Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Phillies are NL East Champions once again!

The Phillies are going back to the playoffs! While it had been inevitable for a while, when the Braves lost to the Marlins on Wednesday night, the Phillies officially clinched the NL East title for a third straight season. The Phils then capped off Wednesday seconds later by beating the Astros and the celebration was on!

It was an up-and-down season for the Phillies, filled with huge offensive games and more than their fair share of bullpen woes. What happens next in the playoffs is anyone's guess. Do the Phillies have another run in them? Can they overcome their shaky closer situation and be World F'n Champions again?

Congratulations to the Phillies, your 2009 NL EAST CHAMPIONS!!

Jamie Moyer: out for the season

According to multiple reports on Twitter (@jrfinger, @HighCheese), Jamie Moyer is out for the season after he tore three tendons, one in his stomach and two in his groin. Moyer will undergo surgery to repair the tears and is out for an indeterminate amount of time. Some early reports are saying Moyer could be out 10 months while others say that he could return by spring training, but, either way, this injury could be a career-ender. Moyer will be 47 in November and you have to wonder if he has it in him to recover from surgery and get himself back onto a field again.

While Moyer wasn't likely to be on the Phillies postseason roster anyway, no one wants to see the Old Man go out like this. Even if Moyer is able to return by spring training, the Phillies can't necessarily count on him to be the 5th starter next season. With Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ holding down the first 4 spots in the rotation, the Phils will need to make sure they have other options with the last spot. Both Brett Myers and Pedro Martinez will be free agents but the Phillies should try to bring one back to lock down the rotation.

Good luck, Old Man Moyer. Let's hope you have one last comeback in you.

Flyers finalize roster: JVR makes it but no Betts yet

With NHL rosters due at 3 pm today, the Flyers made their final moves to get their roster ready for Friday's opening game. An NHL team is able to keep 23 players on their roster so the Flyers had to shift a couple of players around to fit everyone in.

As expected, rookie phenom James van Riemsdyk made the team after a strong preseason showing where he basically forced himself onto the roster. Also making the team after looking solid this preseason was forward Mika Pyorala.

Not making the team, yet, was Blair Betts. Betts was brought in on a tryout basis and needs a contract to play for the Flyers. The Flyers are believed to be in negotiations with Betts at the moment but no agreement has been reached as of yet. Betts would make a great 4th line center who can win faceoffs and kill penalties so hopefully the Flyers reach a deal with him soon.

With the Flyers keeping JVR, Pyorala and hopefully Betts, they could have 14 forwards. Since teams only suit up 12 forwards a game, that means 2 players from an incredibly deep group will have to sit out every night. The likely scratches would be 2 from the following group: Pyorala, Darroll Powe, Riley Cote and Arron Asham. Having this many quality forwards means the Flyers can mix and match depending on their opponents strengths and weaknesses.

If the Flyers do sign Blair Betts in the next few days they would have to place hobbled goaltender Brian Boucher on the injured list. As of right now, Boucher stays on the roster although he won't be able to play for another week or so. Johan Backlund will temporarily be on the roster as the backup until Boucher is healthy enough to go.

The team also sent recently waived Randy Jones to the Phantoms, ensuring defensemen Danny Syvret and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen of roster spots. Syvret will likely be the 6th defenseman and Tollefsen will be a healthy scratch on most nights.

Here is the Flyers roster for the beginning of the season:

Forwards (13): Danny Briere, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell, Daniel Carcillo, Claude Giroux, Arron Asham, Riley Cote, Darroll Powe, Ian Laperriere, Mika Pyorala, Blair Betts, James van Riemsdyk

Defensemen (7): Chris Pronger, Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen, Ryan Parent, Matt Carle, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Danny Syvret

Goalies (3): Ray Emery, Johan Backlund, Brian Boucher

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy Trails, Jeff Garcia

And just like that, Jeff Garcia is gone again.

To make room on their 53 man roster for Jeremiah Trotter, the Eagles have released quarterback Jeff Garcia. Garcia was brought in as insurance after Donovan McNabb's Week 1 injury but was never needed after Kevin Kolb stepped up. With McNabb likely healthy enough to start in Week 5 against the Bucs, the team no longer had a use for Garcia.

So ends Garcia's second stint with the Eagles. His departure comes with little fanfare as he got only a few snaps in garbage time against the Chiefs. I would expect him to catch on with another team at some point this season. Of course, there is always the possibility that Garcia comes back to Philly if McNabb gets hurt again. As much as I like Garcia, though, I hope that the Eagles don't ever need him again.

Welcome back, Trotter: Eagles sign veteran MLB

I guess you can go home again. Former Eagles Pro Bowl linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, who had worked out with the team twice in the last week, has signed a one year contract with the team, according to Jay Glazer on Twitter. Trotter will likely take the spot of Jeff Garcia, who should be released now that Donovan McNabb is coming back.

What Trotter will bring to the team is obvious: leadership. While he hasn't played since 2007 and his skills have certainly diminished since the last time he suited up for the Eagles, Trotter still has a veteran presence that the Birds defense has lacked since Brian Dawkins left. Trotter may not get much playing time, although he could be brought in for running situations and special teams, but he should have a huge role in the locker room.

Welcome back, Trotter. Let's see what you have left in the tank.

UPDATE: The Eagles have indeed released Jeff Garcia to make room for Trotter.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Randy Jones clears waivers, Flyers to ship him to the Phantoms

Randy Jones wasn't worth 2.75 million to the Flyers or to anyone else in the NHL. The defenseman, who the Flyers waived on Friday, has cleared waivers today and will been sent to the Phantoms in the next few days. The move automatically gives the Flyers 2.75 million dollars under the cap, money that will be used to sign Blair Betts and ensures that James van Riemsdyk will start the season in the NHL.

What happens next for Jones is the real question. The Flyers could easily stash Jones away in the AHL for the rest of the year and they would have to pay him his full salary but it wouldn't count against the cap. The other option they have would be to bring Jones back up, which would expose him to waivers yet again. At that point, another team could claim Jones and they would only have to pay half of his salary with the Flyers paying the rest with that amount counting towards the cap. Because of the salary cap implications, Jones might be stuck in the AHL for the rest of the year.

With Jones being demoted, Danny Syvret and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen will start the year with the Flyers. Tollefsen hasn't impressed this preseason so Syvret would seem to have the edge for the 6th defenseman spot.

While the Flyers take a bit of a hit at defense, getting rid of Jones has made their forwards much stronger. Betts and JVR are more than worth the loss of Jones.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Eagles backup offense dominates Chiefs

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Apparently not having your starting quarterback, your best running back and one of your top receiving threats doesn't matter when you play a team like the Chiefs. The Eagles, playing without Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook and Kevin Curtis, didn't miss a beat offensively without their stars as they cruised past the Chiefs, 34-14.

Not having the stars healthy matters little when you have as many weapons as the Eagles do. They still had arguably their biggest threat in DeSean Jackson, and he had a career day, catching 6 passes for 149 yards and a 64 yard touchdown. Jackson did all that despite an injured groin, one that nearly sidelined him for the week.

The other big offensive story was Kevin Kolb, who continues to show dramatic improvement at quarterback. He looked calm and confident all day as he carved up the Chiefs defense, going 24 of 34 on passes for 327 yards and 2 touchdowns. Kolb also added a rushing TD to cap his day. His continued maturation into a quality NFL quarterback has been surprising and has shut his critics up. While he doesn't have a huge arm and can't make crisp deep passes, he is a smart QB who is accurate on short passes to the outside. Kolb has also developed a connection with Brent Celek, who he connected with 8 times for 104 yards and a touchdown.

Of course, there was also that other quarterback playing for the Eagles today, Michael Vick. Vick got on the field quite a bit, lining up at QB and at wideout, but had little impact in the game. He finished the day going 0 for 2 in the passing game and with 1 rush for 7 yards. The Eagles did a lot of Wildcat plays early but once Kolb got into the groove they didn't need the trickery. Vick's debut was anything but memorable, but you can expect that he will get worked into the offense more and more in the coming weeks.

As for the other side of the ball, the Eagles were also dominant on defense. The Chiefs were playing without Dwayne Bowe, their top wide receiver, and that allowed the Eagles to stack the line and force the Chiefs to try to beat them through the air with their second-rate passing attack. The Chiefs failed miserably, putting up barely over 100 yards passing as they couldn't move the ball all day. The Eagles also got to the quarterback all day, sacking Matt Cassel three times, and also forced a Larry Johnson fumble. It was a big turnaround for a defense that was torn up last week by the Saints.

What a difference a week makes for the Eagles. After last weeks game, everyone worried about the defense and whether it was still elite. Now, after shutting down the Chiefs basically all day, the Eagles defense looks to be back. I would be careful making that statement, however, because the last two weeks have been all about the opponent. There is a huge drop-off when you go from the Saints to the Chiefs, so of course the Eagles defense is going to look good. How they do in a few weeks when they play against the rest of the NFC East will be the true test.

It was great to see the Eagles dominate a team they should have dominated even with their backups in the game. Now they need to get healthy and figure out how to best utilize all of their offensive weapons during the bye week.

Eagles/Chiefs Week 3 Inactives: McNabb, Westbrook, Curtis out

The Eagles and Chiefs have announced their inactives for their Week 3 game and offensive stars are sitting out for both teams:

Eagles: DE Jason Babin, WR Kevin Curtis, DB Quintin Demps, OG Todd Herremans, OL Mike McGlynn, QB Donovan McNabb, CB Dmitri Patterson, RB Brian Westbrook

Chiefs: WR Dwayn Bowe, CB Ricardo Colclough, QB Matt Gutierrez, LB Derrick Johnson, WR Quintin Lawrence, TE Jake O'Connell, QB Tyler Thigpen, LB Pierre Walters

In could be a long day for the Eagles as they will be without their best QB and RB for this game. We all expected McNabb to be out but Westbrook is a mildly surprising inactive. He didn't practice all week but that doesn't usually mean much in relation to whether he plays on Sunday. LeSean McCoy will get his first NFL start at RB and it will be interesting to see how he does. Also out for the Eagles is Kevin Curtis but he hasn't been much of a factor this season, anyway. DeSean Jackson was a question mark this week so it's good to see him playing.

The Chiefs also lose their top offensive threat in WR Dwayne Bowe. Without Bowe, the Chiefs passing game takes a major hit. I would expect the Eagles to put 8 in the box all day and dare the Chiefs receivers to make some plays.

A game that should have been a blowout for the Eagles has suddenly become a concern. Can the offense move the ball without Westbrook? Expect the debuting Michael Vick to have a big role in the offense with so many other pieces missing. Go Birds!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Flyers to say goodbye to Jones, hello to Betts?

Fans have been calling for it for months and they may finally get their wish. According to the Daily News, the Flyers are going to release Randy Jones this weekend in order to free up salary. Jones is set to make 2.75 million dollars this year, so waiving him would clear up some valuable cap space to sign forward Blair Betts, who has earned his way onto the team with his solid defensive skills.

Ridding themselves of Jones would be a great move for the Flyers because he hasn't done anything this preseason to prove he is much better than Danny Syvret or Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, the two defensemen vying for a spot on the roster. Both Syvret and Tollefsen make more than 2 million dollars less than Jones so it seems like a logical move to take a small hit in talent for a large boost in cap space.

What happens to Jones after he gets waived will be interesting. There are probably many teams in the league looking for help on defense but I'm not sure they are willing to take on his salary. If he ends up going unclaimed, the Flyers can then send him down to the Phantoms for as long as they want.

The upside from this move, the likely signing of Blair Betts, outweighs the negative that the Flyers will lose some of their depth on defense. Keeping Jones around as the 6th defenseman would be fine talent-wise but dollar-wise it just doesn't make much sense. Cap space is a valuable commodity in the NHL, much more valuable than an average defenseman.

Searching for trends: NFL Week 3 Predictions

The third week of the NFL season is often the hardest to predict. That's because, after only two weeks, it's hard to wrap your head around whether the teams are as good or as bad as they have looked. We also aren't far enough into a season to be able to look at a teams record and tell anything from it. Just look at the Broncos, who aren't any good despite being undefeated, and the winless Dolphins, who are a victim of a tough schedule. Several NFL teams have also looked completely different from one week to the next as teams are searching for an identity. Just look at the Bears and the Packers who have looked both bad and good in subsequent weeks. We just aren't far enough into the season to really be able to gauge whether the things we are seeing are trends or simply random happenings.

With the idea that maybe I don't have any idea who to select, here are my picks for Week Three. All picks are made strictly based on who I think will win and do not take the spread into consideration.

Record Last Week: 10-6, .625
Overall Record: 23-9, .719

Sunday Day Games:


Steelers (1-1) @ Bengals (1-1) The Bengals may be better than we all thought, especially on defense, but the Steelers still own them. Pittsburgh will need to figure out how to run the ball at some point this season, though. Their shoddy offensive line play might finally be catching up to them. My pick: Steelers

Redskins (1-1) @ Lions (0-2) My upset of the week, although if you have watched these two teams the last few weeks you wouldn't be able to tell which team hasn't won a game since 2007. I like Detroit to finally get a W against a Redskins team that is in for a loooong season. His stats may look respectable, but the only thing keeping Jason Campbell from being the worst quarterback in the NFL is JaMarcus Russell. My pick: Lions

Packers (1-1) @ Rams (0-2) I like Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to bounce back in a big way against the Rams. Green Bay wasn't ready to play against the Bengals but they won't let that happen again. These poor, pathetic Rams are going to get a beating. My pick: Packers

Niners (2-0) @ Vikings (2-0) The Niners are the definite surprise team in the NFL. They have already beaten the other two "good" teams in the NFC West, giving them a solid early division lead. They are well-coached, have a stout defense and Frank Gore can run the ball on anyone. Sprinkle in a better passing game and this team has the makings of a real contender. Of course, the Vikings are already built in a similar mold to what the Niners are trying to be, although you can forget about the well-coached part when it comes to Brad Childress. Look for the Vikings to squeak out a win over the upstart Niners. My pick: Vikings

Falcons (2-0) @ Patriots (1-1) This is one of the more difficult games to predict this week. Are the Falcons actually really good or have they played two bad teams? Are the Patriots really bad or have they just played two bad games? Clearly, Tom Brady isn't close to being 100% or he would have willed his team over the Jets on Sunday. I have to believe that the Pats are going to be better so I pick them to win this high-scoring affair. My pick: Patriots

Titans (0-2) @ Jets (2-0) Before the season, if I told you the Titans would start the season 0-3 and the Jets would start it 3-0, how hard would you have laughed at me? Better yet, how much money would you have tried to bet? The Jets are for real, the Titans are not. My pick: Jets

Chiefs (0-2) @ Eagles (1-1) All of the talk in Philadelphia this season has been about the quarterbacks but it won't matter who lines up at QB for the Birds this week, they are going to win this game. It could be Koy Detmer, Bobby Hoying or Ron Jaworski under center, the Eagles would still beat the Chiefs. It won't matter who plays at QB because the defense is going to bounce back in a big way. The Saints embarrassed Sean McDermott and the rest of the defense last week so expect the Chiefs to pay for that this week. Besides, who on the Chiefs scares you? They lost to the Raiders, after all. My pick: Eagles, and Kevin Kolb will do just fine

Giants (2-0) @ Bucs (0-2) Another battle of a winless team and an undefeated team that seems like an obvious pick. The Giants are quickly becoming the class of the NFC again while the Bucs are quickly finding themselves in the Lions/Rams category. I also really hate to admit this, but how good did Eli Manning look last week for the G-Men? Maybe he is worth at least some of that mega-contract he signed. My pick: Giants

Browns (0-2) @ Ravens (2-0) The Browns are just like the aforementioned Bucs, they are quickly diving downwards into the lower depths of the NFL. They will learn sooner or later that Brady Quinn just isn't that good. Derek Anderson isn't much better but at least he knows how to put some points up. Needless to say, the Ravens defense will feast on Quinn. My pick: Ravens

Jaguars (0-2) @ Texans (1-1) The Texans offensive explosion against the Titans last week was a big surprise to me. Houston has some weapons but to do what they did against a supposedly top defense was remarkable. What the Texans couldn't do last week was stop the run and unfortunately they are playing a Jaguar team that has no offense besides Maurice Jones-Drew on the ground. This one could be another high-scoring affair. My pick: Texans

Bears (1-1) @ Seahawks (1-1) I'm not sure what to make of these two teams, they looked equally bad and good in the first two weeks. Jay Cutler proved me wrong and did a complete 180 against the Steelers and showed he is still an elite quarterback. With Seneca Wallace likely in for the injured Matt Hasselbeck, the edge has to go to the Bears. My pick: Bears

Saints (2-0) @ Bills (1-1) Opposing defensive coordinators must be having nightmares about Drew Brees. If a top defense like the Eagles can do nothing to slow him down, what can anyone in the league do? Of course, we all know that the league eventually figures things out and comes up with a gameplan to slow down elite offenses. Unfortunately, the Bills aren't going to be that team that has figured it out, although this game might be closer and lower scoring than expected. My pick: Saints

Broncos (2-0) @ Raiders (1-1) Might the Broncos be the worst soon-to-be 3-0 team of all time? With JaMarcus Russell attempting to play quarterback for the Raiders, there is no way I'm picking them, so I'm forced to go with Denver, who are going to ride an easy schedule to an early divisional lead. Just like last season, though, the Chargers will take it from them in the end. My pick: Broncos

Dolphins (0-2) @ Chargers (1-1) Might the Dolphins be the best soon-to-be 0-3 team of all time? They have had the toughest schedule to start a season in recent memory, having to play three quality playoff teams in a row. They do get to play the Bills next week, so their first win will come then. The Chargers are good pretty much every other week, so they are due. My pick: Chargers

Sunday Night Game:

Colts (2-0) @ Cardinals (1-1) The Colts continue to prove they can beat you any number of ways. On Monday Night, they barely even needed the ball and they still brushed aside the Dolphins. The one thing Miami did continue to prove against the Colts, however, was that they can still be run on all day. The Cardinals don't have the right personnel to take advantage of that, though, so you have to like the Colts in this one. Besides, as Bill Simmons of ESPN says, you never go against Peyton Manning in a prime time game. My pick: Colts

Monday Night Game:

Panthers (0-2) @ Cowboys (1-1) What, you are already sick of seeing and hearing about the new Cowboys stadium? Well, get ready for another week of size comparisons and announcers going on and on about the behemoth of a field built for a mediocre football team. The Cowboys will escape prime time defeat this time, however, because the Panthers are coming to town. Jake Delhomme looked way better in Week 2 but he's still Jake Delhomme. The Cowboys defense will slow down the run attack and not even Tony Romo can screw this one up. My pick: Cowboys

Those are my picks for Week Three of the NFL Season. Check back every Thursday during the season for the latest predictions. Feel free to discuss, argue or make your own picks in the comment section!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blast from the past: Eagles work out Trotter

This Eagles season seems to get weirder by the day. It has already been filled with a quarterback carousel, the Michael Vick controversy and a mountain of injuries and now the Eagles are turning back the clock: former Eagle Pro Bowl linebacker Jeremiah Trotter was brought in for a workout today. Yeah, that isn't a typo and this isn't a post from three years ago, the Birds really took a look at Trotter.

The story was originally reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter and the Eagles have since confirmed the story, so the question now is what do we read into this workout? Are the Eagles really considering bringing Trotter back or are they simply letting an old friend get some practice in? Is the team really that desperate at middle linebacker that they would bring back a guy who hasn't played in the league since 2007?

Let's hope the Eagles aren't serious about bringing Trotter back. As much as I like the guy, the Birds gave up on him several years ago and it's not like he has gotten better since then. Perhaps Trotter would make a good coach but he doesn't belong on the roster of a team trying to win a Super Bowl.

Eagles add TE Rucker to practice squad

The Eagles tight end situation has been pretty fluid this season with players coming and going due to injuries and ineffectiveness. That fluidity continues today as the Birds made another move at tight end today, adding former 2008 4th round pick Martin Rucker to the practice squad. Rucker had been with the Browns the last two years before being waived on Wednesday. He has only 2 career catches in the 5 games he suited up for but is still considered a good prospect with a lot of upside. Rucker, who played with Jeremy Maclin at Missouri, is a pass-catching tight end who needs to work on his blocking. At 6 foot 5 and 260 pounds, he certainly has plenty of size and if the Eagles can keep him around for a while he will develop into a useful player.

To make room on the practice squad for Rucker the Eagles released TE Rob Myers. Myers had a decent showing in the preseason but was the odd man out when the team brought in Tony Curtis and later Alex Smith. Myers was an undrafted free agent so the fact that he stuck along this long is commendable.

The Eagles also added former Penn State WR Jordan Norwood to the practice squad on Wednesday to replace the departed Danny Amendola. Norwood had also spent the preseason with the Browns.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Enough is enough, Brad Lidge

So long, Brad Lidge, and thanks for the memories. At this point, the Phillies need to move on without you. The Brad Lidge from 2008 isn't showing up any time soon so get this guy out of the closer role. His 11th blown save against the Marlins on Wednesday night is beyond the last straw. If Lidge can't close out a game in front of like 15 Marlins fans in a fairly meaningless game in September then how is he going to do in October with a packed stadium and a ton of pressure?

Enough already Charlie Manuel. I know you are loyal to a fault but you have to take Lidge out of the closer role. Ryan Madson, while not perfect either, is your only option and you have to turn to him in the 9th. At this point Lidge isn't even worthy of a spot on the playoff roster but I know the Phillies will at least be that loyal to him.

Enough is enough, Brad Lidge. Your time as the Phillies closer in 2009 is over. Get your head on straight and get yourself ready to bounce back in 2010.

Sixers unveil new throwback jerseys

We are all about the throwback jerseys here in Philly, huh? Shortly after the Flyers unveiled their latest classic jersey, the Sixers have introduced their new throwback jersey. As of June, we knew the Sixers were going with their old logo, now they have gone all in with the classic look.
The second picture is courtesy of The 700 Level. My initial reaction is that I really like the red uniform, although I worry that it looks a little too much like a Clippers jersey. I pretty much love all the throwback jerseys and love that the Philly teams are going this route.

JVR makes his case to be a Flyer

Normally, I don't take much stock in preseason hockey. It's like all other exhibition games in other sports; stars don't play their hardest and the outcomes don't matter. The Flyers preseason game tonight might be an exception, however, as a rookie phenom made a strong bid to make the Flyers opening game roster.

James van Riemsdyk (JVR), the number 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft, scored a pair of goals for the Flyers as they defeated the Red Wings, 5-2, in their preseason home opener. JVR's performance should put to rest the debate that has occurred for the last few weeks about whether he should make the team right from the start or not. After all, when he is your most dynamic player on the ice, how could the Flyers not keep him around? There were some concerns that JVR wouldn't get enough ice time in the NHL to continue his development but if he plays all season the way he did tonight that won't be a problem. Barring some strange salary cap issues, it should be safe to pencil JVR into the Flyers opening night lineup.

As for the rest of the team, the Flyers played their best preseason game as a whole against the Wings on Tuesday night. Ray Emery looked good in net, Mike Pyorala scored a goal to help make his case for a roster spot and even Dan Carcillo made a contribution on the score sheet with a breakaway goal. For a team that looked rusty and not ready to play in previous preseason games, the Flyers looked leaps and bounds better on Tuesday.

It was great to see the Flyers back on home ice on Tuesday night and even better to see them play a good all-around game. Even though it was just a preseason game, beating the Red Wings is always a good sign for how your season is going to go. I can't wait for October 2nd!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eagles lose WR Danny Amendola to the Rams

It's a rather insignificant move but one that will upset many Eagles fans: according to Scout.com, the Rams have signed WR Danny Amendola off of the Eagles practice squad. Amendola had a great preseason with the Eagles, prompting some to think he deserved a spot on the final roster. With the depth the Eagles had at wideout, however, Amendola was never really a threat to make the team. The Birds stashed him away on the practice squad at the start of the season but it was only a matter of time before he was signed by another team.

The Rams will be getting an interesting prospect in Amendola and they may actually be able to use him. If there was ever a team in the NFL that was short on depth at wideout, it's the Rams. While many will be mad that the Eagles let a talented player go, Amendola was never going to get a shot with the Birds. Be happy for the guy because he might be able to make an impact with the Rams.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Flyers make first cuts as roster begins to take shape

With three middling preseason game performances in the books, the Flyers finally started to pare down their roster in preparation for the coming season and trimmed down by 29 players. There are very few surprises amongst the 29, although camp invite Mark Bell was cut and familiar names like Andreas Nodl and Jared Ross were sent to the minors.

The only other player besides Bell that was outright released was Adrian Foster while the Flyers sent the following 19 players to the Phantoms: forwards Josh Beaulieu, Rob Bellamy, Matt Clackson, Ryan Dingle, Jon Kalinski, Garrett Klotz, Jonathan Matsumoto, Nodl, Ross, Tomas Sinisalo, defensemen Oskars Bartulis, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Joonas Lehtivuori, Kevin Marshall, Mike Ratchuk, David Sloane, Logan Stephenson and goalies Jeremy Duchense, Nic Riopel and Michael Teslak.

The Flyers also shipped 8 players back to their junior teams: David Labrecque, Zac Rinaldo, Mike Thomas, Eric Wellwood, Tyler Hostetter, Brennan Yadlowski, Adam Morrison and Jacob DeSerres.

The release of Bell comes as a slight surprise although he didn't do anything noteworthy in his preseason action. Nodl, Ross and Kalinski all spent some time with the Flyers last season but were long shots to crack the NHL roster. The rest of the group listed above have been placed where they belong.

As for who is left, the Flyers still have a few key decisions to make. NHL teams can keep up to 23 players and the Flyers will have to think long and hard about who the last few players will be that make the team. Camp invite Blair Betts, for example, has shown that he can win faceoffs and kill penalties, two valuable assets to a team with a propensity for spending time in the box. The play of rookie James van Riemsdyk also presents a good problem for the Flyers. Will the team choose to keep him in the NHL and give him enough ice time to develop or will he be better served dominating in the AHL?

Another decision the Flyers need to make is if it's really necessary to keep Riley Cote around. The team seems to already have enough fighters on the roster and Cote doesn't bring much else to the table. It would be a shame if Cote makes the team ahead of someone more deserving, like Betts.

Here is a look at the Flyers roster, including players likely to make the team and those battling for the last spots:

Forwards (11): Danny Briere, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell, Daniel Carcillo, Claude Giroux, Arron Asham, Riley Cote, Darroll Powe, Ian Laperriere Possible 12th and 13th forwards: Mike Pyorala, Blair Betts, James van Riemsdyk

Defensemen (6): Chris Pronger, Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen, Randy Jones, Ryan Parent, Matt Carle Possible 7th defenseman: Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Danny Syvret

Goalies (2): Ray Emery, Brian Boucher

Other longshots for roster spots include: G Johan Backlund, F David Laliberte, F Patrick Maroon, F Jason Ward

Report: Donovan McNabb likely out for Week 3

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Those hoping that Kevin Kolb would only start one game for the Eagles this season are going to be disappointed: Donovan McNabb will likely miss another week. According to SI's Peter King, McNabb will be sitting out once again next week when the Chiefs come to Philly to take on the Eagles.

Letting McNabb rest for another week makes sense especially when you consider the Eagles have a bye in Week 4. Giving McNabb what will amount to three weeks off to let his ribs heal ensures that he will be as close to 100% when he returns as possible. It also doesn't hurt that Kevin Kolb looked respectable as a starter and that the Chiefs are a weak team that the Birds should be able to handle no matter who is under center.

The wildcard in the mix starting in Week 3 will be the return of Michael Vick, who will be eligible to play against the Chiefs. With how much the Eagles ran the Wildcat offense in Week 2, you can bet they will work Vick into the mix quite a bit. The odd man out will once again be Jeff Garcia, who will suit up as the third string quarterback. With how well Kolb played against the Saints, you can bet Garcia will be shown the door as soon as McNabb comes back.

It's still remarkable that the Eagles have three former Pro Bowl quarterbacks on the roster and yet none of them will be starting for them in Weeks 2 or 3. While I was impressed with what Kolb showed us on Sunday, I'm still going to welcome McNabb back with open arms. He's the key to this team making a Super Bowl run this year so him getting healthy is of the utmost importance. With all this rest he should be primed and ready to go in Week 5 when the Birds take on the Bucs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saints march all over Eagles but don't blame Kolb

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
With Kevin Kolb starting the game for the Eagles, most expected the Saints to come in to Philly and hang an L on the Birds. What wasn't expected, however, was that Kolb had little to do with why the Eagles lost the game. Instead, poor defensive play, bad special teams play and a litany of penalties led the Eagles to get crushed by the Saints, 48-22.

Kolb held his own in his first NFL start, completing 31 of 51 passes for 391 yards and 2 touchdowns. While he did have three interceptions (two very late in the game) and another pass that should have been picked off, Kolb led the offense down the field time and time again. He proved all the detractors wrong and looked very competent out there. Not only did Kolb start fast with a 71 yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson, but he also finished the first half with a great drive that went nearly the entire length of the field in 37 seconds and got the Eagles three points. The Birds have to be happy with his progress.

The real problems for the Eagles were on defense and special teams. For a supposed elite defense to get 40+ points hung on them, regardless of how good the opponents' offense, is just embarrassing. Drew Brees did whatever he wanted to all day, throwing the ball all over the field and marching the Saints up and down the field. Of course, it didn't hurt that Brees was given short fields to work with all day because of the terrible special teams play by the Eagles. From bad punts, terrible penalties and fumbles, the Eagles special teams were an atrocity. ST coach Ted Daisher better get it straightened out or he is going to be out on the street.

Regardless of the blowout score, the Eagles lost a game that pretty much everyone expected to them to lose. With Donovan McNabb out and the potent Saints offense coming to town, few gave the Eagles much of a chance in this one. Because of that, there is no reason to panic regardless of how badly they were blown out; a loss is a loss. What happens next will tell us a lot more about this Eagles team. Do they bounce back with a vengeance and destroy the Chiefs next weekend or do they come out flat? Even with Donovan McNabb possibly out again next week, the Eagles should be able to beat the Chiefs no matter who lines up at QB.

Whatever you do, don't blame Kevin Kolb for this loss. Yes, he could have played better, but he did everything the Eagles could have asked for in his first NFL start. The blame for this loss falls squarely on the shoulders of the defense and the special teams. If those two units don't get better quickly, it's going to be a long season for the Eagles.

Eagles/Saints Week 2 Inactives: McNabb out, Kolb to start

The Eagles and Saints have announced their inactive players for their game later today, and, as expected, Kevin Kolb is getting the start at quarterback in place of the injured Donovan McNabb. The Eagles hinted all week that there was a chance McNabb could play despite his broken rib, but it never really seem all that likely they would throw him back out there so quickly.

Here is the full list of inactive players for each team:

Eagles: WR Reggie Brown, S Quintin Demps, WR Brandon Gibson, OG Todd Herremans, LB Joe Mays, OL Mike McGlynn, QB Donovan McNabb, QB Michael Vick

Saints: OT Jammal Brown, LB Jonathan Casillas, DT Kendrick Clancy, RB Lynell Hamiton, WR Rod Harper, C Nick Leckey, CB Leigh Torrance

As for the other Eagles that are inactive, Mays, Demps and Herremans are all dealing with injuries so they weren't expected to suit up. Curiously, with both Brown and Gibson inactive, the Birds are only suiting up four wide receivers. I thought for sure that Gibson would get a shot this week. Michael Vick is of course inactive because he is still suspended by the league.

The Saints don't have any unexpected inactives but are somewhat surprisingly suiting up running back Pierre Thomas. Thomas isn't expected to play much, if at all, and will instead be insurance should Reggie Bush or Mike Bell get injured.

This should be a very interesting game this week. We will see how Kevin Kolb does with basically his entire career on the line. Go Birds!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Stacy Andrews won't start in Week 2 for the Eagles

What was supposed to be one of the best offensive lines in the NFL is quickly turning into a bunch of backups. Stacy Andrews, who was signed this offseason by the Eagles, will join fellow projected starting offensive linemen Shawn Andrews and Todd Herremans on the sidelines for the start of the Week 2 game against the Saints. Stacy Andrews is not completely out due to injury like brother Shawn and Herremans, though, instead, Stacy is simply not starting the game because he isn't "comfortable" with the Eagles blocking schemes. According to Brian Seltzer of ESPN 950, Andrews won't start but will still rotate into the game as he gets used to the Eagles system. Max Jean-Gilles will start in his place at right guard.

Thank goodness the Eagles have some of the best offensive line depth in the league. There isn't that much of a dropoff from Jean-Gilles to Andrews, especially with the way Andrews played in Week 1. It's still pretty sad when one of your top free agent pickups can't learn a system fast enough to start every game. Hopefully this is just a one week thing for Andrews and he can get himself back into playing capably.

So why are the Andrews brothers always involved in these kinds of strange stories?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Almost Perfect: NFL Week Two Predictions

Week One was a week of "almosts". On Monday Night, the Bills almost knocked off the Patriots, and they would have had they just been able to hold on to the ball. The Raiders also almost pulled off an upset on the same night but then woke up at the end of the game and realized they were still the Raiders. In Sunday action, the Lions almost looked like an NFL team again, the Rams almost managed to score a point and the Texans almost forgot to show up against the Jets. And, of course, Drew Brees almost played the perfect game.

As for my Week One predictions, I was also almost perfect! If the aforementioned Texans hadn't laid a stinkbomb and the Broncos hadn't pulled off that miracle win, I would have been a few steps closer. Let's see how I do in Week Two.

All picks are made strictly based on who I think will win and do not take the spread into consideration.

Record Last Week: 13-3, .813
Overall Record: 13-3, .813

Sunday Day Games:

Panthers (0-1) @ Falcons (1-0) The moment John Fox announced that Jake Delhomme would still be the starter for the Panthers, I locked this pick in. While Matt Ryan and the Falcon offense didn't look great in Week One, they won't have to be when Mr. Turnover gives them the ball in good field position all day. It's sad when A.J. Feeley appears to be a major upgrade at quarterback for your team. My pick: Falcons

Vikings (1-0) @ Lions (0-1) The Lions already look like a better football team but they aren't getting any favors from the schedule-maker here. Expect Adrian Peterson to go off again (duh) and Brett Favre to do just enough to not lose this one. My pick: Vikings, but it might be closer than you think

Bengals (0-1) @ Packers (1-0) Poor Bengals. Just when you thought they might finally right the ship and start out the season with a solid win, the football gods take it all away. While the Bengal defense appears much-improved, they aren't going to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Packer attack, especially in Lambeau. The Packer defense is also very good, so I don't expect this one to be close. My pick: Packers

Texans (0-1) @ Titans (0-1) What the heck happened to the Texans in Week One? I know the Jets defense is going to be a lot better under Rex Ryan, but zero offensive points for a team with Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub and Steve Slaton? And, if they couldn't do it against the Jets, how the heck are they going to do anything against the Titans? Factor in an always surprisingly competent Kerry Collins and the fact that it's a home game and I don't see how the Titans lose this one. My pick: Titans

Raiders (0-1) @ Chiefs (0-1) I don't buy that the Raiders are an improved team. I'm more likely to buy into the fact that the Chargers always start slow than that Oakland is suddenly competent just because they have Richard Seymour. JaMarcus Russell still did everything he could to lose that game and the Raiders defense still folded when it mattered, so I wouldn't put much stock into the Monday Night game. I'm also not that impressed with the Chiefs, but someone has to win this game! My pick: Chiefs

Patriots (1-0) @ Jets (1-0) Call it an upset if you want, but I see the Jets winning this one. The league seems to have figured out how to slow down that Patriots spread attack and you can bet Rex Ryan will have his defense ready to hit Tom Brady and Co. early and often. I'm a little worried about the defensive schemes Bill Belichick is going to throw at Mark Sanchez and how that's going to confuse the rookie quarterback, but the Pats defense as a whole is severely lacking talent. Look for the Jets to take an early lead in the AFC East. My pick: Jets

Saints (1-0) @ Eagles (1-0) When I made my original picks for the Eagles season I had them down for a loss in Week 2. With Donovan McNabb very unlikely to play, that further solidifies my pick. I'll be rooting for the Eagles, but I just don't think they can slow down Drew Brees enough to give Kevin Kolb a chance to compete. I would expect the Birds to have a game plan for slowing everything down on offense and going for the short stuff with the hopes of eating up the clock and keeping the ball away from the Saints. I don't expect this one to be too lopsided but I just don't see a scenario where the Eagles win this one. Believe me, I hope I'm wrong! My pick: Saints

Rams (0-1) @ Redskins (0-1) Poor Steve Spagnuolo. No one knows how to spell your name and your team stinks. The Rams just never seem to get any better, do they? I'm not that impressed with the Redskins, either, but they should win this home game by at least a touchdown. My pick: Redskins

Cardinals (0-1) @ Jaguars (0-1) This is one of the harder games to pick this week. The Cardinals are always bad on the road but it's tough to pick the defending NFC Champs to start a season 0-2. On the other hand, the Jaguars played the Colts pretty tough in Week One and I expect Maurice Jones-Drew to have a big day against the Cards. Looks like we are going to have a new king in the NFC West this season. My pick: Jaguars

Seahawks (1-0) @ Niners (1-0) This is THE hardest game to pick this week. I like both teams a lot this year and see them both fighting all season long for the division. I'm really tempted to go with the Niners at home to continue their hot start of the season but, since these two teams are so close, I have to give the edge to the team with the more experienced quarterback. Because, at the end of the day, who do you trust more to win a game for your team, Shaun Hill or Matt Hasselbeck? I rest my case. My pick: Seahawks

Bucs (0-1) @ Bills (0-1) The Bucs didn't appear ready to play against the Cowboys in Week One. The Bills didn't appear ready to play a full game against the Patriots in Week One. Something has to give. Tampa Bay looks like the team in bigger disarray as they are trying to completely re-work their defense. The Bills have their own problems but at least their defense looked surprisingly good against the Pats. My pick: Bills

Steelers (1-0) @ Bears (0-1) Jay Cutler is suddenly being exposed as a quarterback who makes a lot of bad decisions. Those throws he got away with last season in Denver just aren't going to work with the Bears. They especially won't work against the Steelers D this coming weekend, and for that Pittsburgh is my pick to win this low-scoring battle. While this game has lost a bit of it's luster with Troy Polamalu and Brian Urlacher being out, I still expect lots of big hits and bruised quarterbacks. My pick: Steelers

Browns (0-1) @ Broncos (1-0) Shield your eyes from this game, it's gonna be ugly. The Broncos did nothing to make me believe they are a competent team and the Browns really don't have much going for them either. It may take another miracle last second play, but I have to go with the home team. My pick: Broncos

Ravens (1-0) @ Chargers (1-0) This one is probably the best game of Week Two. The Ravens offense really came alive last week and if they play at all close to that level week in and week out, Baltimore has a title contender on their hands because you know the defense will always be elite. The Chargers were a major disappointment last against the Raiders with the game turning out to be a microcosm of how their seasons usually turn out: slow starts followed by great finishes. It's going to be a lot harder to make a comeback against the Ravens. My pick: Ravens

Sunday Night Game:

Giants (1-0) @ Cowboys (1-0) The Cowboys of Week One were a mirage, they took advantage of a Bucs team that wasn't ready to play football. The Giants are always ready and I see them running all over the Cowboys to pull this one out. While it's usually smart to go with the home team in these NFC East battles, the Giants are just on a different level than the Cowboys. It's too bad the Cowboys new stadium will have to debut with a loss. My pick: Giants

Monday Night Game:

Colts (1-0) @ Dolphins (0-1) This current Colts team can win a lot of different ways. If you want a shootout, they'll give you a shootout. If you want to battle it out in the trenches, they'll battle you. While I have some worries about them slowing down the Wildcat if Bob Sanders doesn't play, I think the Colts should control this game from start to finish. I don't see the Dolphins as being the same team that won 11 games last year. My pick: Colts

So those are my picks for Week Two of the NFL Season. Check back every week for the latest predictions. Feel free to discuss, argue or make your own picks in the comment section!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Uh, oh: Chan Ho felt a pop

With all the mess that the Phillies bullpen has been forced to deal with in recent weeks, this news could make it even worse. Chan Ho Park, who has been the one constant in the Phillies bullpen this season, left the game on Wednesday night after he threw his final pitch and felt a pop in his hamstring. While some initial reports said that Park pulled his hamstring, the fact that he heard a pop means it could be pretty serious.

Charlie Manuel agreed in his postgame comments, saying that he was "very concerned" and that Park was going to be "down awhile". It's way too early to speculate but one would think that Park will be out for a couple weeks at the very least and you have to think he will be in jeopardy of missing some postseason games.

Since Park's move to the bullpen early in the season, he has developed into the most reliable bullpen piece the Phillies have. Park can be counted on to pitch in the 6th, 7th or 8th innings and he can go multiple innings if necessary. Losing him for an extended period of time would obviously be a huge blow to an already struggling bullpen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Eagles waive Baskett to make room for Vick

The Eagles roster moves just keep coming. According to Jay Glazer, the Eagles have waived Hank Baskett and taken Michael Vick off the exempt list. Taking Vick off the exempt list means he is eligible to return to practice with the Eagles in preparation of his return to the field in Week 3.

Baskett is a casualty of the Eagles having entirely too many receivers on their roster. Some might be surprised that the Birds didn't release Reggie Brown instead but that likely has to do with money. While Baskett is a better special teams player and arguably just as good a receiver as Brown, the team doesn't have to eat a large contract like they would have to do with Reggie. I would expect Baskett to draw some interest from other teams around the league.

Never a dull moment with this Eagles team, they are constantly tweaking the roster. Baskett is a quality player but it was more important that the Eagles start prepping Vick for his Week 3 debut.

Phillies 2010 schedule released: Season begins in Washington

The 2009 season hasn't even ended yet for the Phillies but we can already start looking ahead as the Phils have released their 2010 schedule. You can click here to go to Phillies.com and see the entire schedule, but here are the highlights:

-The Phillies open the season on April 5th in D.C. against the Nationals.

-The home opener is one week later on April 12th, also against the Nationals. That's right, 6 of their first 9 games are against the Nats. Sounds good to me.

-For Interleague play this year, the Phillies travel to Boston and New York to play the Red Sox and Yankees. They also play in Toronto and have home series against the Red Sox, Indians and Twins.

-The 2010 season ends for the Phillies on October 3rd in Atlanta.

Eagles place Shawn Andrews on IR, ending his season

When the Eagles signed Jeff Garcia they had to make a move to clear up a roster spot. Much of the speculation around who would go circled around the wide receivers, of which the Eagles have 7. Would the team trade Hank Baskett or release Reggie Brown? Well, it turns out, all the receivers are staying because the Eagles have placed lineman Shawn Andrews on IR, ending his season.

Andrews had been dealing with back issues throughout training camp but seemed to be improving heading into the season before he suffered yet another setback. Apparently the Eagles have had enough of Andrews and his injury issues and they decided to give him the rest of the season to heal up.

It's a disappointing loss for the Eagles to lose the former Pro Bowl lineman, but not one they weren't prepared for. Winston Justice, who actually played well against the Panthers, will be the starting right tackle for the immediate future but don't be surprised if Jon Runyan gets another call to come back to Philly. Runyan played right tackle for the Eagles for nearly a decade and would be the perfect rock-solid replacement for the flaky Andrews.

So, another season is washed away for the injury-prone Shawn Andrews. It's now gotten to the point with Andrews that the Eagles can't really count on him for anything. Pencil him in as a possible starter next season but don't be surprised if/when the Eagles just cut bait on Andrews and move on.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Eagles bring back Jeff Garcia

When A.J. Feeley, who had been rumored to sign with the Eagles once Donovan McNabb got injured, signed with the Carolina Panthers, the Birds were forced to look elsewhere for a fill-in quarterback for the next few weeks. They didn't have to look far for a familiar face: Jeff Garcia is coming back to Philadelphia.

The Eagles have signed Jeff Garcia to a one-year deal. Don't expect Garcia to be the savior for the Eagles like he was two years ago, instead he is mostly being brought in as insurance should Kevin Kolb be terrible or should McNabb be out for more than just a few weeks. In fact, Garcia may only be in town for a week or two and he may never take a single snap in his second stint with the Eagles. In other words, don't count on Garcia-mania to come back in 2009.

The Eagles will need to cut someone from their roster to make room for Garcia and there is no word yet on who that would be. The team could cut a receiever, like Reggie Brown, or they could get rid of newly signed DT Antonio Dixon.

With McNabb, Kolb, Michael Vick and now Garcia, the Eagles quarterback position gets even more intriguing. Garcia has made it clear he thinks he should still be a starter in the NFL, so it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the team for the next few weeks. Will he be happy backing up Kevin Kolb or will he cause a stir? It should be interesting to say the least.

Report: McNabb won't play in Week Two

When Donovan McNabb laid in the endzone on his back yesterday, every Eagles fan feared the worst. That's because we've seen it all before with McNabb, from the seemingly harmless injury to the devastating knockout blow, and nearly all of them keep him out of action. McNabb had remarkable health last season so, really, it was only a matter of time before he got injured again. Luckily, the injured ribs he sustained on Sunday won't likely keep him out for long.

According to multiple sources, including the always trustworthy Jay Glazer, McNabb will miss next week, but after that he could play in Week 3 or wait until after the Week 4 bye to really heal up. Playing without McNabb for just 1 or 2 games is certainly not the end of the world for the Birds and certainly is better news than many originally feared.

Of course, replacing McNabb this season is tricky. Michael Vick won't be able to return from his suspension until Week 3, so he isn't an option next week. That leaves Kevin Kolb the only choice to start seeing as how he is the only quarterback on the roster. With the Eagles playing the Saints in Week 2, Kolb wouldn't have to face a difficult defense, but he will have the tough task of trying to score enough points to keep up with the high-powered Saints offense. It's fair to say Kolb is going to have to play better than he did in the garbage time minutes he played against the Panthers.

With McNabb out for a week or two, the Eagles find themselves with only one quarterback on the roster. Rumors have already begun circulating that the Eagles will be signing A.J. Feeley to come in and be the backup for a few weeks. If he's willing to come back to the Birds for just a short amount of time, that's a signing that makes a ton of sense.

While it could have been worse, the Eagles without Donovan McNabb are just a shell of themselves on offense. There is a huge dropoff from McNabb to Kevin Kolb, so the Eagles face a tall task next weekend against the Saints. It will be up to the defense to try to create havoc and disrupt Drew Brees enough to keep the team in the game. Unfortunately, Brees is no Jake "Mr. Turnover" Delhomme and that will make it that much more difficult. Hurry back, McNabb, this team can't do much without you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pedro's gem caps great day in Philly Sports

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Pedro Martinez's performance Sunday night was exactly why the Phillies chose to pull Jamie Moyer from the rotation. Martinez, facing his old team, the Mets, had a masterful game, pitching 8 shutout innings to lead the Phillies to a 1-0 win. It was the second win of the day for the Phillies over the Mets, a win that completely eliminates the Mets from playoff contention.

Pedro was the story of the night, mowing down batters and going deeper into the game than he had ever gone this season. It took 130 pitches, but Pedro got through those 8 innings by striking out 7 batters and generally looking like the Pedro of a few years ago. Pedro has quickly become a must-start in the playoffs for the Phillies and has made Ruben Amaro look like a genius for taking a chance on him.

The night wasn't complete without a little closer drama as Ryan Madson took the mound for the save. Madson gave up one hit but looked pretty sharp in getting through the 9th inning. He certainly fared better than Brad Lidge, who gave up 2 runs and backed into a save, did earlier in the day. The closer situation is still very muddled going forward.

Pedro's gem caps an outstanding day in Philly sports. Not only did the Phillies sweep their doubleheader with the Mets but the Eagles also manhandled the Panthers. The only negative on the day is the fact that Donovan McNabb got injured but at least that doesn't look too serious. It really doesn't get much better than this, Philly fans.

Eagles crush Panthers, McNabb hurts ribs

(AP Photo/Rick Havner)
Except for one little thing, you couldn't ask for a much better way to start the season for the Eagles as they dominated the Panthers in every facet of the game, winning 38-10. Of course, that "one little thing" I'm referring to could be huge: Donovan McNabb got injured.

McNabb was injured while running for a touchdown when two Panthers landed on his back. As he lay on his back in pain, the entire city of Philadelphia held his breath hoping for the best, knowing that the season could already be over. Eventually, McNabb got to his feet and limped off the field under his own power. He then went straight to the locker room and did not return to the game. The early word is that McNabb injured his ribs but there is no report on how severe the damage is. With Michael Vick still suspended, Kevin Kolb would be the starter next week if McNabb can't go.

On the field, the Eagles defense led the way. Taking advantage of a shaky Jake Delhomme, the Eagles defense had 5 sacks, 5 interceptions, two forced fumbles and a touchdown. The Eagles did so much damage that the Panthers eventually benched Delhomme for Josh McCown, who subsequently got injured and forced the Panthers to go with Matt Moore at QB. Needless to say, those that were worried about how the Eagles defense would do with Jim Johnson gone need not worry anymore. They are still an attacking, turnover-producing machine.

Offensively, the Eagles didn't do much because they didn't need to. Due to all the turnovers, the Eagles had a short field all day, leading them to score three offensive TD's yet have no standout receiver or runner. On special teams, DeSean Jackson also added a nice punt return for a touchdown.

The Eagles dominated this game from start to finish, but, unfortunately, the story will now be whether Donovan McNabb will be able to play next week. McNabb was wincing in pain after he returned to the sidelines late in the game, so the initial prognosis might not be good. Of course, McNabb could have been wincing because he had to watch Kevin Kolb attempt to play quarterback. With the Saints explosive offense looming next week, the Eagles are going to need a great QB behind center to keep up. Let's keep our fingers crossed for McNabb.

Eagles/Panthers Week 1 Inactives

The Eagles and Panthers have announced their inactive players for Week One:

Eagles: RT Shawn Andrews, DE Jason Babin, WR Reggie Brown, WR Brandon Gibson, OL Todd Herremans, S Sean Jones, LB Joe Mays, G Mike McGlynn

Panthers: FB Tony Fiammetta, DT Ra'Shon Harris, QB Matt Moore, OL Duke Robinson, RB Tyrell Sutton, DE Hilee Taylor, OL Garry Williams, DB C.J. Wilson

As expected, 2/5ths of the Eagles projected starting offensive line will be sitting out this week as Shawn Andrews and Herremans deal with injuries. That forces Nick Cole and Winston Justice into the starting lineup. While Cole should do just fine, whoever lines up against Justice for the Panthers (Julius Peppers) will be licking his chops. Not very many other surprises for the Eagles, I figured they would only dress 5 wideouts and that Brown and Gibson were the odd ones out. Jason Babin, everyone's favorite preseason defensive end, will have to wait to make an impact. The Eagles did not declare a third QB because they don't have one!

None of the Panthers inactive players are surprising, nor have I really heard of any of them. Sutton is the 3rd running back and his benching means that Jonathon Stewart is healthy enough to be the backup.

Just under an hour now until the Eagles season kicks off! Go Birds!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Flyers unveil Winter Classic Jerseys

Click here for 2012 Winter Classic JerseysThe Flyers unveiled their Winter Classic Jerseys today in dramatic fashion, having players from the team shatter a block of ice to reveal what they will wear on the January 1st outdoor game against the Bruins at Fenway Park. As expected, the team went with a classic white jersey, a counterpart to the classic orange jerseys they will be wearing at home this season.
It's a shame this sharp looking jersey will only be worn once this season, perhaps the Flyers will put it into their rotation if the fan feedback is overwhelmingly positive. The return of these classic Flyers jerseys are a welcome sight; they remind the city of the last time the team won the Cup and they look darn good, too.
(Pictures via @Philabright on Twitter)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Eagles work out Jon Runyan

There has been a Jon Runyan sighting in Philadelphia! Runyan, who anchored the Eagles offensive line for 9 years, was back in Philly today working out in the NovaCare Complex. While still recovering from offseason knee surgery, Runyan has been working out for a few teams around the league with the hopes of getting back on the field.

Many thought it was only a matter of time before Runyan returned to the Eagles. While this workout could be just to get Big Jon some time on the field, you have to think the Eagles are seriously considering bringing him back. Not only would Runyan supply some much-needed leadership to the team but he would also be great insurance should Todd Herremans be out for several weeks and should Shawn Andrews not be ready.

With all the uncertainty surrounding the Eagles offensive line this preseason, bringing Runyan back would really help to solidify things. At this point, no one knows if he is even ready to play football again, but if he is, you can bet the Eagles will try to bring him back.

Your 2009 Eagles Season Breakdown

We are just hours away from the NFL season officially kicking off! While the Eagles still don't play for a few more days, it's time to start taking a closer look at their prospects for the 2009 season. After an extremely eventful offseason that saw the Eagles pull off arguably the best draft of any team, re-tool their offensive line and bring in some guy name Michael Vick, excitement has definitely been building for the upcoming campaign. With a lackluster regular season that was followed by a surprising playoff run last year, what is in store for the Birds in '09?

Most media outlets agree that the Eagles will be making the playoffs (except SI's Peter King), but what they do from there is up in the air. On paper, the Birds are one of the best teams in the league but will they overcome the rash of preseason injuries and gel together to become a cohesive unit? The weapons around Donovan McNabb are scary good, with defenses being forced to deal with a slew of speedy backs and wideouts. Defensively, with the loss of Jim Johnson, Brian Dawkins and Stewart Bradley, the Eagles appear without leaders but still have talent and depth all across the board. The linebackers appear to be the only weakness on the team but there is enough talent at the surrounding positions to mask it. This Eagles team has the right combination of elite players, depth and a few wildcard players that they should be amongst the best teams in the league. How far they end up going will once again rest on the shoulders of #5.

Here is my week by week projection of how I think the Eagles season will play out.

Week 1: @ Panthers: W (1-0)
-This game could be a cakewalk or a battle depending on which Jake Delhomme shows up. If Delhomme's performance in the playoffs last season means he is washed up, expect the Birds to roll. Otherwise, don't forget how good the Panthers were in the regular season last year. I still like the Eagles either way.

Week 2: Saints: L (1-1)
-They are going to lose one of these early games and this one looks the most likely. This game will be a major test for the Eagles defense; if they slow down the Saints attack, they will be truly elite. Unfortunately, I expect a shootout here between McNabb and Drew Brees with the Saints winning the game on a late touchdown.
Week 3: Chiefs: W (2-1)
-I don't see anything the Chiefs have that should scare the Eagles. If this game was played in Arrowhead, I might think it would be close. Too bad it's in Philly; the Birds will roll.

Week 4: BYE

Week 5: Bucs: W (3-1)
-By Week 5, we'll have a better idea of just who the Bucs are. With a new coach and plenty of turnover, it's hard to tell if Tampa Bay has much of a team. At this point, I don't see how the Bucs are going to score any points against the Eagles.

Week 6: @ Raiders: W (4-1)
-I really don't feel like I have to justify my pick here. Next.

Week 7: @ Redskins: L (4-2)
-The 'Skins always play the Eagles tough so I think the two teams will split this year with each team winning at home.

Week 8: Giants: W (5-2)
-Same as against the Redskins, the Giants and Eagles will split this year with each team winning at home. Without any wideout threats on offense, the Giants aren't quite as good as the last few seasons but they still have the best line play, both offensive and defensive, in the league.

Week 9: Cowboys: W (6-2)
-This game ends a rough three week stretch where the Eagles have to play all of their division rivals. Unlike the other two teams, however, I see the Cowboys as not even close to being in the Eagles class. Therefore, the Eagles will take both against the Cowboys this year, starting with this one in Philly.

Week 10: @ Chargers: L (6-3)
-Just because the Eagles are done with the divisional opponents doesn't mean the schedule gets any easier. The Chargers are easily the class of the AFC West so I see them as the one team from the West that will actually beat the Birds.

Week 11: @ Bears: W (7-3)
-The Bears seem to always play the Eagles tough, regardless of who their quarterback is. Now that they have a legitimate one to go with their strong defense, they should be a top team in the NFC. Fortunately, so are the Eagles.

Week 12: Redskins: W (8-3)
-The Eagles finish the split by knocking off the Redskins at home. Expect it to be low-scoring.

Week 13: @ Falcons: W (9-3)
-The Falcons of 2009 aren't going to be the same as the Falcons from 2008. I think Atlanta takes a step back this season and wins 8 games so I don't see them threatening the Eagles here.

Week 14: @ Giants: L (9-4)
-The Giants beat the Eagles in the Meadowlands to complete the season split.
Week 15: Niners: W (10-4)
-I like the Niners as a surprise team this year, they could win 9 games if everything goes right. They could be playing for a chance at winning their division, but I still don't think the Niners have what it takes to slow the Eagles offense down.

Week 16: Broncos: W (11-4)
-Denver could be a total trainwreck at this point of the season so this could be a cakewalk for the Birds. No matter what, the Eagles aren't losing this one at home, no matter how many crazy plays Brian Dawkins makes in his return.

Week 17: @ Cowboys: W (12-4)
-The Eagles always beat the Cowboys at the end of the regular season. Unless the scoreboard falls on Donovan McNabb, this one is a W.

So, there you have it. Your Eagles will finish 12-4 and win the NFC East. From there, as we all saw last season, the playoffs are a whole new game where anyone can win. I see the Eagles getting to at least the NFC Championship Game (again) but I'm not sure if they can get over the hump and back into the Super Bowl.

Those are my picks for the Eagles this season. If you agree or disagree or have picks of your own, feel free to leave comments! Enjoy the first weekend of football!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ryan Madson, your new Phillies closer (for now)

The unthinkable might have finally happened. Charlie Manuel, who has been loyal to his players almost to a fault, may have finally had enough of Brad Lidge blowing games for the Phillies. After blowing 10 (!!) saves this season and nearly blowing another one on Tuesday night, Manuel appears to have turned the closer role over to Ryan Madson. At least for now.

It all started on Tuesday night when, after Lidge let two runners on and got one out, Manuel put Madson in the game and he threw 6 consecutive strikes to clean up Lidge's mess and earn the save. While that was the first sign that Manuel seemed to be turning on Lidge, the real news comes out of Wednesday night's game when Lidge was bypassed completely. With the Phillies clinging to a one run lead, Madson entered the game in the 9th inning for the save opportunity and, while he was a bit shaky, got the job done.

So, Ryan Madson now appears to be the Phillies closer. Will it last the rest of the season? I doubt it. Like I said before, Charlie Manuel is loyal to a fault with his players, so you can bet Brad Lidge will get another chance or two to close games for the Phillies. Of course, there is also the chance that Brett Myers finds his way into the closer role considering he has done it before and he has looked better and better with each outing. It would be extremely difficult but the best option for the Phillies might be to rotate closers, playing the hot hand and picking the right matchups. I don't know that I trust Manuel to weigh all the options correctly when choosing his closer on a given day, though, so that might not really be a good idea.

It's unbelievable how much drama now surrounds the Phillies closer situation. Whatever happens, whoever ends up taking on the role, I just hope it happens soon. The last thing the Phillies need is to be rotating closers in the playoffs. Just like rotating goalies in the NHL, rotating closers just doesn't work. Stick with one guy and he will get in the right mindset to get the job done. Jerk three guys around and they won't be able to get into a rhythm.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Sixers bring back Rodney Carney

With the Phillies in the thick of a pennant run and the Eagles about set to kickoff, I wouldn't blame you if you forgot we have a professional basketball team here in Philadelphia. To be fair, the Sixers have done little in the last few months to catch our attention and get us excited about the NBA season that begins in less than two months. In fact, pretty much all the Sixers have done in the last 4 months is stock up on bench players. After picking up Primoz Brezec and Royal Ivey this offseason, the Sixers have grabbed yet another bench player that we are at least all familiar with.

Rodney Carney, who started his career with the Sixers, has come back to Philadelphia, signing a contract to play with the Sixers this season. Carney, who spent two years in Philly before being traded to Minnesota to make room for Elton Brand, is only 25 years old and actually still has some upside. He has averaged 6.5 points while playing 16.7 minutes per game in his career. Carney can't shoot from outside but rather is another slashing small forward/shooting guard type much in the mold of Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young. While he is a redundant player, I'm more confident with a guy like Carney coming off the bench than a Willie Green or Royal Ivey.

With the signing of Carney, the Sixers now have 13 players under contract for next season. That means that one of the following roster players will have to be stashed on the injured list or let go:

Guards:
Jrue Holiday
Andre Iguodala
Willie Green
Lou Williams
Royal Ivey

Forwards:
Elton Brand
Thaddeus Young
Jason Kapono
Marreese Speights
Jason Smith
Rodney Carney

Centers:
Samuel Dalembert
Primoz Brezec

Tight End Alex Smith signs with Eagles, Curtis cut

The Eagles kept only two tight ends on their initial 53 man roster, Brent Celek and Tony Curtis, leading many to speculate that they would be signing another tight end prior to Week 1. Well, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Eagles have found their third tight end: Alex Smith. No, that's not the Alex Smith who plays quarterback for the 49ers, this is the Alex Smith who played tight end for Tampa Bay for the last 4 years.

Smith recently spent training camp with the Patriots before getting cut last week. Several teams were after Smith, including the Giants, but the Eagles swooped in and grabbed him. There is no word yet on who will be removed from the 53 man roster to make room for Smith although I would bet recently claimed DT Antonio Dixon is a goner.

Smith is a quality pickup for the Eagles and he could easily pass Tony Curtis on the depth chart and be the second tight end. He has 129 catches and 11 touchdowns in his four year career and is known as a pass-catching tight end. Smith isn't much of a blocker, however.

UPDATE: Indeed, Alex Smith has already jumped past Tony Curtis on the depth chart because the Eagles have cut Curtis, giving the team only two tight ends again. Seems strange to me although Smith is clearly the better tight end.