Sunday, April 29, 2012

Danny Briere wins Game 1 in OT

After a slow first period, the Flyers picked up their play and took out the Devils in overtime in Game 1, 4-3.  Mr. Playoffs, Danny Briere, was the hero in this one, putting the puck into the back of the net twice in overtime, though the first was called off due to Briere kicking it in.  Here's Briere's game winner:

The Flyers have to be happy with how they played after the first period.  Should that carry over into the next few games, they should make short of the Devils.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Eagles 2012 NFL Draft Day 3 Round-up

The Eagles wrapped up their draft with 5 more selections on Sunday, going for depth at several positions.  Here is a look at each player the Eagles selected:

Round 4, Pick 28 (123): Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
The Eagles may have found their slot corner.  Boykin is another great athlete, one who should compete right away for a starting spot in the Eagles secondary.  A dynamic kick returner in college, Boykin could also immediately be the best return man on the Eagles roster.  Boykin also played some receiver in college so he certainly is versatile.  While he is small (5 foot 9) and has had a history of concussions, Boykin appears to be another great value pick.

Round 5, Pick 18 (153): Dennis Kelly, OT, Purdue
The Eagles finally grab a lineman and he looks like a project.  Kelly, who was the offensive player of the year at Purdue in 2010, is huge (6 foot 8) and was a three year starter in college.  Expect Howard Mudd to take this kid under his wing and develop him into a usable piece somewhere down the road.

Round 6, Pick 24 (194): Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
McNutt has good size (6 foot 3) and hands and could be a decent depth receiver for the Eagles.  With 170 career catches for 2861 yards, he put up some solid numbers at Iowa, even setting a school record for number of career receiving touchdowns with 28.  With the Eagles seemingly interminable red zone issues, McNutt could develop into a nice target for Michael Vick near the goalline.  There are some questions about his effort and blocking skills.

Round 6, Pick 30 (200): Brandon Washington, G, Miami
Washington played tackle at Miami but will likely move to Guard in the NFL.  He spent three years at Miami and has the size (6 foot 3, 320 pounds) to be an NFL lineman.  Best case scenario for him is probably a practice squad spot.

Round 7, Pick 22 (229): Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas St.
I expected the Eagles to take a backup running back with an earlier pick; instead, they waited until their final pick and took Brown, who transferred from Tennessee in 2010.  He is a complete question mark, a guy with a ton of talent who never really did anything in college.  He's a 7th round pick so I wouldn't expect much from him.

Go here and here for my analysis on the Eagles Day 1 and Day 2 picks.

Derrick Rose out for the playoffs

The Sixers may suddenly have a chance: it is being reported that point guard Derrick Rose tore his ACL and will be lost for the remainder of the playoffs.  Rose suffered the injury in Game 1 against the Sixers and that will certainly put a damper on any championship run the Bulls thought they were making.

Why Rose was in a blowout game with just over a minute to play is beyond me but you can bet the Bulls regret not taking him out.  Expect the Bulls to take care of the Sixers, though it may take an extra game or two than it should have.

Eagles upgrade defense, grab quarterback on Day 2 of NFL Draft

On day 2, the Eagles continued their solid showing at the 2012 NFL Draft, focusing once again on upgrading the defense by taking the best available defenders in the second round.  The Birds also selected their next project quarterback in the third round.  Here is a look at the Eagles day 2 picks:

Round 2, Pick 14 (46): Mychal Kendricks, LB, Cal
The Eagles actually took a linebacker, something they don't often do in the draft, and it appears that they got themselves a good one.  Kendricks, the Pac-12 defensive of the year last season at Cal, has tremendous speed and could slide into a starting outside linebacker role with the Eagles.  While he is small (5 foot 11), he has a good motor and is a physical tackler.  The Eagles took the best available defensive player that fit their system so its hard to find fault with this pick.

Round 2, Pick 27 (59): Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
The Eagles don't really need more defensive linemen but they couldn't resist taking Curry and his ability to rush the quarterback.  I'm not really sure where he fits into the Eagles stacked d-line rotation but they will make room for a guy who loves getting to the quarterback as much as Curry does.  He is yet another high-motor guy who Eagles fans will love.

Round 3, Pick 25 (88): Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
Foles is a bit of a question mark as the Eagles don't really need yet another project quarterback.  Does this selection mean that they have already soured on Mike Kafka?  Foles has a good arm but very little mobility and shouldn't be counted on to ever be anything more than a backup quarterback.  With the way Andy Reid can develop QB's, though, count on him eventually being traded for a second round pick.

The Eagles still have a few needs that need filling, including some secondary help and possibly a backup running back.  Luckily, they still have the following 5 picks remaining:

Round 4, Pick 28 (123)
Round 5, Pick 18 (153)
Round 6, Pick 24 (194)
Round 6, Pick 30 (200)
Round 7, Pick 22 (229)

I'll have more analysis on the remaining picks on Saturday.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Report: Brian Dawkins will retire as an Eagle

The player that still remains in the hearts of all Eagles fans is coming home.  According to Jeff McLane of the Inquirer, Brian Dawkins, who announced his retirement last week, will sign a one day contract and retire as an Eagle.  Dawkins had been with the Broncos for the last three seasons but will certainly be better remembered for being the anchor of the Eagles defense through all of those NFC Championship games.

Expect Dawkins to get a celebration at an Eagles game this season and for his #20 to be retired.  After that, expect plenty of Hall of Fame debates.  I know how we all feel about B-Dawk but its not exactly easy for safeties to get into the Hall.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Eagles trade up, draft DT Fletcher Cox

The Eagles have struck at the NFL Draft, trading up from to take Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox with the 12th pick in the draft.  Cox was considered the best defensive tackle in the draft by some and the Eagles made a great move to grab him, trading their 15th pick in the first round and a 4th and a 6th rounder to move up 3 spots to ensure they could take him.

Cox is an incredible athlete who is big, strong and fast and plays with a high motor.  With his pass-rushing skills, he'll be ready to play right away and should make an instant impact.  Cox could even be ready to step right into the Eagles starting defensive line that suddenly looks unstoppable with Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin.  Add in Darryl Tapp and Mike Patterson and the Eagles are loaded with pass rushers that should create havoc for the opposing offensive lines.

The Eagles get an A for their first pick.  Most experts didn't expect Cox to be their with the 15th pick in the draft so the Eagles made the necessary and fairly painless move to trade up and grab him.  With plenty of picks left in the draft, the Eagles should have plenty of time to address their needs in the secondary and grab a linebacker and possibly a quarterback.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eagles deal Asante Samuel to the Falcons

After having him on the trade block for almost a year, the Eagles have finally shipped Asante Samuel out of town, trading him to the Falcons for a mere 7th round pick.  Samuel restructured his contract with Atlanta to earn less money as a requirement of the deal.

Why the Eagles traded a still very good cornerback for just a late round pick is somewhat puzzling on the surface.  While the Eagles certainly didn't get much value in return for Samuel, they are freeing up the money needed to sign LeSean McCoy to a huge contract while still allowing themselves plenty of room under the cap to remain flexible.  If you think it sounds like the Eagles are being cheap, you are probably right, but they always like to have extra cap space should they need it.  It's a tough trade to swallow, however, with Samuel still playing at a nearly elite level.

The Eagles "dream secondary" is no more though it will still be one of the best in the league with Nnamdi and DRC and whoever they trot out at the two safety positions.  While it would have been nice for the Eagles to try to restructure Samuel's deal to keep him around, NFL teams don't like to invest too much money into one position and clearly he didn't fit into the teams long term plans.  As long as the Eagles lock up McCoy to a long deal, I'm okay with dumping Samuel's contract.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Flyers kick Penguins to the curb

Pennsylvania now belongs to the Flyers. 

There was certainly reason to be nervous after how Games 4 and 5 went but the Flyers quickly put any thoughts of a possible Penguins series win to bed by jumping out to an early lead in Game 6 and never looking back.  In the series that had a little bit of everything, Game 6 was fairly normal as the Flyers dominated from start to finish, winning 5-1 to send the Penguins packing.

Claude Giroux set the early tone for the Flyers, first crushing Sidney Crosby then picking up a goal 32 seconds into the game.  Giroux later added a pair of assists and continues his emergence into the upper echelon of hockey players.  In a series that featured Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, supposedly two of the top 5 players in the world, Claude Giroux was often the best player on the ice.

The series was also a coming out party for Sean Couturier, who not only had a hat trick in Game 2 but also made it his personal mission to shut down Malkin.  While Malkin had a fair amount of points, Couturier shut him down at critical moments and continually got under his skin.  It will be a lot of fun watching the 19 year old Couturier own Malkin for years to come.

With the Penguins pushed aside, the Flyers now wait for their next opponent.  Who they will play is still pretty up in the air depending on the outcomes of the Rangers/Senators and Bruins/Capitals series.  With the Flyers already having beaten the supposed Cup favorite, a deep playoff run certainly seems like a strong possibility.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Eagles 2012 schedule released

We've known for awhile who the Eagles will be facing in 2012 but now we know exactly when they will be playing each opponent:

Week 1: 9/9 Eagles @ Browns, 1 pm
Week 2: 9/16 Ravens @ Eagles, 1 pm
Week 3: 9/23 Eagles @ Cardinals, 4:05 pm
Week 4: 9/30 Giants @ Eagles, 8:30 pm (Sunday Night)
Week 5: 10/7 Eagles @ Steelers, 1 pm
Week 6: 10/14 Lions @ Eagles, 1 pm
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: 10/28 Falcons @ Eagles, 1 pm
Week 9: 11/5 Eagles @ Saints, 8:30 pm (Monday Night)
Week 10: 11/11 Cowboys @ Eagles, 4:15 pm
Week 11: 11/18 Eagles @ Redskins, 1 pm
Week 12: 11/26 Panthers @ Eagles, 8:30 pm (Monday Night)
Week 13: 12/2 Eagles @ Cowboys, 8:20 pm (Sunday Night)
Week 14: 12/9 Eagles @ Bucs, 1 pm
Week 15: 12/13 Bengals @ Eagles, 8:30 pm (Thursday Night)
Week 16: 12/23 Redskins @ Eagles, 1 pm
Week 17: 12/30 Eagles @ Giants, 1 pm

Note the Sunday Night games in Weeks 4 and 13, the Monday Night games Weeks 9 and 12 and the Thursday Night game in Week 15.

You can't tell anything about the strength of a schedule in April but the Eagles appear to have a tough road from Weeks 4 through 11 as they play divisional opponents and (presumably) good Steelers, Lions, Falcons and Saints teams.  The division will likely be decided from Week 10 and on as the Eagles play 5 of their 6 divisional games in that stretch.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Flyers continue to own classless Penguins, take 3-0 series lead

It's pretty clear at this point that the Flyers are in the Penguins heads.  After two thrilling comeback victories in Games 1 and 2, the Flyers completely embarrassed the Penguins in Game 3, dominating the ice in a 8-4 win.  The Flyers are now just one win away from sweeping the supposed Cup favorites out of the playoffs.

The Penguins showed a real lack of class in the game, melting down and turning to cheap hits when they couldn't keep up with the Flyers on the scoreboard.  From Sidney Crosby poking a glove aside to Arron Asham cheap-shotting Sean Couturier for no reason to James Neal taking shots on Flyers stars to Craig Adams pulling Scott Hartnell's hair, the Penguins made a mockery out of the game and turned in an ugly performance for the ages.  Expect at least Asham and Adams to get suspended and Neal to get a serious look at losing a game.

Nothing is over until the Flyers win that 4th game but it has been obvious which team is more poised, determined and willing to do the work necessary to make a deep playoff run.  This Flyers team is filled with young, hungry players that have no fear and won't back down from anyone.  No matter what happens in the next few games of this series and beyond, this is one incredibly exciting hockey team.  We'll see if they can keep it up against a team that actually plays defense.  For now, I'm relishing every minute against the team that "can't beat us!"

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Voracek caps Flyers comeback with OT winner

Huge win for the Flyers in Game 1, erasing a three goal deficit to defeat the hated Penguins, 4-3.  With the Phillies and Sixers also winning, it was quite a night for Philly sports.

Here is Jakub Voracek's game winner:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Eagles sign tackle Demetress Bell

The Eagles, wasting little time finding their new left tackle after losing Jason Peters for the season, announced the signing of tackle Demetress Bell to a 5 year contract.  While the length of the contract seems a little long, count on the Eagles having an out clause a year or two into the deal.

Demetress Bell is the formerly spelled "Demetrius" Bell who played for the Bills for three seasons and took over as their starting left tackle when Peters signed with the Eagles.  He was one of the better available free agent linemen although he has dealt with a few injuries in his career.  With Peters out for the year, Bell will be counted on to start at left tackle right away.  Barring injuries, he should be a serviceable replacement.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Phillies set 2012 Opening Day Roster

The Phillies 2012 Opening Day roster is missing a few big names but it still has plenty of interesting stories.  The biggest surprise is Joe Savery, who was a first baseman last year and is now holding down a spot in the bullpen.

Here is the Phillies Opening Day Roster:

Starting Pitchers (5): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, Joe Blanton

Relief Pitchers (7): Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Chad Qualls, David Herndon, Kyle Kendrick, Joe Savery

Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz, Brian Schneider

Infielders (6): Jim Thome, Freddy Galvis, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Ty Wiggington, Pete Orr

Outfielders (5): Juan Pierre, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix

On the DL (4): Jose Contreras, Ryan Howard, Michael Martinez, Chase Utley

Prepare yourself for Juan Pierre to get an inordinate number of at-bats.

Nike unveils new Eagles jerseys

Nike has taken over the NFL jersey market from Reebok and unveiled their new designs for every team today.  As you can see by the picture above, not much of anything has changed with the Eagles jersey, save for the swooshes on the front of the pants and the sides of the jersey.  There had been speculation of color changes and slight modifications but it appears that the Eagles jersey will essentially remain the same for next season.
(Photo via Darren Rovell)