Sunday, October 30, 2011
-LeSean McCoy was clearly the best player on the field. McCoy juked, jived and motored all over the Dallas defense, rushing for 185 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. McCoy seems to be getting better an better every week and is turning the Eagles into a run-first team, quite an accomplishment with Andy Reid at the helm. I'm not sure there is a better running back in the NFL. To think, this is just his third year in the league and he could get even better.
-Michael Vick played a nearly flawless game, completing 21 of 28 passes for two touchdowns while rushing for 50 yards. While he nearly had a fumble in the third quarter, Vick didn't turn the ball over and didn't make a bad pass all game long. When Vick has plenty of time and makes quick decisions to either throw the ball or tuck it and run, he is at his most dangerous. This was probably his best game since the Monday Night massacre against the Redskins.
-The Eagles first 6 possessions all ended with a score touchdown or a field goal. Zero punts until the 4th quarter. Remarkable.
-Take out the long touchdown by the Cowboys in the 4th quarter and the Eagles defense also played a nearly flawless game. A lot was made of how the Wide 9 wasn't working but the adjustments Juan Castillo and the defense made all seemed to work perfectly. While DeMarco Murray did have success on the ground, any time Tony Romo dropped back to pass, Trent Cole and Jason Babin were both bearing down on him. Combine a potent pass-rush with great coverage and you have an unbeatable combination.
-Dez Bryant and Miles Austin combined for just six catches, with most of them coming in garbage time. Much of the credit goes to the Eagles pass rush not giving Romo enough time but the All-Star secondary certainly played up to expectations.
-Andy Reid had TWO correct challenges in the game. Has that ever happened before?
-Speaking of Reid, his perfect record after a bye continues. With all the negatives against the Reid, give this man time to prepare and he makes the necessary adjustments to get his troops ready.
Your Eagles are now tied for second place in the NFC East with a 3-4 record. With the Giants facing a brutal November schedule, the division race is far from over. Bring on the Bears!
(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
The Eagles and Cowboys announced their inactive players for their Week 8 Sunday Night showdown:
Eagles: LB Keenan Clayton, DE Philip Hunt, T Winston Justice, RB Dion Lewis, CB Curtis Marsh, S Jarrad Page, OL Julian Vandervelde
Cowboys: G David Arkin, NT Josh Brent, DE Clifton Geathers, RB Felix Jones, G Kevin Kowalski, G Daniel Loper, QB Stephen McGee
The bye week healed the Eagles, who have every starter healthy and ready to go. It will be especially nice to see Trent Cole out there creating havoc for Tony Romo. Dion Lewis is the one surprise inactive, apparently due to a car accident, and that should mean that Ronnie Brown, who will return kicks tonight, will get more touches. Lewis has looked good any time he has had the ball in his hands this season.
Every Eagles/Cowboys game is big but this one is huge for the Eagles. If they want to make a run for a playoff spot, this is a must-win game. Go BIRDS!
Thursday, October 27, 2011
It is the second injury of the season for Schenn, who had to start the season with the Phantoms because he was recovering from an injured shoulder. He played in only 4 games for the Flyers and didn't register a point and was a -5. While this is certainly a rocky start to his Flyers career, Schenn is just 20 and there is no reason to expect that he won't develop into a tremendous two-way threat.
The Flyers were awful last night against the Canadiens so a little shake-up of the roster might be in order. Putting Schenn on LTIR allows the Flyers to keep Matt Walker on the roster for now, though I would expect him to be dumped to the minors the moment Gustafsson shows that he can hang in the NHL.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Luckily for Pronger, the initial reports are promising, and while he does have a cut on the outside of his right eye, there likely won't be any serious long-term effects. The Flyers are saying that Pronger will need to rest for the next few days before he can begin exercising with the hopes that he will be ready to return to the team within two weeks.
Things could certainly have been much worse for Pronger. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has already stated that Pronger will wear a visor when he returns to the ice and hopefully he saves his face and continues to wear it for the remainder of his career.
Oswalt, who was bought out for 2 million, would have made 16 million dollars in 2012 if the Phillies picked up his option. Lidge, who was bought out for 1.5 million, would have made 12.5 million. Neither player is worth that much money but the Phillies are expected to at least negotiate with each player and they could bring one or both back at a lower salary.
If I had to guess, I would say we have definitely seen the last of Brad Lidge with the Phillies. While he would be nice to have at the right price, there will be a team in the league that offers him way too much to be a set-up reliever in their bullpen. Let someone else take the risk.
Roy Oswalt is more likely to return to the Phillies but it would pretty much be up to him. Is he comfortable starting again in a new situation or would he rather finish his career in Philadelphia? Should he leave, Vance Worley steps into the 4th starter role and the Phillies would have to search for a 5th starter if they want an upgrade over Kyle Kendrick. At the right price, Oswalt is a significant upgrade over Kendrick so hopefully the Phils make him a serious offer.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Welcome back, Ronnie Brown! I have a feeling we will continue to see much more of Dion Lewis from here on out. Don't count on Brown getting another goal line carry any time soon.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Brown exits the team as a player without a role in the Eagles system. Whether it was due to the emergence of Dion Lewis or because of his goal-line gaffe, Brown was a forgotten man in the Eagles offense the last few weeks. He will likely take on a big role with the Lions as insurance for the injured Jahvid Best.
As for Harrison, he should fit right back into the Eagles scheme that he thrived in as a backup to LeSean McCoy last year. Expect Harrison to share duties with Lewis but he should continue to be a nice change of pace back and a recieving threat out of the backfield. I had hoped the Eagles would bring Harrison back in the offseason so this trade allows them to correct their mistake in letting him go.
The 7th round pick in the deal is simply a bonus. I'm not sure why the Lions had to throw in the pick since the two backs are pretty even in terms of skills.
The new owners also announced that Ed Stefanski is leaving the organization and that Rod Thorn will take over as GM. Given the many mistakes that Stefanski has made over the years, I'm sure fans won't be too upset over that. Thorn has a great basketball mind and should be solid in the role.
Adam Aron will be the new CEO of the Sixers.
Among the other announcements, ticket prices will be slashed up to 50% for Sixers games and owners also promised a much better in-game experience. If only there will be an NBA season this year.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
-That is the defense we thought the Eagles had. They made strong tackles, forced turnovers, stopped the run, shut down the Redskins wide receivers and put pressure on the Redskins QB's throughout the game. Sure, they were still unable to cover the tight end but you can't expect them to fix everything in one week. While the Redskins offense isn't exactly a juggernaut, holding your opponent to just 13 points is an impressive feat in the NFL.
-The Eagles safeties came to play today. While the safety position has been a revolving door of mediocrity for the Eagles this season, Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen both had big games for the Birds. Coleman especially had a career day, picking off Rex Grossman three times. If the Eagles can get play like this from their safeties, their defense will continue to shine.
-I've been calling for it every week and the Eagles finally listened: LeSean McCoy got a boatload of touches (28 carries and 2 catches) and proved once against that he is a beast. Good things happen when they give Shady the ball so I can never understand why he ever has fewer than 20 touches in a game. He is the most consistent weapon the Eagles have and the offense needs to be run through him at all times. Plus, he hilariously popped Andy Reid in the gut near the end of the game.
-The Vince Young era started out brutally with a lame duck interception on his first pass. For the guy that coined the "dream team" moniker, Young looks like a nightmare. Pray for good health for Mike Vick.
-The bye week comes next for the Eagles, who can rest up, get their offensive line healthy and prepare for three very winnable games against the Cowboys, Bears and Cardinals. Looking further down the schedule, the Eagles really only play two "good" teams, the Patriots and the Jets. A playoff run isn't that ridiculous of a notion. Yeah, I got sucked back in already.
The Eagles and Redskins have announced their Week 6 inactive players:
Eagles: LB Keenan Clayton, DE Trent Cole, T King Dunlap, CB Curtis Marsh, S Jarrad Page, T Jason Peters, OL Julian Vandervelde
Redskins: WR Anthony Armstrong, CB Philip Buchanon, WR Leonard Hankerston, DE Darron Scott, FB Mike Sellers, T Willie Smith, LB Markus White
With Dunlap out, the Eagles will start Todd Herremans at left tackle and Winston Justice at right tackle. This will be Justice's first start of the season and he will be protecting Vick's blind side. This could go badly.
Obviously, this is a must-win game for the Eagles this week. Scarily enough, if they do win, they will be right back in the mix for the NFC East division. I'll believe it when I see it.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
-It didn't really set in that Mike Richards wasn't a Flyer until I actually watched him in another uniform play against Philly. I don't really understand why anyone would boo him since he did give a lot to this organization and it wasn't his call to leave town. I guess it's just the Philly way.
-Former Flyer Justin Williams had the bigger impact on the outcome, picking up two goals. Oh, and Simon Gagne also had an assist. And Terry Murray coached the Kings to victory. Flyers West indeed.
-It was nice to see Danny Briere pick up his first goal of the season. Of course, Jaromir Jagr really made the play with a beautiful pass but it was nice to see Briere get on the board. As for Jagr, he really looks like he turned back the clock about 10 years.
-While they lost, the Flyers did well to send the game into overtime and get a point. Through their first four games, the Flyers have picked up 7 of a possible 8 points, a solid feat considering the quality of opponents (Bruins, Canucks, Kings) they have played so far.
-Still too many penalties for the Flyers, though the Kings had even more. Perhaps I should stop blaming the Flyers and start looking at the officials, who have had a quick whistle so far this year.
-No goal by Claude Giroux tonight? Guess he will have to pick up two next time to stay on pace for 82.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
-Juan Castillo has to go. Now. The defense was unable to stop the run, put any pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick or make any plays in the secondary. The defense is loaded with talent and guys that have made plays in the past so there has to be an issue with Castillo and his schemes. The one thing this group did well in the last few weeks was get to the quarterback and they couldn't even do that this week.
-Jason Avant had one heck of a game statistically, catching 9 passes for 139 yards, but he made two terrible plays that cost the Eagles the game. When a sure-handed guy like Avant can't hold on to the ball you know things just aren't going your way.
-Michael Vick doesn't deserve much of the blame for this one. Of his 4 interceptions, only one was a truly terrible pass. Vick is doing everything he can with what little time he is given and scrambling for his life when there is nothing open downfield. He can't be blamed for tipped passes becoming interceptions and for the inept line in front of him. What he can be blamed for is his terrible mismanagement of the clock at the end of the first half. How does that happen?
-How about giving the ball to LeSean McCoy more often? Only 15 touches for Shady, who still managed over 100 total yards.
-I'm so glad Juqua Parker was healthy enough to suit up this week so he could make a boneheaded play a the end of the game to seal the loss for the Eagles.
-By my count, Jamar Chaney made the first play by a linebacker all season long when he picked off Fitzpatrick.
At 1-4, this season is effectively over for the Eagles. Sure, they could rattle off a few wins and find themselves back in the NFC East title picture, but does anyone see any reason to think that this team is going to magically start playing well? This is clearly a broken team that has talent but can't seem to put all of the pieces together. All that is left to play for this season is Andy Reid's job.
The Eagles and the Bills announced their inactive players for their Week 5 matchup:
Eagles: DE Trent Cole, G Kyle DeVan, S Jaiquawn Jarrett, QB Mike Kafka, CB Curtis Marsh, T Jason Peters, OL Julian Vandervelde
Bills: T Demetrius Bell, G Colin Brown, LB Chris Kelsay, NT Torell Troup, CB Terrence Wheatley, LB Chris White, CB Aaron Williams
Rookie Danny Watkins is active and will make his first NFL start. Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp are back and will look to pick up the Eagles pass rush with Trent Cole out. With Jason Peters out, King Dunlap will start at left tackle. With Mike Kafka benched, Vince Young is the backup quarterback.
This is a must-win game for the Eagles against a decent Bills team. They can't go 1-4 and expect to make a late charge into the playoffs. Given what we've seen the last few weeks, its hard to have much faith in the Birds.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
It's a good bet that Howard won't be ready at the start of the next season but it is nice to know he will likely suit up for the Phillies at some point next season. Barring any offseason moves, that could mean John Mayberry gets a chance to play every day at first base. As good as Mayberry was against lefties last year, let's hope Howard has a speedy recovery, especially considering that his new contract starts next season.
-Bryzgalov gets credit for the shutout but he didn't have to do much work as he had some long stretches between shots. That is often more difficult for goaltenders to have sporadic work than to be in the middle of the action for the entire game so Bryz certainly earned his shutout.
-Plenty of credit for the shutout should also go to the penalty killers, who were a perfect 5 for 5. The Flyers continue to give the kids, Sean Couturier and Matt Read, plenty of penalty kill time and they haven't dissapointed. Read also notched his first career goal and will be fun to watch develop over the course of the season.
-I said after the last game that Claude Giroux would score 40 goals this season but I might amend that to 50 goals. With the way he is already clicking with JVR and Jaromir Jagr, 100 total points really doesn't seem to far-fetched for Giroux.
-It's hard not to notice all the things that Wayne Simmonds does well on the ice. He only got 12:52 of ice time but he made the most of it, picking up a goal, a fight and 4 shots on net. If Brayden Schenn turns out to be the player everyone thinks he will be, the Flyers won't have any regrets about trading Mike Richards.
Two games in and 82-0 is still in play for the Flyers! After the disappointment of the ending of the Phillies season, this hard-working Flyers team is the perfect thing to wash away the pain.
Friday, October 7, 2011
I have plenty of other thoughts on the game and this team but I don't have the energy to write them out tonight. The pitching will still be there for the next few years but something has to be done to shore up the bats. With several veterans already locked in and Jimmy Rollins possibly leaving via free agency, its hard to see how things get better. Add in that Ryan Madson is probably gone and its even more depressing. In Ruben we trust, I suppose.
With the Eagles in disarray the city now turns their hopes to the revamped Flyers. It's going to be a long offseason, Phillies fans.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
-It was exciting to see all the new faces and what their contributions would be to the Flyers. With more than half a dozen skaters suiting up for the Flyers for the first time, we almost needed a scorecard to keep up with the action. Of the newcomers, I was most impressed with Matt Read, Wayne Simmonds and, of course, Jaromir Jagr. Read didn't get a ton of ice time but he did play some on the penalty kill and was aggressive. Simmonds picked up a few penalties but he will quickly become a Flyers fan favorite.
-Jagr and Claude Giroux are going to be fun to watch this year. The two playmakers worked together for their first of many goals tonight and had several quality chances throughout the night. Giroux could easily get 40 goals playing with a motivated Jagr.
-No, it wasn't that elusive shutout the Flyers have been looking for, but Ilya Bryzgalov looked solid in net. While he only had to face 23 shots, Bryzgalov stayed sharp and buckled down after giving up the first period goal. It's way too early to tell if he is a significant upgrade in net but that was as good a start as you can ask for.
-Waaaaay too many penalties for the Flyers. It's an issue that has plagued this club since their inception but the Flyers continue to give their opponents too many power play opportunities. Maybe they just wanted to test out their PK?
-I'm not a big fan of Zac Rinaldo. At all. I like Jody Shelley better and that's really saying something.
At the very least, this should be a very interesting season for the Flyers with all the new players in the lineup. While I still have some worries about where the offense is going to come from (besides the top line), their defense and goaltending should keep them in most games.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
-Despite Oswalt not having his best stuff, he was still the right choice to start Game 4. Vance Worley has been great this year but Oswalt is a veteran who has proven himself time and again in the playoffs. No reason to second guess the starting pitching choice.
-The Phillies blew an early lead for the second time in this series. The offense seems on point at the start of these games but has been basically absent in the middle innings. Edwin Jackson is no great starter but the Phillies just couldn't crack him after the first inning.
-That Shane Victorino stumble and bad toss in the outfield was something else. Can't say I've ever seen that before. First Ronnie Brown and now this. Yikes.
-I'm sure Oswalt, an avid hunter, can figure out a way to get rid of that squirrel.
-Jimmy Rollins has been ridiculously locked in, hitting 9 for 16 with 4 doubles and 6 runs scored. Think he is gunning for a big contract this offseason?
-Brad Lidge faced his demons and won, getting Albert Pujols out in the 8th inning. I'm not sure Lidge will ever live down the moon shot he gave up to Pujols a few years back but this was at least a positive step one.
Being forced into an elimination game is never a good thing for a team but the Phillies will send Roy Halladay to the mound and have Cliff Lee available out of the bullpen. If the Cardinals are able to best the Phillies top two aces, they really are the better team. In Roy and Cliff we trust!
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
-Is there any more improbable of a hero than Ben Francisco? After a pretty terrible regular season, Francisco instantly made himself a Philly legend with his 3-run homer in the 7th inning. It was just his second hit in his postseason career and his first home run since late May but Francisco now joins the likes of Matt Stairs in the Phillies postseason pinch hit Hall of Fame.
-Although the Cardinals really made him work, Cole Hamels certainly pitched like an ace tonight. It would have been nice if he could have gone more than 6 innings before having to turn it over to the bullpen but you can't argue with 8 strikeouts and no earned runs.
-The Phillies bullpen is still something to worry about. When the starting pitchers are forced to throw a lot of pitches early on the bullpen is going to be a factor and Ryan Madson is the only reliever that can be counted on at the moment. Madson can't pitch multiple innings every night, though, so someone is going to have step up sooner or later.
-Man that double play in the 8th inning was huge. It also saved Madson from having to throw too many pitches and allowed him to stay fresh for the 9th.
-Jaime Garcia was everything we feared he would be. The Phillies just can't hit strike-throwing, soft-tossing lefties. The Phils failed to work deep counts on Garcia as he cruised through the first 6 innings. We all know what happened in the 7th, of course. Wonder if Garcia regrets walking Carlos Ruiz to get to Francisco...
-How annoying is Ryan Theriot? He is just a mediocre journeyman middle infielder but there he is, going 4 for 5 in Game 3 and raising his batting average to .667 in the postseason. Thank goodness he didn't get a hit in that final at bat. I would call him the 2011 Cody Ross but Theriot has zero power and his team isn't winning.
With the two Roy's pitching the next two games and Cliff Lee possibly available out of the pen, the Phillies are exactly where they want to be. All the pressure is on the Cardinals to beat two of the Phllies aces in a row. Good luck with that.
To replace Dixon on the roster, the Eagles signed Derek Landri, who spent the preseason with the Birds. He is a high-motor guy who looked impressive but was on the outside looking in when the Eagles set their initial 53 man roster. Don't expect much of a drop-off when Landri gets on the field.
Monday, October 3, 2011
-The Phillies offense looked locked in right off the bat, working the count and getting solid hits off of Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter. Carpenter was fortunate to get out of the first without allowing too much damage when he got Polanco to ground into a double play. Think the Cards will ever use him on short rest again?
-After the second inning, the Phillies offense went into a coma and never woke up. Tony La Russa trotted out pitcher after pitcher and the Phillies couldn't muster any kind of offense. Only Jimmy Rollins managed a hit and he was promptly picked off trying to steal second.
-The Phillies looked especially clueless against Jason Motte. I hope they don't need a key run against him in an elimination situation.
-That wasn't quite the Cliff Lee we've all come to expect. Though he gave up a few hits early, he looked good through the first three innings. The Cardinals starting tagging him after that, though, picking up a string of cheap hits to get themselves back into the game. He wasn't helped by the wildly inconsistent strike zone but Lee is going to have to pitch better than that next time around.
-The Phillies bullpen was tremendous, allowing just one hit in three innings. That was one big positive to come out of the game.
-Ryan Howard continued his great postseason with 2 big RBI's in the first inning. He is putting that nightmare of a 2010 postseason behind him though it would have been nice if he came through in the 8th inning.
-That Jon Jay hit on Carlos Ruiz at the plate was the biggest hit of the day in Philadelphia. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Eagles.
The Phillies still have another ace to turn to so there is no reason to panic. What a horrible Sunday to be a Philly fan, though.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
-Were do we place the blame for that loss? On the defense that still can't stop the run? On Jeremy Maclin for not protecting the football? On the rookie kicker who can't make a chip shot? On the defensive coordinator who is clearly overmatched? How about on the coach who put this mess together? I've never been a "fire Andy Reid" guy but something has to give after what happened today. The pieces are all there but this isn't working.
-I don't have a clue how to fix this defense with the current personnel. You have to be able to stop the run, which they can't do. You also can't let Alex Smith throw for 291 yards. How you can have three of the best corners in the game and let the Niners crop of mediocre receivers be open all game long is a complete mystery.
-One guy who is giving his max effort on defense is Jason Babin. He was disruptive all game long and picked up three sacks. The d-line continues to consistently create pressure but the rest of the D is letting them down.
-Another guy I can't blame for this loss is Michael Vick. He had a few bad throws here and there but at least he was busting his butt on every play. With the offensive line still barely able to block anyone, Vick made the most out of what he was given. His career high 416 yards passing and 75 yards rushing only added up to 23 points, though, and that just isn't enough.
-How about giving LeSean McCoy more than 9 carries?
-David Akers must be dying of laughter right now. Alex Henery is a rookie and games like this will happen but he had two chances to put the game away and couldn't do it. Akers missed one, too, but a million bucks says he doesn't miss that 4th quarter attempt from 33 yards.
-I almost forgot about Ronnie Brown. What the heck was he thinking? That could have been the worst play I've seen a professional football player ever make. Even high school kids don't do that.
Something has to give with this team, something has to be changed. Someone needs to get fired or this is all going to keep happening. I'm not looking forward to the game against a good Bills team next week at all. At least we have the Phillies!
The Eagles and the Niners announced their inactive players for their Week 4 matchup:
Eagles: CB Brandon Hughes, T Winston Justice, CB Curtis Marsh, DE Juqua Parker, DE Darryl Tapp, OL Julian Vandervelde, G Danny Watkins
Niners: DT Demarcus Dobbs, WR Braylon Edwards, G Daniel Kilgore, FB Moran Norris, G Mike Person, QB Scott Tolzien, DT Ian Williams
Despite his injured hamsting, Jeremy Maclin is suiting up. The only change in the inactives from last week is that Jaiquawn Jarrett is suiting up for the first time of the year and Brandon Hughes is benched. There are two new starters on defense as Brandon Rolle is starting at WILL and Nate Allen is starting at free safety.
For the Niners, Frank Gore is suiting up but shouldn't have much burst due to a bad ankle. Kendall Hunter will even start at running back ahead of Gore.
Its only Week 4 but this is pretty much a must-win for the Eagles. If they lose to this weak Niners team and go 1-3 you can kiss the playoffs goodbye.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
-Who else had a sinking feeling in their stomach after Halladay gave up the 3-run homer in the first inning and when the Phillies offense looked impatient and inept against Kyle Lohse in the early innings? You had to figure that Halladay would settle in and he certainly did, retiring 21 straight and looking dominant from the 2nd inning on. Take out that one swing by Lance Berkman and we'd be talking about another amazing Halladay playoff outing.
-With one swing, Ryan Howard already has more homers and RBI than he did in the entire 2010 playoffs. We've all seen Howard come up small with runners on in close games before but he stayed patient and waited for Lohse to make a mistake. If that's the Howard we get for the next few weeks, another title is just a formality.
-The rumors of Raul Ibanez's demise have been greatly exaggerated. These could be his last few games with the Phillies and Ibanez has already made a huge impact.
-The bullpen still might be something to worry about. The fact that they had to turn to Ryan Madson just to put the Cardinals away was disheartening. Although the starters can be expected to go deep in nearly every game, someone besides Madson has to step up and get batters out.
-Albert Pujols is good and all but how about they don't basically intentionally walk him in the first inning? Berkman and Matt Holliday (when he's healthy enough to start) can really rake so there is no reason to give them extra runners to drive in.
-Hunter Pence looked comfortable in the playoffs, picking up a big hit before Howard's homer as well as the single that put the game out of reach in the 8th inning. He continues to be exactly what the Phillies needed to add to the lineup.
With Cliff Lee going against Chris Carpenter tomorrow, Game 2 should be a great matchup. Expect the first team to get to 2 runs to win.