Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stick a fork in 'em: Eagles embarrassed by Patriots

What started off promising quickly turned ugly as the Eagles blew an early 10-0 lead and got blown out by the Patriots, 38-20.  Here are a few of my thoughts on yet another poorly played game by the Eagles:

-The Patriots have a world-class offense but the Eagles defense was nothing short of terrible today.  From botched coverage to bad play-calls to undisciplined penalties, the defense wasn't even close to slowing down the Patriots attack.  It all starts with Juan Castillo, who somehow forget to come up with a game plan to stop Wes Welker, or any other Pats receiver for that matter.  Castillo is in over his head and completely overmatched by opposing offensive minds and needs to be fired ASAP.  Who would have thought that an offensive line coach wouldn't make a good coordinator?

-On that note, it's beyond clear that Castillo never should have been moved to the defensive coordinator spot.  The man responsible for that hiring has to be held accountable, as well, so it's finally time for Andy Reid to go.  Reid might yet be a great coach again but this team needs a fresh voice in the locker room.  They also need someone who will make a better play call on a 4th and 1 at the goal line.

-DeSean Jackson played yet another terrible game, dropping at least two touchdowns and failing to make big plays in big spots.  Jackson has cost himself millions of dollars with his terrible play and has basically played his way out of town.  He simply doesn't do enough on the field to be worth the headache.

-Vince Young was actually pretty respectable, throwing 400 yards as the Eagles went into catch-up mode in the second half.  He did have a few bad throws and an interception but Young filled in admirably for Michael Vick.  There is definitely no quarterback controversy, however, as this is Vick's team when he is healthy.

-Only 14 touches for LeSean McCoy?  Come on, Andy!

-The season is now over for the Birds.  No miracle Wild Card birth.  No miracle playoff run.  It's time to face reality, this team needs to hit the reset button.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Flyers unveil 2012 Winter Classic Jerseys

The Flyers finally unveiled their jerseys for the Winter Classic.  Pictures via BroadStHockey and DNFlyers.  The pictures don't really show just how orange they are.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

No 4th quarter collapse this time: Eagles knock off Giants

The Eagles unpredictable season continues.  Without Michael Vick at the helm, the Eagles went into the Meadowlands and knocked off the Giants, 17-10, and kept their slim playoff hopes alive.  Here are a few of my thoughts on the game:

-Vince Young was pretty much what we thought he would be tonight.  He wasn't terribly accurate, wasn't always in sync with his receivers and showed very little arm strength.  None of that mattered, though, as Young showed quite a bit of poise in the pocket and made the right decisions and the correct throws when it mattered the most.  He looked most impressive on the 18 play, 80 yard game-winning drive as he made several 3rd down conversions look easy.  While there certainly won't be a quarterback controversy when Michael Vick gets healthy, Young showed that 4th quarter poise he has been famous for his entire career.

-The defense finally made a big stop with the game on the line.  After the Eagles took the lead late in the 4th, everything looked set up for a back-breaking Eli Manning-led touchdown drive.  The defense made the big play, however, as Jason Babin strip-sacked Manning and the Eagles sealed their victory.  It's going to take a lot more than one good defensive performance to make me believe in Juan Castillo but allowing the Giants to only score 10 points is quite an accomplishment.

-What are the Eagles going to do with DeSean Jackson?  He went from a huge goat for his taunting to a hero for his big punt return.  The Eagles have quite a decision to make about Jackson when it comes to his contract.  Do you pay him and live with the boneheaded mistakes knowing that you will still get the home run plays?  My answer to this question literally changes from play to play.

-LeSean McCoy got 26 touches but didn't bust out until a 60 yard game-icing run late in the 4th.  He's still the Eagles best offensive weapon and kept the Giants defense honest throughout the game.

-Why can't anyone on the Eagles cover Victor Cruz?  Seriously, come on, Nnamdi.

-The Eagles have almost no chance of making the playoffs (they would basically have to run the table), but at least this win allowed us to keep dreaming about that possibility.  With the Patriots on tap next week, it will at least be fun to see the Eagles play spoiler against teams ahead of them in the standings.  If the defense plays like they did tonight, perhaps they can pull off a miracle...

Phillies trade for bench bat Ty Wiggington

If the Phillies do nothing else this offseason, they at least will have a much improved bench.  According to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, the Phillies have acquired Ty Wiggington from the Rockies for cash and a player to be named later.  The trade comes with basically no risk, especially considering that the Rockies will also pay half of Wiggington's 4 million dollar salary.

Wiggington is a career journeyman, having played for 6 different teams in his 10 year career.  He doesn't really have a position on the field, though he did play both corner outfield positions as well as first and third base last season.  What Wiggington will bring to the Phillies is another bench bat with some power, as he has hit at least 11 home runs in the last 6 seasons.  He doesn't hit for much average but he should do well in a reserve role.

The acquisition of Wiggington for basically nothing is a smart move for the Phillies.  His addition solidifies the bench and doesn't keep them from signing another lefty outfield bat or a quality shortstop.  Along with Jim Thome, the Phillies bench figures to be filled with veteran power bats that can give them quality at-bats.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vick, Maclin both ruled out against the Giants

Whatever slim chance the Eagles had of beating the Giants likely just went out the window.  According to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, both Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin have been ruled out for the Sunday Night Game.  Vick suffered a rib injury against the Cardinals while Maclin injured his hamstring.

There really wasn't much of a chance that either player could have played on Sunday, what with neither player practicing all week.  Still, the Eagles hadn't ruled them out until today with the hopes that one or both could recover in time.

In Vick's place, Vince Young gets his first start as an Eagle.  Riley Cooper will likely play a much bigger role with Maclin out.  It could be a long night for the Eagles offense.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eagles blow yet another 4th quarter lead

Different week, same story.  The Eagles once again were unable to hold onto a 4th quarter lead against an inferior opponent, this time blowing a 7 point lead to the Cardinals in a brutal 21-17 loss.  Here are just a few thoughts on another terrible effort from the Eagles:

-I'm not usually calling for coaches heads after losses but I've seen enough of Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator.  He has a ton of talent to work with yet guys are constantly out of position and receivers are repeatedly left open.  How about actually hiring a defensive coach to coach the defense?

-As for Andy Reid, if things continue like this for the rest of the season, he needs to go, too.  While he can't be blamed for everything, if you have this much talent to work with yet can't get them to play up to their ability, that has to be a reflection on the coach.  If Reid isn't reaching his players, he isn't an effective coach.  I would give him the rest of the year to spark something with this team or show him the door.

-Michael Vick had a brutal, brutal game.  Sure, he was without DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin for much of the game, but Vick repeatedly made bad decisions with the football and struggled to get anything going through the air and should have been picked off 4 times.  He has definitely come back to earth this season; I wonder if the Eagles regret giving him that big contract.

-We have established that LeSean McCoy is a beast.  Why isn't he getting more carries in the 4th quarter?  That he only had 17 touches in this game is completely the fault of the coaches.

-John Skelton threw for 315 yards against the Eagles "dream" secondary. Yep, that's John Skelton, Kevin Kolb's backup.

This season is definitely over now, Eagles fans.  While they still have the talent to beat nearly every team on their schedule, this team just doesn't have the will to get it done.

Eagles/Cardinals Week 10 Inactives: DeSean benched

The Eagles and Cardinals announced their Week 10 inactive players:

Eagles: S Nate Allen, DE Philip Hunt, T Winston Justice, G Evan Mathis, WR DeSean Jackson, QB Mike Kafka, CB Curtis Marsh

Cardinals: T D'Anthony Batiste, TE Todd Heap, TE Rob Housler, QB Kevin Kolb, LB Joey Porter, S Kerry Rhodes, WR Stephen Williams

DeSean Jackson has been benched by the Eagles for missing a meeting.  Though he apparently just overslept, this sure looks like the beginning of the end for Jackson with the Birds.  He definitely won't be getting that mega-contract now.  Jason Avant will start in his place.  King Dunlap will also start for Evan Mathis at guard.  That should be interesting.

Kevin Kolb will not play for the Cardinals, as expected.  John Skelton gets the start at quarterback.

Even with Jackson out, this is a very winnable game for the Eagles.  With games against the Giants and Patriots coming in the next few weeks, if there is any hope for playoffs at all for the Birds, this is a must-win.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Phillies to sign Jonathan Papelbon

There is a new closer in town, Phillies fans.  After a supposed deal with Ryan Madson fell through the cracks, the Phillies didn't hesitate to scoop up their next closer: Jonathan Papelbon.  According to Jim Salisbury of CSN, the Phillies have agreed to a 4 year, close to 50 million dollar contract with the former Red Sox closer.

Papelbon brings with him 6 years of closing experience and has saved at least 31 games every year since 2006.  While Papelbon has had his moments of shakiness, he strikes out well over a batter every inning and doesn't give up too many free passes.  While the money and the years are a little bit on the high side, if Papelbon shuts the door in the 9th inning, there is nothing to complain about.

We may never know exactly what happened with the deal the Phillies supposedly had with Ryan Madson but Papelbon is certainly much more than a Plan B option.  While I would have loved to see Madson come back and continue to close games for the Phils, as soon as it was clear that he was going to look for better offers elsewhere, Ruben Amaro hurried to make sure his team wouldn't be left without an elite closer.

We knew the Phillies would pay big bucks for a top closer so the question now is what they do next.  Do they have enough money to even flirt with the idea of bringing Jimmy Rollins back?  What will they do about left field?  Can they afford any other bullpen pieces?  With the 9th inning locked up, it's time for Amaro to plug the rest of the holes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Eagles falter once again, slip out of division picture

You can forget about all of that NFC East title talk, Birds fans.  The Eagles flaws all came to the forefront once again at they lost to the Bears, 30-24, and fell three games behind the Giants in the division.  Here are my thoughts on another tough loss for the Eagles:

-This game erased nearly all of the good feelings from the Cowboys win.  Bad turnovers, poor defense, dumb penalties and a ton of head-scratching plays.  The way their final drive ended, with Maclin falling down when he appeared to have a first down in his sights, completely sums up the Eagles season.  Despite all of the talent on the roster, they just aren't good enough to overcome their many, many mistakes.

-ZERO sacks by the Eagles vaunted pass rush?  ZERO?  Jay Cutler had all night to find open receivers thanks to the Eagles inability to put any pressure on him.  It's tough to win games when you can't pressure the quarterback and can't stop the run.

-Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is terrible.  When the Eagles acquired him from the Cardinals, I knew he had flaws but DRC hasn't added anything to the Eagles secondary.  He can't cover anyone, he can't tackle and he never looks like he knows what he's doing.  I'd just assume he take a few weeks off and figure this thing out.  Thank goodness the Eagles also got a second rounder from Arizona for Kevin Kolb.

-Speaking of the Eagles secondary, they sure did a great job making Earl Bennett, who hadn't played since Week 2, look like a Pro Bowler.  Much of the blame goes to DRC but Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha also had their chances and couldn't slow him down.  Bennett is apparently an Eagles killer as he had two TD's against them last season.

-The one positive on the night was the continuing dominance by LeSean McCoy, who continues to make things happen with the ball in his hand.  It's too bad the rest of the Eagles are wasting his talents.

-Besides the worst punt return I've ever seen and one nice catch along the sidelines, DeSean Jackson was completely invisible tonight.   You have to wonder how much money he has left on the table with his mediocre play this season.

-Asante Samuel had a lacerated groin in the first half.  It hurts just typing that.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Eagles activate Brandon Graham

As the Eagles continue to right the ship, a former first round pick has finally returned to the team.  According to Geoff Mosher of the Delaware Online, DE Brandon Graham was activated from the PUP list and will likely play on Monday night against the Bears.  With Juqua Parker unlikely to play Monday, activating Graham makes sense if he can contribute to the defensive end rotation.  It will be interesting to see how Graham looks given how much time he has missed recovering from a serious knee injury.

To make room for Graham on the roster, the Eagles cut guard Kyle DeVan.  DeVan was the starting right guard for the Eagles for the first few weeks of the season but has since been replaced by rookie Danny Watkins.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jim Thome is back with the Phillies!

With Ryan Howard likely out for the beginning of the 2012 season, the man that was sent packing when Howard took over at first base has been brought back to Philadelphia: the Phillies have agreed to sign Jim Thome to a one year deal worth 1.25 million, pending a physical.

Besides the awesome nostalgia we will all feel seeing Thome back in a Phillie uniform, the move makes a ton of sense for the Phils.  With Howard out an indefinite amount of time, Thome can possibly step in and be a part of a first base platoon with John Mayberry.  Given that he hasn't played in the field since 2007, Thome can't be expected to play in the field every day but I'm sure he could be used occasionally.  At the very least, Thome, who hit 15 home runs last season with the Indians and Twins, will be a tremendous power asset off the bench.

Given his relationship with Charlie Manuel, Ryan Howard's injury and the Phillies need for a bench bat, this is a no-brainer signing.  I can't wait to see Big Jim crush a few postseason home runs at Citizens Bank.