Each Wednesday, the SB Nation NFL team sites explore a special theme. This week's theme question obviously ties into the Thanksgiving holiday: “What are you thankful for?”
The answer is simple. We’re all very thankful for this Philadelphia Eagles season.
It’s been a magical ride. Going from 7-9 last year to 9-1 through the first 10 games this year ... who saw this coming?
It wasn’t even that crazy to think the Eagles were going to improve. But not many could have predicted they’d be THIS good.
The Eagles own the best record in the NFL. They own the best point differential in the NFL. They rank No. 1 overall in DVOA.
And while there are still six games left to be played, the numbers indicate they’re in pretty good shape.
#FlyEaglesFlyPosted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Eagles playoffs odds: 99.95%— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 22, 2017
Win division: 99.8%
First round bye: 83.4%
No. 1 seed: 59.6%
Win Super Bowl: 23.3% pic.twitter.com/ucq4ExM8VW
This is the best the Eagles have been in what feels like a very long time. (And arguably ever ... ?)
There’s so much credit to go around.
We’re thankful for Jeffrey Lurie for being patient with Howie Roseman and keeping him around to run this team. (I never thought I’d be saying that!)
We’re thankful for Roseman hiring Doug Pederson (another thing I didn’t expect to be saying) and making the trades it took to acquire a stud franchise quarterback: Carson Wentz. Not to mention hiring Joe Douglas to help him with player personnel evaluations.
We’re thankful for Pederson leading his team to such a good season. From creative play-calling to manifesting unselfish locker room culture, Pederson has earned Coach of the Year consideration. His entire coaching staff seems to be getting the most out of their guys.
We’re thankful for Wentz. He’s the franchise quarterback the Eagles have sorely lacked for too long now. No more talking ourselves into lesser talents. Wentz is the real deal. He could very well end up being the NFL MVP ... in only his second season!
We’re thankful for the best offensive line in the NFL. Even with Jason Peters out for the season, which is a huge bummer, Philly is still smashing people up front. They’re paving the way for a successful running game as well as keeping Wentz well-protected. Jason Kelce is having a huge bounce-back year. Lane Johnson is the best right tackle in the NFL. Stefen Wisniewski has stabilized the left guard position. Brandon Brooks is a Pro Bowl right guard who hasn’t allowed a sack all season. Halapoulivaati Vaitai has developed into a capable starter.
We’re thankful for a wide receiver corps that is SO MUCH BETTER from last year’s abomination. It took some time for Alshon Jeffery to get going but he’s looking like a No. 1 wide receiver recently. Nelson Agholor is no longer the worst receiver in the NFL. Torrey Smith is a legitimate deep threat. Mack Hollins is literally unstoppable. Marcus Johnson earned his spot on the roster with a strong camp and gives the Eagles even more depth. What’s great about this group is that they don’t complain about the ball being shared among themselves.
We’re thankful for Jim Schwartz and the Eagles’ defense. That defensive line is EATING. Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, and Chris Long are beasts. Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks, who a lot of people wrote off (guilty), have really stepped up at linebacker. The secondary is no longer a major weakness thanks to contributions from a number of cornerbacks: Patrick Robinson, Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Rasul Douglas. The safeties on the back end, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, keep things stable as well.
We’re thankful for a team that’s compromised of a number of players who do great work off the field. We’re thankful for what Carson Wentz was able to do for the Dutch Destroyer and his family. We’re thankful for Chris Long donating his entire season of paychecks in order to fund scholarships. These efforts make an already likeable team even easier to root for.
We’re thankful that this year feels different. We’re so used to disappointment. But this team is giving us something to believe in. There’s nothing fluky about what the Eagles are doing. They’re legitimately great. We owe it to ourselves to take a moment and appreciate how special this season has been so far.
We’re thankful for having the best fans in the NFL. The community here at Bleeding Green Nation is awesome. You’ve helped BGN become the No. 1 team site here at SB Nation ... of any sports league! You’ve helped me to run BGN as a full-time job. You’ve helped BGN Radio grow from “merely a podcast” to a podcast with a radio show on a SportsRadio 94WIP that also does live events such as broadcasting from the 2017 NFL Draft or concert venues. Your passion only helps to fuel ours.
We’re thankful that we can dream of having a parade down Broad Street in February. Hopefully that dream comes true. We deserve it.
Happy Thanksgiving, BGN.
Subject: Checking out the competition: New York Islanders with Dominik J
We’ve got not one but TWO games against those Islanders this week; let’s see what we should expect.
Kelly is joined by Dominik Jánsky, one of the editors over at Lighthouse Hockey, to break down what both Flyers fans and Islanders fans can expect from both games of the home-and-home that will take the Flyers up to Brooklyn and back again with some turkey and pie in between. Topics include:
- The future of John Tavares
- How the Oilers might benefit from having a scoring winger like Jordan Eberle
- The absolute madhouse that is the Metropolitan Division
- The excitement surrounding the Flyers’ crop of rookie talent
- The return policy on first-pair defensemen
The first game of this series is tonight in Brooklyn at 7PM, and then we’ll all nurse our food hangovers with a little afternoon Flyers action on Friday, when the Islanders roll into town for a 4PM puck drop. Let’s go Flyers!!
Subject: Eagles Injury Report: Jake Elliott among three players limited in practice
Updated on the Eagles’ injury situation.
BTW my understanding is that Beau Allen’s knee problem Sunday night was tendinitis, nothing long term. #Eagles.— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) November 21, 2017
Elliott is still in the NFL’s mandatory concussion protocol, but he was able to do some kicking during practice on Wednesday. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson seems confident Elliott will be ready by Sunday’s game.
“Listen, I don't want to speculate on a bunch of things and say, this and that and the other because a lot of it is speculation. But put it this way: I do believe and I feel in the bottom of my heart that Jake will be ready.”
Pederson also said he wouldn’t go into a game without a “real” kicker ready to play (sorry, Kamu Grugier-Hill). Given that the Eagles reportedly didn’t work out any free agent kickers this week, it does sound like the team expects Elliott to be ready for the Bears game.
As for McLeod and Burton, they must’ve gotten banged up in the Cowboys game as well. Right now there’s no indication that they’re in serious jeopardy of missing this week’s matchup, but it’s something to keep an eye on over the next few days.
That’s Rodney McLeod. He has a pinny (spelling?) tucked into his pants. May be a “don’t hit me” pinny to be used during team drills. He got shaken up during game in Dallas. pic.twitter.com/w2CPtVMQ4t— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) November 22, 2017
For those wondering about Sidney Jones, there’s been no real update on him. He’s still on the reserve/non-football injury list. Here’s what I wrote about Jones a couple weeks ago.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES INJURY REPORT (WEDNESDAY)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
DT Beau Allen (knee)
K Jake Elliott (concussion)
S Rodney McLeod (oblique)
TE Trey Burton (back)
CHICAGO BEARS INJURY REPORT (WEDNESDAY)
The Bears are dealing with a number of significant injuries.
Bellamy has played the second most snaps of any Bears receiver this season. He also contributes on special teams for them.
Floyd is definitely out for this week’s game since his season might be over. That’s a significant loss for Chicago considering he ranks second on the team in sacks.
Trevathan is another one of Chicago’s best defenders. He ranks second on the team in tackles with 52.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
WR Josh Bellamy (concussion)
DE Akiem Hicks (knee)
OLB Leonard Floyd (knee)
ILB Danny Trevathan (calf)
DE Roy Robertson-Harris (hamstring)
S DeAndre Houston-Carson (ankle)
TE Deon Sims (illness)
WR Dontrelle Inman (groin)
OT Tom Compton (ankle)
DE Mitch Unrein (knee)
CB Bryce Callahan (knee)
Subject: Carson Wentz leads all NFL players in early Pro Bowl voting
Too bad they’ll have other plans
Bills safety Micah Hyde is leading fan voting among AFC strong safeties for the Pro Bowl. pic.twitter.com/FYhFg7b8My— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) November 22, 2017
Carson Wentz who has thrown 25 touchdowns to only five interceptions for the 9-1 Eagles currently leads all players with 273,367 votes. Zach Ertz, who has caught 45 passes for 536 yards and six touchdowns in nine games, trails only the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski at the tight end position. If these numbers continue to hold up — they should if the Eagles keep winning — this would be the first appearance for both players in the NFL’s annual All Star game.
It’s no surprise to see both players open fan voting as potential starters. Typically whichever team from year-to-year that has an outstanding regular season, or puts up big numbers sees a lot of Pro Bowl selections — the Cowboys had five last year while the Falcons had six.
While Pro Bowl appearances do look nice, often players that are undeserving (see Smith, Alex) find their way in due to others electing not to participate, or as was mentioned earlier, the fan voting heavily favors a lightning in a bottle team. Fortunately, neither Wentz nor Ertz fall under that category, but it is surprising to see players such as Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Brooks absent. While it’s likely that that those three Eagles, amongst others, receive invitations to the Pro Bowl, the hope is that they’ll be declining them in preparation for the Super Bowl.
Subject: Flyers at Islanders lineups, start time, TV, radio, live stream and discussion
Tonight’s game begins at 7:00 p.m. ET and can be:
- Seen locally via NBC Sports Philadelphia (or via stream on the NBC Sports App)
- Heard via radio locally on 93.3 WMMR
- Seen in New York via MSG+
- Seen or heard elsewhere via NHL.tv, NHL Center Ice, or Sirius XM
Today’s call-ups of Danick Martel and Samuel Morin throw the expected lineup into flux a bit, as we don’t quite know how the lineup will change with those players in the fold. The below lines, until we hear something more concrete, are a guess and should be taken as such.
Projected Flyers lineup:
Giroux - Couturier - Voracek
Weal - Patrick - Simmonds
Martel - Filppula - Konecny
Leier - Laughton - Raffl
Provorov - Hagg
Manning - Gostisbehere
Morin - Sanheim
Lee - Tavares - Bailey
Ladd - Barzal - Eberle
Nelson - Beauvillier - Ho-Sang
Chimera - Cizikas - Clutterbuck
Leddy - Boychuk
de Haan - Pelech
Seidenberg - Mayfield
Subject: Black Friday Sale: Get some new Eagles gear
Black Friday is this Friday and our good friends over at Philly Phaithful have some deals for Bleeding Green Nation readers. The sale will last all day but the best deals are only available in the morning, so you’ll have to act quickly!
Here’s an option that I imagine will be pretty popular: Wentzylvania.
You can never go wrong with THIS one. Pretty timely: Dallas Sucks.
And another classic option here: TD 1-2-3.
And these are just three of many options at Philly Phaithful. They have more than just t-shirts. They also have onesies, hoodies, sweaters, and more. They also have gear for all four Philly sports teams. And more than just sports shirts! They also have Philly culture related apparel.
So go check it out and buy something on Friday morning if you want to take advantage of the savings.
You can also check out the sale going on at the BGN Radio store!
Subject: Fletcher Cox sued for allegedly having sex with a man
Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is being sued for allegedly having sexual relations with a married woman, according to a report from TMZ Sports. The woman’s husband, a North Carolina resident, is claiming that Cox ruined their marriage.
Josh claims he's got hardcore proof that the 6'4", 310 pound defensive tackle seduced and banged his wife behind his back while she was on a work trip to Pennsylvania back in April.
Jeffords claims Cox continued the relationship via text messages -- which Josh now has -- and he says it's smoking gun proof that Cox is liable for "alienation of affection" ... which you can sue for in N.C.
Lots of pun opportunities here.
TMZ reports the N.C. resident is suing Cox for “more than $25,000.” That’s essentially the equivalent of being fined for a dirty hit in the NFL. Note that the 26-year-old defensive lineman signed a six-year, $102.6 million contract extension with the Eagles in June 2016.
We’ll see what comes of this dispute, if anything at all.
Subject: NFL Power Rankings Roundup Week 12: Someone actually moved the Eagles down, lol
A look at what the experts are saying about the Birds.
Today we continue our weekly roundup of how various media outlets have ranked the Philadelphia Eagles in their NFL power rankings. It’s always interesting to see how the Birds stack up from an outside perspective. But first we’ll start by revisiting mine.
1 - The Eagles aren’t just merely beating their opponents. They’re absolutely demolishing them. No team is more complete right now. (LW: 1)
1 - The Eagles ought to be thankful they have Carson Wentz in Philadelphia. (LW: 1)
1 - The Eagles have had an OK season. They have the best record, have scored the most points, thrown the most passing touchdowns, have the best red zone efficiency, forced the third-most turnovers, allowed the second-lowest third-down conversion percentage ... you get the point. (LW: 1)
1 - There can be absolutely no debate as to who the top team in the league is after the Eagles trounced the Cowboys. Somewhere, Ron Jaworski, Wilbert Montgomery, Harold Carmichael, Mike Quick, Clyde Simmons and Wes Hopkins must've been smiling. Despite a slow start Sunday night, Carson Wentz showed not only that he is the top quarterback in a rich 2016 rookie class, but also that he is still the frontrunner for the MVP award. So what's next? See if all three running backs can get 100 yards in one game? Actually, the immediate task is for the Eagles to not let this win go to their collective heads. They've got the pesky Bears in Week 12, then road trips to visit the Seahawks and Rams. Whoa. (LW: 1)
1 - They basically locked up the division title by dominating the Cowboys Sunday night. Now they have to try and lock up the top seed. (LW: 1)
1 - The second half on Sunday night might be the most impressive half of football we’ll see this season. The Eagles outscored the Cowboys 30-0 after halftime on the road to virtually clinch the NFC East title. With the division all but clinched, the attention turns to getting home-field advantage through the playoffs. Given how well they’re playing in every area, if they can get the No. 1 seed it’s going to be very hard for an opponent to come into Philly and win in January. (LW: 1)
1 - The Eagles have lapped the field in the NFC East, as their dominant second half Sunday night in Dallas demonstrated. It took them a half to shake off the rust from their bye week, but once they got things revved up, Philadelphia again looked very much like the league’s most complete team. (LW: 1)
2 - Yes, I'm dropping the Eagles a spot after a convincing win over Dallas. This isn't meant to slight Philadelphia; it's more about the Patriots. Also, I need to see the Eagles deliver in the postseason before I'll fully buy in. Still, I view New England as No. 1 and Philadelphia as 1A. They are clearly the two best teams in the game. It was a sluggish start for the Eagles in Week 11. They didn't capitalize on turnovers and good field position—and that might be because of the bye-week hangover. In the second half, though, they stomped on the gas. Carson Wentz once again showed why he's the leading MVP candidate. The run game got going in a big way. Once the Eagles get a lead, they're almost unstoppable because of that run game and defense. The defensive line is the best in the game, and I was impressed by the play of the secondary against Dallas. Simply put, the Eagles are awesome. (LW: 1)
[BLG Note: Lol, it’s only power rankings, so who cares, but dropping the Eagles after a dominating win over a division is dumb. You can talk all you want about how the Patriots defense is suddenly “better” but they still rank 31st in defensive DVOA and 32nd in opponent yards per play.]
1 - 'I guarantee you we'll win the Super Bowl next year.' Alshon Jeffery made this proclamation in January ... when he was a Bear. Does it still count? (LW: 1)
1 - It was a wholly one-sided affair in Dallas on Sunday night as the Eagles continue to roll toward an early lock for the playoffs. With that being said, the Vikings' and Saints' success means the Eagles will need to continue to win if they want to secure home field advantage. (LW: 1)
1 - They started a little slow after the bye in Dallas, but they quickly found overdrive with a dominant rushing attack and swarming defense to support Carson Wentz. This team keeps getting better and is peaking at the right time. (LW: 1)
1 - Step One for making the no-kicker strategy work? Get Carson Wentz to play quarterback. (LW: 1)
1 - How hot are the Eagles right now? They didn’t have a kicker for the second half of Sunday’s game in Dallas and still ran the Cowboys out of the building. We all know Philly can air it out but the Eagles’ running game doesn’t get enough credit. The Birds quietly rank second in the league in rushing yards per game and have gotten a nice boost from Jay Ajayi, who has averaged a robust 11.2 yards per carry since arriving at the trade deadline. (LW: 1)
1 - No explanation (LW: 1)
2 - We could say the same thing about the Eagles that we just said about the Patriots. Despite a mistake-riddled first half that left them behind 9-7 at the break in Dallas, the Eagles were able to produce a multiple-score win on the road to basically clinch their division through 11 weeks. While it took some time, free-agent acquisition Alshon Jeffery has emerged as a bona fide No. 1 receiver for second-year quarterback Carson Wentz, scoring four touchdowns and averaging 2.70 yards per route run since Week 8 (10th among receivers). With seemingly endless options in the backfield and a top-6 defense in our rating system, the Eagles are going to be hard to slow down moving forward. (LW: 2)
1 - The prodigal sons have returned! DVOA's favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles, have finally returned to the top of our ratings this week thanks to a big win over the rival Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles have had the best record in the league for a couple weeks now, and most observers ranked them as the top team in the NFL. DVOA had them just below the top until now. The Eagles were No. 3 last week but slip ahead of New Orleans, which remains at No. 2. Last week's top team, the Los Angeles Rams, drops to fourth after losing to the Minnesota Vikings, who are fifth. The Eagles are also our new Super Bowl favorites according to the playoff odds report, although their odds of making the playoffs aren't quite at 100 percent yet. The Eagles still miss the playoffs in a grand total of 24 out of 50,000 simulations. (LW: 3)
2 - No explanation (LW: 4)
The rankings range from as high as 1 to as low as 2. The most common ranking is 1. The average ranking is 1.18, which is up slightly from last week’s average of 1.35.
The Eagles just continue to dominate their opponents. When it comes to the metric sites, they benefited from the Rams losing and the Saints not playing their best game.
It’s silly how some have the Eagles at No. 2 behind the Pats. I get it, they’re the Pats. But the Eagles are clearly just the best team in the league. Whatever. That’ll be settled in February anyway.
The Eagles can maintain their No. 1 spot with a win over the 3-7 Bears this week. Unless someone drops them for only beating Chicago by 25 instead of 30.
Subject: Islanders 4, Flyers 3 (OT): And the losses keep coming, and they don
Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in. And then drown me. The Flyers kept on losing, 4-3 in overtime. Not great, Bob.
The truth? The Flyers are mediocre, but sometimes fun. We’re deep in the “piss you off” portion of that statement.
Within the first minute of the game, the first line did what the first line does: set up an absolute beauty of a chance. Jakub Voracek threw one over to Sean Couturier who nearly netted himself the opening goal. They reviewed the play because for a minute there, it kinda looked like it just snuck in over the line and then bounced back out. There was a pretty funny little moment where Wes McCauley’s mic wouldn’t work and he ended up screaming “MIC’S NOT WORKING” as soon as his mic began to work.
Wes McCauley has some trouble getting his microphone to work and its hilarious pic.twitter.com/342rzIPU4v— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 23, 2017
Pretty funny, but also ... not fun. McCauley seemed a little too pleased to say no goal. Why so excited, Wes? Huh? Got a stake in the outcome of this sports game? Huh? I demand an ethics investigation immediately. The game remained scoreless.
It seemed pretty evenly balanced through the first five minutes of play, with shots tied, but the Flyers’ fourth line (and offensive zone beast Travis Sanheim) maintained great possession of the puck in the Islanders’ zone and Taylor Leier, Vincent Lecavalier’s bastard child, scored the first of the game and his first of the season off a Travis Sanheim shot.
This shit was exciting, and not just because the Flyers were winning. Like, remember the games against the Wild, when you were sure that you could just go to the bathroom during the game and still not miss anything? When you could feel your soul leaving your body, a sixty-minute long death rattle? The first period of this game was the exact opposite. Nerds called it “high event”, but I called it fun. Sure, the Flyers looked looser than a thrift store turtleneck and it’s not exactly the best idea to turn the puck over like it’s going out of style, but ... still. I love drama. I love chaos. I am a petty bitch, and this is what I crave.
Speaking of drama, Shayne Gostisbehere tripped the shit outta Matt Barzal and gave the Islanders a power play to end the first period. Please. Don’t score, The Islanders, I thought to myself. I just typed about a hundred words about how I love chaos. What the fuck is wrong with me? The Flyers in the middle of a five-game losing streak. Fuck, I hope they don’t score. Readers will never forgive me.
So, anyway, Matt Barzal scored. Tie game. If it was anyone’s fault, I would say ... pretty definitively? Not my fault.
Michael Raffl had his second breakaway of the game, and as he was streaking down the ice, a vision in white, I clenched my hands in prayer. I bargained away decades of my life for just one stupid goal, and for once, God looked down with all His Immense Glory, put a hand on my sweaty forehead, and told me my battle was won. Michael Raffl. Backhand, forehand. In. I screamed. I’m not ashamed to admit it. 2-1, Floors.
To be quite honest, I mostly blacked out after that until Ivan Provorov got called for a kinda dorky hooking call. That got my attention. The Flyers are notoriously bad at penalty killing now, so it didn’t surprise me that the first full minute of the power play was spent in their zone. Sam Morin made a desperate play, backhanding the puck out of the zone so they could make a change. Sam Morin is just too damn strong, though, and he put it out of play. Delay of game. Very bad stuff.
The puck movement was just insane for the Islanders 5-on-3, and of course, Zach Boychuk went bar down. Tie game. Again.
I went to get wine, because I was still riding high on Raffl’s goal. I barely had time to sit back down before the Islanders scored. Brian Elliott seemed super mad about it, immediately gesturing that it was deflected in with a high stick from Ho-Sang. He was wrong, though. They confirmed the goal, and the Islanders took their first lead of the game. The wine was no longer for celebration, but for mourning.
Jason Chimera is trash. We know this. You also know the old saying: you can take the trash outta DC, but you can’t take the DC outta trash. Or something. He tried to kill Nolan Patrick which is just like, the new thing these days, I suppose. It’s a trend. They’re trying to level the Sweet Boy playing field.
With the opportunity to even up the score on the power play, the Flyers did just that: Wayne Simmonds made an incredibly smart pass from the side of the net, and Jakub Voracek’s shot went off the post and in. Tie game. Again! I’m a broken record!
The Flyers opened the third period with a penalty to Brandon Manning. Makes sense. We don’t deserve good things. (Technically speaking, it was Claude Giroux who high-sticked the guy, but Brandon took the penalty regardless.) I felt a distinct and ever-present ennui as Manning began to serve his minor. Sure enough, the Flyers nearly killed the first penalty before Sam Morin took, uh, another penalty. Interference. Back to the penalty kill. More ennui.
The Flyers played an incredible aggressive penalty kill, though, and boy, that was nice to watch for a change.
If I was capable of feeling anxious over this hockey game, I would have been, but the Beaujolais Nouveau tempered all that. I felt fine. The game waxed and waned like the moon, with the Islanders controlling play for minutes at a time before the Flyers surged. I wondered about the outcome of the game, just about six minutes left in the game.
Just about that time, the Islanders took a penalty. A Thanksgiving miracle? No, but you know what was a miracle? Overtime! Or so I thought. The Flyers controlled the latter portion of the third period, but couldn’t tally, so to overtime we went.
I went into overtime feeling over-confident which was an objective mistake. It seemed like, before I could even really think about it, Casey Bailey had lost Gostisbehere and put the puck in. Islanders win, 4-3.
Wow, some bullet points:
- Our very good son Danick Martel (aliases: Danny Jr., the second prince of Dorne, the Orange Viper) made his NHL debut. He was definitely memorable, especially his breakaway towards the halfway mark of the first period. Kid is just so fast. I hope he stays up because he totally deserves it.
- Sam Morin made his season debut tonight which was pretty dope. He absolutely leveled Jordan Eberle along the boards, tried to drop the gloves, and took a nutso penalty. It was pretty fun, to be honest. Also, just as a reminder, Sam Morin forgot the word “brunch,” and now he’s a Flyer. The real glow up.
- These silly boys just keep giving up power play goals. What a friggin’ mess. I mean, they are aware that the idea is to keep the puck out of the net there, right? And ideally, keep the puck out of the zone? Maybe someone should write them a letter. I’m very concerned.
- Shayne Gostisbehere looked great tonight, but he did not play so well. (Seriously, a very yikes game from our favorite emoji boy tonight.)
- Brian Elliott always looks like he’s absolutely freaking the fuck out while in goal. He reminds me of myself whenever I have to make a phone call. He stopped 35 of 39 shots. I thought he did a great job tonight.
- Greiss tried to kill Brandon Manning after a breakdown in front of the Islanders net, which makes me think that the goaltender is an agent from the Oilers. We see you, Davo. You think you’re slick? Nah, bud.
- I know I already talked about it, but hey. Michael Raffl, everybody. That’s my man. I made Joe make this video for me because I needed it for scientific purposes:
Flyers are back at it again at Krispy Kreme on Friday afternoon against, gasp—who? The Islanders? Oh my god! Love a rematch. The tension will be palpable.
Go Flyers, and have an excellent Thanksgiving, folks.
Subject: Eagles News: Halapoulivaati Vaitai is playing well at left tackle (with help from Jason Peters)
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 11/23/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
Halapoulivaati Vaitai thriving for Eagles in place of injured Jason Peters - NBC Sports Philadelphia
Pro-rating the two halves of the Redskins game, which Peters and Vaitai split, here are the Eagles' averages with each of them on the field: With Peters: 28 points per game, 382 yards per game, 4.3 yards per carry, 131 rushing yards per game, 2.9 sacks per game. With Vaitai: 35 points per game, 367 yards per game, 5.0 yards per carry, 170 rushing yards per game, 1.4 sacks per game. Obviously, there are a million factors that go into those figures, but the bottom line is the offense has been motoring along just fine with Vaitai protecting Carson Wentz's blind side. "Like they say, 'the next man up,'" Vaitai said. "It’s sad to see what happened to J.P. Just one of those deals where you have to be ready filling in that role. The good thing is J.P. is still by my side. He texts me every now and then. He texts me before the game, he calls me after, tells me what I need to work on. J.P. always says, 'just calm down, get to your spot and you’ll be OK.' It’s just really, really good and makes me feel like he’s right there next to me."
Eagles film breakdown: Big improvement for 'Big V,' Halapoulivaati Vaitai - Inquirer
Since the 49ers game, the Eagles have had offensive game plans that account for Vaitai. Per coordinator Frank Reich, they’ve taken a three-pronged approach. 1. The Eagles have remained balanced; 2. They’ve had a fair number of quick, timing throws; and 3. They’ve given Vaitai (No. 72) help in pass protection with chip blocking.
We’re all thankful for the Philadelphia Eagles this Thanksgiving - BGN
Happy Thanksgiving from us to you!
Brandon Brooks: We asked coaches at halftime to let us run Cowboys into the ground - PhillyVoice
It started with Stout [Eagles’ offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland]. Once we came off the field for the first couple of series, we were like, “Stout, you know, we can definitely run the ball on these guys straight downhill.” He relayed that on. Stout does a good job of listening to what we’re saying and taking that feedback off the field and relaying it up. That got up to Doug at halftime. He came in and said, “I hear you guys as far as running the ball downhill. Coming out in the second half, we’re going to listen to you guys and we’re going to make it happen.”
A Tale of Two Teams - Iggles Blitz
The 2017 team has scored at least 20 points in every game. . The 2004 team won games 15-10 and 19-9. They only put up 3 points in the loss to the Steelers. The other key difference is the TO factor. He came to the Eagles and brought talent, attitude and swagger. His presence changed the entire personality of the team. That was a good thing in the short run, but proved to be unsustainable because he was emotionally fragile and highly volatile. The Eagles also went from being Donovan McNabb’s team to McNabb and TO’s team. Carson Wentz is the leader of the 2017 Eagles. Offseason additions like Jeffery, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount, Tim Jernigan, Torrey Smith, Patrick Robinson and Ronald Darby embrace him rather than splitting the locker room. This is a united team with great chemistry. This team just feels better. I expect this bunch to continue playing at a high level.
NFL MVP poll: Why it's Carson Wentz's award to lose - ESPN
The case for Wentz: He's the quarterback of the team with the best record and he leads the league in touchdown passes. That guy is always going to be a candidate, which is why Wentz received eight of the 12 first-place votes and four second-place votes. There's not much to not like. He's making good decisions, not turning the ball over, can help with his legs when the play's not there downfield ... you get the point. Coach Doug Pederson is nimbly altering the offense to fit its circumstances from week to week -- sometimes quarter to quarter -- and Wentz is in total command of it all.
NFL QB Rankings by PFF grade after Week 11 - PFF
6) After a few big throws on the first couple drives of the game on vertical shots down the sideline and up the seam, Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense lacked the type of rhythm we are used to seeing from them for a good stretch of the game, only to find it again as the game wore on in the second half. Wentz made two key tight-window throws in the red zone in the second half, one of them moving off the spot to find Torrey Smith on an in breaker for a touchdown, the other to Nelson Agholor on an absolute pinpoint throw just past the underneath coverage and in between both safeties for another score. Wentz continues to accel with the majority of his game, but has been particularly crisp on intermediate digs, crossers and seam routes in between numbers at the 10-19 yard range, where he has completed 71 percent of his passes with five touchdowns, zero interceptions and a passer rating of 144.1 in that area on the season.
For Philadelphia Eagles, tackles with different personalities thrive in Peters' absence - PennLive
Eagles teammates have a difficult time describing Lane Johnson's personality in succinct fashion. The 27-year-old offensive tackle wore a long, blonde wig during training camp to lighten the mood. He wrote a story on The Players Tribune this summer guaranteeing a season-opening win over Washington, and he relayed a story last week about how he told his Cowboy fan grandma to shut her mouth if she wanted "to live to see 75." "Lane is Lane," second-year offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai said with a slight grin.
All-22: How the Eagles trapped Cowboys DT David Irving all game long - The Athletic
A few weeks ago, the Eagles' offensive game plan against the Denver Broncos centered around keeping Von Miller off balance. Doug Pederson knew Miller could single-handedly wreck a game, so the Eagles used different tactics to neutralize him. They read him, they ran screens at him, and they chipped him in pass protection. The strategy was successful as the Eagles rolled to a 51-23 victory. On Sunday against the Cowboys, the defender the Eagles targeted was David Irving. Irving is a gap-penetrating defensive tackle who can be extremely disruptive. He's second on the team with eight tackles for loss, even though he's played in only six games. To neutralize Irving, the Eagles called on one of their staple runs: trap.
Big Question: Should The Eagles Give RB Jay Ajayi A Bigger Workload? - PE.com
With the running back rotation, I truly believe it will be a game-by-game thing. Depending on the situation, you’ll see amounts of LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and hey, we even saw Kenjon Barner come up with two big plays on the opening drive against the Cowboys. Pederson, Frank Reich, and Duce Staley have a clear idea of how to best use these running backs as the team prepares for a tough run down the stretch. If the Eagles are going to make a playoff run, they’ll need each running back on the roster to play a key role.
Derek Barnett has made the Eagles look brilliant - FanRag
Barnett now has 4.5 sacks, tied for second on the team with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and just 1.5 behind leader Brandon Graham. Meanwhile, some of the rookies the Eagles passed on haven’t matched his success. Allen, Cook and Foster each had medical concerns coming out of college. Allen has played just five games this year and has one sack. Cook had amassed more than 400 yards in his first four games before his season ended prematurely with an ACL injury. Foster, the 31st pick by the 49ers, has also been limited to four games by injuries. Charles Harris, a pass rusher who went eight picks after Barnett to the Dolphins, has just one sack in 10 games – the same number as Cowboy defensive end Taco Charlton, who went 28th.
Sacks coming for Eagles' Barnett, but strong play already there - DelawareOnline
The easy narrative is that Derek Barnett has turned around his rookie season because all of his 4.5 sacks have come in the last five games. But that's not how the Eagles see it. "I’m not going to feed into the narrative that he has transformed his game, and that’s why his sacks are coming," fellow defensive end Chris Long said. "He’s just good." Then Long added: "I think he’s rushed [the quarterback] well all year. He has had plenty of rushes that didn’t end up as sacks that are better than the ones he’s getting sacks on now. That’s the whole nature of being a pass rusher... I’m glad that he’s getting the recognition, but he’s been playing well all year."
Starting an NFL franchise? Plug in Wentz as your QB - Talk of Fame
In our weekly Talk of Fame Network poll, we asked that question – which young quarterback would you build an NFL team around? Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles won in a landslide with 76.5 percent of the vote. DeShaun Watson of the Houston Texans was next with 8 percent, followed by Goff at 7.7 percent and Dak Prescott at 4.7 percent. Winston and Mariota, the top two picks in the 2015 draft, each received less than two percent support. The three Talk of Fame Network hosts – Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge – agreed with the poll result. All cast their ballots for Wentz. “It’s hard to argue against Wentz,” Borges said. “None of the defenses that have faced him would argue against him, and me, neither.”
What I'm thankful for: the end of the Bears' John Fox era - Windy City Gridiron
There's but one blessing to count for the hapless Bears this year and that's six games left of Fox as head coach.
Why Cowboys WR Cole Beasley sat on the bench in a trance long after Eagles game ended - SportsDay
Cole Beasley will be my lasting image from the Sunday Night Football drubbing by the Eagles. It's not from the game. It's several minutes after the game concluded. Beasley was the last player off the field/sideline. While a few straggling teammates were at midfield jersey-swapping with Eagles players, Beasley still had not moved yet. He was sitting on the bench, his jersey/pads on the ground in front of his feet, and Beasley looking straight ahead...forlorn. Frustrated and disappointed, he sat there at least four or five minutes as sideline crew was clearing trash/headsets/Gatorade buckets from the area around him.
Donald Trump’s Twitter attacks on athletes are falling into a predictable, sinister pattern - SB Nation
The attacks on LaVar Ball and Marshawn Lynch show what the president is trying to do.
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Subject: Fantasy football start/sit advice guide: Best and worst picks for NFL Week 12
Helping you pick your lineups.
Disclaimer: Starts and Sits are relative to where a player is ranked on the aggregate. In other words, a “Start” is someone I like more than most, and a “Sit” is the opposite. So if I say to start Jacoby Brissett and sit Drew Brees, that doesn't mean I'd start Jacoby over Brees, it just means I think Brissett will exceed his expectations while Brees will underperform his. Cool? Cool. Let's get it. -Seltz
Disclaimer to the disclaimer: Hey guys. I just wanted to quickly say Happy Thanksgiving. I'm incredibly thankful to anyone who takes the time to read even one word I write, so thank you. With that in mind, I'm going to attempt to show my gratitude this week by doing things a little differently. I'm going to do more but less. More starts and sits, but less of my verbosity. I am going to actually, legitimately be more efficient with my words and live up to my (just appointed) nickname, “Mr. Brevity.”
Carson Wentz (vs. CHI) – He's matchup proof. Top 3 fantasy QB from here on out. Also, he's literally the greatest thing that's ever happened to me. He completes me.
Russell Wilson (@SF) – Ditto to everything I said about Wentz for Wilson, minus the whole completing me thing of course. Plus, Wilson faces a horrible Niners pass defense. If that kind of thing matters to you.
Matt Ryan (vs. TB) – Tampa's yielding the second-most passing yards per game of any team in the league. Ryan's been slightly better as of late, and he's at home. That's all I got.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. GB) – Ben is coming off his best performance of the season and is facing a trash Packers defense. Most importantly, he's playing at home. Home Ben is the best Ben. Road Ben is a total jerk though. Real Ben, also probably a jerk.
Jacoby Brissett (vs. TEN) – Brissett is...good? I'm going to say...yes. Brissett is good. You know what's not good? Tennessee's pass defense. In fact, it's bad. They've allowed 21 touchdowns through the air. 21! Again, bad. So in other words, this is your classic good vs. bad scenario. Gotta go good.
Nathan Peterman (@ KC) – Sean McDermott forced me to include Peterman as a start. He said I won't regret the decision, even if Peterman throws five interceptions in one half.
Thanksgiving Day Games:
Kirk Cousins (vs. NYG) – Only three teams have allowed more passing touchdowns than the Giants. They are also 29th in passing yards allowed per game and have yielded the third-most fantasy points to QB's. You know what that means, it's discount time! Fire up Kurt Coupons and the savings will start rolling in!!!
Drew Brees (@ LAR) – For what it's worth, I was saying to sit Brees before it was cool to say it. I'm still here.
Alex Smith (vs. BUF) – Alex Smith is still here too, I'm just not sure for how much longer. With Pat Mahomes waiting in the wings, Smith's season has taken a turn for the worse. I don't think it gets better for him this week, at least not compared to what is expected.
Mitchell Trubisky (@ PHI) – No one is starting Mitchell Turbisky. I think we can all agree on that. I'm thinking of this more as a career sit. The Eagles defense is going to be so up in Mitchell's grill on Sunday that it's going to scar him for the rest of his career. That's how bad it's going to be for old Mitchy. Or young Mitchy, I guess. Whatever, you knew what I meant.
Thanksgiving Day Games:
Dak Prescott (vs. LAC) – How long til people start calling for Cooper Rush?! I kid, I kid. In all seriousness, the Chargers are solid against the pass and they have the league's best pass rushing tandem in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Dak has been terrible the last two weeks without Zeke and Tyron Smith. I think that trend continues.
Kareem Hunt (vs. BUF) – Hey Andy, WTF bro?! Seriously, What. The. Eff. Why can't you change? After all these years you still won't run the effing ball when you have an insanely talented running back. It cost Big Red a game last week, I don't think it happens again. Why, you ask? Because the Bills have one of the league's worst rushing defenses. They've allowed 10 rushing TD's over the last four weeks. 10!!! Not even Andy Reid can be that stupid, right? Nevermind, let's move on.
Thanksgiving Day Games:
Melvin Gordon and Austin Eckler (@ DAL) – Dallas Sucks. No, seriously. They actually suck at football. They especially suck at defense when Sean Lee isn't on the field. Sean Lee won't be on the field.
Alfred Morris (vs. LAC) – Remember when people cared about Alfred Morris? Remember? People used to call him “The Butler” and “Alf.” You honestly don't remember that? Hmm. Anyhoo, point is, people used to care about him and now they don't, but they probably should this week. The Chargers have the league's worst run defense. Literally, the worst. I guess what I'm trying to say is, get ready for the return of Alf! Btw, I loved the tv show Alf when I was younger. Kinda weird that Alf ate cats though, right? Yeah, it's definitely weird.
Latavius Murray and Jerrick McKinnon (@ DET) – One of these two will be good for sure. Maybe even both of them. But definitely at least one. Which one? No idea. Hope that helps.
Orleans Darwka (@ WAS) – Darkwa has three main things going for him. One, he's not half bad – 69 (nice) or more rushing yards in six of his last seven. Two, Washington's allowed the third-most fantasy points to RB's. Three, he has an awesome name. That's good enough for me.
Jordan Howard (@ PHI) – No team has allowed less rushing yards per game than the Eagles. Zilch. Zip. Zero. Why am I only saying z-words? Point is, the Eagles are good at stopping the run. Especially when they don't have to worry too much about the pass. Yeah, you heard me Mitchy.
Joe Mixon (vs. CLE) -- I feel like this has a become a weekly occurrence, but in case you're new here, I'm not a Joe Mixon fan. I hate him. Plus, the Browns are sneaky good at defending the run. For what it's worth, they are also sneaky good at nothing else.
Thanksgiving Day Games:
None. None at all. I like all the running backs. Well, I don't hate any at least. And I'm thankful for that. See what I did there? Yeah, you're right. Not my best work. I'll try to do better. I won't, obviously, but I'll try. More importantly, the whole thing was a lie – Ameer Abdullah, who sucks, is a definitive sit for me against a stingy Vikings run defense. Sorry for lying. I'll make it up to you by attempting to be even more brief!
Alshon Jeffrey (vs. CHI) – ALSHON REVENGE GAME!!!
Danny Amendola (vs. MIA) – Obviously you're starting Cooks in a great matchup, but Amendola is a nice under-the-radar play too.
Corey Davis (@ IND) – This is a home run play, but Davis (17 targets over the last two weeks) is clearly talented and has a terrific matchup against Indy.
Thanksgiving Day Games:
Adam Thielen (@ DET) – You're starting (and loving) Thielen if you own him. Duh. But I just wanted take it a step further and say Thielen is a top-five wide receiver each week, regardless of the matchup, until further notice. It is decided.
Keenan Allen (@ DAL) – “Yoooooooooooo, that's my dawg.” That's what Keenan Allen owners were saying this past Sunday. Well, one of them was anyway. Allen busted out with 12 catches for 159 yards and 2 TD's. Now he gets to face an atrocious Dallas defense. As we've already discussed, Dallas sucks.
Josh Doctson (vs. NYG) – Docston continues to get better each week and is earning more and more of Kurt Coupons' trust. More importantly, he faces one of the worst pass defenses in the league. More more importantly, his last name sounds like a type of dog. A hot dog, dog.
Michael Thomas (@ LAR) – Don't get me wrong, Thomas is really good. And you're starting him if you own him. But he only has two touchdowns this season and is facing a good Rams pass defense, sooooooooo...
Amari Cooper (vs. DEN) – “OVER-RATED” *clap clap, clap clap clap” – OVER-RATED” *clap clap, clap clap clap” – OVER-RATED” *clap clap, clap clap clap.”
Thanksgiving Day Games:
Dez Bryant (vs. LAC) – Dez is bad. Casey Heyward, who will be covering him, is the opposite of bad. Way, way the opposite. Did I mention Dez is bad?
Marvin Jones Jr. (vs. MIN) – Two words: Xavier Rhodes.
Delanie Walker (@ IND) – Delanie has been really good, he just hasn't scored a touchdown. Well guess what, I'm calling my shot: Delanie Walker will score his first touchdown this week! Book it.
Jack Doyle (vs. TEN) – Same game alert! I won't say Doyle's going to score a touchdown. Which means he'll score one and Walker won't lol. Seriously though, Doyle is a target monster with an incredibly high floor.
Thanksgiving Day Games:
Evan Engram (@ WAS) – Washington is awful at defending tight ends. Engram is one of the better tight ends. Well, he's one of the better wide receivers masquerading as a tight end. Either way, he's good.
Vernon Davis (vs. NYG) – The Giants have allowed a tight end touchdown in every game this season, save for last week's s*** show against the Chiefs. With Jordan Reed out, Davis should thrive.
Cameron Brate (@ ATL) – Same and same.
Thanksgiving Day Games:
All tight ends not named Evan Engram or Vernon Davis.
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. CHI) – Mitchell Trubisky.
Thanksgiving Day Games:
Los Angeles Chargers (@ DAL) – Dallas Sucks.
None. For real this time.
Some guy who's playing in a dome or who's on a team with a good offense.
[BLG Note: Kamu Grugier-Hill! Just kidding.]
Any guy who doesn't qualify the above set standard for “Start.”
Subject: NFL Picks Week 12 2017: Predictions by Football Writers
Predicting the winners of this week's NFL games.
The Bleeding Green Nation writers picks are in for Week 12 of the 2017 regular season schedule! Each week we'll predict the winners of each and every NFL game. We'll tally the results along the way and see who comes out on top at the end of the season.
After Week 11, the collective BGN Community is still in sole possession of first place. Your lead slipped a little bit, though.
Feel free to post your own predictions or discuss the writer predictions in the comments. You can also vote for who you think will win the games. I’ll tally those results in a “BGN Community” column. Vote in the polls beneath the table. (Click here if you can’t see the polls.)
Let's get to this week's picks!
Vote for YOUR picks below. (Once again, click here if you can’t see the polls.)
Subject: No turkeys for the Birds this year
Eagles have been feasting
Dave: Tyler, it's Thanksgiving week. You know what that means: lots of food, having to watch the Cowboys, and people writing "turkeys of the season" pieces. Thing is, you can't do that this season with the Eagles. There are no duds on this team through 10 games. Their only loss came down to the last play of the game against a team that started the season white hot. Every unit of the Eagles is playing at a high level, and the coaches and front office are having great years too. This season is nuts. You look at the 8 win teams around the league and there's criticism to be had.
The Saints defense was pathetic to start the season, and we may have seen it start to come back to Earth against the Redskins. The Vikings have a QB decision to eventually make and could choose poorly, and they don't run the ball well. Despite a string of good results, Patriots defense is still suspect, they’re 31st in DVOA and 30th in weighted DVOA, so they're not trending positively. The Steelers let teams hang around way too much. The Eagles though, are near flawless. I'm not sure we've properly appreciated how complete the team has been.
Tyler: Thanksgiving week and I think the real discomfort comes from watching the Giants and Redskins ruin our evenings. Just thinking about it, that’s enough to give me indigestion.
You’re right Dave, the Eagles have no duds. They beat the Chargers, Cardinals, Redskins and 49ers, in games that were all pre-determined as duds or trap games. The fact of the matter is not only have they avoided duds, they’ve taken care of business exactly how you’d expect the best team in the NFL to do so. Just watching New Orleans struggle it overcome a 15 point deficit at home to beat the Redskins in overtime just adds perspective on how good and reliable the Eagles have been this year.
The Eagles have won in every way possible. They’ve scored in bunches against Arizona, Washington, Denver and Dallas. Their defense held against Washington, San Francisco, Dallas and Carolina. They overcame a seven point fourth quarter deficit against the Giants and deployed a near seven minute drive to run the clock out against the Chargers.
The offense and defense have been as good as advertised and the coaching adjustments made by Doug Pederson and company have been remarkable. They’ve handled adversity and kicked it (with Grugier-Hill) in the balls.
Dave: I am looking forward to the Giants-Redskins game. There's no downside. Nothing in that game effects the Eagles in any direct way. A Giants win would be best, because at this point the only thing winning does is hurt them in the offseason. Every win takes them further away from drafting a QB. Every win makes it harder to fire Ben McAdoo. So I'm rooting for the Giants. But a meaningless Redskins win after two bad losses will be good for the takes. There is no bad outcome. You're guaranteed to see at least one of them not win. A tie would be hilarious.
As for the Eagles, as you say, they've been tested in nearly every way, and succeed. It's not just the lack of dud games. It's also the lack of dud players. Isaac Seumalo was a dud to start the season, but he's played 43 snaps since Week 2, all of them either in garbage time or in a jumbo package, it’s not like he’s slowing them down. Chance Warmack was lousy, but he's played even less since the LG rotation ended. And that's it. There have been a few disappointments, Torrey Smith and Wendell Smallwood could have contributed more, but they haven't been duds. On defense, there's nothing to criticize. At this point, if we were handing out a Least Valuable Player to the team, we couldn't, there isn't anyone worthy of it. The Papa John's promotions are the worst thing going for the Eagles this year.
Tyler: Well, those are all good points for the division slopfest.
You’re right, and as far as coaching there haven’t been any duds either. Perhaps the LG rotation, but the coaching staff wasn’t stubborn when Seumalo struggled against KC. They’ve identified their issues earlier and have avoided doubling down on them, which would provide a Griswold-esque turkey.
Too often we see coaches—and members of the media, but I digress—double down on bad decisions in an effort to be right. That’s not the case in Philadelphia.
No turkeys here, can you believe it?
Dave: And Chris Long, who's better on (in Schwartz's defense) and off the field than Connor Barwin. The former was a low bar to clear, but the latter was a high one. And let's not forget Corey Graham. Like an offensive lineman, he's been invisible in the good way, that was a solid pick up. Those two, and all the other veteran acquisitions, have been impressive because they've all been happy to be cogs in a bigger machine. Winning sure helps, as we saw with TO having no issues in 2004 and then getting kicked off the team in 2005. Of course no one has that level of baggage, but it's a reminder that we've seen winning put a huge shine on everything.
Going back a step, yeah, I wrote about this during the bye, Doug Pederson (and his staff) quickly realizing his/their mistakes and correcting them has been impressive this season. the LG situation got fixed relatively quickly. And want to feel old? Remember those bad screen passes? They're gone. Year 3 is generally the make or break season for a head coach, so I'm hesitant to make a definitive statement (at this point in 2014, Chip Kelly had the 2nd best record in the league, though there were red flags) but over halfway through Year 2 we've got a lot more evidence that Doug Pederson is a good coach than a bad one. He's a good game planner and play caller (possibly a great one), he's made far more good in-game decisions than bad ones, he's done a good job with clock management, he's connected well with his players, he's put together an incredible staff (in fairness, some were holdovers), and most of his young players have developed under his tenure. I don't know if there are any positive boxes left to check, and while no one is perfect, I don't think he checks any definitive bad coach boxes either. Maybe everything is breaking the right way this season and Carson Wentz is such a talent that he makes everyone around him look great (remember when people thought Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano were good, or how Jim Caldwell nearly went undefeated and won a Super Bowl?), but I don't see any obvious warning signs. Pinch me, the Eagles might have a great QB/HC combo.
Tyler: We’re throwing out the great word now? I can’t lie, when I was rewatching the game, looking at the second half adjustments in Dallas, great popped into my mind. Obviously Pederson has more to accomplish before we can slap that tag on him, but to see a relatively young coach making these sort of changes, and the results showing a night and day difference, it’s encouraging from an X’s and O’s standpoint. I think the biggest turkey is thinking Pederson was the least qualified person to be an NFL coach over the last 25 years or so.
Dave: I thought he was solid as a playcaller last year. There's three general categories of play callers: those who are obviously bad, such as all the OCs Jeff Fisher had with the Rams, or defensively Rob Ryan; those who are obviously great, such as Sean Payton and I think Sean McVay, defensively Jim Schwartz is one; and everyone in between, replacement level play callers, which are most coaches. Pederson is at least a replacement level play caller. And maybe that's all he is. If so, fine, "good enough" is in fact, good enough.
Agreed, the biggest turkey is Michael Lombardi. It's one thing to critique a guy's credentials before taking a job/right after he was hired, but he did it after Pederson's first year. We're past the point of qualifications Mikey.
Speaking of big ol' turkeys, what have you got planned for Thanksgiving?
Tyler: Well Dave, I actually traveled and knocked Thanksgiving out earlier in the week, so I’ll sit back and watch the Lions and Chargers secure wins to help the Eagles and turn Rudolph or the Grinch (Not the awful Jim Carey one) on instead of watching 60 minutes of cheesy post-game catch phrases and Manning faces.
How about you?
Dave: You already celebrated? Are you Canadian?
My wife is making this prosciutto-herb-butter marinade/seasoning that she does, she rubs under the skin and it's incredible. (I don’t know the details, I usually do the cooking but on Thanksgiving I just get the hell out of the way.) It's turkey marinated with meat. I don't eat a lot of turkey, I don't really like it, but this is amazing. It's the best I've ever had. We're having BGN alum Adam Hermann over, and we'll get to watch some awful football with the rest of the division playing throughout the day.
Let's do some more completely dumb predictions:
Winner of whatever post-game Thanksgiving game award they give out in the Chargers-Cowboys game:
A) Joey Bosa
Winner of whatever post-game Thanksgiving game award they give out in the Giants-Redskins game:
A) Kirk Cousins
B) Evan Engram
C) Redskins OL
Sideline shots of Teddy Bridgewater: 4.5
Matthew Stafford fumbles: 2.5
Flashbacks of Tony Romo Thanksgiving day games: 2.5
Eli Manning intentional groundings that don't get called: 2.5
Kirk Cousins not intentional groundings that do get called: 0.5
Tyler: Full blooded American! Well half Caucasian, half Indian, but that doesn’t influence my holiday!
That sounds fantastic and I may or may not be drooling thinking about it, make sure to include the cats as well in the festivities! There’s no better way to make fun of everyone else than with a pal!
I’m going to go with other. Melvin Gordon will likely have 30 carries for 45 yards and three touchdowns, appeasing the Fantasy Gods.
Give me the over on Bridgewater shots (a healthy 5), the under on Stafford fumbles, the over on Romo tributes, the over on both Smith and Lee and I’ll even go as far as to say one after each 20-yard run and at least one every 2 sacks, the over on intentional groundings, and the under on the Cousins groundings, although I believe the refs were referring to the Redskins’ season being run into the ground on that play by an incompetent front office and ownership that smears a GM’s reputation.
Dave: As anyone who owns cats knows, they’ll be there. I’ll go under, over, under, over, over, under, under.
To close this out, I want to hear some good Thanksgiving horror stories in the comments.
Subject: BSH Radio reacts to a 4-3 OT loss to the New York Islanders
At least know if you’re talking about Andrew MacDonald or Colin McDonald, guys.
So, we’re six games into this losing skid and nothing is good. Except for the things that are, like Michael Raffl’s first goal of the season and Danick Martel.
In our reaction to Wednesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Islanders, Steph Driver has some hard truths about the state of the team and what is to be done moving forward.
We chat about the defense and goalies, and how they have historically been the excuse for the offensive woes, but that luxury no longer exists. And the team still isn’t scoring. We talk about how Claude Giroux is a fine captain and nothing needs to change there. And we talk about how Dave Hakstol is way out of his depth.
Ok Flyers, it is time for a chat. Post game live with Steph DriverPosted by Broad Street Hockey: For Philadelphia Flyers Fans on Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Subject: If the Eagles had Thanksgiving, who would bring the turkey?
A peek inside a Philadelphia Eagles dining room on the big day
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, ingesting cooked birds while reflecting on all that the Birds have given us in 2017, let’s take a stroll into the Philadelphia Eagles dining room.
Candles are lit. The room is festive. The air is crisp with the scent of victory — and maybe a little cinnamon apple. There’s Jim Schwartz, shades and all, conversing in the corner, his voice just loud enough to impede upon chitchat around the center table. There’s Doug Pederson, casually dressed with a turkey-themed visor atop his head, preparing for the gathering. The TV is humming in the background, the Dallas Cowboys game serving as an ice breaker as early guests absorb it like a favorite holiday comedy.
And here come the Eagles.
It’s dinner time.
The table is set, and out come the Thanksgiving favorites, each of them provided in potluck fashion by their appropriate Eagles guests ...
The turkey: Carson Wentz
Wentz not only offered to bring the turkey, but he probably shot the thing, too. Who better to provide the main course than the man responsible for feeding an entire offense?
The mashed potatoes: The offensive line
With lots of time on his hands, Jason Peters played a vital part in whipping these up.
The stuffing: Fletcher Cox
The big boy has done plenty of interior stuffing on the field, so he figured it’d be wrong of him not to contribute with this.
The biscuits: Beau Allen
The cookies: Jay Ajayi
Someone in the Eagles locker room told him he should bring the biscuits, but Ajayi arrived with these instead — and then proceeded to explain United Kingdom culinary lingo.
The green beans: Jalen Mills
No one was ever going to wrestle anything with the word “green” in it from him.
The corn: Tim Jernigan
At one point, he was adamant about helping Cox with the stuffing, seeing as though it fit his persona. The corn, however, ended up being the closest thing to resemble his gold grills, so he couldn’t resist.
The cranberry sauce: Donnie Jones
He just wanted to be that guy.
The pumpkin pie: Nick Foles
Just when you forget he’s on the roster, he shows up at the end of the game to close things out in delightful fashion.
On a serious note, we also want to take a moment to reflect on how the Eagles got to 9-1, the biggest reason Philly fans can be thankful for the Birds in 2017, and for that, we turn to our weekly game-by-game notebook:
Week One: Eagles 30, Redskins 17: Year Two of the Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson regime started with the Birds ending a five-game losing streak to the Redskins at FedEx Field, where Jim Schwartz’s front-four rotation led the way. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan combined for four sacks and two forced fumbles, the second of which was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by Cox, sealing a two-score, fourth-quarter lead. After fellow cornerback Ronald Darby was carted off with an injury, Jalen Mills also aided an Eagles “D” that gave up just 64 rushing yards and three third-down conversions, intercepting Kirk Cousins on a red-zone pass when the ‘Skins trailed by two. With uneven protection and a non-existent running game, Wentz (26-39, 307 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INTs) was the victim of a Ryan Kerrigan pick six but channeled his inner Donovan McNabb on an opening-drive scramble and 58-yard TD heave to Nelson Agholor, then extended plays with tight end Zach Ertz (8 receptions, 93 yards) to set up three Caleb Sturgis field goals and a Gatorade bath for Pederson.
Week Two: Chiefs 27, Eagles 20: Late-game grit and a stout start for Jim Schwartz’s defense weren’t enough for Doug Pederson to best ex-Eagles coach Andy Reid at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs used a 53-yard touchdown run from rookie Kareem Hunt, back-to-back fourth-quarter scores and six sacks of an overburdened Carson Wentz to decide a close one. Big stands from a banged-up Eagles secondary offset a rare Darren Sproles fumble on a punt return inside Birds territory, holding Kansas City to a 6-3 halftime lead, but heavy pressure on the Eagles QB led to a tipped interception and more red-zone chances for Reid’s unit. Still, Wentz (25-46, 333 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) started efficiently (7-of-9), spread 19 first-down throws to Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Zach Ertz and scrambled his way to a team-high 55 rushing yards on another dismal day for the backfield. Down two scores with :14 left, his 9-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor preceded a perfect onside kick from fill-in Jake Elliott, who made up for an earlier 30-yard field goal miss and set up a game-ending Hail Mary try.
Week Three: Eagles 27, Giants 24: They were without four injured starters on defense, gave up 366 passing yards to Eli Manning and lost a 14-0 lead after 21 unanswered Giants points, but Doug Pederson found — and stuck with — a rushing attack, not to mention a clutch kicker, as the Eagles sent New York to 0-3. LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement battered their way to a combined 160 yards on the ground, the former putting Philadelphia up 7-0 in the first. Clement tied the contest at 21 on a 15-yard fourth-quarter run after back-to-back-to-back TDs from the Giants — two acrobatic grabs by Odell Beckham Jr. and a 77-yarder by Sterling Shepard. But rookie kicker Jake Elliott, in his second game replacing an ailing Caleb Sturgis, was the real Eagles hero, booting a team-record 61-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. Carson Wentz (21-31, 176 yards, 1 TD) again found tight end Zach Ertz for a score, while the Eagles “D” had a goal-line stand and stout play from young cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas, the latter of whom had a pick along with Patrick Robinson.
Week Four: Eagles 26, Chargers 24: With Eagles fans turning Los Angeles’ StubHub Center into an unofficial home game, Doug Pederson kept the pedal to the metal, pushing Philadelphia atop the NFC East with a run-first approach sans an injured Darren Sproles. LeGarrette Blount (16 carries, 136 yards) led the way with a 68-yard Marshawn Lynch-esque gallop on a fourth-quarter drive that prefaced a diving Wendell Smallwood (79 total yards) touchdown and helped the Eagles dominate time of possession. Corey Clement also got five third-down carries for an offense that didn’t turn the ball over and set up four field goals, including a 53-yarder, from Jake Elliott. The Chargers kept it close as Philip Rivers (347 yards) extended drives with Keenan Allen, found Tyrell Williams for a 75-yard score and pulled L.A. within two with 6:48 to go shortly after a 35-yard TD run by an untouched Austin Ekeler. But the Eagles defense set the tone with an opening-series takeaway, a Chris Long strip sack, and helped establish an early 7-0 lead on a throw from Carson Wentz (17-31, 242 yards, 1 TD) to Alshon Jeffery.
Week Five: Eagles 34, Cardinals 7: A career day for Carson Wentz (21-30, 304 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT) and a suffocating start for Jim Schwartz’s defense all but put the Cardinals away after one quarter, when the Eagles led 21-0 after consecutive Doug Pederson-scripted marches down the field. A 15-yard lob from Wentz to tight end Trey Burton started the scoring, and a 76-yard punt return from recently reacquired Kenjon Barner (133 total yards) preceded TD passes to Zach Ertz and Torrey Smith, the latter of whom went 59 yards. Arizona’s Carson Palmer found John Brown for a second-quarter TD, but otherwise, the contest was all Eagles — the D-line got in Palmer’s face, the Cards got just 31 rushing yards and Philly’s Patrick Robinson broke up pass after pass, also blocking a field goal try. Barner and LeGarrette Blount also found lanes vs. a typically feisty Arizona “D,” and receiver Nelson Agholor’s 72-yard third-quarter bomb, with a juke and backward fall into the end zone a la DeSean Jackson, was the icing on the cake. Safety Rodney McLeod forced a fumble to stop a potential last-minute Cards TD.
Week Six: Eagles 28, Panthers 23: On the road with three days of rest, the Eagles overcame 10 penalties -- to Carolina's one -- and a scrappy Panthers defense that capitalized on injured tackle Lane Johnson's absence to pressure Carson Wentz and force an opening-drive fumble. Quarterback Cam Newton kept Carolina close with a 16-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 10, plus a late throw to rookie Christian McCaffrey that kept his team within one score. But Philly also engulfed his ground support via linebackers Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham (25 combined tackles), and cornerbacks Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson and Rasul Douglas all intercepted him -- Douglas after Fletcher Cox pressure, Robinson off a juggled dump-off and Mills on a wayward deep ball that headlined back-to-back defensive stands with about three minutes left. Two of the turnovers came deep in Panthers territory, where Wentz (16-30, 222 yards, 3 TDs) found Ertz for two TDs and, later, slot receiver Nelson Agholor for a 24-yard catch-and-run. A two-point try and two Jake Elliott field goals at one point had the Eagles up 28-16.
Week Seven: Eagles 34, Redskins 24: If 2017 is the year of Carson Wentz’s magical leap forward, Monday night vs. Washington was when the rest of the country got the memo. Dogged by four Eagles penalties and a punt-like pick on the opening series, Wentz (17-25, 268 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT) quickly took command of the game, finding rookie Mack Hollins, tight end Zach Ertz and reserve back Corey Clement for three straight scores — Hollins on a 64-yard bomb and Clement on an improbable sideline touch pass that came with Redskins swarming an off-balance Wentz. While erasing a 10-3 deficit, the quarterback also gained a team-high 63 rushing yards, 17 of which came on an inexplicable escape from a scrum in the pocket. The Eagles defense, which lost an injured Jordan Hicks, gave up two Jordan Reed touchdowns as Washington pulled within 10. It also sacked QB Kirk Cousins four times, forcing an easy Corey Graham interception. Philly later lost left tackle Jason Peters to injury but sealed a Redskins sweep with a fourth-quarter Nelson Agholor TD and two Jake Elliott field goals.
Week Eight: Eagles 33, 49ers 10: It was an off day in the rain for Carson Wentz (18-32, 211 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT), who gave the 49ers an easy third-quarter pick and felt pressure behind a Jason Peters-less line, but the Eagles used two turnovers and four sacks from four different players (Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Chris Long, Mychal Kendricks) to beat up on the rookie pairing of coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback C.J. Beathard. San Francisco kept Philadelphia to three points up to the two-minute warning in the first half, but a short TD throw from Wentz to tight end Zach Ertz came just 17 seconds before cornerback Jalen Mills picked off Beathard and weaved his way to a 37-yard score. A 51-yard Jake Elliott field goal put the Eagles up 20-0 early in the third, and a 53-yard connection between Wentz and receiver Alshon Jeffery on a jump-ball sideline pass countered the Niners’ only TD of the day, a shovel-pass catch-and-run by Matt Breida. A 12-yard fourth-quarter scoring run by LeGarrette Blount, tipped-pass INT by safety Rodney McLeod and late field-goal block by rookie Derek Barnett helped seal the win.
Week Nine: Eagles 51, Broncos 23: Even without an injured Zach Ertz, the Eagles out-schemed one of the NFL’s top-ranked defenses, racking up 419 yards and moving at will on another monster day for Carson Wentz (15-27, 199 yards, 4 TDs). Right tackle Lane Johnson kept Denver’s Von Miller at bay, and the Eagles owned the trenches to go up 31-9 by halftime. Leading the way behind the line, Jay Ajayi (77 yards) broke off a 49-yard TD run five days after arriving via trade, and No. 3 man Corey Clement went off for three scores — one on a screen pass and another on a perfect option pitch from Wentz. Wideout Alshon Jeffery (6 receptions, 84 yards, 2 TDs) also got behind the Broncos secondary with ease, and tight end Trey Burton corralled a 27-yard touch pass for Wentz’s third TD of the first half. Denver, meanwhile, mustered just two field goals and two garbage-time scores, including a strip-sack TD off Eagles backup Nick Foles, after going up 3-0 in the first. With picks from corner Patrick Robinson and safety Rodney McLeod, the Birds muzzled quarterback Brock Osweiler and held Denver to 35 rushing yards.
Week 11: Eagles 37, Cowboys 9: Desperate Dallas contained the Eagles early on, forcing four three-and-outs after a touchdown run by Philadelphia’s Kenjon Barner and leading 9-7 at halftime thanks to three field goals. But the Eagles ultimately overtook Jerry Jones’ house, scoring 30 unanswered points and rattling Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (18-31, 145 yards, 3 INTs). Reserve Corey Clement found paydirt on an 11-yard run behind a mauling line to start the second-half surge, and a 71-yard sprint by Jay Ajayi set up the next TD, an 11-yard strike from Carson Wentz (14-27, 168 yards, 2 TDs) to wideout Torrey Smith. Early in the fourth, Alshon Jeffery got his own TD catch on a diving fourth-down grab over the middle, and a 37-yard fumble return score by linebacker Nigel Bradham, after one of two sacks by rookie Derek Barnett, came three plays later. Rodney McLeod, Malcolm Jenkins and the newly healthy Ronald Darby all picked off Prescott, and the Eagles padded their lead with three two-point conversions after linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill replaced an injured Jake Elliott as emergency kicker.
Subject: Let us Give Thanks and Praise
Subject: Firsts! But still last
Subject: Crunching The Numbers: Chicago Bears
Will the Eagles roll on a topsy-turvy Bears team?
Happy Thanksgiving! It’s the best holiday (don’t let anyone tell you differently), so make sure to reflect on what a great season it’s been, enjoy the family, enjoy the football, and most importantly, ENJOY THE FOOD.
Welcome to yet another installment of Crunching The Numbers, a weekly game preview where I use a select few statistics to compare the Eagles to their upcoming opponent. For an explanation of why I chose these specific statistics, as well as an archive of previous entries, check out this hub.
What a great win over Dallas. I’ll admit, I was extremely nervous coming out of halftime. Nothing seemed to be going right on Sunday: the Redskins blew a 15-point lead over the Saints, the Vikings crushed the Rams, I got walloped in my fantasy game, and Kansas City lost me a point in my pick ‘em pool. Then the Eagles went out and were simply awful on offense, with Carson Wentz looking rusty and (at times) lost. Doug Pederson’s playcalling was beyond frustrating, as the running game which had served them so well was all but abandoned. David Fipp’s usually dominant special teams was completely out of sorts and their only kicker was undergoing concussion protocol.
There were only three things that I was able to take solace in as halftime rolled around: 1) The Giants continued to hurt their draft stock, 2) The defense was playing lights-out to keep them in the game, and 3) I trusted in Doug enough to make appropriate halftime adjustments.
And boy, did he ever. 30 minutes of football and 30 points later and we’re talking about how the Eagles embarrassed the Cowboys on national television. The story shifted entirely from the abysmal first half to this idea that the Eagles can simply “turn it on” whenever they feel like and bury whomever they happen to be playing. That is a quality of a team that opponents not only respect, but fear. While the saying, “I’d rather be feared than loved” is a questionable personal philosophy, it’s exactly what I want out of my sports teams.
My only concern is that Doug needs to figure out why his teams play so poorly coming out of a bye week. If they get one in the playoffs, they might not be able to afford a sluggish start against whatever competitive NFC team will be knocking on their doors.
- The Eagles should use the run game to set up play-action downfield, as the Cowboys are good at limiting big plays.
- On defense, the Eagles should employ their “big nickel” packages (3 safeties) to limit big plays while still playing strong against the run.
- The defensive ends need strong discipline to contain Dak on rollouts and bootlegs.
The clear dud in these predictions was the use of the “big nickel” package. I boldly claimed that Corey Graham might play over 50% of snaps... he only played 16%. Instead, the Eagles relied heavily on a traditional nickel package, as Patrick Robinson played 68% of snaps on defense. As the game wore on and the Eagles pulled away, Schwartz moved onto more dime looks.
The other two predictions, however, were more accurate. In the first half, Doug did the opposite of “lean on the run,” as Wentz thew the ball 18 times. As a result, they only put up 7 points. Then Doug came out in the second half with a run-heavy game plan and was immediately rewarded by Jay Ajayi’s scamper down to the red zone. Once the running game took over, the passing game opened up wonderfully, and the Eagles scored 30 unanswered points and 3-out-of-4 two-point conversions.
As I suspected, the Cowboys did indeed try to bail out their struggling offensive line with bootlegs and option plays. Some were successful (and even fooled the camera), but for the most part the swarming Eagles’ defense kept this in check. Still, the Cowboys had the best day on the ground against the Eagles since they played the Chiefs in Week 2, but this is overshadowed by the fact that Philadelphia’s 3-headed backfield monster piled up 215 rushing yards.
And finally, what is emerging to be the “signature stat” of this series is the opponent yards per point. I noted last week how Dallas, ranked 24th in this category, represented the average rank of all the teams the Eagles have played since I debuted Crunching The Numbers before the Cardinals game:
Every opponent the Eagles have faced since I debuted this feature in Week 5 has ranked 20th or worse in this category. In fact, the average rank during this time span is 24th, and the Eagles have also failed to score fewer than 28 points during this span. It is this stat that leads me to seemingly always say that the Eagles should be aggressive, as “points are there to be had” and so far this assertion has held up. Will the Eagles score 28+ points against the Cowboys? We don’t know for sure, but as long as they continue playing as well on offense as they have so far this season, there’s good reason to believe they will against this breakable Dallas defense.
Lo and behold, the Eagles went out and piled up 31 offensive points against Dallas (29 if you don’t count the two-point conversion after the defensive touchdown). Opponent yards per point might be the statistic we all want to pay attention to down the stretch, as it is becoming increasingly apparent that if a defense has a tendency to break, the Eagles will find a way to break it.
Now that I’ve written almost 1000 words about the dead-and-buried Cowboys, let’s look at the Bears! (Don’t worry. Like the 49ers, this week’s game notes will be sparse.)
As you can see, the Bears are simply outmatched by the Eagles in every category. The only statistic they show any promise in is OY/CMP, which isn’t terribly surprising considering the decent play of their safety tandem, which includes Penn State alumnus Adrian Amos. Unfortunately for the Bears, being merely competitive in one area won’t be enough to completely derail the Eagles. Will Wentz throw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns? Probably not. He may even throw a pick. But Chicago’s ineptitude on offense and generally mediocre defense means that Wentz won’t need a banner day to beat the Bears at home. Hell, he didn’t even need a banner day to beat the Cowboys in Dallas.
That being said, the Bears have played some pretty gritty football this season. They have two quality wins over the Panthers (7-3) and the Steelers (8-2), although the Steelers have a habit of playing down to inferior competition. The Bears have also taken a somewhat-surging Lions team (6-4) down to the wire. The common denominator for all of these performances is that they’ve occurred at Soldier Field and the Bears are playing in Philadelphia this week. Still, while the Eagles should win comfortably, I don’t think we can expect the Bears to just roll over and die right from the start.
I’m not going to go through my usual gameplan because, like the 49ers, it’s hard to say anything really insightful when the matchup is so lopsided. There is a part of me that wants to see them let Kamu Grugier-Hill handle kickoff duty and practice two-point conversions all game if Elliott doesn’t clear concussion protocol, but if something goes awry and they lose the game by a few points, Doug would get crucified for not having a plan for field goals.
Overall, I think the Eagles can get away with a “safe” gameplan of shutting down Jordan Howard and then leaning on the run game to try and keep everyone healthy. As long as the team plays disciplined, simple football, it shouldn’t be hard to come away with a win at home against this team. I wouldn’t be upset at all with a final score of, say, 24-13 where Wentz attempts 16 passes and the running backs rack up 150+ yards on the ground.
In short, while the Bears may try to really fight for this one in the beginning, I have no doubt that the Eagles can - and will - do what is necessary to put this game away, barring some sort of disaster. Stay focused and disciplined and win the game.
Happy Thanksgiving and GO BIRDS.
Subject: Islanders 4, Flyers 3: Observations as losing skid hit six games
Brian Elliott’s mastery wasn’t enough as Flyers drop overtime decision in Brooklyn.
The Flyers lost their sixth-straight on Wednesday in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Islanders, but there was more to it than just the box score. Here are 10 observations from the proceedings...in no particular order.
First line clicking as usual
Though the dangerous Flyers’ top line finished with just three points, they drove play with each linemate accounting for a Corsi-For of at least 53% on the night. Jake Voracek had the lone goal, but Sean Couturier was robbed of one just about a minute into the game on a big save by Isles goalie Thomas Greiss.
Even with the team finally getting some secondary scoring from Michael Raffl and Taylor Leier, it seems that the Flyers will only go as far as their top line takes with depth scoring coming so infrequently.
Return of the Raffl
Alright so he never really went anywhere, but given he’s been pointless to date, it was fair to ask whether or not the eye test would ever catch up with any production from the Austrian.
Despite being pointless, Raffl was solid as a part of The Honey Bees on Dave Hakstol’s fourth line along with Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier. That line, in fact, has been easily the Flyers’ second most effective line this season behind “Gingervisits” - or the “Gingerbeard Men”, if you will.
The issue with the fourth line was that no one was showing up on the scoring sheet, which has been a surprise considering Raffl has played top six minutes and even gotten run with Claude Giroux and Voracek on the top line in his time with the Flyers.
Well, all that was put to rest Wednesday as Raffl was arguably the Flyers’ best forward on the ice. He finished off a beautiful lead pass from Ivan Provorov and finished on the breakaway with a nice move on Greiss.
Secondary scoring, finally.
Desperate for some depth scoring, the Flyers finally got some on Wednesday thanks to Raffl and Taylor Leier, who opened the scoring. It was strong work from Scott Laughton on the Leier goal to keep the puck alive in the Isles’ zone and find Travis Sanheim jumping into the fire with a puck to the on Greiss. Leier was there for the rebound to punch home his first goal since December of last year.
Leier did a good job driving the net and got rewarded on the play, but not lost should be the work of Laughton, who had just one assist in 10 games prior or Sanheim, who has been doing a great job of getting pucks on net.
Unfortunately, that’s where the secondary scoring stopped in this one as Jake Voracek and the top line created the other goal, but it was a step in the right direction as other depth guys like Travis Konecny had strong games but didn’t show up on the scoring sheet.
Martel’s NHL debut
In the pursuit of more scoring, the Flyers called up Danick Martel, the AHL’s leading goal scorer. The diminutive Martel is listed at 5-foot-8 and 162 pounds but has a boatload of quickness and offensive sense that the Flyers hope to see going forward.
For his debut, he created a takeaway in one of his first shifts and sped in on a semi-breakaway that he just unable to beat Greiss on. He finished the night with four blocked shots - which led the team - and fired three shots.
His advanced stats weren’t great with a Corsi-For of 39%, but he was saddled with Valterri Filppula and Konecny, who aren’t world beaters in their own zone. For now, the Flyers will look for a spark offensively and not much else from the 22-year-old.
Penalty kill struggles early, but redeems itself later
The first two Islanders goals came via the man-advantage in this one and it looked like the Flyers’ ugly penalty kill would again doom them, but the unit did recover to kill off the last three penalties they faced in this one.
On Mathew Barzal’s power play marker the Flyers’ penalty kill was hemmed in deep in front of Brian Elliott. Though it was a five-on-four, it looked like a five-on-three with how compressed the four Flyers got in tight to their crease. The Islanders took advantage and worked the puck around until Barzal had a lane and didn’t make a mistake. It was too much room to give and not enough puck pressure from the Flyers out on the kill.
Johnny Boychuk’s power play goal came on a two-man advantage thanks to a delay of game penalty to Sam Morin, but more on that in a minute. Five-on-threes aren’t easy to defend but the Flyers did a nice job letting Boychuk, not exactly Erik Karlsson, get the good chances instead of Tavares and Co.
Problem was that Boychuk ended up picking the top corner on a one-timer, which there’s no way he did on purpose. Nevertheless, sometimes you just have to tip your cap on perfect shots like that.
The good news was that the Flyers came up with three massive kills —including two back-to-back in the third during a 3-3 game— the rest of the way, which was a huge reason they were able to escape with a point.
Morin struggles in season debut
Sam Morin waited patiently to get into the lineup this season and it looked like he was pressing in this one. His delay of game resulted in a goal and could have been avoided if he was a little more confident with the puck on his stick in his own zone. His second penalty also gave the Isles a chance to break the tie and it was a bad one as he lost track of where Jason Chimera was.
Things will get better for Morin, who looked anything but smooth at times, but the Flyers aren’t looking for him to drive play offensively they’re looking for him to give them good penalty kill minutes and block some shots for now.
Brian Elliott was masterful
If you watched you already know how ridiculous some of the saves Elliott made in this one were. His unique style was on display as he flopped all over the place to keep the Flyers within reach of points in this one.
In all he made 35 saves on 39 shots but deserved a better fate given that he had no chance on nearly every Islanders goal. The veteran was also the backbone of those back-to-back penalty kills in the third that were crucial to the Flyers securing a much-needed point.
Did I mention that he also threw it back with a sick two-pad stack in the second period that brought back some crazy 90’s goalie nostalgia. You don’t see them much anymore, and that’s too bad because they’re awesome.
The side-of-net Simmonds play delivers
The Flyers have lived off this power play move for years but it hasn’t produced this season. It’s simple as Giroux hits Wayne Simmonds at the side of the net on the goalies hip, then Simmonds spins toward the net or fires a backdoor pass to Voracek.
It’s been a staple on the power play for years but hasn’t clicked a lot until tonight when Simmonds turned and fired a perfect pass to Voracek who was able to tie things up a 3-3.
Simmonds hasn’t been himself to through 20-ish games, and he hasn’t scored since Oct. 21, but he’s still a threat that teams have to respect on the power play and that creates chances for his teammates.
It wasn’t a banner game for Shayne Gostisbehere, folks. Besides the obvious part where he lost Josh Bailey on the game-winning goal, it wasn’t a good night for the Flyers’ high-scoring defenseman all-around.
He sat at a Corsi For of 37% for the night, didn’t make crisp breakout passes that we normally see and lost more coverages than Nnamdi Asomugha. Though he’s not gonna to be confused with Chris Pronger defensively, he’s got to be better than he’s been lately and maybe all of his banter with the officials is affecting his play.
Feels good to get back in the Metro
It’s nice to see a division opponent for once, as the last one came all the way back on Oct. 14 against the Caps. It’s a takeaway because the Flyers will be loaded up with a ton of division games the rest of the way and will need to step their game up in what is a terribly competitive division this season.
As it sat stands the Flyers sit last in the Metro but are just eight points out of first place.
Subject: Lions vs. Vikings: Thanksgiving football game time, TV schedule, more
Let’s go Lions.
THANKSGIVING FOOTBALL IS HERE!
The Lions are three-point underdogs at home despite defeating the Vikings earlier this season. Minnesota has won six games in a row while the Lions are riding a three-game win streak.
As far as the Philadelphia Eagles are concerned, a Minnesota loss would be great. That would give the Eagles more breathing room at the top of the conference and allow the Eagles to more easily clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff picture. The Vikings are currently second behind the first place Eagles.
Find everything you need to know about today’s game below.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Game time: 12:30 PM EST
Date: Thursday, November 23
Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Location: Ford Field | Detroit, Michigan
Minnesota Vikings -3 (-110)
Detroit Lions +3 (-110)
Over/under: 46.5 points
SB Nation Blogs
Vikings - www.DailyNorseman.com
Open thread: discuss Thursday's game in the comments below.