Ronald Darby or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust Howie Roseman

Ronald Darby or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust Howie Roseman

In the last 24 hours the Philadelphia Eagles have played a preseason game, rookies Mack Hollins and Derek Barnett became Hall of Famers, Howie Roseman traded for Lito Sheppard 2.0 and Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for 6 games by the league.

First let’s get to the Zeke suspension. The league loves the Dallas Cowboys. They draw in crazy ratings and owner Jerry Jones has a major influence over other owners. Roger Goodell works for the owners and this isn’t a decision he made lightly. Ezekiel Elliott probably deserved an even bigger punishment and the Cowboys front office should probably just let this go.

Right now Zeke is threatening to appeal, which could lead to a long legal process, but delay the suspension. The problem appealing and possibly suing the league that all the evidence could be made public and it could turn into a PR nightmare for the team.

The league didn’t come to this decision because of just testimony from one witness. Elliott and Jones really need to let this one go, deal with the suspension and learn from it, but we all know that isn’t happening.

The Eagles got aggressive Friday morning and got a proven starting cornerback to pair with Jalen Mills. They sent their 2018 3rd round pick and slot receiver Jordan Matthews for Buffalo Bills corner Ronald Darby.

Two things lead to this trade. One, Patrick Robinson has looked awful in practice and two, Rasul Douglas isn’t ready to be a starter and may not be until year two at the earliest.

Pro Football Focus ranked Darby as the 8th best corner in 2015 and 66th last year. He’s a pure speed corner who has shown outstanding growth in run support. He’s still a little raw jamming at the line and with his footwork, but he’s definitely a capable starter. The Eagles are still incredibly young, but they have four corners with a ton of potential, and all are on cheaper rookie contracts through at least 2018(2019 for Mills, 2020 for Douglas and Jones).

Now onto the actual preseason game. Carson Wentz was outstanding on his only series. He marched the Eagles down the field, despite getting very little protection and help from his run game. He was also missing his top three receivers, starting right guard and all-everything back Darren Sproles.

Mack Hollins looks like the real deal. He caught the ball naturally, something he didn’t do much in college, and he was dangerous after each catch. He has 4.4 speed and the strength to shove defenders off him as he did on his touchdown.

Derek Barnett was dominant against 2016 second round draft pick Jason Spriggs at left tackle. He bent, used his hands well and blew him away with natural speed. He’s going to do a ton of damage off the edge with more space in sub-packages.

Jalen Mills was also outstanding against the Packers. He looks the part and if Darby picks up the defense quickly over the next 4 weeks then we can stop worrying about the secondary.

I wouldn’t take away much else from the first preseason game. The Packers went blitz heavy, which is super rare for a preseason game. My guess is the offense wasn’t prepared for that and it totally disrupted the game plan. Most defenses are pretty vanilla before the regular season. If the offensive line struggles again against Buffalo(yeah that’s right, they face Jordan Matthews 6 days after the trade) then I would start to panic a little bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philadelphia Eagles Preseason Week 1 Preview: 15 Players to Watch

Philadelphia Eagles Preseason Week 1 Preview: 15 Players to Watch

So let me start off by saying I am not at training camp . If you want to read detailed training camp reports, go check out bleedinggreennation.com, they do an amazing job. What I do here on my site is I read, watch and soak up as much info as I can get a hold of from the camp practices and I use that as a guide during the actual preseason games.

If I keep hearing about a player lighting it up or getting torched in camp, I want to see if that translates in an actual game. Watching a wide receiver torch a defensive back in a one-on-one drill in practice is one thing, but doing it on actual plays in a real game against a unfamiliar team is a whole other dimension.

I picked 15 Eagles player to keep an eye on during the first preseason game. 7 of the 15 are either wide receivers or defensive backs, the two biggest weak spots on this team last season. Most of the players on this list are getting rave reviews in practice, but one veteran is having an awful summer and may go from projected starter to victim of the first round of cuts.

It’s a really fascinating group of 15 and none of these guys are locks to start or have major roles early in the season. They all have a ton to play for over the next month.

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Tankadelphia: The Four Year War

Tankadelphia: The Four Year War

When I was a kid I was a sports video game fanatic, specifically tinkering with every team’s roster. I’ve been a wannabe GM since the NBA Live with Mitch Richmond on the cover game out(NBA LIVE ’97 PC EDITION!!!). It used to drive my dad crazy watching me play on our only tv every Saturday morning. “Just play a damn game!” he’d yell as I rebuilt a random team’s roster for 2 straight hours. It get much worse as NBA and NFL games came out with franchise modes that included drafts.

The Sixers teardown and rebuild was right up my alley and I was all-in the second they traded Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and Dario Saric. Not only do I love studying drafts and talking about rebuilding a roster, but the thought of being stuck as a middle of the road team for an entire decade makes me ill. I want to see the teams I root for and invest in either competing for titles are taking the appropriate steps in order to do so.

What the Sixers did 4 years ago up through the 2017 NBA Draft is vindication for every Process Truster. The team isn’t overloaded with centers and desperate for guards anymore. There is depth everywhere, the players they have project to fit very well together on the court and they still have at least one future lottery pick from another team.

Here is my review on the Sixers 2017 draft class which should end the need for tanking and immediately begin the era of winning:

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Randy’s 2017 NBA Draft Big Board: Lottery Edition

Randy’s 2017 NBA Draft Big Board: Lottery Edition

The Philadelphia 76ers enter a crucial offseason this summer. They have acquired the players to build around in Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, now they just have to correctly build around them. The rebuild is almost complete, but they still need to find the appropriate fits around their future stars in order to graduate from the tanking stage and enter in to the develop and compete stages.

What the Sixers have now is a center who can dominate games at times, a slashing point forward with outstanding passing skills and a combo forward who is also an outstanding passer. The Sixers desperately need shooters and a secondary ball handler to pair with Simmons. The shooters will space the court enough that Simmons and Embiid can do a lot of damage in the paint while also creating open shots for other shooters.

Simmons is a similar player to what LeBron was coming out of high school. A point foward with great size, athleticism and passing ability, but not a natural shooter. In LeBron’s first stint with Cleveland he shot over 50% just once, in his final season before taking his talents to Miami. In the 7 seasons since(4 with Miami, 3 with Cleveland) he has shot over 50% in 6 of the 7 seasons. He has been surrounded with shooters since the 2010-2011 season. They properly space the floor allow for more driving and kick-out opportunities and less bad shots for LeBron.

The Sixers front office needs to build in a similar fashion. Loading the roster with shooters is key for the growth of both Embiid and Simmons and will lead to a much more efficient offense in 2017-2018. This had a big impact on how I ranked the top 14 prospects in this year’s draft class. That doesn’t mean I ranked a slower player who can shoot over someone like Josh Jackson, who is a great athlete but not a great shooter at this point, but the better shooters in this draft who also move really well were ranked higher than they might be on other boards.

I also put a premium on ball movement and defense. The goal here is to win a championship and that starts with proper ball movement and defense. Players like Russell Westbrook and James Harden are fun to watch, but they are both defensive liabilities and consistently dribble the air out of the ball on every possession.

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Philadelphia 76ers Swap to Number 3 Pick in 2017 NBA Draft

Philadelphia 76ers Swap to Number 3 Pick in 2017 NBA Draft

Back in 2015 the Philadelphia 76ers took on the contracts from the Sacramento Kings of Carl Landry and Jason Thompson in a very bizarre trade. The Sixers sent two international players(who haven’t played in the NBA yet) and also received former lottery pick Nik Stauskas. What makes this trade so relevant is that the Sixers were also awarded the rights to swap first round picks with the Kings in the 2016 and 2017 drafts.

In the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery, the Sixers had the fourth best odds, but fell to the 5th pick. They were bailed out with the pick swap because the Kings won the lottery and were awarded the 3rd overall pick, thus enabling the pick swap. They will pick after Boston(thanks Brooklyn, idiots) and the Lakers who pick first and second.

Because Sam Hinkie was the GM always willing to take on more expensive contracts in trades in exchange for future draft picks, the Sixers have a top 3 pick this year, but it doesn’t end there. Because the Lakers received a top 3 pick, they will receive a unprotected Lakers first round pick in 2018 and a Kings unprotected first round pick in 2019.

The Sixers will be adding a top 3 prospect to a roster that included Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid. It’s safe to say the tanking era is over and the compete for playoff seeds is about to begin.

Here is a look at who the Sixers could target with the third overall pick:

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Elijah Qualls Post-Draft Film Study

Elijah Qualls Post-Draft Film Study

Elijah Qualls was a really tough player to evaluate on tape. Washington used him all over their line, as a 3 tech, 5 tech, nose tackle and stand up rusher. Sometimes he really flashed and got into the backfield quickly, other times he was taken out of the play pretty easily.

Qualls is 6’0, 311 pounds which means he’s a bigger tackle without much length, which would explain why he fell to the 6th round. 3-4 defenses weren’t interested because he lacks the strength to be a nose tackle and the length to be a 5-tech defensive end. He also lacks the power to be a two-gap player which really narrowed down his fits to one-gap 4-3 defenses.

I wanted to get excited about his upside, but I saw a 311 pound player who plays like he is 285 who also lacks that quick first step. His technique was all over the place and when he played too high, he got blown out of the play pretty quickly.

He is pretty agile for his size, which does give me hope that Jim Schwartz can develop him into a decent rotational tackle. He loves to attack with his spin move, which will give interior linemen fits at the next level if he can develop the rest of his game.

At this point I am still down on Qualls, despite this scheme being the best possible fit for his game. I don’t think he is one of the five best defensive tackles on this roster right now and there is still a possibility that the Eagles either trade for another tackle or sign another team’s released veteran.

Nate Gerry Post-Draft Film Study

Nate Gerry Post-Draft Film Study

With their seventh pick in the 2017 NFL Draft the Philadelphia Eagles took a 218 pound safety with the confidence that he could play linebacker at the next level. It’s a strange thought made by football people much smarter than I am, yet I have little hope for this working out.

Gerry was a nice college player, but he was an average athlete who seems to be maxed out physically. He’s already 218 pounds and he looks pretty jacked up when you see him in person. His frame doesn’t suggest that he can gain 10-20 pounds without losing a lot of speed. In theory he could bulk up to 230, but he’d still be a bit undersized for the position and he’d probably end up becoming one of the slowest linebackers in the league.

Special teams is going to be his best shot at making a 53 man roster. This coaching staff has shown that they value backups who thrive in that phase of the game and they will find a spot if Gerry shows value there.

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