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[#] Wed Jan 10 2018 18:32:49 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles Injury Report: Two players limited ahead of Falcons game

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Everyone else was full go.

The Philadelphia Eagles released their second official injury report on Wednesday in advance of their Divisional Round playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Dannell Ellerbe returned to practice in a limited capacity after entirely sitting out of Tuesday’s session. Ellerbe said he expects to play on Saturday. With the Falcons prone to utilize heavier personnel packages, he’s expected to see some decent playing time at middle linebacker.

Sidney Jones is a new addition to the injury report. The rookie corner said he’s dealing with some “soreness.”

There’s been some question as to what Jones’ role in the playoffs will be. My read on things is that he’ll be inactive on game day. He’s sure not going with be starting; Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby aren’t being benched. So if the Eagles keep Jones active, he’d mainly be used for special teams. And Rasul Douglas is probably better suited for that role since he has experience doing that this season. Plus Douglas isn’t dealing with a hamstring injury. Even if Jones is on the active game day roster, I wouldn’t expect him to contribute much.

Jay Ajayi, Brandon Graham, Jalen Mills, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai were all full participants for the second day in a row. They’re good to go for Saturday.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES INJURY REPORT (WEDNESDAY)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION

LB Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring)

CB Sidney Jones (hamstring)

FULL PARTICIPATION

RB Jay Ajayi (knee)

DE Brandon Graham (ankle)

CB Jalen Mills (ankle)

OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee)

ATLANTA FALCONS INJURY REPORT (WEDNESDAY)

Matt Ryan returned to practice on Wendesday after missing Tuesday’s session due to personal reasons.

Julio Jones missed the second day in a row but he’s not in danger of missing Saturday’s game. The Falcons are just resting him.

Backup linebacker LaRoy Reynolds was added to the injury report on Wednesday with a knee issue. He was limited. Reynolds ranks second on Atlanta in special teams tackles.

DID NOT PARTICIPATE

WR Julio Jones (ankle)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION

RB Devonta Freeman (knee)

WR Mohamed Sanu (knee)

LB LaRoy Reynolds (knee)

FULL PARTICIPATION

QB Matt Ryan (not injury related)

TE Levine Toilolo (knee)





[#] Wed Jan 10 2018 18:53:11 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles won

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Encouraging news.

The Houston Texans will not be hiring Philadelphia Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas as their next general manager.

Instead, the organization plans to hire Bills executive Brian Gaine, according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport. Gaine spent time in Houston’s front office from 2014 to 2016.

The Texans were reportedly interested in Douglas for their vacancy. They requested an interview with the Eagles executive but Philadelphia blocked it from taking place. The Eagles had the right to block it since their season is still going on. Had the Texans waited until if/when the Eagles are eliminated from the playoffs, they would’ve been able to meet with Douglas.

While there’s still time for things to change, it seems like Douglas is a safe bet to return to Philadelphia in 2018. He hasn’t been connected to any other openings around the league. And most of them have been filled at this point anyway.

Douglas is a valued member of the Eagles’ organization. It’s not always clear what he is/isn’t responsible for when it comes to personnel moves, but we do know he’s the one who sets Philly’s draft board. The Eagles have also acquired a number of players with ties to Douglas since he’s arrived in Philadelphia. Several examples include: Tim Jernigan, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Dannell Ellerbe, and Corey Graham.

Good to know Douglas is likely sticking around.





[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 06:00:02 EST from rss

Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: Oh captain, my captain

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

*Claude Giroux is an All-Star! Hell yes, baby. [BSH]

*We’re nearing the end of this infernal break, but before the boys are back we’ve got a few more of them to judge. Let’s start with the good stuff: our top defensemen. [BSH]

*And then, the rookies on the blueline. Who, when compared, are actually really interesting. [BSH]

*Claude Giroux is enjoying himself this season, in case that wasn’t evident. [NHL.com]

*Our pal Charlie took a look at some manually tracked Flyers’ microdata for the season and discovered a few interesting trends. [The Athletic]

*Would you like the know what Carter Hart has been up to since he won a gold medal? Me too. [Philly.com]

*If nothing else, Tyrell Goulbourne’s call up has left him with a pretty cool story. [The Morning Call]

*And some of the other prospects, because why not. [Philly Is Flyer]

*Chris Pronger seems to be doing well in retirement, which is just so great to see. [Courier-Post]

*So...which NHL GMs are on the hot seat? Anyone missing, in your opinion? [ESPN]

*And finally, the NHL’s offside review has been nothing but a terrible mess since it was implemented, and it’s gotta go. [ProHockeyTalk]





[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 07:57:27 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Carson Wentz has

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 1/11/18.

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

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles’ regular season - PhillyVoice
With Wentz, the Eagles would likely be touchdown favorites at home on Saturday against the Atlanta Falcons. Without him, they are 2.5-point underdogs as the No. 1 seed, to a No. 6 seed. Any logical person who saw Wentz play this season knows how special of a player he is. There’s almost nothing not to like. He’s 6’5, 240, strong arm, accuracy has become a strength, mobility, ability to throw on the run, incredibly smart, tough, mature, willing to make difficult throws, open to coaching, and his teammates love him. Assuming he doesn’t have injuries plague his career, Wentz’s ceiling is, “Best player in the NFL.” That’s what Eagles fans have to look forward to for the next decade-plus.

Eagles have signs posted all around their facility to remind the team they’re underdogs this week - BGN
Embracing the underdog role.

Know Your Enemy – Atlanta - Iggles Blitz
The Falcons are not a team to be feared, but they sure as hell better be respected. They aren’t playing great football this season. Last year was special. They’ve come back down to Earth, but this group is talented, tough and knows how to win. I think the real key is limiting their running game. Matt Ryan is still capable of having a big game and beating you through the air, but I would take my chances with him. Turn him into a drop-back passer. Make the line pass block. Don’t let them get into a good rhythm and sustain drives. Atlanta was the best 3rd down offense in the league this year.

Eagles’ Brandon Graham plans to play despite high-ankle sprain - ESPN
Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham is recovering from a high-ankle sprain but was a full participant in practice for a second straight day Wednesday and plans on playing in Saturday’s divisional-round game against the Atlanta Falcons. ˇGraham told ESPN he went to see a specialist in North Carolina after injuring the right ankle on Christmas night in a game against the Oakland Raiders. The specialist found no ligament damage, Graham said. ”I feel great and I’m ready to go,” he said.

RB Jay Ajayi Is Fresh And Ready To Rumble - PE.com
A span of 20 days will have passed from the last time running back Jay Ajayi carried a football in a game, December 25 against Oakland, to Saturday’s playoff game against Atlanta. Twenty days. Time off to recover, to become refreshed. Enough time for Ajayi to feel like he’s got all the energy in the world for the Falcons. “I feel good. I’ve been working diligently with the training staff doing my usual routine of just making sure I feel fresh for the games,” Ajayi said on Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex. “It’s been a long season, but I’m only hoping it’s longer than this and we just continue to move forward. “I feel really good, like, I feel really good.”

Can the Eagles be an annual Super Bowl contender? With Carson Wentz, it’s possible - Daily News
“It’s no secret that if you have a player like that at that position, the future is going to look bright,’’ former NFL executive Andrew Brandt said. “You look at the way the 49ers are feeling about their future right now with [Jimmy] Garoppolo. Even with what happened to the Packers this season, you’ve got to believe they think they can be a Super Bowl contender every year as long as they have Rodgers.’’ “It’s everything,’’ Banner said. “It’s why I look at them now and feel they are going to be very good for a long time. “I don’t think [Wentz] is just a good quarterback. I think he’s a huge, difference-making quarterback that people are going to look back on his career and what they were able to do with him and he’ll be talked about with the best quarterbacks.’’

Why Nick Foles enjoys facing schemes like Atlanta’s - NBC Sports Philadelphia
Foles is 3-0 vs. Cover-3 teams, completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 8.0 yards per attempt with five touchdowns and one interception. He amassed those numbers in three different seasons while playing for three different teams. And though two of his three wins were against a hapless Jaguars franchise that went 14-48 under former coach Gus Bradley, Foles also knocked off the Seahawks in 2015 while with the Rams. ”Any time there’s success in a game, it’s where you’re comfortable,” Foles said. “You’re in a rhythm, you’re in the zone, and you’re just seeing your progressions. You have protection up front, your guys are running crisp routes. That’s the big reason any time with a Cover-3 defense you have success.”

Eagles wake-up call: The case for a Nick Foles bounceback performance - The Athletic
One of the strengths of the Eagles coaching staff under Pederson has been its ability to scheme and gameplan for specific opponents. Offensively, the Eagles have faced this type of defense twice this year — against the Los Angeles Chargers and against the Seahawks. They should know how to attack it and be able to give Foles opportunities to hit on big plays. The offensive line has to protect. The run game has to be productive. And the receivers can’t afford costly drops. If those things happen, maybe good Nick shows up, and the Eagles advance to the NFC title game.

2017 PFFELO NFL Power Rankings - The Divisional round - PFF
6) We will soon learn if the gnashing of teeth over Nick Foles’ poor play during the last two games of the season is reason enough to dismiss the first 13 games of the Eagles’ season. With Foles being a paltry 12-of-27 on passes traveling more than 10 yards in the air (and 2-of-12 on passes traveling more than 20 yards), the Eagles will need to rely on their backs and tight ends to generate plays in the passing game this week. Unfortunately, the Falcons have one of the best coverage linebackers in the league in Deion Jones (90.5), who helped neutralized Todd Gurley a week ago in Los Angeles. Throw in the strong play of De’Vondre Campbell (78.4) and Keanu Neal (87.8), and we have a hard time being bullish on the likes of Zach Ertz (fourth among tight ends in yards per route run) and company overcoming the lack of Carson Wentz in this one.

7 Philadelphia Eagles who might be most important to beating the Falcons - PennLive
To win a title, the Eagles would need their best players to make hefty impacts on each postseason game. With Wentz out of the fold, Cox is as dominant and as prominent as anyone in a midnight green jersey. And if the second-team all-pro could cause consistent havoc in the Falcons’ backfield to throw Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan out of rhythm Saturday, the Birds would like their chances of earning a win.

Atlanta needs to improve their starting field position Saturday against the Eagles - The Falcoholic
Here’s a not-so-fun fact you might have already known: The Falcons did a really lousy job of setting up their drives for success in 2017. In fact, they had the worst starting position in football during the regular season, and that only got a little better during the first round of the playoffs. The Falcons have fallen short on offense for many reasons, but one that looms large is their notoriously poor starting field position. The tweet below is a stark reminder of just how much starting field position has impacted this offense, which put up elite numbers when it came to moving down the field, but frequently stalled out in the red zone.

Three key matchups: Falcons at Eagles - The AJC
Falcons LB Deion Jones vs. Eagles RBs Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount: Ajayi and Blount have combined to rush for more than 1,174 yards and three touchdowns. Jones added 10 tackles in the playoffs against the Rams, and the Falcons were able to slow the Rams’ outside rushing attack. The Eagles run with more power and attempt to get downhill quicker. Ajayi had some success powering the ball at the Falcons during Miami’s 20-17 regular-season win. Ajayi rushed 26 times for 130 yards against the Falcons. He was the lone player to rush for more than 100 yards against the Falcons in the regular season.

RPOs and the Evolution of the High-Low Concept - Inside The Pylon
Football has seen fads come and go. The Run-and-shoot. The Wildcat (which lingers but is not as prevalent as it was a few years ago). But some evolutions stick. Those that do often harken back to the core principles of offensive football, such as putting a defender into conflict with a high-low structure. That’s what RPOs do. They stress a defender while simplifying the read process for a quarterback. So these are not simply some passing phase of the game, but designs that incorporate basic tenets of the sport in a new manner. Rather than using two routes to put a defender into conflict, you have the run as the “low,” the route as the “high,” and a quarterback simply going through a progression off of that key defender.

Reports of Oakland looking to raid Alabama coaching staff, front office - Silver And Black Pride
Not long after former Packers personnel man Eliot Wolf turned down the Raiders offer to join their front office in favor of joining the Browns, Michael Lombardi — who was in the Raiders personnel department during Gruden’s tenure in Oakland — said the Raiders are looking at Alabama’s AD of recruiting Ed Marynowitz to join their front office.

NFL playoff picks 2018: Experts have full faith in the Patriots and no one else - SB Nation
Despite not having Carson Wentz, the Eagles still have a couple believers around here. They’ll be facing a Falcons team that has been hot and cold all season, although they’re coming off of a good performance against the Rams. But even with Nick Foles instead of Wentz, the Eagles have the third-best run game in the league and a run defense that gives up fewer than 80 yards per game. Vegas is going with the Falcons in this one, which marks the first time a No. 1 seed has been an underdog heading into the postseason. A majority of our experts believe the Falcons will pull this one off on the road. But make no mistake: This isn’t a virtual bye for Atlanta.

...

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[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 08:39:27 EST from rss

Subject: Which Falcons player would you steal for the Eagles?

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Getting familiar with the Eagles’ Divisional Round opponent.

A common post the SB Nation NFL team sites have done throughout this years asks the question: “Which [opposing team’s] player would [your favorite team’s] fans take?” With the Philadelphia Eagles set to play the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, it’s time to address the question and familiarize yourself with the opponent’s roster.

OFFENSE

We have to start with Matt Ryan here. The 2016 NFL MVP’s numbers are way down from last year: 18 fewer touchdowns, five more interceptions, and a passer rating that dropped from 117.1 to 91.4. Still, Ryan’s a good (but not elite) quarterback. There’s no question he’d be an upgrade over Nick Foles, although that’s not saying a lot right now. If the Eagles had Ryan, winning the Super Bowl wouldn’t be a lock. But everyone would be feeling significantly better about their chances.

Julio Jones is one of the most impressive wide receivers in the NFL. His freakish combination of size and athleticism makes him such a tough cover. Just look at his receiving totals from the past four seasons: 1,593 in 2014 ... 1,871 in 2015 ... 1,409 in 2016 ... 1,444 in 2017. What a beast. Foles has struggled to connect with his outside receivers, which could limit Jones’ production in this offense. But the Eagles could also move Jones all around the field to get him in different matchups. Philadelphia will have their hands full trying to cover him on Saturday. Mohamed Sanu is also a good receiver. He’s obviously not on the level of Jones, but still a good No. 2 option.

Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are very productive running backs. They’ve combined for 2,109 yards from scrimmage this season. Freeman is more dangerous as a runner while Coleman is more than a capable option in the passing game. Sure wouldn’t mind having Freeman. He’s not my pick, though.

Falcons tackles Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder aren’t elite players at their position, but either one would be an upgrade over Halapoulivaati Vaitai.

Alex Mack is a really good center. The Eagles already have Jason Kelce, though.

DEFENSE

Deion Jones is an absolute stud. It’s my belief more people would know of him had the Falcons not choked away a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl last year. He was having a big impact in that game. The second-year linebacker was able to enhance his resume with another strong outing in 2017. Jones finished with three of the team’s eight interceptions. He also logged 91 tackles, 10 passes defensed, and one sack. At 6-1, 222 pounds, Jones isn’t the biggest middle linebacker in the world. What he lacks in size, though, he makes up for in speed. Jones figures to make life tough on the Eagles when it comes to the short passing game and runs to the outside. He’d be a great replacement for Jordan Hicks. With that said, Philadelphia might be able to have success attacking Atlanta up the middle. Jay Ajayi checks in at 6-0, 223 while LeGarrette Blount is significantly heavier than Jones at 6-0, 250 pounds.

You may remember Keanu Neal from last year’s Eagles-Falcons game where he put a big hit on Jordan Matthews. The hit actually broke JMatt’s facemask and gave the wide receiver a bloody lip as well. Neal isn’t known for making a ton of plays in coverage; he has one interception and 15 passes defensed over his first two seasons. His hard hits have allowed him to force eight fumbles over that span, however. Neal could be an upgrade over what the Eagles got out of Rodney McLeod this year. Plus you might want to take Neal just so no one on Philly’s offense gets hurt.

Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are two good corners. With Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby struggling at times this season, one might be tempted to select them as their pick.

Grady Jarrett is an underrated player. He’s a guy who can generate some pressure up the middle in addition to being able to stop the run. The combination of Fletcher Cox and him together would be fun. Then again, the Eagles have Tim Jernigan. Hopefully Big Money Tim has a big game after being quiet for some time now.

The Falcons have some worthwhile pass rushers. I’m not taking them over the Eagles’ guys.

MY PICK

I’m going with the local guy: Exton, Pennsylvania native Matt Ryan. Foles has just been so bad recently. It’s possible he bounces back, sure, but it’s also possible he just stinks up the joint again and then the Eagles’ season is over. Philadelphia would not be three point home underdogs in this matchup with Ryan under center.

YOU DECIDE

If you were deciding for the Eagles, who would you take? Vote in the poll below (click here if you can’t see it).





[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 08:56:33 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles will reportedly be playing the Jaguars in London in 2018

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A road game in the UK.

The Philadelphia Eagles are going to London in 2018.

The Inquirer reports the Birds will face the Jacksonville Jaguars in a road game at Wembley Stadium next season. It’s good to see the Eagles won’t be losing a home game.

Back in October, NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood noted there was a desire to have London host the six teams who haven’t played overseas yet. The Eagles were included in that group.

There are a ton of Eagles fans all over the world so it’ll be cool for some of them to now have easier access to attending one of the team’s games.

It’ll also be cool for us to meet some of you fans! The BGN Radio crew plans to travel to this Eagles-Jaguars game. Make sure you join the BGN Radio UK group on Facebook to stay updated.

Here are all the teams the Eagles will play in 2018. The official 2018 NFL schedule will be revealed sometime in April.

EAGLES 2018 OPPONENTS

HOME

Dallas Cowboys

Washington Redskins

New York Giants

Carolina Panthers

Atlanta Falcons

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Minnesota Vikings

AWAY

Dallas Cowboys

Washington Redskins

New York Giants

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tennessee Titans

Los Angeles Rams





[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 09:00:02 EST from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 2017-18 Midterm Report Cards: Depth Defensemen

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The team’s three “veteran” defensemen have all had very different seasons.

On Wednesday, we looked at the seasons-to-date of the Flyers’ four younger defensemen, first by way of a glance at the “vets” of the group (Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere) and later at the team’s two rookies (Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim).

In this space, we’ll look at the remaining three defensemen from this Flyers season — the “NHL vets”, so to speak. (Yes, Shayne Gostisbehere actually has more NHL games played than Brandon Manning, but let’s not let that get in our way here.) Enjoy.

(Stats below are from hockey-reference.com, NHL.com, corsica.hockey, and hockeyviz.com. Any statistics regarding ranks relative to the NHL are through Monday’s games.)


Andrew MacDonald

Overall Numbers: 1 G, 4 A in 27 GP; 20:24 TOI per game
5-on-5 On-Ice Performance: 44.9% Corsi-For, 48.0% Expected Goals For, 0.40 Points per 60

In short: Andrew MacDonald has been Andrew MacDonald.

How so? What else is there to say than that, really?

Long-time readers of BSH know that we’re not Andrew MacDonald’s biggest fans here. MacDonald, in all likelihood, is somewhere between a solid third-pair NHL talent and a high-end AHL defenseman. He has routinely struggled to push play in a positive direction, and most of his teammates tend to do much better at this when playing with someone else than they do with him. Despite this, the Flyers have regularly given him significant responsibilities, making him Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov’s main partners during their respective rookie seasons. There is a huge, nearly inexplicable disconnect between public opinion of MacDonald and the opinion of him that the Flyers seem to have, as exhibited by the way they use him in-game.

And this season for MacDonald has been ... pretty much the exact same as most of his other seasons in orange and black. MacDonald actually got off to a decent start to the year before injuring his knee blocking a shot on a penalty kill in a game against Edmonton (in what was, undoubtedly, a gutsy moment for him, as he was clearly in pain but managed to tough out the rest of the shift and game). But since coming back, MacDonald has been back at it, getting hammered by shot differential more often than not while the Flyers give him big minutes.

Most of this has happened alongside Ivan Provorov, who was struggling by way of shot differential as well until recently being put on a pair with Shayne Gostisbehere. (Curious, eh?) But even with a clear top pair emerging above him, MacDonald is still, at least, the No. 3 defenseman on this team in terms of role. His performance on the ice simply does not back up his being in that kind of a role.

Yeah, but: The Flyers ask a lot of MacDonald defensively. He faces top-line competition, and only two NHL defensemen with at least 300 5-on-5 minutes this season have a higher ratio of defensive zone starts to offensive zone starts. Context is key here, and given said context, his numbers are at least understandable, and the team’s willingness to put MacDonald in this situation frees up his teammates to succeed.

(Here is as good a place as any to note that I do not necessarily believe or endorse all of the counter-arguments that I make in these report cards.)

Still, though ... Defensive zone start usage as extreme as MacDonald’s does need to be accounted for, but it doesn’t by any means outright excuse how much the team gets butchered territorially when he’s on the ice. For one, here’s a list of the guys closest to MacDonald at the very bottom of the offensive zone start (ZSR) ratio leaderboard, and a look at how they perform on the ice despite those roles. A difficult situation from which to drive play? Surely, as evidenced by the presence of some guys who are faring as poorly as or even worse than MacDonald. An impossible one? As we can see from the two at the top of the list — two players at or above 50 percent in one or both of Corsi and Expected Goals while just barely getting more offensive starts than MacDonald — that’s not the case.

(Here’s the part where we note that most players’ shifts start on the fly and that, even at the extremes, the impact of heavy defensive zone starts on performance tends to be a bit overblown. Discussion for another day, though.)

In some ways, the logic that we applied yesterday to Travis Sanheim’s rookie season applies here in reverse. In Sanheim’s case, it was “if you succeed in limited/easier minutes, it’s time to try more/harder minutes”. With MacDonald, the Flyers would probably be better-served to not throw him in the situations that they’ve put him in, since he’s proven that he can’t handle those minutes without getting caved in.

I don’t think that the Flyers and their coaches are idiots. I don’t think that they’re oblivious to the fact that the Flyers get outshot and spend a ton of time defending with MacDonald on the ice. I think that they believe that having him handle a lot of defensive responsibility is for the best on the team. I just don’t agree, and I think it’d take an extended bad spell of goals-against with MacDonald on the ice for them to change their thinking on the matter.

Grade: D+. MacDonald’s play itself puts him in the C to C- range, and the fact that he’s doing this in a ton of minutes drops him a bit lower. That may or may not be entirely fair to him — he’s not the one playing himself 20-plus minutes a night, after all — but if your opinion on Andrew MacDonald coming into this season was that he’s nothing special at the NHL level and is being given too much responsibility (which, yes, was ours), what you’ve seen this year shouldn’t have changed that opinion at all.


Brandon Manning

Overall Numbers: 4 G, 5 A in 27 GP; 18:42 TOI per game
5-on-5 On-Ice Performance: 50.3% Corsi-For, 51.3% Expected Goals For, 1.10 Points per 60

In short: Brandon Manning has been a totally fine third-pair defenseman who for some reason keeps playing over people that fans want to see more than him.

How so? Manning, depending on who you ask, is probably either a steady, unflashy guy who a coach can count on, or one of the worst defensemen in hockey. (Or, if you ask someone from Edmonton, he’s Satan in the flesh.)

I happen to think he’s somewhere between those two endpoints. Manning is a fine enough third-pair defenseman in today’s NHL, and his performance this year has been ... reflective of a fine enough third-pair defenseman. Arguably a little better than that, even. He’s been more or less break-even in possession and expected goals, while playing in slightly defensively-oriented minutes with good partners (his three most common pairmates this season are Radko Gudas, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Travis Sanheim). That’s a set of average results, more or less; pair them with the fact that Manning has been surprisingly productive offensively (his scoring rate at 5-on-5 leads all Flyers defensemen, curiously enough), and Manning’s been fine. Not much more or less than that.

Manning, basically, is just a guy, and this season for the Flyers he’s been just a guy while healthy (he missed most of December with an injury). He probably doesn’t deserve a lot of the vitriol he receives, but nothing about what he does is irreplaceable.

Yeah, but: If he’s just a guy, then WHY THE HELL IS HE PLAYING SECOND-PAIR MINUTES WHILE RADKO GUDAS IS ON THE THIRD PAIR AND TRAVIS SANHEIM IS GETTING SENT TO THE PRESS BOX? If Manning is average, let’s play some people who have the potential to be better than average.

Still, though ... Easy with the caps lock, tiger.

Still, I hear you, and I don’t disagree. To a smaller extent, the aforementioned disconnect between fans/observers and the coaching staff/front office on Andrew MacDonald is sort of on display here with Manning. But not quite to the same extent; Manning has been a healthy scratch six times this year, and at some point or another, barring another defensive injury, he will likely head back up to the press box when the team decides it’s time for Sanheim to play again.

The truth is that the Flyers see Manning, 27, as something resembling a reliable veteran on this team. And to them, on a team with a lot of young pieces on its blue line, there’s value in that. But at some point, whether it’s next week, next month, at the trade deadline, or at the end of the season when Manning is an unrestricted free agent, they are going to have to make him pass his baton along to one of these young guys and start trusting them.

That’s what makes Manning (or, maybe more accurately, his role on the team now) so frustrating for the fans. From a talent perspective, most would probably agree that Manning is either the sixth- or seventh-most talented defenseman currently on the Flyers’ roster (we’ll ignore the guys in Lehigh Valley for now, though their presence and successes at lower levels undoubtedly add to the grousing about Manning from fans). And since we’ve all just kind of accepted that the Flyers aren’t sitting down Andrew MacDonald any time soon, Manning has become the de facto “why is he still playing?” punching bag.

Is the difference between Manning and whichever more talented defenseman he’s playing over going to be what prevents the Flyers from making the playoffs? In all likelihood, no, probably not. But the idea that the coaching staff sees him as a superior option to the point where he’s in-and-out of the lineup vis-a-vis a 21-year old who has shown off serious potential already and is undoubtedly going to be a key piece of this team’s future? That’s what probably irks fans the most here.

Manning, again, is a solid third-pair defenseman and injury fill-in, and he’s been a fine enough bridge guy for the Flyers as they attempt to hand their defense over to the younger generation of defensemen. But at some point soon they’re going to have to reach the end of that bridge.

Grade: C. Manning is what he is. He’s not as bad as some fans want to believe, and has been OK enough for the Flyers this year. And it’s not his fault that the team keeps playing him over other players that we like more than him and are more excited by than him. It’s really not. But we have to hold that against someone. Sorry, pal. Life’s not fair.


Radko Gudas

Overall Numbers: 0 G, 4 A in 30 GP; 16:04 TOI per game
5-on-5 On-Ice Performance: 55.1% Corsi-For, 56.1% Expected Goals For, 0.58 Points per 60

In short: Radko Gudas has been Radko Gudas. (Apologies for the lack of originality here, but it’s as true here as it was for our friend Andrew.)

How so? Gudas, a throw-in for the Flyers in the Braydon Coburn trade at the time he was acquired, has become one of the few pleasant surprises of the Dave Hakstol era. The burly Czech defenseman’s aggressiveness, when kept under control, has been a huge positive for the Flyers, who have routinely controlled the run of play while he’s on the ice.

And this season, Gudas’ third in orange and black, has been no exception. After pulling together successful underlying numbers with the likes of Michael Del Zotto and Brandon Manning in the past two seasons, Gudas’ main partner this year has been Travis Sanheim, and he and the rookie have teamed up to form probably the Flyers’ best play-driving pair of the first half of the season.

And not only is Gudas good at controlling the shot clock, he’s been good at actually defending as well. His overall expected on-ice Fenwick save percentage is the best among all Flyers skaters. That’s huge when he’s frequently playing with a rookie like Sanheim, who has struggled a bit in his own third of the ice.

Ultimately, Gudas has been the steady player that Dave Hakstol has come to expect. Well, except...

Yeah, but: You already knew where I was going with this, but I actually have two questions. First, the easy one: how much do you dock Gudas for his 10-game suspension? And second, if he’s been so good and steady, why have the Flyers given him so little ice time? He’s averaging much less than he has in his first two seasons.

Still, though ... The suspension hurt, and it’s a black mark on what’s otherwise been a strong season. Zero doubt about it. While I don’t think Gudas meant to essentially slash Mathieu Perreault in the neck, it happened because he lost control of his stick, which a guy with his track record and reputation simply cannot afford to do. And it was clear that the team missed him while he was off the ice — they lost their first seven Gudas-less games, then were heavily outshot and outpossessed on a three-game Western road swing (in which, to be fair, they won all three games). Gudas has greatly solidified this team’s third pairing, and putting a Mark Alt or Brandon Manning in his place leaves — and has left — the Flyers meaningfully worse off.

As for his ice time, I think that simply has been a matter of process of elimination. The two most logical guesses that don’t involve thinking that the Flyers simply don’t trust Gudas anymore (and, given that he received heavy defensive minutes last year, I don’t think that they lost faith in him that quickly) are that either:

  1. The team really wanted to give Shayne Gostisbehere (understandably) and Robert Hagg (more curiously) more ice time, and decided that those minutes were going to come at Gudas’ expense rather than at Andrew MacDonald’s.
  2. The team just doesn’t trust Sanheim with more than third-pairing minutes at this point, and Gudas, his main partner, just has to take the hit for it.

I think it’s a combination of the two, but moreso the former. We discussed this a bit in our season preview for Gudas — when the team decided it was really time to give the young guys a chance, Gudas seemed as likely as anyone to be the one whose ice time would suffer as a result (emphasis mine):

It’s possible that, while guys like Morin, Hagg, or Sanheim get their feet under them, Gudas is asked to do even more than he has been in recent years. On the other hand, if any of those guys really get out to a hot start to their NHL careers, it wouldn’t at all be surprising if any increase in responsibility given to them comes at the expense of Gudas’ ice time.

Which, fine. If you’re going to take his minutes, go ahead and give them to the young guys. But Gudas isn’t the only veteran in the lineup who could have taken that hit, and it’s somewhat infuriating that Brandon Manning and Andrew MacDonald are both averaging minutes more per game than Gudas.

If the Flyers are serious about trying to make the playoffs, Gudas should be getting significantly more minutes than he is. He drives play and plays well defensively. The coaching staff should re-find the trust that they had in him over the previous two seasons and apply it again.

Grade: B. The 10-game suspension was an absolute killer for this team, and it became clear as soon as he returned that the Flyers had missed his presence. Given how much he brings just by way of his availability, that has to be held against him one way or another. And the fact that he’s only been playing third-pair minutes for most of the season hurts his case for a higher grade. But his work on the ice has once again been excellent, and the Flyers would be very well-suited to bump his responsibilities up to where they’ve been in past seasons.


Previously in Flyers 2017-18 Midterm Report Cards:





[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 09:03:28 EST from rss

Subject: Your Thursday Morning Roundup

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The Philadelphia Flyers are on a bye week, but that isn’t keeping them out of the news. Claude Giroux was selected to play in the 2018 NHL All-Star Game, which takes place later this month in Tampa, Florida. This is Giroux’s fifth trip to the All-Star Game, with his last coming in 2016. Here’s a…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/MXyTXf7miVc/your-thursday-morning-roundup-22.html

[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 09:34:40 EST from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Eagles release hype video before first playoff game

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“In a city with this much will, there must be a way.”

We are only TWO DAYS AWAY from the Philadelphia Eagles’ first playoff game since January 2014.

That’s right, it’s been four years since the Eagles have played post-season football. You have to go back even longer to find the Eagles’ last playoff win. That was nine years ago in January 2009.

So, yeah, Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons is a pretty big deal.

And now is the time to start getting fired up for it. The Eagles released the following hype video in order to help you out.

Did you expect to be here?

He expected it.

He always expects it.

No one could have expected this.

But it doesn’t matter how we got here. Or what we looked like along the way.

All that matters is finding a way to keep this going.

So find the strength.

Find an inch.

Find a seam.

Or make your own.

Find your lane.

Find some daylight.

Find a shirt.

Because more of this, means more of this.

So find power.

Find inspiration.

Find inspiration from a higher power.

Just find us another game day.

Because in a city with this much will, there must be a way.

Just win, baby.





[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 10:00:06 EST from rss

Subject: Yelling through the halfway point

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In which the gang gets very, very worked up about a fourth line winger.

Kelly is back for the bye week, and the volume isn’t any lower as the gang debates Tyrell Goulbourne’s call-up, Travis Sanheim’s benching, Dave Hakstol’s handling of the goaltenders as well as his lineup optimization (surprise!).

PSA: don’t turn the volume up too loud for this one.

Follow us on twitter @BSH_Radio and check out our Patreon for lots of extra content! Also, don’t forget to rate us on iTunes! Five stars. We’re pretty good.





[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 09:47:20 EST from rss

Subject: The Eagles

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In a city with this much will, there must be a way.#FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/aAfrwhnF3b — Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 11, 2018 My Dad made a good point to me last night. He mentioned that if he were an Eagles defensive player, particularly one of their elite linemen, that he would be frothing at the mouth after…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/fXjULrmDcHE/the-eagles-playoff-pump-up-video-has-awoken-my-beast-from-his-late-season-slumber.html

[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 10:18:37 EST from rss

Subject: Report: The Eagles Will Be Playing in London Next Season

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No, they won’t lose a home game. It’ll be Eagles vs. Jaguars in London next season, and Jacksonville will be the home team, as reported by Jeff McLane over at the Inquirer. The Birds will get eight games at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia was one of just six teams that had yet to play in England,…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/ereizqydIg4/report-the-eagles-will-be-playing-in-london-next-season.html

[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 11:16:04 EST from rss

Subject: I

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Imagine signing a seven-year contract, then bailing after the first year. It doesn’t really work like that in the real world, but college football is a different beast entirely, where coaches are free to go wherever they please while the players that committed to them are forced to sit out an entire season for the…

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrossingBroad/~3/U1-ZIWxUehw/id-lose-respect-for-matt-rhule-if-he-bailed-on-baylor-but-id-understand-it.html

[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 11:46:24 EST from rss

Subject: Previewing the Eagles-Falcons game

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The newest edition of BGN Radio is here! (Episode #292). In this episode, we preview the Eagles vs. Falcons playoff game, talk about key matchups, and much more.





[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 12:49:02 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles still might lose John DeFilippo even if he doesn

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Flip has gotten some OC buzz.

Despite being rumored to be one of the best available candidates, it looks like Philadelphia Eagles quarterback coach John DeFilippo might not get a head coaching gig this year.

Right now there are only four openings left and Flip has been connected to one of them. The Cardinals reportedly interviewed Flip, but he’s not considered the front-runner there. Instead, reports indicate that Pat Shurmur is the favorite for the Arizona job.

So if Flip doesn’t get hired to be a head coach, that means he’ll be back as the Eagles’ quarterback coach, right?

Not necessarily. Flip’s contract is reportedly up once the Eagles’ season is over. He’s going to have a chance to pursue offensive coordinator jobs. It already sounds like multiple teams are interested in him. Check out what Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer had to say:

If he doesn’t get the Arizona job, Eagles QBs coach John DeFilippo becomes a man to watch. His contract is up in Philly, per sources, which would make him an interesting coordinator option for a lot of teams. Rumblings are that Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who interviewed with the Cardinals and Giants, would want DeFilippo to run his offense.

NFL insider Jason La Canfora has also reported on the possibility of a Wilks-DeFilippo combination.

Losing Flip will be a bummer, but it’ll be even more annoying if he ends up with the Giants.

There’s also a chance Flip could end up on the Seahawks. Seattle fired offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell this week. For what it’s worth, former Field Gulls contributor Davis Hsu says that Flip is the Seahawks’ top choice at OC.

Some have suggested the Eagles should just get rid of current Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich and promote Flip in order to avoid losing him, but that’s not realistic. The Eagles aren’t just going to kick Reich to the curb after the team went 13-3 and had a good offensive year. Plus Flip could easily get hired for a head coaching job next offseason.

The reality is there’s a good chance the Eagles could lose Flip. Again, considering the work he’s done with MVP candidate Carson Wentz, that’s unfortunate. But I can’t think of an MVP candidate who had his career derailed simply because he lost his quarterback coach.

If Flip does leave, the Eagles have some viable replacement options. Former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has plenty of experience coaching quarterback. Recently fired Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula could also be a good option.

For now, the Eagles can block Flip from interviewing for offensive coordinator jobs since their season is still going on. That’ll change if/when they are eliminated.





[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 13:00:03 EST from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 2017-18 Midterm Report Cards: Goaltenders

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The Elliott-Neuvirth platoon has been ... a bit more Elliott-leaning. How’s it worked out for the Flyers?

The final two players to get mid-term report cards during the bye week here on BSH are, of course, the two guys wearing all the big pads. Here, we’ll look at how the 2017-18 season has gone for Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. Enjoy.

(Stats below are from hockey-reference.com, NHL.com, corsica.hockey, and hockeyviz.com. Any statistics regarding ranks relative to the NHL are through Tuesday’s games.)


Brian Elliott

Overall Numbers: .910 SV%, 2.74 GAA, 16-10-7 in 34 GP (33 starts)
5-on-5 Performance: 93.14% Save Percentage, 0.67% dSv%*, 98.66% Low-Danger Save Percentage, 91.95% Medium-Danger Save Percentage, 80.58% High-Danger Save Percentage, 5.34 Goals Saved Above Average

* dSv% is the difference between what a goalie’s expected save percentage would be based on the types/locations of shots that he’s faced and his actual save percentage. Positive numbers are good.

In short: Expected to be a part of a goalie platoon, Brian Elliott has (unsurprisingly) had to carry the load for the Flyers, and he’s fared OK for himself in doing so.

How so? Elliott’s Flyers career got out to a fairly eventful and not-always-good start that we here described as “boom or bust” back at the time; it seemed like night in and night out, Elliott was either doing just enough to keep the Flyers in the game or was totaly imploding out there. It was a less than reassuring welcome from the newest Flyer, and the “timeshare” between him and Michal Neuvirth looked like it had the chance to tip away from him.

But come November, it was pretty clear that Elliott was the goalie that Dave Hakstol believed in the most, and Elliott rewarded that faith more often than not with strong play. And in December, when Michal Neuvirth was injured early in the month and didn’t play again until after the New Year, all Elliott did was start every game and post a .927 save percentage in doing so.

What was “expected” to be a timeshare in net, insofar as people expected Michal Neuvirth to stay healthy (more on that in a bit), has by and large been the Brian Elliott show. And outside of the work of the team’s top three forwards, Elliott is the biggest reason that the Flyers have managed to outscore their opponents on the season at 5-on-5. Struggles on the penalty kill have dragged his overall performance down a bit, but on the whole Elliott has been a serviceable goalie in his first year with the Flyers, particularly considering what’s been asked of him.

Yeah, but: Should we be concerned with his workload? Elliott’s already played in 34 games this season; he hasn’t reached the 50s in games played in any of his previous six seasons, and we’ve got 40 games left in the season. A career-high in starts at 32 is a tough ask. Also, are all Flyers goalies doomed to play poorly on the penalty kill, where Elliott has struggled mightily (to be more specific, Elliott has the sixth-worst PK save percentage in the league among all goalies with at least 40 minutes on the PK)?

Still, though ... The Flyers have had enough of a sample of goaltenders that have performed well at 5-on-5 but have struggled on the penalty kill (Steve Mason, hello) that you almost have to wonder if there’s a scheme/systemic issue at hand here that’s hurting the goalies’ ability to make saves. I say ‘wonder’ because I can’t say it with certainty and I don’t want to totally let Elliott off the hook here for his own performance, but it (namely, the question of what exactly Ian Laperriere is doing with this team’s penalty kill) is certainly a discussion to be had, albeit in some other forum and at some other time.

As for the workload, it remains to be seen how that impacts Elliott. This bye week could not possibly have come at a better time for him, after starting every game in December and the team’s first three in January before finally getting a seat last Sunday against Buffalo. Hopefully six full days off (assuming he gets the start against New Jersey on Saturday) have him recharged enough to play well the rest of the way, and the All-Star break will give him another chance this month to get some rest.

(Sidebar: can we talk about how the NHL gives each team a five-day break in the two to three-week period that happens to be just barely after a league-wide three-day break and just barely before a league-wide four-day break, and how silly that is? I think I read a while ago that they may have done this on purpose to make it easier to move schedules around in the event that a last-minute deal was met for players to go to the Olympics, but in a world where that, y’know, didn’t happen, it just looks kind of ridiculous. Put those in mid-late February and early March. I’m sure teams would love a chance to get some extra juice before making their playoff pushes. Anywho.)

Still, workload management is probably going to be important for Elliott in the event that the Flyers are in the running for a playoff spot down the stretch. He showed some signs of fatigue during his 16-game run. And there is some recent precedent here of him wearing down a bit that’s worth noting: after a strong late push last season with Calgary, Elliott’s play tailed off a bit in April just before the playoffs, and he was then unquestionably brutal in the Flames’ four-game butt-kicking at the hands of Anaheim.

In a season where Elliott will likely, barring injury, set a career-high in appearances, the Flyers need to be judicious about giving him breaks and not leaning too hard on him unless they have no other choice. That’s not an area in which this coaching staff has always excelled — we all know that when Dave Hakstol believes in one of his goalies, he’s going to ride with him until he can’t possibly do so any longer — but if this team has any sort of ambitions of getting good goaltending late in the season and maybe even in the playoffs, they’re going to need to be careful about this.

Grade: B. The Flyers Goalie On The Penalty Kill bugaboo is still present, and Elliott’s poor performance against the man-advantage is the main force keeping him from a higher grade here despite strong 5-on-5 numbers. But he’s been asked to handle about as much as could realistically have been asked of him, and he’s held up alright in those tough circumstances.


Michal Neuvirth

Overall Numbers: .921 SV%, 2.48 GAA, 3-5-1 in 10 GP (9 starts)
5-on-5 Performance: 94.69% Save Percentage, 1.37% dSv%, 97.39% Low-Danger Save Percentage, 92.65% Medium-Danger Save Percentage, 87.50% High-Danger Save Percentage, 2.83 Goals Saved Above Average

In short: Michal Neuvirth has been a reasonably effective goalie when on the ice, but inconsistency and (more importantly) injury have kept the Flyers from getting much out of him and have forced them to lean on his teammate. (I realize I could have just said “Michal Neuvirth has been Michal Neuvirth”, but I think I’ve played that bit out already today.)

How so? On the ice, what’s true about Elliott’s season has, in some key ways, been even more true about Neuvirth’s. Among the 59 goalies with at least 400 5-on-5 minutes, Neuvirth ranks fourth in save percentage, having stopped an impressive 94.69 percent of shots he’s faced. And yet for as good as Neuvirth has been at even strength, he’s been about as bad on the penalty kill; among the 58 goalies with at least 40 minutes played on the PK, Neuvirth’s save percentage of 82 percent sits eighth from the bottom.

To be clear, the overall picture for Neuvirth while on the ice is a positive one. His total save percentage of 92.09 is certainly above-average. Some sort of rebound was more or less inevitable following his absolutely brutal season last year, but the fact that he’s looked closer to what he was in his first season with the Flyers — the one where he, when healthy, legitimately pushed Steve Mason in his starting job — is a welcome development.

However, we all know what the ‘but’ is here, so let’s just get to it.

Yeah, but: (Stealing my own thunder out here. Rough world.) It would’ve been nice to have that high-end goaltending during the entire month of December when he was injured, wouldn’t it have?

Still, though ... Yep. This is the Michal Neuvirth story. Each of his three seasons with the Flyers have at least been dotted with (if not coated in) injury issues. It’s why Neuvirth, despite being around the top-third of NHL goalies this season in save percentage, is rocking a fairly pedestrian Goals Saved Above Average (in other words, how many more goals he’s saved than a league-average goalie would have in his position) of just 2.84 goals across all situations/game states.

There’s not a whole lot more to say than that. The Flyers pretty much knew that this was a real possibility when they brought Neuvirth back on a two-year deal, but they gambled that he’d be able to stay healthy AND bounce back in net. They’ve got one of the two. Hopefully, for their sake and his (and for Brian Elliott’s), they can get both in the second half of the season.

Grade: B-. For most players, I would refrain from using “he got injured” as a point against him in grading. For Neuvirth, though, this is commonplace enough that it needs to be taken into account when trying to describe what he brings to the table in full, and because of it it’s tough to say with confidence that he’ll be there for the Flyers down the stretch. Hopefully he will be, because when on the ice he’s been much-improved from last season, and the Flyers could use the kind of goaltending he’s brought as they fight for every point they can get down the stretch.


Previously in Flyers 2017-18 Midterm Report Cards:





[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 15:12:11 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles-Falcons Final Injury Report: Two players questionable

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Final update.

The Philadelphia Eagles released their third and final official injury report on Thursday in advance of their Divisional Round playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Two players are questionable for Saturday’s matchup: linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and cornerback Sidney Jones.

Ellerbe was a full participant in practice on Thursday. Seems like he should be good to go assuming his hamstring holds up fine in warmups. Ellerbe will play at middle linebacker in the Eagles’ base defense. Big matchup for him going up against the Falcons’ running backs: Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

Jones was limited in practice yet again due to a hamstring issue. The feeling here is Jones will be inactive on game day.

Everyone else on the 53-man roster is ready to play. That’s good news.

Note that the Eagles held their Thursday practice at Lincoln Financial Field. Doug Pederson wanted them to get some work outside of the practice bubble. Note that the forecast for Saturday’s game is 34 degrees but it’s supposed to feel like 24 degrees.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES INJURY REPORT (THURSDAY)

QUESTIONABLE

LB Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring)

CB Sidney Jones (hamstring)

...

INJURED RESERVE

QB Carson Wentz

OT Jason Peters

LB Jordan Hicks

RB Darren Sproles

S Chris Maragos

K Caleb Sturgis

CB Randall Goforth

DT Aziz Shittu

WR Dom Williams

ATLANTA FALCONS INJURY REPORT (THURSDAY)

The Falcons’ 53-man roster is full healthy heading into this week’s game. No one is listed on their injury report. Julio Jones missed two practices this week but he was full go on Thursday.

...

INJURED RESERVE

DE Jack Crawford

DE Martin Ifedi

OG Andy Levitre

S Quincy Mauger

OLB Jordan Tripp





[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 22:35:11 EST from rss

Subject: Almost everyone is betting and picking against the Eagles in the Falcons game

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Eagles have the Falcons right where they want them.

The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t just underdogs in Las Vegas, where the odds-makers still have the Atlanta Falcons favored by three points.

The Eagles are underdogs nearly everywhere. Almost no one is taking them to win in the Divisional Round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs this weekend.

According to Bovada, only 23% of the public — 23%! — are betting on the Eagles this weekend. And that’s not even people necessarily picking them to win outright. That’s picking the Eagles to either win or at least cover the three-point spread.

As you can see, there are more people taking the TENNESSEE TITANS to cover against the New England Patriots. Now, 14 points is a lot, sure, but come on. The Titans stink, and it’s the Patriots they’re facing. A Patriots team that will surely be pissed off following last week’s ESPN report, mind you.

Now, there’s still for the Eagles-Falcons line to shift. And I think it will prior to kickoff. I do believe the “smart money” will come in late on the Eagles and we’ll see them bumped down to like a 2-point or 1-point underdog. But we’ll see.

In the meantime, it’s not just the public doubting the Eagles. A ton of sports writers are picking against them as well. Here’s a little roundup I conducted.

Bleeding Green Nation

OK, so all the BGN writers are taking the Eagles this week (shocker) ... except for one! That’ll be revealed in tomorrow’s game picks post. What a traitor.

SB Nation

Only two out of eight writers are taking the Eagles.

ESPN

Zero out of three NFL executives are taking the Eagles.

Two out of 11 “ESPN NFL Insiders” are taking the Eagles.

One out of eight NFL analysts are taking the Eagles.

CBS

Two out of nine writers are taking the Eagles.

NFL dot com

One writer is picking against the Eagles.

Sporting News

One writer is picking against the Eagles.

Sports Illustrated

Three out of six writers are taking the Eagles.

PhillyVoice

BGN alumnus Jimmy Kempski thinks the Eagles are gonna lose. Total traitor.

Inquirer and Daily News

Two out of four writers are taking the Eagles.

TOTAL

After tallying it up, only 22.7% of the writers included here (not counting BGN) picked the Eagles to beat the Falcons.

Listen. I know there are major concerns about the Eagles ... especially with Nick Foles at quarterback. No one is going to mistake me as his biggest fan.

But I think it’s silly to act like the Eagles have no chance. They still have a good defense. They’re still playing at home.

And since when the eff did the Falcons become this juggernaut everyone is making them out to be? I get it, they went to the Super Bowl last year. But come on, they’re not the same team. And if they are, why were they six-point underdogs to the Rams last week?! Everyone was picking Los Angeles to beat them. Now all of a sudden they beat the Rams and suddenly the Falcons were actually great all along.

Gtfo.

Now I’m convinced. Eagles gonna get that W this Saturday.

EFF YOU, WE’RE WINNING ANYWAY!





[#] Thu Jan 11 2018 23:46:24 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles vs. Falcons Game Preview: Six questions and answers with the enemy

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Previewing the Eagles’ Divisional Round matchup.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons are set to play each other this Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. In order to preview the Eagles’ Divisional Round playoff game against Atlanta, I reached out to our friends over at The Falcoholic. The venerable Dave Choate kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming game. Let’s take a look at the answers. (Also don’t forget to check out my Q&A exchange over at their site on Saturday.)

1 - The Falcons went from almost winning the Super Bowl to being the No. 6 seed this year. Why the step back?

Primarily, it was offense. The Falcons’ offense in 2017 was not as brilliantly coordinated as it was under Kyle Shanahan, and they took an expected step back because of it. But they also had to battle down the field thanks to lousy field position, they committed a number of truly awful and untimely penalties and turnovers to kill drives, and they saw Steve Sarkisian struggle to get playmakers in positions to succeed. That led to the Falcons scoring about 200 fewer points than they did the year before, and while they were still one of the league’s better offenses on paper, it wound up being a deeply disappointing year. With the defense improving and special teams remaining a mild liability, you can reasonably point to the offense as the major reason for just about everything.

2 - What is the Falcons’ biggest strength? Where do they have the biggest edge in this game?

At the end of the day, it’s their overall speed and athleticism. They can kill you on offense if you slip, because Julio Jones, Tevin Coleman, Devonta Freeman, and even Austin Hooper are borderline elite athletes who can break big plays at a moment’s notice. The offensive line moves extremely well as a unit, even without starting guard Andy Levitre, and they are generally capable of long drives. Julio alone is a killer.

The defense is even more fearsome, in many regards, because there are so few weak links. They gang tackle, they get to the ball extremely quickly, and the secondary is one of the better secondaries in football today. Cornerback Robert Alford, in particular, has been on a tear of late and has found himself between receivers and the ball very frequently. Any defense with a linebacker as good as Deion Jones is a problem, and really Jones is sort of the face of the unit with his speed, athleticism, and physicality. There are many ways to beat the Falcons, but you’re rarely going to do so because you’re faster or more dynamic than them.

3 - What is the Falcons’ biggest weakness? What concerns you the most about the Eagles?

The Eagles defense is a massive concern. The Falcons have just not been humming on offense this year, as I mentioned above, and Philadelphia certainly has the defense to take them further out of a rhythm. I’m particularly worried about how that Eagles defensive line is going to fare against an offensive line that let Matt Ryan take a ton of heat just a week ago against the Rams. Atlanta has the offensive talent to overcome that, but it’s fair to say they haven’t consistently done so.

At the end of the day, the Falcons don’t have a truly elite run defense and they have a maddening habit of making sloppy, preventable mistakes, but the biggest weakness is that the offense truly does struggle to score touchdowns. If they can only put one on the board against Philadelphia and have to kick field goals otherwise, I wouldn’t feel too confident.

4 - Last year, the Eagles beat the Falcons by running the ball on Atlanta and controlling the clock. To what extent do you think the Eagles can replicate that blueprint?

I think they’ll have a tough time doing so, but I also don’t know that they have a choice. You can still run at Atlanta and fare well on the day, but this run defense has gotten much more disciplined. They swarm to the ball carrier more quickly than they once did, which limits big gains, and you generally can’t really make a huge dent in the defense unless your passing game is also firing on all cylinders. Nick Foles will have to be awfully good to reverse that.

That said, teams have little trouble picking up 100 yards or so on the ground against the Falcons, and they still have their issues getting off the field on third down. I think you have to mix in all of your backs, ride the hot hand, and hope for one or two long, killer drives to wear out this defense and put points on the board.

5 - Does the idea of the Eagles feeling disrespected and being underdogs give Falcons fans any concern? Or are they confident that Atlanta will beat the Eagles?

I think the confidence level is probably higher than it should be. Every team in the NFL is dangerous with the right chip on their shoulder and the right day, and the Eagles are a legitimately terrific team that just so happens to be playing without their star quarterback. They’re probably right to feel disrespected, all things considered, but at the same time I don’t know that it’s really a surprise given the way Foles has played in his starts.

So no, I don’t know that the underdog status for the Eagles is causing Falcons fans any heartburn. I do know that everyone’s a little worried that Foles is going to morph into Joe Montana on Saturday, but that’s primarily because Falcons fans have long memories, and we’ve seen too many backups or struggling starters light up Atlanta. I’m hoping the new-look defense can prevent that, but again, there’s history.

BONUS: Who wins this game and why? Score prediction?

I think it’ll be a slugfest, and a close one. I think Atlanta does win this game with a healthy squad and a resurgent defense, but I have a feeling the offense is going to have a tough time against the Eagles, and that’s going to keep this one tight throughout all four quarters.

I’ll say 20-17, Falcons. An Eagles win would not shock me at all, but I’m hopeful Atlanta’s able to play at a high level yet again and pull off the road win.





[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 06:00:04 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Philadelphia had the

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 1/12/18.

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Agent’s Take: 2017 NFL Contract Awards feature the good, the bad and the ugly - CBS Sports
Biggest Steal: The Eagles never imagined Robinson would have such a big defensive impact when he was given a one-year deal at his $775,000 league minimum salary following an injury plagued 2016 season that led to the Colts releasing him. There was some concern whether Robinson would survive roster cutdowns because of a slow start in training camp after the Eagles made a preseason trade with the Bills for cornerback Ronald Darby, a 2015 second-round pick. Robinson received more extensive playing time than anticipated because Darby dislocated his right ankle in the season opener, which sidelined him for eight games. Robinson was on the field for 68.9 percent of Philadelphia’s defensive snaps (710 of 1,031 plays). He excelled in covering slot wide receivers. Robinson led the Eagles with four interceptions and graded out as PFF’s fourth-best cornerback this season.

Previewing the Eagles-Falcons game - BGN
The newest edition of BGN Radio is here! (Episode #292). In this episode, we preview the Eagles vs. Falcons playoff game, talk about key matchups, and much more.

Eagles RB Corey Clement: ‘We’re going to do it for the city of Philadelphia’ - PhillyVoice
“It’s been fun,” Clement said with a smile. “Of course, there’s a lot of outside noise that’s against us, but at the same time, we love it. We live for it. We’re going to do it for the city of Philadelphia. And if anybody is going to come out to that game, it’s going to be electrifying and we’re going to put our best foot forward.”

Hitting the Reset Button - Iggles Blitz
The Eagles looked great when they were 11-2. They had just beaten the Rams and were clearly the best team in the NFL. Instead of losing a star receiver, this team lost the potential MVP in Carson Wentz. That was the kind of moment that could wreck a team. The Eagles won a pair of sloppy games to get to 13-2, before falling in an ugly finale to finish 13-3. If the Eagles from the Rams game show up, this team has a legit shot to make the Super Bowl. If the team from the Raiders game shows up, we’re in trouble. Can Doug Pederson and his team do what the 2004 bunch did and hit the reset button? I definitely think so.

How to bet Atlanta-Philadelphia - ESPN
It’s difficult to ignore the scheduling dynamics for the Falcons. They had to go all-out to beat the Carolina Panthers to make the playoffs in Week 17 before their wild-card win in L.A. last week. Now, they swing back to the East Coast for the first game of the weekend against the rested Eagles, which is a monumental task. Philadelphia is certainly a weaker team with Foles under center, but is still a well-rounded team. The Eagles finished fourth in total defense at just 307 yards allowed per game and first against the run. Their offensive run game ranked fourth in the NFL as well at 4.5 yards per carry and the extra prep time for Foles should only help. ATS pick: Philadelphia.

NFL Divisional Playoff Preview: Falcons at Eagles - PFF
T Ryan Schraeder vs. Edge Brandon Graham – One way the Eagles can help slow down Freeman and Sanu is by winning the battle in the trenches. Brandon Graham is one of the best edge defenders in the NFL and is more than capable of giving the Falcons’ offense fits. Graham is consistently one of the highest-graded edge defenders in the league, and this season has been no different. Graham is tied for eighth among edge defenders in overall grade (91.3). Graham spends the majority of his time rushing from the defense’s left side, meaning Ryan Schraeder will see plenty of Graham. Schraeder is in for a difficult battle, but he did an exceptional job in pass protection all season, as his 97.1 pass-blocking efficiency rating ranks seventh among all offensive tackles this season.

A Spin Around The Eagles’ Locker Room - PE.com
Two days away from the Divisional Round playoff game against Atlanta, the Eagles finished their work at Lincoln Financial Field and returned to the NovaCare Complex locker room ready for what is ahead. So much energy. So much optimism. A good time to get a gauge of what’s going on in the minds of the players, so here is the Spin Around the Locker Room …

Eagles’ Nigel Bradham Battery Case Closed In The Clear For Allegedly Punching Man - TMZ
Eagles star Nigel Bradham already picked up a W, and he hasn’t even played the Falcons yet ... ‘cause the Philly LB is in the clear in his aggravated assault case ... TMZ Sports has learned.

Jay Ajayi should be happy to see Falcons - NBC Sports Philadelphia
While Ajayi claimed it didn’t matter to him who the Eagles faced in their divisional round game, it would be understandable if drawing the Falcons was met with a smile from Ajayi. After all, he’s already faced the Falcons once this season and put together a tremendous performance. While still with the Dolphins on Oct. 15, Ajayi carried the ball 26 times for 130 yards in a 20-17 win in Atlanta. It’s the most yards the Falcons have given up to any running back in the last two years and the most they’ve given up since Adrian Peterson ran for 158 back in 2015. It’s safe to say the Eagles have dipped back into the tape of that game this week.

All-22: How the Eagles’ run game, run defense stack up to the Falcons - The Athletic
Look for the Eagles to use different motions and misdirection to mess with the Falcons’ linebackers. “Because the linebackers are really fast, you do all this backfield action,” Geoff Schwartz said. “Sliding 86 back. Just moving guys all over the place. It holds the linebackers’ eyes for just a second. Give ‘em eye violations. Where they look over here and you’re doing something else. Especially if they’re gonna double-team hard on the inside guys, which they can do. You can run your zone plays with that.” One of the Eagles’ advantages is that they have a lot of different run schemes at their disposal. On paper, against the Falcons, north-south runs like wham, trap and tackle power should be successful. The Eagles have used all of those successfully this season.

What to watch in the Eagles-Falcons playoff game - Inquirer
Can the defense carry the Eagles?: The Eagles aren’t likely to win a shootout. The defense must carry them. It’s a defense that excels at home – opponents are scoring only 13.4 points per game at Lincoln Financial Field – and bullied the Falcons last season. It’s a different year, but this is a better Eagles defense. The magic number for the Falcons is 20. The Falcons are undefeated when they score at least 20 points and winless when they score fewer than 20 points. It’ll be tough to keep them below 20 – I think Julio Jones is the best wide receiver in the NFL, Matt Ryan is the reigning MVP, and they have a formidable running back duo. But the Eagles can win at the line of scrimmage, and that’s the equalizer. Fletcher Cox is the highest-paid player on the Eagles and needs to play like an All-Pro on Saturday. You saw what Aaron Donald did in the Rams-Falcons game last week. Cox can have that type of influence on this game. If the Eagles win, the defensive line will be a big reason why.

1 month after Carson Wentz injury, Philadelphia Eagles coach says team has shaken its sting - PennLive
Coach Doug Pederson has been fighting to prove that the injury his MVP candidate quarterback suffered Dec. 10 hasn’t left his team destined for doom. And Thursday, exactly one month after he announced Wentz would need season-ending surgery, Pederson insisted his team has shaken the sting of losing its leader. It takes a while for players to get over something like that, but Pederson said spirited practices convinced him they’ve done it.

Ticket Vendors Offer Eagles Fans Stark Warning About Scam Artists - CBS Philly
As pumped Philadelphia Eagles fans get ready for Saturday’s NFC divisional round playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons, ticket vendors like Ticketmaster and StubHub offer a stark warning. “Make sure that if you are purchasing hard physical tickets, that it is from a legitimate source either from the team venue or a site that has a guarantee and a customer service number,” said Cameron Papp, a StubHub spokesperson. He says never buy your tickets outside of the stadium or with cash.

PFT’s 2017 awards - PFT
Special-teams rookie of the year: Eagles kicker Jake Elliott.

Fantasy Football WR Target Projections: Divisional Round - DraftKings
In Nick Foles’ two full games this season, Agholor saw 16 targets for a healthy 21 percent share. Note that he caught 11 balls on those 16 targets while Alshon Jeffery posted just four catches on 12 targets. Agholor will work out of the slot, where he has a plus matchup against Falcons slot CB Brian Poole (Pro Football Focus’ No. 85 CB among 120 qualifiers). Expect a conservative game plan from the Eagles as they try to hide Foles, setting him up with quick-hitting passes and first reads. That meshes well with Agholor’s role.

Punting Takes a Left Turn - Sports Illustrated
It’s a quirk that’s taken on something of its own mystique. Adding to the left-footed lore is the fact that there’s something of a spate of lefties in today’s NFL. Back in 2000, there were just five lefty punters on opening day. This season, 10 lefties have punted for NFL teams. That includes every punter in the NFC East, and there were four lefties in this year’s playoffs field: New England’s Ryan Allen, Philadelphia’s Donnie Jones, Kansas City’s Dustin Colquitt and Carolina’s Michael Palardy.

The Falcons aren’t going to let themselves get run over by Jay Ajayi again - The Falcoholic
The last time the Falcons and Jay Ajayi met, things did not go well. In a game decided by a mere field goal, Ajayi’s 26 carries for 130 yards kept the Dolphins offense on the field, wore down the Falcons, and ensured Miami got the points they needed to eke out a win. He’s a big, powerful runner, sure, but that game remains the high-water mark of Ajayi’s entire season, and it was a costly loss for the Falcons.

The Eagles can’t soar with Nick Foles, but they can still flap their way to a win - SB Nation
The Eagles are home underdogs to the Falcons in their Divisional Round playoff game. Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz explains how they can pull off the upset.

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