-0) against with one of those unblocked shot attempts being a shot from the home plate area.
Konecny-Filppula-Lehtera’s biggest accomplishment last night was a shift they had against the Niederreiter-Staal-Zucker line and the Matt Dumba-Jonas Brodin pairing in the middle of the second period last night, as they produced two unblocked shot attempts from the home plate area while preventing Minnesota from producing a single unblocked shot attempt.
Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Michael Raffl
Fenwick from home plate area: 4-2
Shots from home plate area: 4-1
Posting a 75 Fenwick for percentage and producing five shots to the Wild's one while they were on the ice last night, The Honey Bees were The Honey Bees. From the home plate area, Leier-Laughton-Raffl had four unblocked shot attempts (all shots on goal) and held Minnesota to two unblocked shot attempts (one of which was a miss). Against the line of Marcus Foligno-Matt Cullen-Chris Stewart last night, the fourth line posted a 100 Fenwick for percentage (2-0) with both unblocked attempts coming in the home plate area.
The highlight for The Honey Bees last night was pinning the Ennis-Koivu-Granlund line and Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon pairing in the defensive zone for a shift that lasted over two minutes in the middle of the second period. The shift resulted in three unblocked shot attempts for Philly (two in the home plate area) and zero for Minnesota.
Again, obviously not the best return on the different middle six lines (since there wasn't, you know, a goal scored), but it wasn't the worst night at the rink for either of the lines. The top line and fourth line continued to control play despite their inability to find the back of the net. We'll see if Hakstol and company roll these four lines out there against the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow night.
Subject: The Two O
Idea: the Flyers, but with actual goals instead of just the idea of goals.
(All data in this post, unless otherwise noted, via corsica.hockey and its excellent Line Combos tool.)
Put another way: with each of those three players on the ice, the Flyers have put 69 shots on opposing goalies. That’s some pretty nice shot production, particularly for a fourth line. But how many of those shots have gone into the other team’s net?
Two. 2. Dos. Deux. Zwei.
That’s good for a shooting percentage of 2.9 percent. Just how low of a conversion rate is that, comparatively?
Through Tuesday night’s games, 33 forward lines had logged at least 100 minutes together at 5-on-5 in this young NHL season. Of those 33 lines, only one — a trio of forwards on the Rangers — has cashed in on a lower percentage of its shot attempts than the Flyers’ fourth line (a line which some of you may know as “The Honey Bees”, a nickname I refuse to call it in practice because of a natural and completely reasonable hatred of bees). Every other one of those lines has scored on at least five percent of its shots.
In some ways, the fact that Dave Hakstol has kept this line together more or less unflinchingly through the first six weeks of the season speaks to how good it’s been on the whole, even despite its snakebitten offensive results. As we’ve seen, the Flyers’ coach is more than willing to tinker with his second and third lines when they go cold (which, y’know, they have been for most of this season). And the fourth line has, indeed, been a strong all-around unit — none of the other 32 lines in the sample here has done a better job of suppressing shots on goal or attempts, and despite its comically low shooting percentage it’s only a minus-1 in goal differential on the season since it’s only been on the ice for three goals against.
And it’s not like they’ve just been bombing away from the points with these shots here, either. Look at Craig’s line-by-line breakdown from last night, for example — the group had four shots in the scoring-chance/”home plate” area, a pretty good amount for a fourth line being given fourth-line ice time.
The line has tallied 5.06 Expected Goals across all of its ice time, compared to the two that it’s actually scored. And the team’s Expected Fenwick Shooting Percentage with those three all on the ice (in other words, the percent of unblocked shot attempts you’d expect to go in the net based on the locations and types of shots that are being taken) is 5.95 percent, compared to its actual Fenwick Shooting Percentage of 2.35 percent.
Even if you grant that Raffl, Laughton, and Leier aren’t exactly bona-fide NHL snipers and shouldn’t be expected to completely live up to their shooting “expectations”, it’s nearly unfathomable that they’ve been this cold so far this season.
Things are probably going to get better here, and this line is probably going to start scoring. But we don’t really get nice things when it comes to this hockey team, so maybe they just won’t score again all season.
Subject: Eagles Injury Report: Zach Ertz and Ronald Darby among all 53 players who were full go in practice
Great news for the Eagles.
The great new is that all 53 players on the active roster were full participants in practice. This includes tight end Zach Ertz and cornerback Ronald Darby. Ertz missed the Eagles’ Week 9 game with a hamstring issue while Darby hasn’t played since suffering a dislocated ankle in Week 1.
Getting Ertz back is obviously important since he’s Philly’s leading receiver in all major categories. He’s Carson Wentz’s security blanket.
Getting Darby back is a boost for the Eagles’ defense. He’s the team’s most talented corner. Having him go up against No. 1 wide receivers will allow Jalen Mills to face off against No. 2 types. Meanwhile, Patrick Robinson can focus on locking down the slot. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz did say that Rasul Douglas could still see some playing time, so it remains to be seen how the Eagles will split up their cornerback snaps.
Backup cornerback/safety Jaylen Watkins was the only other player listed on the Eagles’ injury report.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES INJURY REPORT (WEDNESDAY)
CB Ronald Darby (ankle)
TE Zach Ertz (hamstring)
S Jaylen Watkins (hamstring)
DALLAS COWBOYS INJURY REPORT (WEDNESDAY)
The Cowboys are dealing with a number of key injuries. Jason Garrett said that starting left tackle Tyron Smith did not practice on Wednesday, so that’s a concern for them. Starting linebacker Sean Lee is also expected to miss several games.
Official Cowboys injury report TBA - check back for updates.
Subject: Ezekiel Elliott drops appeal, will serve full six game suspension
Zeke is out until late December.
Elliott was already set to definitely miss four out of the six games this season. But now he’ll serve the extra two games he potentially could have avoided missing in 2017.
The Cowboys predictably struggled without Elliott in their 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Dallas couldn’t establish the run, which put more pressure on Dak Prescott to carry the team with his arm. He couldn’t do it. Atlanta was able to take advantage of Tyron Smith’s absence and hit Prescott all game long.
Here’s a look at remaining five games left on Elliott’s suspension.
Week 11 - vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Week 12 - vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Week 13 - vs. Washington Redskins
Week 14 - at New York Giants
Week 15 - at Oakland Raiders
Elliott will eligible to return for the Cowboys’ home game against the Seattle Seahawks on Christmas Eve in Week 16. Then Dallas travels to Philadelphia to play the Eagles in Week 17. That final game could end up being meaningless depending on how things shake out for the Eagles and Cowboys in the NFC playoff race.
The Eagles will have a big chance to make Week 17 irrelevant by beating the Cowboys this weekend on Sunday Night Football. Dallas really could have used Elliott against Philly’s No. 1 ranked run defense. Instead, he’ll be out.
Of course, Elliott could have been active for this week’s Eagles-Cowboys game if he didn’t appeal his suspension and served it at the beginning of the season instead.
Or if he didn’t put himself in position to be suspended in the first place.
Subject: PREORDER YOUR UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATSHIRT NOW
Subject: Joel Embiid Just Planted His Flag Among the Philadelphia Sports Immortals
Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: If you think about it, do goals even exist?
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*Who among you is ready for Steve Mason to shut out this team? I know I am baby! The Flyers are back tonight, all the way up in the ‘peg, and here’s hoping they score >1 hockey goals. But ahead of that game, let’s look at what we learned from the last one. [BSH]
*The Flyers may not have scored a single goddamned goal Tuesday night, but how’d the forward lines look? Sometimes we can find promise in underlying numbers and whatnot. [BSH]
*Sam Morin is back! This is excellent news. One assumes we’ll need him at some point. [Sons of Penn]
*We are going to see some pretty nice looking jerseys for the outdoor games this year. [SB Nation]
*And finally, turns out being told that you’ve made the roster is not the best news a hockey player can get. [Yahoo Sports]
Subject: Staples of the Eagles
A look inside one of Doug Pederson’s money plays
Waiting through the Eagles’ bye week was 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. You can find the previous installations of this series here.
Today I’ll be taking a look at the dagger route concept. The dagger concept is one that’s most effective against cover 1, cover 2, or a coverage with two deep safeties, or a split safety look.
I want to start off with the primary read of dagger. The purpose of the route combination, which features a dig route (square-in route broken off around 12-15 yards downfield) and a go/fade route (running straight downfield). The dig route will pretty much always be ran by the receiver on the outside, while the fade is ran by the receiver shaded inside of him. What the purpose of the concept is is to clear out an area by occupying a deep safety or linebacker with the fade route, opening up an area for the dig route.
Unfortunately the play above is from the preseason and peasants like myself don’t have access to preseason all-22. Fortunately, Fran Duffy of the Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast did have access to this play and confirmed it to be dagger.
As you can see in Fran’s clip, the Dolphins are running a single-high coverage. Based on how the defense is aligned pre-snap it looks like man coverage, confirming cover 1. The job of the slot receiver — Nelson Agholor — who is running the fade route is to carry his man and the safety deeper to clear out the middle of the field to make the underneath throw to Alshon Jeffery — the receiver running the dig route — easier. The Eagles run this concept here off of play action which pulls the linebackers up, making the window and throwing lane wider. Jeffery easily gets inside leverage on his man and breaks off of his route to the middle of the field where the inside help is vacant due to play fake.
The Eagles ran dagger again here against the Redskins in Week 7. This pass wasn’t completed because the protection couldn’t hold up long enough to allow the route to develop. Wentz had a chance to potentially make an anticipation throw — a throw to a spot that anticipates the receiver will be right on time when it arrives — but the defender was playing with inside leverage and Wentz wants to keep the ball out of harm’s way if possible.
While the dagger combination hasn't been quite as successful for head coach Doug Pederson and the Eagles this year, he’s doing an excellent job of building plays within a play, giving Carson Wentz as many options as possible and taking advantage of the voids the dagger concept creates. In the play above, from the same Redskins game, the Eagles run dagger to the right side of the formation with three receivers. The two outermost receivers execute the route combination, while Zach Ertz who is in a tighter split runs a deep over route. The deep defender identifies the vertical route on dagger and runs with it, but what that does is clear area for Zach hertz to run to. The other safety on the field came up on the crossing route that Alshon Jeffery ran from the left side of the formation, completely vacating the area Ertz was running to. He should allowed Jeffery to be funneled towards the sideline, but drives, vacating the deep area of the field. This leaves the deep safety in a bind where he can’t abandon the vertical clear-out because the Redskins have seen this concept before, and have been burned on it.
Just as the play before, Pederson has concepts built into the dagger concept that serves as a secondary option is Carson Wentz doesn't like the dig route. The second option here comes in the form of Zach Ertz, who is running a drag route underneath. The route carries him into the area of the field that was vacated by defenders because of the dagger concept. This works in a similar way as the high-low read concepts I mentioned yesterday. All of the working route concepts are kept in front of Wentz so that he can make a decision based on how the defense reacts to the concepts they’re presented with.
I’ve mentioned that the fade route is primarily a decoy that, much like the fade route in the flood concept, rarely sees any action, but it is possible based on the personnel and how the deep safety reacts that the inside receiver could become an option. I mentioned earlier that the Redskins had been burned by the Eagles on the fade route, and the play above is where that happened. This took place in 2016 and was one of the early indicators of Pederson’s ability to scheme and Wentz’s talent. The Redskins come out with two deep, split safeties. The safety at the bottom of the screen widens as the receiver running the dig route gets vertical. This opens up the middle of the field for Jordan Matthews who is matched up against a defender that is trying to carry him to the deep part of the field. Matthews is able to eat up the cushion and get a little bit of separation on this throw. The play is made more so by Wentz, who put the pass on Matthews’ outside shoulder, where only he could make a play the ball.
This concept is limited by personnel and formation to an extent. You can run it with two and three receiver sets to either side, but it does require speed and the ability to break in quickly and separate. As I mentioned earlier, Pederson has done an excellent job to build in concepts and present as many options as possible for his young quarterback.
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, where you can follow me for more analysis like this. Now that I have a few of these rolling, I’d love to hear your suggestions. Hope you enjoyed!
Subject: Eagles News: Philadelphia has the best red zone offense in the league
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 11/16/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
Ranking every NFL offense by red zone scoring efficiency - PFF
The Eagles are one of the game’s best offenses, so it’s no surprise to see them maintain those standards once they hit the red zone. Their heavy use of run/pass-option plays also gives them a boost that other teams don’t get. This season the Eagles have used 27 more of these plays than any other team, and it allows QB Carson Wentz to simplify his reads and stretch defenses schematically. They have been more prolific from a passing standpoint in the red zone, and no team as has many passing scores from inside the 20 this season.
Vinny Curry has quietly stepped up for the Eagles this season - BGN
Among the Eagles’ starters, then, that leaves Vinny Curry as the most under the radar player. In his first year as a starter, the 29-year-old defensive end has been real solid. Curry has 18 tackles and three sacks through the first nine games of the season. While that might not seem overly impressive, consider Curry ranks second overall in PFF’s Run Stop Percentage (stops constitute a "loss" for the offense). Curry has 11 stops in 92 run snaps played.
Dawkins the Hall - Successful Launch! - BGNRadio.com
Hey, Bleeding Green Nation! Our Dawkins in the Hall campaign is off to a great start! I want to thank you for helping us get this off the ground. Brian Dawkins means so much to the people of Philadelphia and, together, we can return the love by getting him into the Hall of Fame! The response on social media has been incredible but what’s stood out even more is our petition. WE HAVE OVER 1000 SIGNATURES roughly 24 hours after we’ve launched! We’re so thrilled that you’re taking the time to sign and share our petition. With your support, we hope to double that number in the coming days.
Cowboys injury issues put Eagles' success, despite injuries, into perspective - PhillyVoice
Objectively, the Eagles have had far more injury adversity than the Cowboys this season, according to the website ManGamesLost.com (MGL), which tracks the number of cumulative injuries suffered by each team in the league. According to their data, the Eagles have missed a cumulative 96 games by their players. MGL doesn't name those players, but I believe I've pinpointed them as follows. To note, starters are in bold green print:
Who Are You? - Iggles Blitz
I also think part of what makes this team special is they have some “mutt” to them. LeGarrette Blount scored 18 TDs last year and the Patriots had basically no interest in bringing him back. Jay Ajayi got traded away from Miami because he was seen as a character problem on a team where the OL coach films himself doing lines of coke. Patrick Robinson didn’t exactly have a lot of teams trying to sign him. The Ravens dealt Tim Jernigan for the right to move up in the 3rd round. Wentz wasn’t highly recruited at all and ended up at North Dakota State. When the draft rolled around and he looked like a franchise QB that just about every team should want, the Rams said “We prefer Goff” and the Browns said “You’re not good enough”. I know Wentz still went 2nd overall, but you could imagine him feeling a bit slighted by the situation.
Identifying the best, most important games of NFL Week 11 - ESPN
It turns out Tyron Smith is very, very important. In Weeks 1-9, the Cowboys allowed their quarterback to be pressured on 19.9 percent of non-blitz dropbacks, 13th in the league. That number probably sells the offensive line a little bit short because Dak Prescott, being mobile, tends to hold the ball a little longer than average. Still, 19.9 percent isn't bad. But last week, with Smith out against the Falcons, that number rose to 37.8 percent. Facing pressure when the defense has a full set of defenders in coverage is a quarterback's worst nightmare, and Prescott was not his usual self in that contest. Smith's status is up in the air for this critical divisional bout, and clearly that is an important factor here.
Lawlor: The NFL Is The Survival Of The Fittest - PE.com
Football is a tough, physical sport. Players are going to get hurt, whether it's in the offseason, the preseason, or the regular season. Teams must be prepared for injuries. Head coach Doug Pederson talks about the “next man up” all the time. That's not just a phrase for the media. It is a mentality for his team. Pederson puts action behind those words. He gives his young players a chance to show what they can do. It gives them a feeling of confidence and helps to keep all the backups motivated.
'Dallas Week' intensifies for the Eagles - Inquirer
Some of the hype is admittedly media driven, but the players and coaches have a sense of what Eagles-Cowboys games mean to the Philadelphia fans. Coach Doug Pederson said as a player in 1999, he remembered hearing about it all week leading up to Sunday. “It was like you just [say], ‘I don’t care what else happens the rest of the year, you just have to beat the Cowboys,'” Pederson said. “That’s the mind-set of the city. … If you do win the football game, obviously the city of Philadelphia is, it’s big, it’s big for the city.” Quarterback Carson Wentz is playing in his third Eagles-Cowboys game. He said he’s “heard all sorts of stuff” from fans about the rivalry. “We don’t take it lightly, either,” Wentz said.
From home brewing to beekeeping, Dave Fipp may be NFL's most interesting coach - The Athletic
Fipp is one of the best special teams coaches in the NFL. But he's not afraid to admit he has other interests. “I hear guys say, ‘It’s all football. My whole life is football.’ And I’m like, ‘I could never be like that,'” he said. “I’m all football when it’s time for football. But when there’s not enough keeping me busy with football, when we’re in the offseason, then I need to find something else because I can’t sit in the house and relax. “I don’t know whether that’s unique or not. I also think there’s a lot of people who say, ‘My life’s all football’ because they think that sounds good on the outside. I’m not afraid to say that I’ve got a lot of interests and a lot of things that keep me interested. I’ve got no problem with that.”
Carson and Dak discuss the Wentz-Prescott rivalry - NBC Sports Philadelphia
Carson Wentz understands why people look at this weekend's matchup against the Cowboys as a matchup that pins him against Dak Prescott. Wentz knows it's a good thing for the conference, the division, and even the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry. He's just not about making this Wentz vs. Prescott. "At the end of the day, we're playing the defense," Wentz said. "I'm not playing Dak Prescott. I'm playing the Cowboys' defense and as a team, we're playing the Cowboys. I don't look into it too much. I really just focus on what we can do to beat this defense."
Will Beatty aiming to revive career in familiar setting - PennLive
Beatty, who said he arrived in Philly at about 300 pounds but plans to gain weight, had been working out at a training facility in Arizona this fall along with former Eagles guard Evan Mathis. He did his best to stay in shape but conceded Wednesday that it's tough to replicate the speed of an NFL practice. Still, Beatty said he's trained to ensure his past injury woes are behind him. He suffered a torn pectoral muscle and a rotator cuff injury in 2015 that derailed his career.
Anthony Hitchens will try to replace Sean Lee at weakside linebacker - PFT
Anthony Hitchens wants to be the best version of . . . Sean Lee he can be. The Cowboys play three games in an 11-day span, beginning with Sunday night’s showdown with the Eagles, and Lee could miss all three with a hamstring injury. That will force Hitchens to slide from middle linebacker to weakside linebacker. Jaylon Smith and Justin Durant will share middle linebacker duties.
Goff And The Rams Weren’t Supposed To Be This Good - FiveThirtyEight
The Los Angeles Rams had a 13 percent chance of making the playoffs at the start of the season and were projected to win just six games, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions. When they improved to 7-2 with a 33-7 demolition over the Houston Texans in Week 10, the Rams exceeded our projected win totals and now own a 71 percent chance of making the postseason. You can forgive our Elo algorithm for being so low on the Rams in the preseason — they did have the NFL’s worst offense last year1 and did finish on a seven-game losing streak as part of a 4-12 record. This season’s truly incredible transformation has taken place under the league’s youngest-ever head coach — Sean McVay, who was hired when he was 30 years old — and thus far, L.A. ranks among the best teams in the league (the same can’t be said about their fans though).
Why do NFL teams ignore kickers? - SB Nation
Kickers account for nearly a third of all NFL scoring, yet no team — except one — is focused on coaching technique.
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Subject: The Eagles are better than the Cowboys, and 4 other random Birds thoughts
It’s Dallas Week.
It’s Dallas Week, ladies and gents.
Before you run through a brick wall (and use a helmet, please), here’s five random thoughts on the NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles ...
- The Eagles are better than the Cowboys. Duh! We all read the standings. Somehow, I don’t think that applies here, because, well, there’s always going to be debate over the Birds and ‘Boys until the two actually face each other. And yet I am prepared to defend this — until, inevitably, I am proven wrong on Sunday. It took a semi-leap of faith to proclaim the Eagles as likely favorites over Dallas before the season, but it’s more obvious now: Philly is way more prepared to handle losses of depth, and Carson Wentz reigns supreme. That’s not a dig at a certain other quarterback (see the next point), but it is a dig at Dallas’ depth chart. It’s understandable that the Cowboys are struggling without their running back, left tackle, middle linebacker and kicker, but the Eagles have lost a running back, left tackle, middle linebacker and kicker, and they, my friends, are 8-1, fresh off a 50-point game, with no signs of slowing down.
- Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott are both good. I wonder if this sentiment will become as tired as the debates centered on which one is better. It should. Listen, QB talk is always fun, and there were plenty of Donovan McNabb vs. Tony Romo discussions had years ago. But just as many Eagles fans eventually gave props to Romo for being a competent, albeit annoying, signal-caller, it’d be in everyone’s best interest, I think, to enjoy Wentz’s magic rather than worry about simultaneously slamming Prescott. It doesn’t mean Philly shouldn’t get hype to root against Dak, but it’s OK to accept the Cowboys might have a good quarterback — and then let the Eagles’ own good quarterback beat him on the way to the playoffs.
- If the playoffs started today, the Eagles would probably be NFC Championship bound. Not going to lie — it wasn’t easy to write that and fully believe it, as much as Wentz and Co. have made things look easy in 2017. That’s because, in all honesty, we’ve yet to see what the Eagles look like against the not-to-be-overlooked Los Angeles Rams, and the Seattle Seahawks are no easy out in the postseason. (Oh yeah, and because the Eagles haven’t won a playoff game since 2008.) But Seattle is banged up in a bad way, Philly is right there with L.A. and has the edge at QB, and the Carolina Panthers, as we’ve seen, are far from immune. The point here isn’t to guarantee a Super Bowl run, but it is this: The Eagles are good. Very good. It’s OK to be excited.
- Howie Roseman is on some reverse “Dream Team” stuff. Everyone’s pouring the praise on the Eagles’ unofficial general manager and rightfully so. Has he overseen a playoff victory? No. Has he outdone himself in the worst of ways at times? Yes. But what he’s also done, in a remarkably short amount of time, is build the Eagles into a team that should be able to compete for it all right now and for years to come. It’s like the 2011 roster fully realized, without all the individualistic characters. Unlike that year, when Philly stockpiled veteran depth in hopes that the new pieces would catapult the Birds into contender status, 2017 has seen Roseman stockpile veteran depth to supplement an already promising foundation — one headlined by a homegrown commodity at quarterback and one that was chiefly responsible for the team’s meteoric rise.
- There hasn’t been a year so aligned in the Eagles’ favor in some time. Again, let’s take it easy with any championship talk. We know things change in a heartbeat in the NFL. But I can’t recall a season, outside of maybe 2004, that unfolded so beneficially for the Birds. That’s not a discredit to what Roseman and Co. have assembled. Doug Pederson is running a family, not just a team, right now, and it’s paying dividends on the field, where the team has overcome otherwise crushing losses of leadership in the form of injuries to Jason Peters, Darren Sproles, Jordan Hicks and Chris Maragos. The external help, however, has been abundant. From the Cowboys’ somewhat predictable tumble and the New York Giants’ inexplicable collapse to the utter unpredictability of the NFC North and a lack of truly scary teams in the AFC, the odds are in the Eagles’ favor. Now it comes down to staying on track.
Subject: The Joel Embiid Game: Five Observations from Sixers 115, Lakers 109