Monday, December 27, 2010

Is the first round bye really that important?

Read a great article this morning, compliments of Wayne Sidor, laying out just how the Eagles secured their spot in the 2010/2011 NFL playoffs. I, like many other Eagle faithful, enjoyed watching the New York Giants playoff hopes erupt into flames yesterday afternoon. To boot, the loss not only assured they will not have a chance to compete this post-season (not technically, they can still slip in with a win against Washington and a Green Bay loss to the Bears), but also assured the Eagles a spot in the NFC playoffs. How sweet it is.

But, the Chicago Bears managed again (to my disbelief) to eek out a win over the Jets, meaning they are in line for a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Still, the Eagles still haven't been mathematically eliminated from contention for the bye. To quote the CSN article:

"The Eagles can still earn a bye if they win their last two games and Chicago loses at Green Bay next Sunday. They can earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC if they win out, the Bears lose to the Packers next weekend and the Falcons lose to the Saints Monday night and the Panthers on Jan. 2"

Just how important is this first round bye to the birds? Well, historically it makes no difference. As many Giants and Cowboys fans like to constantly remind us, as they tend to live their lives in the past tense, the Eagles haven't won a Super Bowl. We all know how the first round bye ended up in 2004 when the team finished the regular season 13-3 and had the highest powered offense in the league.

In my opinion, I don't think this team needs a first round bye, or home field advantage throughout to reach the Super Bowl. Our offense, or Michael Vick however you want to look at it, strikes fear into just about every defense in the NFL (Ex - 28 points in 7 minutes against NYG's #1 ranked defense). In fact, I think playing in a hostile atmosphere might even be good for this team to get on a roll. I have always been big on the theory that it isn't necessarily the best teams that are able to make playoff runs, but the teams who carry momentum into the post-season by finishing strong. Just ask the 2007 New York Giants who finished the regular season 10-6, but won 3 road playoff games en route to a Super Bowl victory. Ugh, still makes me sick. But then I think about Eli Manning's 7 year $107 million contract and it makes me smile and giggle. So its all good.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Week 16 Picks

Here's my line for week 16...

Pittsburgh, Dallas, New England, NY Jets, Baltimore, Kansas City, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Miami, Indianapolis, Houston, San Diego, NY Giants, Tampa Bay, New Orleans

Biggest question mark games to watch in my mind is the Jets @ Chicago, Indy @ Oakland, and of course New Orleans @ Atlanta.

Jets (10-4) @ Chicago (10-4)
Should be a pretty good battle between two 10-4 teams looking to gain momentum towards the playoffs. I don't know about all of you, but I am just not sold on Chicago as a contender, let alone making it out of the NFC playoffs. Take a look at their schedule. If you were to give Chicago a marquee win, it would have to be the game they stole from the Eagles, a home game in which they escaped with a 5 point victory after playing their first (and I believe only) game this season which they didnt commit a turnover. Lance Briggs was quoted as saying the win over the Eagles was their "statement game". Yea, I would hope so because they have beat up on some very poor teams for the rest of their wins. And, if it werent for a late James Jones fumble on Monday Night Football, the Bears wouldnt even have another win over a team with a winning record, for THE WHOLE YEAR. Doesnt sound right does it? Well believe it. The Bears have wins over only 2 teams with winning records. And in addition to that, two of their four losses came from a 5-9 Washington team and a 6-8 Seattle team, where both games were played at Soldier Field. Super Bowl contender? I don't see it. For that reason alone, I'm taking the Jets in this game even though Chicago will be playing at home. You simply can't lose two games at home to terrible teams and still be considered a favorite.

Indy (8-6) @ Oakland (7-7)
I was so tempted to pick Oakland in this AFC matchup. I feel like the timing is right for Oakland to pull of an upset: home game, still alive in the division, coming off a big come from behind win last week. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they have this other little thing going against them. They're the Raiders. That fact alone convinces me that there is no way they pull an upset of Peyton Manning and Co. as they work the kinks out of their offense. The Colts are in an interesting spot this year. Much different feeling around that team considering they have cruised into the playoffs the last, what 10 years? Usually this is the time the media is hounding them for resting their starters and not going for an undefeated season. Will playing a full regular season come back to bite the Colts in the long-run? I'm not so sure. I am sure that it won't happen this week, because lets us not all forget, it is the Raiders.

New Orleans (10-4) @ Atlanta (12-2)
Hands down game of the week. It's a perfect storm.

  • division rivals
  • Monday Night Football prime time
  • defending super bowl champions on verge of losing their own division
  • the Saints are arguably playing the better football, but the line has moved from -1.5 for Atlanta to -3.5

I give the edge to the Saints, high scoring game, 34 - 20.

Going to be an awesome weekend in the NFL and haven't even mentioned the Eagles yet. Bring on the snow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best returner of all time?

I was reading an article on PFT (ProFootball Talk) commenting on Devin Hester's record breaking punt return and it got me thinking. That guy Desean Jackson isnt a bad punt returner himself. The numbers are a little skewed because Hester not only returned punts, but also some kicks as well. But, if you look at just punt returns through the first 3 years of their careers, the numbers show there isn't really that much of a drop-off between the two gunners.

Devin Hester career (3 seasons)
121 returns
1,449 yards
11.9 average/return
7 TD's

Desean Jackson career (3 seasons)
99 returns
1,112 yards
11.2 average/return
4 TD's

In those same 3 seasons, Jackson has 169 receptions for 3,100 yards and 17 TD's to Hester's 71 receptions for 964 yards and 6 TD's. Hard to use this as an argument point though as Hester came out of Miami primarily as a return man. He did play CB and sparingly on offense, but didnt record an official reception until his second year in the league. Regardless, Hester is still one of the most exciting players in the game and why Chicago would EVER stop letting him return kicks is beyond me. If you havent seen this Hester clip already, I suggest you watch it. No, that is not a video game.

Bringing it back

So, I'm going to skip the apology for not keeping up on the posting, cause I'm not sorry. I will say that I hope to do a much better job this time around. Please, for the few of you that might still be reading, feel free to leave comments/opinions/criticism it actually helps remind me to not be a jackass and keep at it. Obviously there has been a lot going on since I last checked in. Lets go about it like this...

Phillies -
Wow.  Is there really anything else you can say about the Phillies since their less than gracious exit from the playoffs courtesy of the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. I could, and may, do a post about the NLCS as a whole, but for now lets focus on the present. More specifically, Clifton Phifer Lee. Again, wow. Just wow. Who saw that coming? Unless your name is Jayson Stark, you didn't see it coming. Obviously, myself along with the Phillies fanbase is ecstatic for what on paper is easily the most dominant rotation in the history of baseball. And of course, the cherry on top was the fact Mr. Lee turned down a significant amount of money from the Yankees in order to return to Philadelphia. What, you might ask, was my favorite part of the Cliff Lee fallout? Well, besides the Phils having the best rotation in baseball, is the slew of NY media reports I read downplaying the fact they just got fu**ing roasted. (Clearly an Idiot, Clearly delusional). To rub it in, Yankees just got hit with $18 mill in luxury tax. Haaahaaa.

Eagles -
There's only a few things to really say about the birds right now, and I can probably sum it up quickly for you. One, Mike Vick. Two, Desean Jackson. Concerns? Sure, there are concerns. Their defense has been less then average on many occasions. But, they have something that no other team in the NFL has. Mike Vick. He's going to find a way to win, bottom line. I really dont think there is anything else that needs to be addressed at this point. Well maybe I could throw in a little eat sh*t Giants.

Flyers -
Through 35 games this season the flyboys are 22-8-5, good for the best record in the NHL. Not too shabby I'd say, especially given they are only 1-3 in shootouts. I havent been able to catch as many games recently as I did in the beginning of the season, but if you watch one game you'll understand how impressive this team is. They are stacked at the forward position led by Claude Giroux who has really exploded into a b0nafide star. One of the most telling statistics in my mind is the fact the Flyers have only two players in the top 25 in Points in the entire NHL (Giroux 31, Richards 32). That means they arent relying on one player, a la Sidney Crosby, to win them games. Couple that with the emergency of Sergei Bobrovsky the 22 year old rookie from Russia who's tied for the 4th most wins in the NHL (15). It's clear that the Flyers are young, talented, and destined to make some noise this year.

Sixers -
Are they better then last year? Yes. Good enough to be worth mentioning? No. When the Sixers become relevant again, Ill be sure to let you know.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Power outage

So just what exactly has gone wrong with this Phillies offense? I've been hearing the question for about 3 weeks now. Justifiably so. What is not justified is people thinking that this hitting slump is going to last. Simply put, this lineup is faaaaar to potent to remain quiet for an extended period of time. The Phils are 30-26, 2.5 games back from the Braves. This after going 5-11 in their last 16 games. Yet still have hit more home runs then the Braves, Mets, and Marlins and scored only 8 less runs then the Marlins and Mets (25 less then the Braves). Werth and Utley have slumped, there is no denying that. But what are we usually complaining about at this time of the year? Possibly Ryan Howard's low average and strikeout numbers? Well "chur boi" Howard has (only) struck out 61 times, good for 9th most in baseball. But guess what? Out of those top 9 batters, Howard has the highest batting average by about 10 points. Utley has scored 37 runs this year, thats good for 25th in all of baseball. Werth has 37 RBI's, that ranks 31st (btw there's only 1 Met that has more, David Wright with 39, but 69 strikeouts too, ouch). I guess my point is I wish the national media would cease from freaking out every time this offense goes into a nosedive. It has happened over periods of the year in both of the last 2 seasons, they hit mid-June/July and then just start torchinggg people. Werth hit 7 HR's and 23 RBI's in July of 2009, his best month of the season. So how about we all just relax, and hope the Flyers win. If Leighton doesn't start I'm going to have a breakdown. Laviolette knows what he is doing, so I hope he makes the right choice and the flyboys come to play. They sure didnt come out prepared last game, completely embarrassing. And I'm so damn tired of that retarted Amstel Light commercial song they play after they score a goal. It is up to Pronger to stop that nonsense from being played, and he better if the Flyers have a chance at winning.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

the staff

Coming into 2010 the only major concern about this Phillies team was clearly the bullpen. Now, not only is the bullpen still a concern, but the rotation is just as much of a problem. Out is Joe Blanton and JA Happ, in is Kyle Kendrick, Jamie Moyer, and even Nelson Figueroa. The sad part is, Figueroa might be the strongest of the scrubs to make an appearance this year. Since signing Figs off of waivers from the Mets he's given us 13 solid innings, including a spot start against Arizona which he won. All Moyer has done is give up 16 runs in 24 innings. Awesome. Guaranteed contract or not, I do not understand the logic of keeping Moyer in the rotation. Granted Kendrick hasn't been that much more spectacular giving up 20 runs in 23 innings. I shutter to think what this teams record would be if we didnt have such a power packed offense. The Phils are still getting killed by the longball, giving up the 7th most in the majors (28 so far).

With Blanton due back Monday, and Happ about to start a rehab assignment, things are starting to look up. But, with both of those guys coming back a new set of problems arises. Who, of the 2 scrubs currently manning the 4th/5th slots, is going to the already weak bullpen? My prediction sees Charlie as slotting Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, Happ, Moyer. Blanton and Happ coming back also presents problems with player options. The team just sent down and recalled Bastardo in the same week after idiot Ryan Madson kicked a chair, essentially wasting one of his minor league options. I'm fairly certain that both Figueroa and Herndon are both out of options, meaning they would have to be placed on waivers and be susceptible to being claimed if they are the odd men out.

Does anyone else think its funny that I just wrote a rant about Phillies pitching and failed to mention Brad Lidge? Well ya, he's back now. So we'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

hello again

I know, I know. I've disappointed all of you. I get it. I had a slightly more important paper to write the last couple of weeks. Since I've been gone, the Flyers have thrashed the Devils, the Phils got hot and then got cold, the Birds made some HUGE moves, and the Sixers...well lets just pretend they don't exist. Because they don't.

First, its good to see the Flyers do well. I'll be the first to admit I'm not a huge hockey fan. But I do enjoy hopping on the bandwagon from time to time. Plus, I do keep up with the Flyboys for the most part. Tonight's game was very fun to watch. The Flyers completely dismantled the Devils in a game that I believe had 8 powerplays for each team. That's a lot. Especially in playoff hockey. But hey whatever, I'll take a 4-1 thrashing of King Brodeur any day.

Second, the Phils were doing their thing for a while there. Obviously, Halladay has been absolutely unstoppable. I know that a lot of people didnt get to watch him pitch much because he was stuck up in Toronto for all those years, but hopefully by now you all realize just how good this guy is. Like one of the best of all time good. And without a doubt the best pitcher the Phillies have seen since Steve Carlton. Don't give me any Curt Schilling talk he was "average" when he played for the Phils, it wasnt until we shipped him to Arizona that he actually became dominant. So bottom line, expect more of the same from the Doc. More importantly though, the back end of the bullpen is mighty, mighty scary right now. Not to mention the fact Jamie Moyer is still pitching in the major leagues. Old man river has given up 5 runs in back to back starts and only because our offense tee'd off on Nats pitching did he escape with victories. Kendrick was looking equally as bad until tonight's game (in which Ryan Madson did his best Brad Lidge impression) throwing 8 innings of shut-out ball. Hopefully this is a sign that Kendrick is settling down, at least until big bad Blanton is back.

Third, the Birds. Soooo much to say about the Birds, but its 1:30 in the morning and I should be studying for finals so I'll save an in depth look until the next time I get around to it. Bottomline, McNabb trade was fine. Don't really care that he's in the division. If you are worried that he will burn us because he's so "hyped", pop in the tape of a little game back in 2004 against the Patriots. Yea, pretty sure that was a bigger game then any regular season contest he'll play against Philly in the next couple of years, and how'd that turn out for Donny? More importantly, how'd that turn out for us? Exactly, so be happy they pulled the trigger and got a high 2nd round pick which is money in this years deep NFL draft. Also, getting Ernie Sims for a 5th rounder was a steal. I don't care what any of these experts say, contract year or not, he's already the best LB on our roster. I'm a big Stewart Bradley fan, but I'm not ready to label him a Pro Bowler especially coming off an ACL tear. They call Sims undersized, but he will be on the weakside where speed is the key anyways. Oh, and hes 235 lbs, that's really not too small. In fact, that is as big, if not bigger, then both Moises Fokou and Akeem Jordan. So anyways, extremely excited for the draft, the Birds have a bunch of picks in the first 3 rounds and it should be interesting to see how they go about it under a new GM. My guess is, in this order, D-Back D-Line O-Line. And don't be surprised if they pick a running back in there somewhere too, maybe towards the later rounds. I have my eye on that dude Hardesty from Tennessee but I have a feeling he might be gone by the time we get around it.

And yes, I'm purposely leaving out talking about the Sixers. That is until they cut/trade Lou Williams, Sam Dalembert, Elton Brand, Willie Green, and Jason Kapono. Yes, all of them.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Brown and Gocong deal

As you all well know, Sheldon Brown and Chris Gocong were shipped off to Cleveland on Friday. I've heard some mixed feelings about the deal up to this point, but if you take a closer look, I think the Eagles came out on top.

It's no secret that Sheldon Brown wanted to restructure his contract. It was something that was talked about all year long, and something that wasn't going to go away this year. It is also no secret that the Eagles don't exactly have a history of granting 31 year old players this wish. Its hard for me to say because Sheldon was one of my favorite Eagles, but I have to agree with this as a pure business decision.

This is how I look at the deal as a whole. The Eagles received a 4th Rd pick (#105 overall) and a 5th Rd pick (#137 overall) for Sheldon. From what I have heard/read, no one was willing to give anything higher then a 4th rounder for him, which sounds logical considering he is on the wrong side of 30 and had a season in which he was slowed by a reoccurring injury. Still, Cleveland is getting one of the more underrated and physical corners in the league and will absolutely be an upgrade for their defense. To compare, the Eagles picked up Ellis Hobbs last year for two 5th Rd picks in last years draft and he was a starter on that undefeated Patriots team that choked against the Giants.

Now, here is where you are probably asking yourself, who the F is Alex Hall? Great question. I'll admit, I never heard of the dude before Friday. But I did a little research and it looks like Hall might have been one of those guys the Eagles were targeting in the late rounds of the 2008 Draft (where he went to Cleveland in the 7th Rd). Hall went to St. Augustine, a small Division II school in Raleigh, North Carolina. He wasn't highly recruited coming out of high school and actually came into St. Augustine as a 6'5 195 lb defensive lineman. But, after a few years, Hall established himself as one of the best athletes in Division II football, ending his career with 26 sacks. He also grew into that 6'5 frame, entering his senior season at 250 lbs. Despite the small school, scouts took notice of his ability (4.74 40 yd dash). He was athletic enough for the Browns to play him standing up at the 3-4 OLB, but the Eagles will undoubtedly use him as a situational pass rusher off the edge in the 4-3. Personally, I'm ok with giving Hall a chance to work in our system especially if it only cost us the underachieving Chris Gocong. We spent a 3rd rd pick on Gocong, hoping to add a little extra to our pass rush, but he never lived up to his college measurables, only registering 4 sacks in 4 years. He was supplanted in the starting lineup by Moises Fokou last season and it didnt look as though he was going to win that spot back any time soon.

So basically, this is par for the course when considering Andy Reid's pick-hoarding approach to the draft. Though, it does solidify that we desperately need to address the secondary this April. As of now, it looks like the secondary will consist of Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Quintin Mikell, and Marlin Jackson. Also, I suggest everyone pay tribute to Sheldon and take a look at his hits on Reggie Bush and Stephen Jackson. God knows we'll miss that when watching Asante "attempt" to tackle anybody.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Look, scouting NFL talent is far from an exact science. That is pretty much a given. If it were an exact science then Tom Brady wouldn't have been drafted in the 6th round and Ryan Leaf wouldn't have been drafted with the 2nd overall pick. Still, that being said, most talent evaluators around the NFL have a pretty good idea what they are talking about. All of them except for one Todd McShay.

You guys remember Todd McShay right? Yea, he was that All-American QB from... Oh wait, nevermind, McShay never played a down of college football. In fact, he was a backup QB at Richmond. Yes folks, Richmond. A back injury ended his "career" and instead he started cutting film for the head coach. And my favorite part (this is a plug for all you University of Delaware alum) is that he graduated with a degree in LEADERSHIP. Ha! Leadership? You mean those study hall classes that the football players slept through, that is even if they showed up to them.

After his prominent college career was finished, McShay interned at The War Room, an independent scouting agency where apparently he was "discovered". I don't know about you, but I'm still waiting for the part where McShay has any experience evaluating talent at the pro level.
Check out this line from ESPN's bio on McShay...

"McShay is the director of college football scouting for ESPN Scouts Inc., where he has been evaluating prospects for the NFL Draft since 1998, during which time numerous NFL teams have utilized his reports."

Oh really, numerous NFL teams have utilized his reports? Funny, because according to an article on ProFootballTalk this morning, NFL scouts seem to feel just like I do...

"McShay does not have any good connections," the source opined. "Higher-ups in the league think he is an arrogant asshole. A know-it-all. And he really knows nothing. Whatever he says about a quarterback, take it to the bank, it will be the opposite. Remember, last August he stated that Jevan Snead was better than Colt McCoy and would get drafted in the top five. He has yet to publicly retract that statement.

Finally, the cat is out of the bag. McShay is as big of a d-bag as he seems on tv. Maybe I'm a little biased, admittedly I am a Mel Kiper guy. But lets be real here, when you have NFL scouts saying, "Most people at my level feel he is a joke", there has to be some truth in there. Bottom line, McShay is on tv only because he has personality and bleached blond hair (which was cool when I was 12). Not that I actually think that NFL teams prospect rankings are effected by anything he says, but you have to look at the other side of it. Some of these players are taking stock in the rankings given out by McShay, possibly thinking they are more valuable then what they really are. You can read the whole article here...

Monday, March 29, 2010

NFL Draft Mock First Round

First off, my apologies to the 3 people (and that's a generous estimate) that actually take the time to read this, I have been swamped as of late and haven't had the time to draft anything up. What better way to return then a mock draft?

1) St Louis - Sam Bradford QB Oklahoma
The Rams have to make this pick, especially after Bradford's impressive pro day on Monday putting to rest any questions about that throwing shoulder. Besides, anything is better then Kyle Boller or Keith Null
Alternate: Ndamukong Suh

2) Detroit - Ndamukong Suh DT Nebraska
This pick is going to come down to Suh or Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy. If you saw any game tape of the Big 12 championship game, you understand why taking Suh is a no-brainer here.
Alternate: Gerald McCoy

3) Tampa Bay - Gerald McCoy DT Oklahoma
The Bucs will go best player on the board here and try to bolster that once vaunted Tampa 2 defense. McCoy will be an immediate presence on a defense that had virtually no pass rush last year.
Alternate: Eric Berry

4) Washington - Russell Okung OT Oklahoma State
This pick will be decided on how much Mike Shanahan has been impressed with Jason Campbell up to this point. If Shanahan thinks he can trust Campbell then Okung is the safe bet, strengthening the offensive line with the best tackle on the board. Still, if Shanahan decides to end the Jason Campbell experiment, taking Clausen or McCoy this high would be a mistake in my mind.
Alternate: Eric Berry

5) Kansas City - Eric Berry S Tennessee
If Berry drops to KC, there wouldn't be any hesitation by Todd Haley and Co. to pull the trigger. Berry might very well be the most NFL ready player in the draft in my eyes. If only the Eagles sucked as bad as the Chiefs, I'd love Berry.
Alternate: Jason Pierre-Paul

6) Seattle - Jason Pierre-Paul DE South Florida
Pierre is a physical freak out of the Jevon Kearse mold that could cause many problems off the edge. Seattle probably has a few other positions they need to address, but they also have a second pick at 14 overall.
Alternate: Bryan Bulaga

7) Cleveland - Dez Bryant WR Oklahoma State
Cleveland's only offensive weapon is a kick returner that occasionally lines up at QB in Josh Cribbs. Seriously. That is their only opportunity to score points. Yes, Bryant has had some character issues but I think the Mike Holmgren philosophy is going to change things around Browns camp, he shouldn't be a problem.
Alternate: Joe Haden

8) Oakland - Jimmy Clausen QB Notre Dame
I bet you're thinking, "Wow, that might be the dumbest pick of all time." And you would probably be right. Hence why I have the Raiders picking Clausen, because they are the dumbest franchise of recent history. What better way to cover up your multi-million dollar mistake in fatty Jamarcus Russell then to dish out some more guaranteed money for Clausen.
Alternate: Bruce Campbell

9) Buffalo - Trent Williams OT Iowa
The only thing worse then the Bills offensive line is their QB situation. This is too early to take Colt McCoy or Tim Tebow. Although, Tebow did have dinner with Jim Kelly the other night...
Alternate: Tim Tebow

10) Jacksonville - Derrick Morgan DE Georgia Tech
I don't know a whole lot about Morgan, but the experts rant and rave about his football IQ which is always a plus. I'll take a smart player over a Jamarcus Russell/Vince Y0ung any day.
Alternate: Earl Thomas

11) Denver (from Chicago) - Arrelious Benn WR Illinois
Denver wants Dez Bryant with this pick, but they'll take the next best receiver on the board in Benn. I'd like to say this pick is contingent on Brandon Marshall leaving, but who knows, even if he stays they might want to play for the future because it seems like Marshall tries to leave Denver every offseason.
Alternate: Everson Griffen

12) Miami - Dan Williams DT Tennessee
At 6-2 327 lbs Williams is a perfect fit for the anchor of Miami's 3-4 scheme.
Alternative: Terrence Cody

13) San Francisco - Joe Haden CB Florida
Haden's stock dropped after the Combine, but he's still the best cover-corner in the draft and San Fran can't pass up the opportunity to grab him and help sure up the secondary.
Alternative: Bruce Campbell/Trent Williams

14) Seattle (from Denver) - Bryan Bulaga OT Iowa
The Seahawk's will go about rebuilding both their O and D lines in the first round grabbing Bulaga who could start right away for them.
Alternative: CJ Spiller

15) New York Giants - Rolando McClain LB Alabama
This pick is basically a lock for the Giants unless McClain gets taken early by someone else. They need to bolster the middle of their D after Antonio Pierce was released and McClain is a tank.
Alternative: Brian Price

16) Tennessee - Everson Griffen DE USC
The Titans defense took a big step back last year after losing Albert Hainesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch took off this offseason, Griffen gives them a weapon off the edge.
Alternative: Sergio Kindle

17) San Francisco (from Carolina) - Mike Iupati G Idaho
Iupati impressed a lot of people at the post-college season all star events and again at the Combine, he is the best guard prospect in the draft.
Alternative: Brandon Graham

18) Pittsburgh - Bruce Campbell OT Maryland
Even with the strong/ridiculous combine numbers, I think Campbell will slip a little bit to mid/late first round. Pittsburgh needs to revamp that line and Campbell is athletic enough to do whatever they ask him to.
Alternative: Anthony Davis

19) Atlanta - Earl Thomas S Texas
I think this is a toss up between Thomas and Taylor Mays out of USC. Thomas is being labeled one of the most instinctive players in the draft and that is exactly what you want out of a Safety.
Alternative: Taylor Mays/Jermaine Gresham

20) Houston - C.J. Spiller RB Clemson
Yes, Houston's biggest needs are absolutely on the defensive side, but I don't see them passing up yet another offensive weapon. Steve Slaton hasn't proved to be the guy yet and Spiller will bring a home run threat every play.
Alternative: Kyle Wilson

21) Cincinnati - Jermaine Gresham TE Oklahoma
I'm sure the Bengals wanted a WR at this spot after not signing T.O. or acquiring Brandon Marshall (don't rule that out yet) but Gresham is a premier TE prospect and the Bengals could use him as they would a WR to compliment Ochocinco.
Alternative: Taylor Mays

22) New England - Brandon Graham DE/OLB Michigan
Perfect fit for the Patriots, the in betweener out of Michigan has a high motor and will fit in nicely in that system to replace Adalius Thomas.
Alternative: Sergio Kindle

23) Green Bay - Anthony Davis OT Rutgers
The Packers offensive line issues were no secret last season. You have to protect the bread and butter of this team in Aaron Rodgers if you want any chance to succeed.
Alternative: Rodger Saffold

24) Philadelphia - Taylor Mays S USC
The Birds have quite a few positions they could upgrade on the defensive side of the ball, Safety is the biggest hole without a doubt. Would not in the least be surprised if Big Red Reid went offensive line here, but Mays athletic ability is hard to pass up.
Alternative: Maurkice Pouncey

25) Baltimore - Aaron Hernandez TE Florida
The Ravens were hoping Gresham dropped to them at 25 but I don't see it happening. They could still go TE here and get a really good player in Hernandez who has great hands and caught a lot of balls at Florida.
Alternative: Jerry Hughes

26) Arizona - Sergio Kindle OLB/DE Texas
Even though they just signed Joey Porter, its pretty much a given that he isnt an every down player anymore. Plus it doesnt help he just got arrested and tried to fight a cop. Idiot.
Alternative: Brian Price

27) Dallas - Nate Allen S USF
Dallas could use offensive line help here, but it would be a reach for them to snag the next best OT on the board, so they'll go to the secondary which is their next concern.
Alternative: Morgan Burnett

28) San Diego - Ryan Mathews RB Fresno State
I don't see the Chargers passing up Mathews here, there is no way Darren Sproles can carry the load of that running game the whole season. Plus, Sproles is much more effective when he gets on the field as a change of pace back which would compliment Mathews extremely well.
Alternative: Terrence Cody

29) New York Jets - Jared Odrick DE/DT Penn State
I'd like to think the Jets would take big Terrence Cody here, but I see them leaning towards Odrick who will give them a big body at DE that could even move to the inside on passing downs and get to the QB.
Alternative: Terrence Cody

30) Minnesota - Kyle Wilson CB Boise State
Either way, the Vikes are going cornerback with this pick, Antoine Winfield isn't getting any younger and they could use the depth. I'm not so sure Wilson will drop this far, but they will still be in good shape with McCourtney and Patrick Robinson still available.
Alternative: Devin McCourtney

31) Indianapolis - Brian Price DT UCLA
I'd be shocked if Indy went offense with their first pick. Still, there are some weapons out there still like Jahvid Best who's stock plummeted because of injury concerns. But, the key to Indy's defensive success is their D-Line, and the experts love Price who's a DT that can get to the QB.
Alternative: Jahvid Best

32) New Orleans - Sean Witherspoon OLB Missouri
Perfect fit for this Saints team. I've only heard good things about Witherspoon and they need an athletic OLB very, very bad. Will be interesting to see what Darren Sharper does because if he doesnt come back they now have a very large hole in that secondary.
Alternative: Eric Norwood/Sean Lee

Thursday, March 11, 2010

what do you make of the washington nationals

The Nationals had quite the busy off-season adding some veteran presence to their roster in an attempt to climb out of the NL East cellar. Now, no one is calling them a contender, but if you take a close look at what their opening day roster might look like, you could be surprised. Here's a look at what the National's did this offseason, dishing out contracts worth nearly $30 million.

  • Jason Marquis (SP)
  • Scott Olsen (SP)
  • Chien-Ming Wang (SP)
  • Matt Capps (RP/CL)
  • Ivan Rodriguez (C)
  • Adam Kennedy (2B)
  • Willy Tavares (OF)
Marquis will be their #1 starter after winning 15 games with the Rockies last year. John Lannan will likely be their #2. While only winning 9 games last year and in 2008, his ERA was below 4.0 which is nothing to be ashamed of. Wang won 19 games in back to back seasons (with an ERA below 4.0 as well) with the Yankees and if he is healthy the #3 spot is likely to go to him. The #4 spot will be Scott Olsen who had some up and down years with the Marlins but he is at the worst consistently average. Matt Capps is no bum, he has 66 saves in the last 3 seasons combined. While the #5 starter spot is technically up for grabs, the Nats have this small little investment (4 yr $15 million) made in Stephen Strasburg as well. They claim to not want to bring up him to the big leagues this season, but lets be real here, it's going to happen at some point in the season.

While their pitching has improved significantly from last year, their offense will end up being relatively similar. A full season with Nyjer Morgan at the leadoff spot will undoubtedly help their offensive production. Morgan was hidden in baseball purgatory (Pittsburgh) before coming over last year and tearing it up for half the season.

1 Nyjer Morgan (in 49 games Morgan batted .351 and had 24 stolen bases last year for the Nats)
2 Christian Guzman
3 Ryan Zimmerman (.292 BA, 33 HR, 106 RBI...Zimmerman is a stud)
4 Adam Dunn (Career high .267 BA, 38 HR, 105 RBI)
5 Elijah Dukes
6 Josh Willingham
7 Ivan Rodriguez
8 Adam Kennedy

While I don't see the Nats finishing anywhere relevant, it would not at all surprise me if this team won close to 80 games and didnt finish below .500 for the first time since 2005. I would also not be surprised at all if the Nationals finished up with a better record then both the Mets and Marlins this year. That's right, I said it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

2010 Phillies lineup preview

2010 Philadelphia Phillies
(2009 record 93-69)

*New additions*

SS: Jimmy Rollins
3B: Placido Polanco
2B: Chase Utley
1B: Ryan Howard
RF: Jayson Werth
LF: Raul Ibanez
CF: Shane Victorino
C: Carlos Ruiz

SP 1: Roy Halladay (R)
SP 2: Cole Hamels (L)
SP 3: Joe Blanton (R)
SP 4: J.A. Happ (L)
SP 5: Kyle Kendrick (R)/Jamie Moyer (L)
SU: Ryan Madson (R)
CL: Brad Lidge (R)

Greg Dobbs (Primary Pinch Hitter/1B/3B), Brian Schneider (C), Juan Castro (UTIL), Ben Francisco (OF), Ross Gload (1B), John Mayberry (OF)

Chad Durbin (R), Danys Baez (R), JC Romero (L), Antonio Bastardo (L), Jose Contreras (R), Drew Naylor (R), Sergio Escalona (L), Andrew Carpenter (R)

Key Departures from 2009 - Cliff Lee, Pedro Feliz, Paul Bako, Matt Stairs, Chris Coste, Chan Ho Park, Scott Eyre, Pedro Martinez, Kyle Drabek (prospect), Michael Taylor (prospect)

Not so relevant departures - Eric "Butters" Bruntlett (FINALLY), Clay Condrey, Chris "Chemotherapy" Coste, Tyler Walker, Jack Taschner, Rodrigo Lopez, Miguel Cairo

Extremely solid club going into 2010 and clearly the favorites to win the NL East, if not the entire National League. The Phillies are a better team then last year, and on paper even look to be a better team then the 2008 World Series Championship team. I'm going to say the season starts out with the lineup I have up top (I'd rather see Victorino and Polanco switched) but I will not at all be surprised if Charlie switches it up throughout the year. I'm a big fan of what R.A. Jr. did in upgrading the bullpen with Baez and Contreras, both are upgrades. Those of you who know me understand the deep hatred I possess for one Jack "Batting Practice" Taschner. Still, it will come down to a few things when predicting how successful the 2010 Phillies will be...

Can Brad Lidge bounce back to 2008 form (or shave that nasty goatee)?
Can Rollins discover what the word consistency means?
Can the core of the lineup stay healthy?
Can Halladay deliver in his first year in the NL?
Can J.A. Happ avoid the dreaded sophomore slump?
Can this group of players gel like the Phils of 2008? (RIP Pat Burrell)
Can Charlie Manuel keep off the weight? (Oprah couldn't)

And what I feel will be the make or break for this team...

Can Cole Hamels re-establish himself as one of the top pitchers in baseball?

I guess we'll see...

( just put out a Phillies Offseason review too so check it out)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

free agency?

My frustration can't be put into words right now. The eve of free agency has passed and not a single move has been made. Normally, this wouldnt surprise me as the Eagles organization usually keeps their dealings on the down-low, but this time is different. We are in an uncapped year with a one year window to win a championship here. I'm pretty sure Andy Reid made that pretty clear with his uncanny "Donovan's our quarterback" statement. What a clown.

Some big things better go down before or during the NFL draft for me to even have a hint of excitement for this coming season or else the Eagles will be the EXACT same team that struggled through large parts of last year and failed to defeat the Dallas Cowboys in three attempts. Not to mention every other team is getting better with the Redskins bringing in a Super Bowl winning coach and the Giants just signing the best free agent defensive back on the market.

Damnit Andy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

why draft when you can buy?

Memo to the Eagles front office:

Please, please take a serious look into former Cardinal Antrel Rolle. I understand that Taylor Mays is 6'3 235 lbs and runs a 4.3 40 yd dash, I get it. Don't be fooled. Dare I bring up Mike Mamula? Easily recognized as THE example of a "workout warrior" that impresses teams with a decent college season and phenomenal combine numbers. Ask the Jets how that Vernon Gholston move is turning out...

Antrel Rolle is precisely what the Eagles need in the secondary to compliment Quintin Mikell. Remember, he played cornerback in college for the U and returned kicks as well. This guy has a nose for the ball. He has 12 pics, 5 of them returned for a TD, in just his 5th NFL season. In 4 years at USC Taylor Mays had 5 INT (3 of them coming in his Freshman season). Rolle provides instant leadership and experience (he played 5 seasons next to Adrian Wilson in Arizona). While Mays might play as a rookie, there is zero chance he gives you the immediate production that Rolle will provide.

Will Rolle be expensive? Of course. Premier players demand premier money. But Rolle is only 27 years old and clearly entering the prime of his career. Don't spend the massive amount of money Julius Peppers will demand on a 30 year old defensive end who has been known to mimic the patented Randy Moss "I only play when I feel like it" mentality. Be smart, stop worrying about money especially in this uncapped year when everyone gets to play the New York Yankees game.

Stupid Yankees.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Underwear Olympics

First off, I love the NFL Combine. Check that, I'm obsessed with the NFL Combine. So expect a few more thoughts in the next coming days regarding what is going on with workouts as they happen. If you follow on a religious basis as I do, it has recently coined it the Underwear Olympics poking fun at Under Armour's recent takeover of combine apparel. Friday kicked off the event with weigh-in's and other measurables, giving teams the opportunity to see how the athlete's sized up as compared to their size listed on team rosters. (which is wrong 100% of the time by the way)

To start, I don't share the view popularly expressed by many in the media downplaying the combine's effectiveness at identifying talent. While I do agree that 40 yd dash times are a tad overrated, I believe the individual drills do in fact serve a purpose by giving teams an opportunity to see up close how players match up directly against others at their position. It's one thing to simply watch game film on each player, but it is another to be able to watch these athletes go through the same drills, and the same motions right next to the best of the best from around the country. This gives scouts the opportunity to weed out the "small school" or "product of a system" bias that is so often brought up when evaluating talent.

For example, I am against all of the top tier QB's refusing to throw at the combine. Many of these prospects claim they would rather throw at their pro-days because they would be more "comfortable". Bullshit. In reality, if I'm a scout, I would rather see these guys throw when they are out of their comfort zone. This is the NFL, you are only allowed to be in your comfort zone for half of the season, playing 8 home games. The other half of the season you are in hostile territory with a crowd that is consciously trying to throw you off by screaming at the top of their lungs for the entire game. Plus, if you feel as though you are the best at your position, wouldnt you want every possible opportunity to show it? I feel like these guys are so deathly afraid of having an off-day they are actually hurting themselves rather then helping. If you throw bad at the combine, then worst case scenario you have an opportunity to redeem yourself at your pro-day. Joe Flacco's combine 2 years ago is a picture perfect example of how a player can shed his label as a small school prospect and shoot up draft boards through a strong combine showing being taken 18th overall. I think that worked out pretty well for Flacco and Baltimore as well, all he did in his rookie season was take the Ravens to an AFC Championship game.

I only caught some of the Tight End pass catching drills and Offensive Line drills today, but two players made an immediate impression on me. The first being premier OL prospect Bruce Campbell out of Maryland. This 6'6 315 lb monster ran a 4.78 unofficial 40 yd dash and benched 225 lbs 34 times. In a tackle heavy field, Campbell is the 5th ranked prospect who looks to be only improving his stock so far. The next prospect to keep an eye on is Jimmy Graham, a TE out of University of Miami. Graham has received a lot of attention because he was a four year basketball player at the U before switching to football this past season. He is extremely raw but has the size, 6'6 260 lbs, and skill-set to be an asset to any team. Graham looked extremely impressive in the TE drills and could be a steal.
***UPDATE*** (Graham ran a 4.56 official time in the 40 yd dash)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

saying goodbye to brian westbrook

Wow. We all knew it was coming one of these days, but it is still hard to see the headlines. Brian Westbrook's tenure as a Philadelphia Eagle officially ended today. For those Eagles fans that are around my age, all we have ever known is Brian Westbrook. Trust me, it is no surprise that once #36 became a full time back for the Eagles, they were successful.

While he was known more for his electrifying run after catch ability then as a true every down running back, Westbrook brought much more to the field then meets the eye. He was a matchup nightmare, opposing teams were forced to recognize where he was on the field on every single play of the game, opening up opportunities for the other players to excel. How else do you explain Donovan being able to win ballgames with Todd Pinkston and James Thrash?

I could go on and on about the many things Brian Westbrook brought to this Eagles team over the last decade, but instead I'll leave you with some statistics to mull over. If you thought he was successful in the NFL, take a close look at what Westbrook did in college...

NCAA All-time leader in all-purpose yards (includes I-A and I-AA)
9,512 yards
(4,298 rushing, 2,582 receiving, 343 punt returns, 2,289 kickoff returns; 1,022 plays)
2001 Walter Payton award winner (basically the Heisman of I-AA football)

Brian Westbrook (3rd Rd 2002 draft, Villanova)
2x Pro Bowl selection (2004, 2007)
5, 995 Rushing yards (4.6 yd/carry)
37 Rushing TD's
426 Receptions
3,790 Receiving yards
29 Receiving TD's

Oh and by the way, Westbrook measured in at 5'8 200 lb and ran a 4.57 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine in 2002. Goes to show you dont have to run the fastest or be the biggest to be a great football player, Brian Westbrook showed us and the entire NFL just that.

Thanks for all the hard work Westbrook, you'll always be an Eagle to us

Monday, February 22, 2010

eagles and the draft

What are the Eagles most glaring needs in Aprils NFL Draft? I dont think it needs to be argued that their first round pick needs to be on the defensive side of the ball. The birds could use upgrades at a few spots including Safety, Defensive End (speed rusher), and Outside Linebacker.

A few mock drafts, including both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have Taylor Mays falling to the Eagles. I would be ok with bringing in a prospect like Mays. He obviously brings in unparalleled physical attributes that no other safety on the birds current roster, or anywhere else in the draft, possesses. The knock on Mays is that he had a somewhat unproductive senior season and that he struggles in pass coverage. Still, his 6'3 230 lb frame brings a physical nature to the Eagles defense that was severely lacking last season. Moreover, Demps is simply not the answer at the FS position and drafting a safety will at least add some depth to the position. But, the team will not simply be drafting for depth with their first round pick, there are bound to be some players on the board at that time that can start right away for the Eagles and my thought is that they will gravitate toward those players.

Some other players to keep an eye on if they fall to the Eagles at the 24th pick would be Sergio Kindle (OLB/DE from Texas), Brandon Graham (OLB/DE from Michigan), Nate Allen (S from South Florida), and Sean Witherspoon (OLB from Missouri). I think this years draft will be interesting for the Eagles with ex-GM Tom Heckert leaving for Cleveland and new GM Howie Roseman taking over the War Room.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

the halladay season

Check out this article on what Roy Halladay can bring to the Phils rotation, besides being a Cy Young caliber pitcher.
-thanks to Nurg-love for forwarding this on to me

Myself and Nurg had good convo the other day about possible scenarios for the Phils 5th starting spot. As of now it seems as though it is Jamie Moyer's "job to lose". However, I'm inclined to say that was a mere courtesy statement out of RAJ (Ruben Amaro Jr.) While I am not high on Kyle Kendrick, and truthfully never really have been, I am excited to see he has taken to Halladay after such a short time. Hopefully Kendrick's new found dedication secures him a spot on this roster, and more importantly gives the Phils a legit 5th starter. If not, keep an eye out for Jose Contreras who was signed to a 1 year deal this offseason. He was on-and-off last year for the WhiteSox before they released him, but he showed promise as a reliever in Colorado at the end of the year. Looks as if the Phils brought him in primarily as a reliever, but they did exactly the same thing with Chan-Ho Uglyfacialhair last year and then still gave him an opportunity to start.

Congratulations 76ers

Congratulations are due to the Philadelphia 76ers for yet another failed attempt at becoming relevant. Even despite repeated trade rumors around the league, the Sixers still found a way to keep Andre "I will never live up to the monster contract I was just given" Igoudala and Sammy "I couldn't even start for UNC this year" Dalembert on the roster. Instead, Ed Stefanski decided to get rid of the minuscule contracts of Royal Ivey and Primoz Brezek. Really? To go along with giving away 2 irrelevant players, the Sixers also got back 2 irrelevant players in rookie Jodie Meeks and journeyman Francisco Elson from Milwaukee. Not exactly the move Philadelphia fans were expecting to see. In response to doing absolutely nothing, again, Stefanski was quoted as saying, "There was nothing out there that we could've gotten back that would've helped us on the floor." WRONG. Last time I checked, ANYONE is better then the 8.0 ppg and 8.3 rpg that Sammy has put up over 8 years in Philly. Not to mention he's making $11 million this year and $12 million next year. To put it in perspective for you, that is more then Rasheed Wallace, Josh Smith, Caron Butler, Nene, and David West will all make this year. Wow. Keep up the good work Sixers, this is why only 3,000 people show up to your games.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Keep an eye on Ryan Mathews

The Fresno State Bulldogs played 13 games this year, Ryan Mathews rushed for 130 or more yards in 9 of them, going for over 200 yds on two separate occasions. Oh, and he didnt play in 2 games because of an injury. He finished the year second in the nation in total rushing yards (1,808) with a 6.6 yd avg and 19 TD's. Still not impressed? Remember that undefeated media darling Boise State who finished the year ranked #4 in the nation, Mathews had an "ok" day against them back in September going off for a mere 234 yds and 3 TD's in a 51-34 loss. Yes, in a 17 point loss when most other teams are airing it out to play catch up against a far superior team, Mathews pounded his way to the national spotlight.

Only getting 113 carries last season, Mathews flew under the radar until that Boise State game where he proceeded to rush for 140+ yards in his next 6 games. He's got the perfect build for the NFL at 5-11 220 lbs and after watching some of his clips on YouTube he shows exceptional burst when hitting the first line of defenders and is the type of runner that wont be stopped by mere arm tackles. He reminds me a little of Michael Turner when he came out of Northern Illinois and I wouldnt be surprised if San Diego snagged him with the 28th pick if they dont end up trading for a RB in the near future. If Mathews does end up slipping to the second round there's no way he falls past the Chiefs and Redskins who pick 36th and 37th respectively.