Thursday, September 29, 2011

Phillies vs. Cardinals: NLDS Schedule

Updated: now with the latest pitching matchups and game times.

Here is the schedule, with probable pitchers, for the NLDS series between the Phillies and the Cardinals:

Game 1: Sat., 10/1: Cardinals (Lohse) @ Phillies (Halladay), 5:07 pm
Game 2: Sun., 10/2: Cardinals (Carpenter) @ Phillies (Lee), 8:37 pm
Game 3: Tues., 10/4: Phillies (Hamels) @ Cardinals (Garcia), TBD
Game 4: Wed., 10/5: Phillies (Oswalt) @ Cardinals (Jackson), TBD
Game 5: Fri., 10/7: Cardinals @ Phillies, TBD

The starters for the first two games have already been announced and I took my best guess for Games 3 and 4.  The Phillies will be fortunate if they can avoid Garcia, who is a tough lefty, until Game 4.  My prediction is Phillies in 4.  The starting pitching is too good to be denied by a Cardinals team with a lot of flaws.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Phillies to face Cardinals in the first round!

What a night of baseball!  The Phillies completed their season-ending sweep of the Braves, knocking them out of the playoffs and setting up a first round matchup against the Cardinals, who beat the Astros to clinch the Wild Card.  The win was also the Phillies 102nd win on the season, a franchise record.  While the Cardinals will be a tough matchup, the Phillies have to be happy to not have to worry about facing a Braves team that could have been a tricky opponent due to their (usually) solid bullpen.

Check back soon for the NLDS schedule.  The series will start on Saturday but the time is TBA.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Michael Vick didn't break his hand, could play next week

Good news has been few and far between for the Eagles this season, so this was nice to hear: Michael Vick did not break his hand against the Giants yesterday.  According to Andy Reid, a CT scan showed no fracture in Vick's hand and the team is calling the injury a hand contusion.  While there were some reports that Vick could be out 3-4 weeks with a broken hand, Reid implied that Vick could be ready to go against the Niners next week.

As long as the Eagles are telling the truth about the injury, Vick won't be out for very long, if at all.  Now if only Vick could play linebacker.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Eagles look broken in loss to Giants

Well, that was embarrassing.  Here are some of my thoughts on the Eagles terrible performance against the Giants:

-The offense wasn't pretty but the defense deserves most of the blame for this loss.  The Giants are not a good offensive team and they were playing with a makeshift wide receiver group and they still managed to put up 29 points. Not all of the blame goes to the linebackers, either, as top players like Nnamdi Asomugha got uncharacteristically burned.  While the defensive line is still creating a lot of pressure, the rest of the D is broken.  Juan Castillo may be in over his head.

-Even before he hurt his hand, Michael Vick did not look right.  It's hard to blame him with the way he was getting hit early and often.  It will be a miracle if he makes it through this season without a serious injury.  He broke his non-throwing hand so I would have to guess he will be able to make the start next week.

-Mike Kafka did not look good this time around, throwing a pair of picks.  Should Vick not be able to go, we could see our first Vince Young start.

-LeSean McCoy is an absolute beast.  Just when the offense looked lost, McCoy took the rock and carried the team on his back and got the Eagles back in the game.  His 128 yards on the ground were the lone bright spot for the Birds.

-Casey Matthews and Kurt Coleman both made terrible plays that led to long Giants touchdowns in the first half.  Coleman was benched for his missed tackle in favor of Nate Allen, who quickly got abused by Ahmad Bradshaw.  Matthews should have also been benched for completely biting on a play fake and letting Brandon Jacobs rumble down the sideline.  Perhaps the Eagles will shake up the linebackers yet again next week or perhaps they will finally sit the rookie down.

-Playcalling is always an issue with Andy Reid but I'm still trying to figure out why Owen Schmitt got a pair of goalline carries.  The Giants couldn't stop McCoy so they give the ball to the fullback twice in a must-score situation?  Doesn't make any sense.

-Steve Smith has to be pissed for how he played against his former team.  That gift interception and only two catches better leave a sour taste in his mouth.

The Eagles really aren't a good football team right now.  They get a weak Niners team next week and if they don't show some life, you can probably already kiss the playoffs goodbye.

Michael Vick breaks right hand, Maclin injures hamstring

Another week, another Michael Vick injury that knocks him out of the game.  This time, Vick has broken his right hand and was removed from the Giants game in the 4th quarter.  Mike Kafka has once again taken over under center.

With the way Vick plays and the way the offensive line has issues protecting him, he is going to continue to get knocked around this season.  At least it wasn't his head this time and at least it wasn't his throwing hand.

In other Eagles injury news, Jeremy Maclin was knocked out of the game against the Giants with a hamstring injury.  This season has been nothing short of a nightmare so far.

Eagles vs. Giants Week 3 Inactives

The Eagles and Giants announced their inactives for their week 3 contest:

Eagles:  S Jaiquawn Jarrett, T Winston Justice, CB Curtis Marsh, DE Juqua Parker, DE Darryl Tapp, OL Julian Vandervelde, G Danny Watkins

Giants:  CB Prince Amukamara, T James Brewer, WR Michael Clayton, WR Mario Manningham, G Mitch Petrus, RB Da'Rel Scott, DE Osi Umenyiora

As expected, Michael Vick is ready to start for the Eagles.  Vince Young is also active for the Eagles and presumably will be the third string quarterback.  Parker and Tapp are both out, as expected, so we should see plenty of Philip Hunt.

For the Giants offense, Manningham is out though Hakeem Nicks will play.  The Giants defense should be ripe for the picking so expect a big day from Vick.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Eagles fall to Falcons on Sunday Night

Tough, tough loss for the Eagles, who went from having the game in hand to losing their lead and their starting quarterback in a 35-31 loss to the Falcons.  Here are a few quick thoughts about the game:

-The game completely turned when Michael Vick left.  Even though backup Mike Kafka played about as well as he possibly could have, the momentum in the game completely shifted when Vick got knocked out.  Let's hope Vick is okay for next week.

-For as good as the Eagles defense looked at times, they gave up 5 touchdowns on 5 Falcons red zone attempts.  That's completely unacceptable.  For all the great pressure they put on the quarterback and all of the shutdown corners they have, they have to come up with the big stops inside the 20.  It's almost the opposite of the "bend but don't break" defense.  Don't bend but break?

-Trent Cole had a hell of a game.  So did Cullen Jenkins.  The defensive line is simply phenomenal and will be a force that other teams are going to have a hard time figuring out how to stop.

-Despite all the names on defense, the Eagles still can't cover a tight end to save their lives.  Oh, that's right, there aren't any "names" playing linebacker.

-Kafka is well on his way to being traded for a second round pick in two years.  The kid played great, throwing only two incompletions that weren't his fault at all.  Even though it's probably just the system, Kafka seems accurate enough to be a solid backup.

-Jeremy Maclin went from hero to goat on one play.  He had 13 catches for 171 yards and yet will only be remembered for dropping that perfect pass by Kafka on 4th down.

-Why the heck did the Falcons punt to DeSean Jackson at the end of the game?  They were lucky he didn't win the game right there just like the Miracle at the Meadowlands.

-Speaking of the Giants, as long as Vick is healthy next week, the Eagles should bounce back and put a beating on the G-men.  Heck, even with Kafka I like the Eagles chances.

Tough loss for the Eagles but there is no shame in losing to a solid Falcons team on the road.  Yes, the game was theirs for the taking but there is no reason to lose faith in a good Eagles team.  With their next two games against the Giants and Niners, this team is in position to bounce back nicely.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Michael Vick forced out of Sunday Night game with a concussion

UPDATE: According to Andy Reid, Vick had a concussion.

Uh oh.  After knocking his head into Todd Herremans in the third quarter, Michael Vick had to leave the Sunday Night game against the Falcons with an apparent neck injury.  There is no word yet if he will return to the game.

Bigger uh oh: with Vince Young out, the Eagles are going to turn to Mike Kafka to maintain their slim lead.  In Shady McCoy we trust!

Eagles and Falcons announce Week 2 inactives

The Eagles and Falcons announced the following players as inactive for their Sunday night game:

Eagles: S Jaiquawn Jarrett, LB Akeem Jordan, CB Curtis Marsh, T Winston Justice, DE Darry Tapp, OL Julian Vandervelde, QB Vince Young

Falcons: LB Spencer Adkins, DT Jonathan Babineaux, G Mike Johnson, DE Cliff Matthews, C Todd McClure, RB Antone Smith, CB Darrin Walls

Jason Peters is active after there was some question as to whether he would play.  Rookie Danny Watkins is active for the first time in his career but won't likely see playing time unless there is an injury.  With Tapp out, Philip Hunt makes his NFL debut and should see a few snaps.

With Michael Vick making his return to Atlanta, this should be a fun one tonight.  A 2-0 start in a pair of road games would be huge for the Eagles.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Phillies are NL East champs for the 5th straight year!

For the 5th year in a row, the Phillies are NL East Champions!  A great start by Roy Oswalt and an offensive explosion in the bottom of the 8th sealed the deal as the Phillies beat the Cardinals, 9-2, and clinched the division faster than they ever have in their history.  It is also the 11th NL East division title, tying them with the Braves for the most titles since the NL East was formed in 1969.

All that is left now for the Phillies is to clinch the best record in the NL and that will give them a homefield advantage in every series because the National League won the All-Star Game.  While their goal will certainly be to have the best record in baseball, and the most wins in team history, expect the regulars to have plenty of rest down the stretch as the Phillies gear up for another postseason.  With the big three pitchers and an offense that has awoken in the second half of the season, everything seems lined up for an exciting October.  What a time to be a Phillies fan!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chris Pronger named Flyers captain

In a move that has been expected ever since the Mike Richards trade, the Flyers have officially named Chris Pronger team captain.  The team also named Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen the alternate captains.

For Pronger, this is the third team he has captained as he previously held the role with the Blues and Ducks.  Hopefully he will be healthy enough to play at the start of the season.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Phillies are back in the playoffs!

After (finally) beating the Astros, 1-0, the Phillies became the first team in baseball to clinch a playoff spot.  We've known for months that they would get there but it's still nothing to take lightly.

At this point, the Phillies have only clinched at least the NL Wild Card.  Their magic number for the NL East is down to four.

We truly are in the golden era of Phillies baseball.  Looking forward to another fun October.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Eagles start slow, finish strong to beat Rams

It started ominously, with the Eagles failing on their first offensive drive and the Rams scoring on their first play of the game, but the better team eventually prevailed as the Birds won, 31-13.

The offensive line struggled early, clearly having issues with the volume of the St. Louis crowd as Michael Vick didn't have enough time to find open receivers.  They seemed to settle down after the first series, however, and Vick was able to make plays with his arm as well as his feet.  On the day, Vick had 187 yards passing and two touchdowns as well as 98 yards rushing.  LeSean McCoy also had a strong game on the ground, racking up 122 yards rushing and 15 receiving with two touchdowns.  Most of his damage was done in the 4th quarter when the Eagles had a big lead and were salting the game away.  The weapons were in full force for the Eagles as DeSean Jackson also had 100 yards receiving.  If the offensive line can hold up, the Eagles offense is just going to overwhelm teams.

After allowing Steven Jackson to score on a 47 yard run on the Rams first offensive play, the Eagles defense stiffened and didn't allow another touchdown the entire game.  While they were aided by a few drops by the Rams receivers, the Eagles D looked strong as it pressured Rams QB Sam Bradford, hitting him early and often.  Three members of the Eagles starting D-line, Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin, all had sacks, with Babin picking up two.  Juqua Parker also got in on the action, picking up a Bradford fumble and taking it to the house.  The secondary was also solid as a whole, never really getting burned deep though they did have some issues with the underneath routes.

After so many "experts" predicted them to lose to the Rams, it was nice to see the Eagles win pretty convincingly.  While they still have plenty of things to work on, like their offensive line and stopping the run, the Eagles are loaded with talent and should be competitive week in and week out.  Encouraging start for the Eagles, now let's see how they do against a solid Falcons team next week in Atlanta.

Eagles and Rams Week One Inactives: Steve Smith active

The Eagles and the Rams announced the following inactive players for their Week One game:

Eagles: DE Phillip Hunt, S Jaiquawn Jarrett, T Winston Justice, CB Curtis Marsh, OL Julian Vandervelde, G Danny Watkins, QB Vince Young

Rams: WR Danario Alexander, S Jermale Hines, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Austin Pettis, DE Robert Quinn, LB Jabara Williams, OL Tony Wragge

Surprisingly, Steve Smith is active and ready to go for the Eagles.  I wouldn't expect him to get a ton of playing time just yet.  Danny Watkins certainly has fallen fast, going from starter to not even being active.  With Justice not ready to play and Vandervelde scratched, the Eagles will go with only two backup linemen, Jamaal Jackson and King Dunlap.  Vince Young is still dealing with injury issues so Mike Kafka is the backup quarterback.

Here we go, Week One is finally here!  Many "experts" are picking the Rams to upset the Eagles but you can bet the "dream team" has plenty to prove.  GO BIRDS!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Chase Utley knocked out with concussion

Saturday Update: Utley indeed had a "mild" concussion and has been cleared to resume physical activity.  He is likely to play sometime next week when the Phillies come back to Philadelphia.

Like all concussions, it could turn out to be nothing or it could be very serious: Chase Utley was removed from Wednesday night's game against the Braves after getting hit in the head by a pitch.  The early word is that Utley suffered a "mild" concussion (as if there really are mild concussions), and will miss the next few games.  He will not travel to Milwaukee with the rest of the team and will instead stay in Philadelphia for further testing.

When you are coasting to the best record in baseball, minor injuries in the beginning of September aren't a big deal.  When the injury is a concussion, though, it's always a concern.  Given the streaky nature of the Phillies offense, they need to have all bats on hand come October.  Let's hope Utley sits out for a few days, clears the cobwebs and comes back rested and ready for another deep playoff run.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eagles bring back Joselio Hanson, cut Trevard Lindley

Just a few days after cutting CB Joselio Hanson, the Eagles have seemingly reversed course, bringing Hanson back into the fold by signing him to a 2 year contract.  To make room for Hanson on the roster, the Eagles cut fellow CB Trevard Lindley.

As one of the best nickel corners in the league, the Eagles were smart to bring back Hanson and further bolster their elite secondary.  Hanson is a luxury to add to the dime packages and should thrive even in a reduced role.

As for Lindley, the former 4th round pick simply hasn't done enough to stand out in a deep secondary.  With the drafting of Curtis Marsh and the emergence of Brandon Hughes, Lindley has gotten lost in the shuffle.  He is not eligible for the practice squad so he will need to look for work elsewhere in the league.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren hospitalized after bike accident

The details are a bit sketchy, but according to CSN Philly, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has been hospitalized after falling off his bicycle on Monday.  Apparently Homer suffered broken ribs, a broken shoulder and had to get stitches.

It's unknown just how serious the injuries are to Homer, so all we can do right now is wish him the best.  He was one tough hockey player so you can bet on him getting back to work as soon as possible.

Eagles sign 3 more to finalize practice squad

The Eagles signed three more players today, including recently released DT Cedric Thornton, to finalize their initial 2011 practice squad.  Each team is allowed to have eight players on their practice squad:

WR Chad Hall
FB Stanley Havili
TE Anthony Hill
WR Ronald Johnson
LB Greg Lloyd
OL Dallas Reynolds
DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim
DT Cedric Thornton

Hill and Johnson were also signed today.  Both were former draft picks that were recently cut loose by their teams, with Johnson being selected by the Niners in the 6th round in 2011 and Hill being selected in 4th round in 2009 by the Texans.

Hall and Thornton are probably the most likely to earn their way onto the main roster this season.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eagles sign guard Kyle DeVan

Cedric Thonton's time on the 53 man roster didn't last long.  On Sunday, the Eagles claimed guard Kyle DeVan off waivers from the Colts and released Thornton from the roster.

DeVan, who has started 21 games in his two year career, will be a nice depth player for the offensive line and is familiar with the Eagles system having played for offensive line coach Howard Mudd while with the Colts.  He will be insurance for both guard spots behind Evan Mathis and Danny Watkins, who both don't have the strongest holds on their starting positions.  Don't be surprised to see DeVan starting a few games this season, especially if Watkins struggles early.

Thornton, an undrafted rookie free agent, could still stick around on the practice squad.

Eagles sign 5 to practice squad

The Eagles have signed five recently cut players to their practice squad:

WR Chad Hall
FB Stanley Havili
LB Greg Lloyd
OL Dallas Reynolds
DT Daniel Te'o-Nesheim

All five spent time with the Eagles in training camp.  The biggest name is Hall, who could still be signed back to the roster early in the season if Steve Smith or Jeremy Maclin aren't fully healthy.  Te'o-Nesheim is the other "big" name as the Eagles will keep the former third rounder around, at least for now.  Havili and Lloyd were both draft picks this year.

The Eagles can add three more to the practice squad.  One could be recently cut DT Cedric Thornton while the others will likely come from other teams.

Eagles cut 16, set initial 53 man roster

With the Eagles needing to get settle their 53 man roster today, they made a series of moves, including cutting the following 16 players:

S Jamar Adams
RB Eldra Buckley
WR Chad Hall
CB Joselio Hanson
DT Anthony Hargrove
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins
OT Austin Howard
S Marlin Jackson
DT Derek Landri
TE Donald Lee
LB Greg Lloyd
G Mike McGlynn
WR Sinorice Moss
DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim
OL Fenuki Tupou
OL Reggie Wells

The Eagles also released linemen Jose Acuna and Ryan Harris, with Harris being waived/injured.  Brandon Graham also remains on the PUP list.

There were a few surprises amongst the list of cuts, most notably that both Landri and Hargrove are out of the mix at DT.  Landri was very impressive in the preseason and Hargrove quickly developed into a leader so it wouldn't be surprising for both to latch on with other teams in the coming days.  Losing Hanson for nothing was somewhat surprising as well.  Apparently other teams figure it is easier to sign him off the scrap heap.  Cutting Chad Hall was a also bit of a surprise considering the health of Jeremy Maclin and Steve Smith, who apparently must both be ready to go in Week 1.  There was a ton of turnover along the offensive line, with Howard, McGlynn, Tupou and Wells all being shown the door after being on the roster last season.  The end of the Te'o-Nesheim era is disappointing though hardly surprising.  The former third round pick simply got beat out by Philip Hunt.

As for surprises amongst players that made the team, DT Cedric Thornton and S Colt Anderson are the most notable.  Anderson's special teams ability makes him valuable so it's nice to see the Eagles hold on to him.

Over the last few weeks, I have been making my own projections of the Eagles roster. Here is the Eagles actual roster, with changes from my final version in bold.  Expect a change or two before the season starts.


QB(3): Michael Vick, Vince Young, Mike Kafka

RB(3): LeSean McCoy, Ronnie Brown, Dion Lewis

FB (1): Owen Schmitt

WR(5): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Steve Smith, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper

TE(2): Brent Celek, Clay Harbor

LT(1): Jason Peters

LG(2): Evan Mathis, Julian Vandervelde

C(2): Jason Kelce, Jamaal Jackson

RG(1): Danny Watkins

RT(3): Todd Herremans, Winston Justice, King Dunlap

DE(5): Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Juqua Parker, Darryl Tapp, Philip Hunt

DT(5): Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins, Antonio Dixon, Trevor Laws, Cedric Thornton

LB(6): Moise Fokou, Casey Matthews, Jamar Chaney, Keenan Clayton, Brian Rolle, Akeem Jordan

CB(6): Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes, Trevard Lindley

FS(2): Kurt Coleman, Jaiquawn Jarrett

SS(3): Nate Allen, Jarrad Page, Colt Anderson

Special Teams:
K(1): Alex Henery

P(1): Chas Henry

LS(1): Jon Dorenbos

PUP: DE Brandon Graham

Friday, September 2, 2011

Eagles cut 9, reduce roster to 72

With final cuts coming tomorrow, the Eagles took their next step towards getting to a 53 man roster today, cutting the following 9 players:

RB Graig Cooper
WR Rod Harper
FB Stanley Havili
TE Cornelius Ingram
LB Rashad Jeanty
G Dallas Reynolds
C A.Q. Shipley
DB Jamar Wall
DE Chris Wilson

None of these cuts are really considered surprises.  Once Dion Lewis showed his explosiveness in the preseason, Cooper never had a chance.  Ingram once again just hasn't shown enough to stick around on the main roster.  Reynolds and Shipley didn't seem to fit into the Howard Mudd mold for offensive linemen.

With 19 more cuts to go, the Eagles still have plenty of work to do.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Vince Young hurt as Eagles wrap up preseason

The Eagles wrapped up their preseason with a victory over the Jets on Thursday night, winning 24-14. While the 4th preseason game is completely meaningless except for players on the roster bubble, the Eagles did get a small scare when Vince Young hurt his hamstring and had to leave the game. Young will have an MRI tomorrow but the initial speculation is that he should be healthy enough to backup Michael Vick in Week 1.

Prior to getting hurt, Young was solid for the Eagles, leading the team on two touchdown-scoring drives. Mike Kafka took over after Young got hurt and nearly also got knocked out of the game with a rib injury.

The preseason is finally over and the Eagles were lucky to escape with only a few minor injuries. With Week 1 just a week away, its time to get excited. Real football is back!