Blog 3 – The Philly Contender No One is Talking About
In a city that is home to the 2017 SB-champion Eagles, the 13 year/ 330$ million-dollar Bryce Harper Phillies, and the all-in, eastern conference favorite, “Processed” Sixers, it’s easy for the recently middling Flyers to get lost in the shuffle. The orange and black have been consistently mediocre for the past 7 seasons, making the playoffs every other year—each time resulting in a first-round exit (2013-14, 2015-16, 2017-18). The hard-core, blue-collar Flyers fan-base has remained loyal through all the ups-and-downs but has been starved of their long-awaited raising of Lord Stanley since the team last won it in back-to-back seasons—1973-74 and 1974-75—nearly 45 years ago. They came closest in the 2009-10 season, going on a miraculous run to reach the Finals but ultimately running into the offensive juggernaut, Chicago Blackhawks on the way to their first of three Cups in six seasons. Most fans will remember that season not for the Finals loss, but instead for the incredible fight and perseverance the Flyers showed in the eastern conference semifinal against the Boston Bruins, battling back from down 0-3 in the series and then overcoming a 3-goal deficit in game 7. I’ve attached a link to watch the highlights of that classic series below—definitely the best 20 minutes I’ve spent all week.
But that’s enough about the Flyers past, what we’re concerned about today is the team’s future; and as multiple members of the organization (Chuck Fletcher, Alain Vigneault) have already stated: “the future is now.” The orange and black’s roster offensively is a great mix of highly-skilled/experienced veterans (Claude Giroux, James Van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek), exceptionally talented players currently in their prime (Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes), talented players approaching their prime (Travis Konecny, Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom) and young, high-potential/high-ceiling guys (Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Carsen Twarynski, Connor Bunnaman) giving them scary-good depth. Defensively, they employ two stud, center-piece puck-movers in Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere, both on long-term deals. Over the off-season, Chuck Fletcher added two very steady/high IQ D-men in Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, and the bottom 3 (or 4) remaining spots will be hashed out between Travis Sanhiem (who’s the real deal), Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg, and Philippe Myers—I believe in that order.
And last but certainly not least, the goalie, Carter Hart. He goes by many different names—”The prince who was promised”, “The chosen one”, “The savior of the city”, “The one who was spoken about”… call him whatever you want, just know that he’s here now. He has arrived, and his presence will soon be felt all throughout the league. The Flyers finally have the true #1 goaltender they’ve been searching for ever since they let Sergei Bobrovsky slip away. If Hart is what many NHL scouts/analysts believe he could be, we’ll be watching a LOT of playoff hockey in Philadelphia, and as the St. Louis Blues and white-hot goaltender Jordan Binnington showed everyone last season by going from last place to Stanley Cup champion, all you gotta do is get into the dance, then it’s anybody’s for the taking.
The Flyers are constructed to win and to win now. They’ve brought in a coach, Alain Vigneault, who’s already been to the Stanley Cup Finals twice before with separate clubs (Vancouver Canucks in 2011, and New York Rangers in 2014) and he’ll soon add a third. I believe the Flyers will be a legitimate force in the playoffs for the next 4-5 year window… what a great time to be a Philadelphia sports fan. #GoldenAge
Blog 2 – Eagles Get Huge Win @ Lambeau
The Philadelphia Eagles improved their record to 2-2 last night with an impressive win over the formerly unbeaten Green Bay Packers. Nigel Bradham sealed the game for the Birds with an interception late in the 4th quarter off a pass breakup from unlikely hero, Craig James (who was thrust into action following injuries to Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox). The moment was spectacular. To go into the belly of the beast and steal a win from greasy mustache Aaron Rodgers—it just doesn’t get much better than that on a Thursday evening in September.
Here are my 5 takeaways from the game:
1) RBs: Miles Sanders X Jordan Howard is a LETHAL combination running behind a healthy Eagles O-Line. Miles was making plays all over the field, including on special teams. Down 10-0 early in the 2nd quarter, Sanders had a pivotal 65-yard kick return that shifted the momentum of the contest in the Birds favor. Howard did considerable damage to his familiar foe in Wisconsin, often electing to run directly at Packers’ defenders as opposed to shying away from contact. It was really something to see (reminiscent of Legarrette Blount on the 2017 SB Champion Eagles). The former Chicago Bear carried the rock 15 times for 87 yards and 2 TDs. He also logged 3 receptions for 28 yards and added another TD. Have a day, Jordan Howard.
2) Healthy Eagles receiving core = Air raid: Walk-it-to-em Wentz, as Shannon Sharpe likes to call him, was slingin’ it around per usual. Aside from a few pass breakups by Packers talented corner, Kevin King, the Cheese-Heads had no answers for the Birds’ incredibly efficient offense. Carson finished the day 16-27 for 160 yards and 3 TDs.
3) Fantasy vs. Reality: Aaron Rodgers picked the Eagles secondary apart completing 34 of 53 passes for 422 yards and 2 TDs (1 INT, 1 Fumble). Rodgers also added 46 yards on the ground on five carries. A pretty nice day for your fantasy football roster, but on the true gridiron—Not gonna cut it. When it came down to the two most crucial goal-to-go drives of the match, the Packers came up short.
4) Eagles defense barely hangs on: The Philadelphia secondary, to put it bluntly, was weak. The linebacking core, needs work (specifically Zach Brown taking dumb penalties). Truly, the only faction of the defensive unit that performed up-to-standard was the D-Line (and they’re missing two key contributors: Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan). They stuffed the run all night long, and came up with a HUGE strip sack in the 3rd quarter which allowed the Birds to go up 21-13 (FF by Derek Barnett, FR by Brandon Graham).
5) What’s the solution? The way I see it, there are only two things that could happen to improve the situation. One: The Eagles wait to get healthy and continue to employ the “next man up” until Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox, and Jalen Mills (on PUP until week 7) are able to return. OR Two: The Eagles make a move. Did somebody say Jalen Ramsey? Oh wait, I just did. #HowieSZN
We’re onto the (winless) Jets.
Blog 1 – “Unlike Nelson Agholor”
Philly sports fan, Hakim Laws, went viral this week following an interview with CBS3 in which he managed to criticize Eagles’ receiver Nelson Agholor while talking about a large apartment building fire in West Philadelphia (video attached above). According to the Philly CBS station, Laws—a military veteran and former firefighter—happened upon the fire early Monday morning (around 2 a.m.) and rushed to help those trapped inside. He told reporters that he was “catching” babies being thrown from an apartment window. He then “took the ladder off the truck” with one of his former co-workers and “raised it up to assist people down. “My man just started throwing babies out the window. We were catching them–unlike Agholor, and his mishaps, I would like to put that out there,” Laws said. Not hard to see why this video became an Instant classic.
It should be noted that criticism of Agholor and his propensity to drop the football is not a new trend in the Philadelphia sports media scene. In fact, Nelly has largely become a “whipping boy” for the Eagles’ fanbase since he was selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft by Chip Kelly. In this particular case, Laws’ remarks were in reference to Nelson’s drop and fumble in the Birds’ disappointing loss to the Lions the previous day.
NBC10 Philadelphia caught up with Laws on Tuesday to do a follow-up interview. People wanted to know what was going on in his head during the rescue and how the Eagles could have been on his mind during the undoubtedly tense moments. His response was something that I think resonated with Eagles fans everywhere, “Messed up my whole day” Laws said of the Birds’ three-point loss at home. “That was earlier the same day that happened. Maybe 12 hours or so. Less than that. Yeah, I’m going to think about that all day.”
Now, in hindsight, I think it’s important that we recognize two important PHacts about the situation. Firstly, Agholor’s response. Nelson took to Twitter with a message for Hakim: “Thank you for being a hero in the community, would like to invite you and your family to the next home game.” Class act. Secondly, Agholor was NOT the lone reason the Eagles lost on Sunday. In fact, he was one of the main reasons they were able to comeback as he scored twice in the second half. TWICE! I understand that dropped passes (and fumbles) are frustrating for fans, but the expectations being placed on Agholor individually are unreasonable. Going back through the game, I counted eight dropped passes by six different players (only one of which was from Nelly). Football is a team game, the receiving core as a whole let Carson down—Stop slandering Nelson’s name. We’re onto Green Bay.
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