Too Soon?

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USA Today’s 2017 Sixers Prediction

38 wins. Yikes. That ain’t right.

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The Most Annoying Eagles Post This Week

This is probably going to be the most annoying Eagles post or article you read all week. It’s definitely the most annoying I’ve written in recent memory.

It basically goes like this….slow your Eagles roll. Keep your Eagles expectations in check. Remember the history and pain of the past before reserving your Super Bowl hotel room in Minneapolis. Remember last year’s 3-0 start.

Why? Because as we covered last previously, low expectations make for happier people. Because of this:

Giants 0-5
Chargers 1-4
Redskins 2-2
Cardinals 2-3

That makes the winning percentage of the teams the Eagles have beaten a whopping .263 (5-14). Last year, when the Eagles were 3-0, they had beaten teams with a combined winning percentage of .222 (2-7) after the first three weeks of the 2016 season.

The Redskins are okay. The Giants blow. The Chargers blow slightly less. The Cardinals suck without David Johnson. Their only two wins this year have been against the Andrew Luck-less Colts and the 49ers and they needed overtime for both of those wins.

The Eagles are a better team than last year. They have far more talent. Doug Pederson has the team playing at a high level. Carson Wentz looks better each week. They’ve played bad teams and they’ve won, which is not always easy to do. However, I’m staying cautiously optimistic to avoid a heartbreaking drop off a cliff.

This week’s game against Carolina is probably the toughest test to date, especially with the shortened week. If they come out with a win in Carolina on Thursday night, I’ll probably be reserving a room in Minneapolis. Until then, take the 4-1 for what it’s been…fun.

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A Great Day in Philly

via @bensimmons25

I couldn’t feel much better. I just finished a three-day cleanse where I ate only mung beans/rice/spices (kitchari), apples and water and added in a little castor oil on day two to clean out the old digestive pipes. But that’s just the beginning.

Do you feel it? The tide has changed. The sun is shining at the end of the dreadful losing tunnel. Philadelphia is on the upswing.

The PHILLIES youth movement looks promising. We all know they are still two years away from making a real push, but it appears as though we got a .500 or better team on the horizon. Are the Phils spending money next year? Yes, just not on players according to team President Andy MacPhail. They’re gonna upgrade the ballpark and improve the fan experience. If that has to happen and is a cash drain, I’m fine doing it next year when they don’t have the pitching to make a run. Next year will be fun to watch. 2019 we’ll have a sparkly, improved ballpark with a team that should be in Playoff contention with the core they have now and few, smart additions.

The EAGLES are in first place. The QB looks legit, not great, but he’s a keeper. They should be in Playoff talks with the stretch of home games coming up. The Giants are 0-4.

The FLYERS opened the season in San Jose and they looked great. They look fast. When is the last time a Flyers team looked fast? People are already rumbling that they need some muscle at the blue line and a bopper. Those folks may be living in the past. These youngsters are still a year or two away from being contenders, but they are definitely heading in the right direction. This is a team with five rookies dressing who went into San Jose, lost a 2-0 lead, and didn’t lose their confidence. They battled back to win. If only they’d get a clue on the goal songs. The Madison Mars track isn’t working and Tampa Bay uses it too, I think. Everyone loved Bro Hymn, but that’s the Ducks. This isn’t that difficult folks. Anyway, the Flyers on the ice are an up-and-comer.

This brings us to the SIXERS. Ben Simmons looked ridiculous last night in the first preseason game. I’ve seen enough. Rest that dude until the regular season. He’s got vision on par with the best passers in the game. He gets to the rim at will and with ease, which makes the defense collapse and allows kick-outs to wide open teammates. Was his assist to turnover ratio 9:1? He’s a very special player and we don’t need any analytics on that. He’s an eye-test guy all the way. Rest him and work on that shot.

Fultz is another story. Fultz’s shot will drop. It was his first game. He had to be tight. The more concerning issues with Fultz are the tendencies we discussed here around draft night. He’s lackadaisical on defense with mediocre intensity. He may have been able to turn it on in the PAC12, but that doesn’t work at the NBA level. He’s always struggled a bit finishing at the rim and I think the contact of the NBA has exacerbated that a bit. And, his off-the-ball movement on offense looks lazy.

Let’s not forget about Jahlil Okafor. Vegan diet and weight loss looks to have paid off a bit. He looked quicker and far more fluid. Dude put up 13 points and SIX REBOUNDS!

With that said, Simmons looks like a guy who is gonna live up to the hype.

Oh, and Merriam-Webster, the dictionary folks, did a piece on “jawn” on word they’re watching. They may end up adding it to the dictionary in the future. That jawn would be a lot cooler if they did.

It’s all good in Philly. Enjoy the full moon of today, the beautiful weather, and give the universe a little gratitude on where we are today compared to where we were three years ago.

 

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ARE THE FLYERS MAKING THE PLAYOFFS?

Today marks the beginnings of another NHL season. The Flyers find themselves full of young, up-and-coming talent and coach Dave Hakstol should be ready to roll in his third year behind the bench in the NHL. There’s a lot to look forward to with this year’s squad.

Nolan Patrick, for starters. It’s been years since a player with his hype has worn the orange and black. Ivan Provorov is the real deal. He’s only 20 and is by far the Flyers best defenseman. Will he become a Norris Trophy contender in his second year? There’s Konecny, Morin, Sanheim and other players to watch develop. Granted, MacDonald is still here, but let’s not focus on that.

With all the excitement entering the NHL season, what is a realistic expectation for this years Flyers squad? Is it the playoffs? 45 wins?

To put the season in perspective, we looked at what some of the “experts” thought about the Flyers going into the season.

Vegas has the win total listed at 38 wins at -130. The -130 is a good sign. Vegas thinks it’s more likely than not that the Flyers exceed 38 wins so you have to risk $130 to win $100.

How about point totals? The book I use currently has the point total at 90.5 for the Flyers and the over at -125 while under is -105. Again, Vegas is leaning towards the Flyers exceeding 90.5 points.

Nice. Vegas seems to think the Flyers will be right around .500 this year. That’s decent for a young, developing squad.

How about the Playoffs?

YAHOO’S Puck Daddy does not have the Flyers making the Playoffs. He has Columbus and the Rangers as the wildcards.

CBS SPORTSNET does not have the Flyers making the Playoffs.

TSN does not have the Flyers making the Playoffs, but they do think Couturier will have a 50 point season.

NHL.com had their 17 staff writers pick their Playoff predictions. One writer, Rob Vollman, has the Flyers making the Playoffs as a wildcard with Carolina.

The Hockey News has the Flyers finishing 6th in the Metropolitan and missing the Playoffs.

The Flyers will be in the playoff hunt, but most likely miss in a deep Metropolitan Division. Goaltending will still be an issue and probably the team’s undoing in the end. (THN)

That pretty much sums up every NHL 2017 prediction we could find. The overwhelming majority do not see the Flyers making the Playoffs, but should improve from last year. And, you know what we say about those predictions in Philly….F*CK’EM!

This is gonna be a fun year. Maintain realistic expectations of a borderline Playoff team and enjoy the kids developing. They’re still a year away from being legit, but stranger things have happen. TRUST THE HEXY.

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Dougie Do Right

We’ve heard the critics. He can’t call a game. He worries about analytics too much. He has no feel for the game. He throws the ball too much. He’s too aggressive on fourth down. He’s gonna get Carson Wentz killed. He’s dumb and so on and so on. I’ve even chimed in, particularly on the goal line play calling this past week.

Well, Doug Pederson just gave us all a huge helping of SHUT THE F*CK UP!

This may have been Doug’s coming out party.

The Eagles were supposed to lose this week against the Chargers. Vegas had them as an underdog against an 0-3 team. The Eagles were coming off an emotionally draining and exciting last-minute win against Divisional foes the New York Giants. Then, they had to go cross-country. Everything was set up for a let down. And, in the face of all of that adversity, Doug Pederson rallied the troops and called his best game of his coaching career.

In case you haven’t noticed, here is how the Eagles offense stacks up against the rest of the league.

-The Eagles rank #2 in the NFL in total yards with 1570 yards, behind only New England’s 1695.

-The Eagles rank 11th in Total Passing Yards with 998 passing yards WHILE being tied with the Denver Broncos for 2nd most total rushing yards in the NFL with 572 yards. Only Jacksonville has more rushing yards at 595.

-The Eagles Total Points of 103 ranks as the 6th most points in the NFL.

-The Eagles have converted 51% of their 3rd downs. That ranks second in the NFL behind the Carolina Panther’s 52%.

-The Eagles lead the NFL in Time of Possession/Game with 35:29.

Even with offensive statistics among the top in the NFL, Jim Schwartz’s defense tends to garner more praise. That’s to be expected. Philly loves defense and the Eagles are a top 11 defense in most categories.

Doug seems to be doing most everything right and the players play for him. The could have and should have come out flat against the Chargers and they didn’t. That’s a testament to Doug Pederson. Sure, he’s gonna have his bonehead moments. He’s a second year coach with no real head coaching experience.

For now, shut up and enjoy the season before making a judgement on whether Doug is right for this team or now because, for the time being, he’s Dougy Do Right. Enjoy it while it lasts. The Eagles are 3-1, in first place, and favored by almost a touchdown vs. the Cardinals next week.

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Rhys Hoskins Doppleganger?

Is it me or does Rhys Hoskins look like the dude from Scream, Matthew Lillard?

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ANALYTICSGATE: The Eagles 4th & 8

Doug Pederson saying his decision to go for it on 4th & 8 from the Giants 43-yard line at the end of the first was based on his in-game discussions with Ryan Paganetti, currently a linebackers coaching assistant is bothersome.

Ryan Paganetti worked briefly as an analyst with the Eagles for a couple of years after graduating from Dartmouth with a degree in Economics. So, there’s that. There’s no way to know if he is any good at analytics. It’s not as if he was brought in from Google or another tech company startup where he had considerable success. It appears, from linkedin, that the Eagles were his first gig out of college. This begs the questions, if he was so good with the analytics why is he now part of the linebackers coaching staff?

via linkedin

When the Eagles first jumped into the analytics world, they hired Alec Halaby, an English major and Economics minor from Harvard, who did two different stints as an intern with the Eagles. He’s been promoted a few times and now serves as Vice President of Football Operations and Strategy. Halaby obviously proved himself in the analytics world and now holds a substantial role within the organization and seems to be Howie Roseman’s go to guy for crunching data on players. He also looks like he’d play a mean game of World of Warcraft.

Why isn’t Halaby the one Doug consults?  If Doug is consulting anyone for in-game decisions, shouldn’t it be the head of Football Strategy?

Which brings us to the real issue, consulting analytics to make in-game decisions with a play clock running, personnel substitutions being made, play charts being consulted. Yes, there is a New York Times 4th Down Bot that can be consulted, which Jimmy Kempski wrote about here. And maybe, analytically speaking, it was the right decision.

However, many factors not accounted for in analytics take place during football games such as the Giants being 0-2, momentum, crowd, injuries on either side of the ball, emotions, etc.

All of that should be read and observed by the head coach when he makes any decisions once the game starts. Great coaches, like great poker players knowing when to bluff or when someone is bluffing, rely on their own feel and instincts more than analytics once the game begins.

Is Doug Pederson a great coach? Hard to tell this early in his career. But, if he’s gonna be a great coach he is going to need to develop the confidence to trust his own judgement and instincts to make calls instead of numbers and trends.  There are variables that numbers cannot quantify and I’d be more comfortable if Doug relied on his decades of experience in the NFL instead of young guy crunching some stats.

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Doug Pederson Could Learn from Jim Bob Cooter

I remember watching pieces of last week’s Lions and Cardinals game on the Red Zone Network during commercial breaks of the Eagles and Redskins game. During one series of pitiful running attempts the analyst made mention of how committed the Lions were to the run game, even though it wasn’t working, forcing the Cardinals respect the run.

The Lions trailed the Cardinals for 3 quarters, but kept mixing in runs here and there. The Lions ended up rushing the ball 21 times for 52 yards. That was almost 33% of the Lions plays. Not exactly balanced, but they did enough to keep the Cardinals honest. For those keeping score at home, that’s a whopping 2.47 yards per carry.

Against the Chiefs, the Eagles ran the ball 13 times, about 19% of their plays, for a similar 52 yards for an average of 4 yards a carry. That’s 62% better than the Lions attempts vs. the Cardinals, yet Pederson pretty much abandoned the run because he said it wasn’t “good enough.”

Pederson’s not good enough was far better than the Lions a week earlier. The Lions stayed with their atrocious running game and ended up coming back to win the game in the 4th quarter. The Eagles abandoned their mediocre running game and lost. Coincidence?

Maybe Pederson should watch that week 1 Lions/Cardinals game and take a couple of things away from Jim Bob Cooter.

1. Wear a hat instead of a visor.

2. Stick with the running game even if it’s not working.

Something tells me we’ll see a good amount of Blount this week. I’ll set the over/under on Blount rushing attempts at 12.5.

 

 

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Alshon Jeffery Came Up Small & Other Eagles/Chiefs Observations

Alshon Jeffery is listed as 6’3″. Eric Murray #21 on the Chiefs is listed  at 5’11”. Somehow, Murray got over Jeffery to tip the last ditch Hail Mary play at the end of the game and it wasn’t even close. Murray’s deflecting hand is at least ten inches higher than Alshon’s outstretched hand.

So, is Alshon shrinking? How does a 5’11” guy out-jump a 6’3″ guy? Terrible positioning for sure. Alshon might want to reach out to Joel Embiid for some boxing out and rebounding tips.

Daniel Sorensen may have had the play of the game when he launched himself into orbit to make a play on Wentz.

The FOX crew found a woman apparently in the middle of a sunglasses photo shoot during the game.

The Eagles offensive line struggled at times, like this play where five Eagles couldn’t block three Chiefs.

I want to get a beer with this woman. She looks like she’ll crush us all in beer bongs AND she’s totally down with going to a football game with a person wearing a gorilla costume and jersey. Seriously, who has a wife or girlfriend that would put up with that while pounding a Coors Light in a Koozie?

I never took Andy Reid as a fashion icon, but apparently his look is all the rage in Kansas City.

Ed Rendell looking sharp as hell on Eagles Postgame Live on CSN Philly. Is that Hugo Boss that he’s wearing?

Not related to the Eagles, but these dudes in Seattle clearly had the best beards of the day. I’m surprised they found time for the game. I figured they’d be glued to that new Hillary Clinton book. The guy in the middle is like the beard-less drummer of ZZ Top

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