Eagles Mid-Season Report Card: Defense

October 22nd, 2014 by Sam Shipley | No Comments | Filed in Eagles, General, NFL, TalkSportsPhilly

The Philadelphia Eagles defense has been a roller coaster over the last few years. In the last few years alone we have gone from the end of Brian Dawkins career in Philly, to the “Dream Team”, to a whole new regime that now has their own defense built through various free agent signings and draft picks.

For the last few years, the defense has always seemed to be the weakest spot of the Eagles, however, this year the defense is showing improvement.

Being a member of the Eagles defense is no easy task. With the offensive philosophy of Chip Kelly, the defense is forced to play a lot more than most teams. There are games where they are out on the field for 35 to 40 minutes, which is no easy task for any defense. The amount of time on the field allows for mistakes and a lot of exposure for opposing offenses to find holes to exploit. However, the defense has been a solid group, and has often been labeled a “bend but not break” defense as they give up a lot of yards, while the amount of points they give up doesn’t show that.

That phrase still stands true so far this year as the Eagles are 24th in yards per game (allow 380 yards per game), while they are just 13th in points per game (giving up 22 points per game).

A defensive line group that is led by young draft picks such as Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Cedric Thornton, Beau Allen, and Vinny Curry have played very well. Cox has arguably been the best player of that group, as he has really shown the ability to get after the quarterback, stop the run, and has shown consistency every single week. Logan and Allen have been a good duo at the nose tackle position, as they are doing a solid job of clogging the middle and making plays. Allen was a seventh round pick in this years draft, and his play shows that he was a steal and a great find by the Eagles in the last round of the draft.

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Phillies Sign Williams

October 22nd, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, Phillies

According to multiple outlets, the Phillies and Jerome Williams have agreed to a deal for 2015. Williams, 33 in December, is guaranteed $2.5M with incentives that would max the deal out at $4M. While it has yet to be verified, the incentives are most likely based on innings pitched. Could it be a sign that A.J. Burnett will decline his option for 2015? Or is Williams just competition for guys like David Buchanan, Jon Pettibone, Adam Morgan, or even possibly Aaron Nola or Jesse Biddle?

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Flyers Sluggish Start: Who’s At Fault?

October 22nd, 2014 by Ryan Waterman | No Comments | Filed in Flyers, General, TalkSportsPhilly

The Flyers are once again off to a troubling start. They finally collected their first win, five games into the season. Coming off of a wild 6-5 road-victory over the Dallas Stars, the Orange and Black must now go into battle with the Chicago Blackhawks.  While the first five games were hard, the last five are no easier. Following tonight’s battle with Chicago, the Flyers close out October with games against the Penguins, Red Wings, Kings,  and Lightning. Not exactly a cakewalk. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this season, thus far.

Most of the team’s struggles have fallen at the offenses feet. However, it may be undeserved.  The offense currently ranks third in GPG (Goals Per Game), with an average of 3.4 per game.  Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, and Jakub Voracek are all off to a hot start, recording a team high 7 points, in the first 5 games.  Giroux and Simmonds have recorded more than half of their points on the power-play.  Much like the offense, the power-play ranks in the top-five of the NHL. Currently sporting a 31% success rate on the man-advantage, the Flyers have been able to spread the wealth around, with nine different Flyers recording at least one point on the power-play.

While the Flyer offense has been pretty solid to start the year, there have been a few disappointments this season. Sean Couturier, and Brayden Schenn have had difficulty getting going, combining for 5 points. Both entered the season with high-expectations, and short-leashes, but neither has impressed thus far. Couturier has played his normal excellent-defense, while Schenn has continued to lack in that department. For Schenn, he must improve his game quickly, as a recent report suggests that without a performance turnaround, he could be on his way out-of-town.

It’s true that the offense can take its’ share of the blame, but the defense holds an awfully large chunk of it. Recently acquired Michael Del Zotto has been a solid fit, in place of Kimmo Timonen. Recording just over 18 minutes per game, Del Zotto ranks ninth amongst Flyers in ATOI (Average Time On Ice), behind the likes of Claude Giroux and Mark Streit.  Speaking of Streit, he and fellow defender Andrew MacDonald have proven that they are reliable defensive anchors, with both playing excellent hockey over roughly 24 minutes of ATOI. Just like the offense though, the defense has its’ own disappointment; Luke Schenn. Schenn is a -6 on the year so far, recording just over 16 minutes per game.  He also leads the team in penalty minutes.  Only two Flyer defenders have a + rating however, Brayden Coburn and Nicklas Grossman.

In net, Steve Mason and Ray Emery have been iffy. Mason hasn’t exactly been “solid”, recording an 0-2-1 record, with a 3.38 GAA, and a .865 save percentage. It almost looks like that concussion that Mason suffered at the end of last season, is still having some lasting effects on his play. Emery on the other hand, has shone through the cracks. Sporting a cool 1-0-1 record, with a 2.73 GAA, and a .907 save percentage.  Emery just seems to be better overall this season, moving better than Mason side-to-side, in addition to having better reflexes.

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Eagles Mid-Season Report Card: Offense

October 21st, 2014 by Sam Shipley | No Comments | Filed in Eagles, General, NFL, TalkSportsPhilly

When the Philadelphia Eagles are talked about around the NFL the first topic that comes to mind is their offense. Since Chip Kelly took over this team last year, replacing Andy Reid, a lot of people didn’t know what to expect from the Eagles, but they were sure of one thing: the offense would be completely different then anything we have ever seen in Philadelphia before.

The change was going to be one of two things, it was either going to revolutionize the game or it was going to fail in a big way. Well by now I think we all know that Chip Kelly took the NFL by storm a year ago leading one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL, despite a mid-season quarterback controversy.

This year the Eagles offense has lacked that explosive feel that it had last year. While it has truly been very frustrating to watch at times, there are plenty of factors to why the offense has seemed a bit off from just a year ago.

First off the offensive line wasn’t full strength before the Jacksonville game as Lane Johnson was suspended for the first four games of the season. Then in an unbelievable second half comeback victory against Jacksonville, the Eagles lost two more lineman, Left Guard Evan Mathis and top backup Allen Barbre. While the line was already depleted, things became even worse in a thrilling win against the Redskins as the Eagles lost Center Jason Kelce. The injuries and suspensions forced the Eagles to play backups and forced players to play out of position. Along with the starters who were out via injury and suspension, Left Tackle Jason Peters was battling injuries and wasn’t 100% for a good part of the season.

The offensive line in football is by far one of the most important groups in football. With out a good offensive line, it is tough for an offense to be good enough to put up points consistently, or even move the ball consistently. That showed true in the Eagles first six games this season, as Nick Foles was hit A LOT, LeSean McCoy struggled and had his worst start to his career ever, and as a result the Eagles offense just wasn’t the same.

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Minor League Mondays: Roman Quinn

October 20th, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, Phillies

The end of the 2011 season will always be the image of Ryan Howard going down in a heap after blowing out his Achilles. Three seasons later, Howard has yet to regain the form that put him in the elite group of players that have won Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards in consecutive years. When Quinn blew out his Achilles the after the 2013 season, many thought that he’d lose a step on his prized speed and that it would be at least a year until he was back close to what he could be going forward.

Not only did Quinn defy the odds of playing at all in 2014, he only missed six weeks of the season. Not only was he able to come back quickly, he came back at a level that showed us what he is capable of.

  • High A (Clearwater): 88 games, .257/.343/.370 with 10 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 7 HRs, and 32 SBs

While he did strikeout at an alarming rate, just under 40% for the season, he was able to achieve an 11% walk rate. Quinn’s strikeout rate is what is keeping him from being an elite prospect in baseball. Right now I’d say he’s in that second tier as he’s a featured player in the Arizona Fall League representing the Phillies.

  • Arizona Fall League: 9 games, .250/.333/.300 with 1 3B and 7 SBs

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Deconstructing The Phillies: Relief Pitching

October 16th, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, Phillies

In part two of our ongoing series on how to potentially fix the Phillies, we’ll address the bullpen. The bullpen was actually one of the bright spots in 2014. Where Papelbon lacked off the field, he did his best to make up for it on the field, converting 39 of 43 save opportunities. Only rookie Ken Giles was able to convert a save out of the remaining pieces of the bullpen. In my opinion, when people say pitching wins championships, they most likely are referring to relief pitching. Starters, elite or mediocre, have a day in and day out ability to keep teams in games thru six innings. If you have enough quality arms in your bullpen, you shorten that game. Don’t believe me? Just look back to the 2008 squad, they were as good a pen as you could hope for and we all know how that ended. So what should the Phillies do moving forward? Click past the jump for my recommendation(s).

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Black And Blue: Birds Blank G-Men 27-0

October 14th, 2014 by Ryan Waterman | No Comments | Filed in Eagles, General, NFL, Sports

Sunday Night was a game that few Eagle fans will soon forget, as the Eagles recorded their first shutout in 18 years. Entering the game as a 3 point favorite, the Birds quickly proved that it’s always safe to bet on black. Debuting an all-black attire for the first time, the Eagles jumped out to an early 10-0 lead and never looked back.

As the kick-off approached, fans were apprehensive. However, the Eagles eased some of the nerves when Shady McCoy ran for 36 yards on 4 carries in the first drive. Following a drive that stalled at the New York 13, Cody Parkey put the Eagles up 3-0 with a 31-yard field goal. The defense quickly went to work, forcing a three and out, in just under 2 1/2 minutes.

In three of their next four drives, Zach Ertz caught a 15 yard TD pass, James Casey (Yes, James Casey!) hauled in a 26 yard TD pass, and Cody Parkey added yet another boomer of a FG to his resume with a 45 yarder, putting the Birds up 20-0. While the offense was taking care of business, the defense was busy shutting down Eli Manning and the offense, holding them to just 45 yards of offense in the first-half.

To begin the second half, New York picked up right where it left off, with a three and out. However, Nick Foles just as quickly gave the Giants back the ball. That’s when things went wrong for Big Blue, terribly wrong. While running a routine route on 4th and goal, star wideout Victor Cruz double-clutched, tearing his patella tendon, all but ending his season.

The Birds would take over at their own 3 yard line. Nick Foles led a 97-yard march down the field, resulting in a 9-yard Darren Sproles touchdown. That would be it for the scoring, as the offense milked the clock, following an injury to Darren Sproles, and the defense continued forcing punt after punt.

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