Author Archives: Nick Carroll

All Not Lost in Foles Debacle

Photo via Philly.com

Photo via Philly.com

The Eagles didn’t hire Chip Kelly to replicate the Andy Reid era.

Kelly was an obvious risk. That’s why he was – and still is – debated every day and every week as we all try to decipher whether he can be successful in the NFL.

This team isn’t trying to become good. In retrospect, the Reid era was good. There were a lot of positive times but it was ultimately unsatisfying.

If the Eagles wanted a coach that can take a bad team and make it good, there were safer options to accomplish that.

Success to this team means Super Bowl.

Because the first few weeks of the season have been solid and the division is unthinkably weak, the goals of this season have drastically changed. Instead of just hoping Kelly looked like a real NFL coach, the division now seems like it’s in play.

But should that be the goal? Even if this team wins the division, it’s not a Super Bowl team. This season is still an evaluation year and a rebuilding step to what should be more successful seasons in the future.

Whether talking about the defense or his team’s offense, Kelly has often talked about this being a process. This season, above all else, is about setting up future seasons when this team could conceivably be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

That’s why Sunday’s debacle against the Cowboys might have been the best thing to happen to this team this season.

Read the rest of this entry

Whew, that was good – Ray Emery and what-should-be the 2013-14 Flyers

Ray Emery returns to the Flyers on a 1-year, $1.65M contract.
By Leech44, via Wikimedia Commons

There’s really nothing quite like the first day of NHL free agency.

Over the course of hours, the market is depleted. Twitter is abuzz with insane rumors, signings, and drama as teams try to sure up their 2013 rosters before they run out of options.

The buildup is massive. Even at the draft, groundwork is laid for what amounts to a real-world NHL fantasy draft.

The day is usually something of a marathon. Players sign intermittently throughout until about dusk, then all the intensity, passion, and emotion dissipate, leaving just reflection.

By the time I woke up Friday, news was breaking that Ray Emery was on the verge of signing in Philadelphia again.

That was it. The Flyers were done in about 30 seconds.

I hope it was as good for you as it was for me.

Read the rest of this entry

The Price is Right for Giroux and the Flyers

In the summer of 2011, I had a pretty good gig. I’d intern a few days every week, and the others I’d wake up at 2, have some cereal, and watch the Price is Right and Fresh Prince reruns on DVR until I could go play open hockey.

Basically, living the life.

I’m pretty sure I was halfway through a bowl of Cocoa Rice Krispies when I found out the Flyers traded Jeff Carter. I don’t think I made any progress on finishing it by the time I found out Mike Richards was gone, too.

When Paul Holmgren reinvented the Flyers, I spent the rest of that night sorting through questions.

My biggest inquiry was “How the hell is this team was going to score enough goals to matter without two of its most important offensive players?”

I don’t really think I was alone in asking that, either.

Less than a year later, I was toting Claude Giroux as an MVP candidate and the Flyers had no problems with their attack. Yesterday’s news officially gives closure to the Richards and Carter trades.

Now the 25-year-old Giroux is going to be a Flyer for a long time (don’t worry, he was smart enough to include a no-movement clause).

The deal is good for a well-deserved eight years and $66.2 million ($8.275 million cap hit).

I guess the reason I described it as well deserved is because of how much he did over the last two seasons in addition to the numbers.

Read the rest of this entry

Thoughts on Lecavalier, Holmgren, and the laughing stock the Flyers have (undeservedly) become

I’ve been meaning to write about the Flyers for the last week.

I had this grandiose idea that – bear with me – the Flyers have actually been secretly rebuilding for the last two seasons.

Think about it. A year after coming two games from winning a Cup, they were the Eastern Conference’s best team for the majority of the season. Then the team flamed out down the stretch and crashed in the second round of the playoffs. After that season, the team’s two pillars and arguably most recognizable players get traded in separate deals for prospects and up-and-coming assets to add to the stable of young players already on the roster.

Then, they stick with the young nucleus for two seasons and, potentially, through this offseason. Waiting for Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and the other young players to rise up and complete this grand puzzle Paul Holmgren has been assembling since he took apart the last successful group of Flyers.

I’m starting to think: “Hey, maybe Holmgren actually has an incredibly developed plan — He continues pumping this roster with young guys and acquires enough veterans and star value to appease a rabid fan base and a hands-on owner…”

Then yesterday happened and… umm, well, nevermind. We might have to reevaluate this. Read the rest of this entry

The Big Piece (of S$!%)

The second article of a three-part series on the Phillies by Nick, stats by Hank. Check out Part 1 here.

Now seems like a peculiar time to look back on the Ryan Howard contract.

Howard is in the midst of some kind of resurgence. He has hit .313 this month with 12 extra-base hits and has even walked 12 times in 23 games, all adding up to an outstanding .965 OPS.

Everyone seemed ready to declare Howard’s days as a productive player long gone. However, he might actually have something left.

That’s why I think this is the perfect time to reflect on Rubén Amaro’s biggest failure.

With three years and $75 million left on his deal (including a $10 million buyout for a fourth year), we find ourselves pleasantly surprised that Howard is contributing anything even though he will be paid like an elite player for three more seasons.

Howard signed his massive five-year, $125 million extension in April 2010. He still had almost two full seasons before he was due to hit free agency.

A drop of production should have been expected. Howard was already 30, and aside from a strong 2009, his OPS had fallen every season after his monster MVP campaign in 2006.

But following 2009, Howard’s OPS continued to fall. First it dropped from .931 to .859 in 2010, then to .835 in 2011, the last year of his prior contract.

Simply put, Howard was paid for what he did, not what he was going to do, a cardinal sin for a general manager.

Just look at the nifty chart Hank made. (Click image to enlarge)

50-game moving average of HR/100AB over MLB seasonal average (accounts for overall drop in league-wide home run production over this same period). MLB average is 0 at all points along graph. At the time this plot was made, Howard had dropped to just above total league average for all players despite playing a power-hitting position.

Howard may be hitting well now, but make no mistake, he was paid to hit the long ball. Howard’s home run production had been declining for years, well before he signed this contract. Even at the time he signed it, it was easy to see this extension was a major mistake.

Read the rest of this entry

Rise and Fall with Rollins and Utley

Part 1 of a three-part series by Nick Carroll, with stats by Hank. Find Part 2 here. Click to enlarge all graphs below.

50-G Moving Avg Runs v MLB Avg

50-game moving average of Phillies runs scored compared to MLB seasonal averages (this was done in order to account for overall drop in league run production over this span). MLB Average is 0 for all points on this chart. Philly’s offense has become more inconsistent over last several seasons, while also dropping well below league average.

When Harry Kalas was singing “High Hopes” and Brett Myers and company was celebrating on the field at Citizens Bank Park on a Sunday afternoon in September 2007, something seemed to change in Philadelphia baseball.

The oft-downtrodden Phillies had reason to celebrate, and seemingly out of nowhere.

We all know the story. After the Phils overtook the New York Mets, they began an unprecedented run in team history.

They followed up with a World Series which was almost as unexpected and made another spirited run before falling two games short.

Two more years of substantial win totals came with disappointing playoff runs, but, at the very least, the Phillies put their stamp on a certain era of Major League Baseball, something this franchise had only done one other time – in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

I’ll admit I often fall into the trap of thinking that it all began on that Sunday afternoon when the Phillies finally overtook the Mets (or the Mets completed their collapse, either way). In reality, the wheels had been in motion for a decade.  Read the rest of this entry

Video: Chip Kelly’s Oregon Offense – Can It Work for the Eagles?

There’s no one more annoying than that kid that runs the same plays over and over again in Madden. What’s worse is when those bullshit plays actually work. If you call a defense to stop one of the plays, he has a counter. It may seem simple, but it’s destructive, and you have no chance at ever winning.

Well, Chip Kelly is that kid, and he’s the Eagles’ coach whether we like it or not.

His offense at Oregon was not particularly complicated and it eviscerated most college defenses. With a variety of read options and screens, Kelly’s offense was easily adaptable and constantly created mismatches.

Obviously this move is controversial considering Kelly has no NFL experience and uses all these gimmicks at such an inferior level, with Heath Evans leading the charge against such lunacy.

Surely no coach would ever use such a Mickey Mouse offense against the best of the best in the NFL.

Well, now that I think about it, maybe one or two would… watch this video Hank helped me put together. Seriously. If you think Chip Kelly’s system can’t work at the NFL level, watch and explain to me why.

Produced by Hank Mushinski, Analysis and Commentary by Nick Carroll. The reproduction of game footage herein is for educational purposes only.

Read the rest of this entry

So How Do I Get to Sochi?

Anybody else notice how every NBC-owned network wouldn’t shut up about the Olympics last night? Well, apparently the 2014 Winter Olympics are going to start exactly one year from today.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but didn’t Canada just recover from getting Ryan Miller’d?

While we usually focus on the great city of Philadelphia here, we also like America. Combine that with my obsession with international hockey and I’m already thinking about what the U.S. could be sending to Sochi, Russia.

Since the 2010 Olympics, U.S. hockey has two Junior Hockey Golds and the last two Conn Smythe winners. This team could be even better than the 2010 squad. Read the rest of this entry

Timonen Coming Back and What That Means

Kimmo Timonen has always done his best work under the radar.

When the Flyers acquired Timonen in June 2007, most fans expected the 5-foot-10, 194-pound Timonen to provide flash. He was supposed to be the offensive spark that the team missed for years.

Timonen never reached 50 points like he did in his last two seasons with Nashville, but he did become the Flyers’ rock. Read the rest of this entry

The Next JVR?

Nobody ever looked so good walking out the door

I realize I’ve become the scorned ex.

I can’t help but feel constantly let down. Life used to be better.

Sure, things haven’t always been great, but they weren’t that bad.

We had some great times. It used to be so exciting.

Maybe I’m the one that screwed up.

Would things have gotten better if I didn’t do anything?

Damn, I hate you JVR.

Yeah, I’m talking about the former Flyer and second overall pick. Every night I stalk his Toronto box scores. It appears like he’s totally got things together. From the looks of it, he’s having a great time leading a bad Toronto team to 5-5. Maybe he finally got around to working it out in those tough areas of the rink we were always nagging him about. He really looks good.

Sigh.

Last night, James van Riemsdyk scored twice and earned the first star for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who beat the Washington Capitals for the second time in a week. JVR now has six goals, tied for seventh-best in the NHL.

Is he finally reaching that potential he flashed when he scored seven goals in 11 games in the 2011 playoffs? Did the Flyers really give up on him a year later, after an injury-plagued season limited him to 11 goals in 43 games last season?

Even with JVR giving the front office some serious sellers’ remorse, are the Flyers really about to do the same thing againRead the rest of this entry

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