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Sunday Recap: Eagles Wake Up vs Jags, Show Team Identity

sprolesLet me start by saying that if you’re reading this post CONGRATULATIONS! You didn’t throw yourself off of a bridge prior to the second half of yesterday’s game! Thank you for sticking with us!

When reflecting on yesterday’s game I can’t help but think that this was the best possible outcome for the Birds. The first-half thrashing by Jacksonville was a fitting calibration for the team and fans alike as we move from the inflated expectations of the offseason into the reality of the NFL.

Some of the major points of emphasis?

1. Nick Foles is by no means a god. He was miserable and then he got worse before balancing out in the second half. Errant throws, holding on to the ball, and underwhelming with his deep power. This kid still has a lot to work on. He’s by no means a star.

2. The secondary is still a major point of concern. Cary Williams specifically was awful as he was regularly torched by an undrafted rookie wide receiver. Malcolm Jenkins also bit on a screen that led to a touchdown. Then you consider that the team’s best defensive playmaker in Brandon Boykin was sidelined because of personnel packages and my confidence wanes. They have a lot to prove this year.

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Game Day: (M***** F******* YEAH!)

NFL_LOGO

The wait is finally over. All of the preseason news about nothing, the trash talking about you inevitably miserable fantasy team, the Sundays spent being productive come to a screeching halt at 1pm. Rejoice! You’ve lived to see another Sunday of NFL football!

Through the rest of the season I’ll make sure to provide what to watch for for the Eagles, but for now I’d like to make a season overview.

My predictions of the Eagles, the division, and beyond:

  • Assuming the team stays healthy, the Eagles go as far as its defensive line. They’re the true X-factor. 
  • Eagles go 10-6 carried mostly by a weak division.
  • Sproles runs the ball more than you think. Perhaps three to five times a game.
  • Mychal Kendricks makes no such leap that people have suggested. He stays middling. 
  • The Giants will be the second best team in the division with an 8-8 record.
  • Dallas has 6 wins this season. Jason Garrett is finally put out of his misery and allowed to find a real job.
  • Nick Foles proves to be stable (not amazing, but solid). He’ll be extended for $14 million a year for four years.
  • Also, the Eagles had 98 passing plays and 24 rushing plays of 20 yards or more last year. That number drops quite a bit.
  • Washington goes 7-9, DeSean makes a middling impact (~950 yards, 6 TDs) and he makes news being an asshole.
  • The Packers lack of defense leaves them as an average team. Chicago takes the NFC North.
  • Carolina falls off of a cliff. 12-4? Never again. In fact, they don’t make the playoffs.
  • Why? Three NFC West teams make it in. 
  • The Saints go to the NFC title game. Last season no longer matters, San Fran is creeping downhill.
  • Ray Rice has a pretty solid season. The team won’t but Rice gets over 1,400 total yards despite the suspension.
  • Riley Cooper is benched for Matthews heading into the Arizona game, which follows a bye.
  • The guy you kill yourself for skipping over in fantasy football? Knowshon Moreno
  • The guy you totally overdrafted? Andre Ellington
  • I’m in seven fantasy leagues this year. I will win at least two. Yeah, I said it.
  • This entire season is nothing but waiting for Denver and Seattle to meet again. Just being honest.
  • Even if Denver wins the Super Bowl this year, Peyton Manning comes back next season. He can’t step away.
  • The Houston Texans will be a playoff team this year and Chip Kelly’s name will be entwined with Bill O’Brien for the forseeable future.

Agree? disagree? Let me know!

NFL Changes Domestic Abuse Policy Out of Self Interest

GoodellIf you are an NFL player that gets into a domestic dispute, you will be suspended six games. If you do it again, you’re banned FOR LIFE. It’s a wildly popular new policy. It’s also a complete fraud.

The only reason that a new rule was created is related directly to the fact that Ray Rice is a star player that was caught in the act on film. If it had not been for that video this case, while disappointing, would have been just another day in the NFL. Since 2008 there have now been 14 different instances of players getting arrested for domestic violence, though not all were charged.

When you consider that the NFL stepped in at all it’s a bit of an anomaly. Out of those 14 who were charged, the NFL issued two suspensions: AJ Jefferson was suspended four games in 2013 and LeRoy Hill was suspended for one game and lost an additional game check in 2008. Otherwise, all players involved in domestic disputes were punished by their teams. This usually resulted in a release and nothing more. However, in one extreme instance in 2012 the Vikings suspended cornerback Chris Cook indefinitely (ultimately 10 games) for his gruesome domestic attack that left his girlfriend bloodied and in the hospital.

In other words, the system wasn’t broken. In a case by case approach teams—specifically the Ravens—should have handled the issue themselves without the NFL’s direct involvement. Teams have always done so in an appropriate manner. Instead, desperate to maintain an artificially clean image, the league office stepped in.

“I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.” These were the words from commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday as he issued the new policy. Don’t believe it.

Goodell is a man who doesn’t make brash decisions. Before issuing Rice’s two-game suspension he consulted with the Ravens organization, Rice and his fiancee (now wife) Janay, members of the league office, and likely the police as well. He knew every element of this case and decided that two games was fair given the circumstances. Is it truly reasonable to believe that Goodell, the straight-laced, image conscious, disciplinarian, would find himself to be that gravely wrong on his decision? C’mon man! This is nothing but a PR move, don’t buy into it.

Rookie Quarterbacks and the Race to Start

**(Hey so remember when I said that I was stepping away from the Cooler? That was apparently a lie.)

manziel bridgewater bortles

Have you ever seen baby turtles hatch from a nest? It’s frantic free for all. Hundreds of minute-old turtles scramble for their lives on the beach as seagulls swoop down from above and eat them whole. It’s a truly mesmerizing and horrific scene found in nature. The same happens with NFL quarterbacks. There are countless young players from robust programs with their own pages of the record books that are indiscriminately swallowed whole and crapped out onto your car. The benching of Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, and Johnny Manziel is a welcoming reminder of that fact.

Why? All three quarterbacks were taken in the first round and none of them will be starting on opening day. Many fans will see this news as a disappointment on the player’s part or a poor managerial decision by the coaching staff, which is grossly unfair. Just because it has become the norm for teams to trot out rookie QB’s doesn’t mean that it’s right. The main argument from the angry masses:

“He’s a first round pick!”

I hate this complaint. It’s short-sighted and misguided and generally makes me want to slap you in the face (it’s more rewarding than a punch!). Let me explain by stating a few simple things:

  1. College football and professional football and not the same game. Out of the 11 Heisman winners prior to Manziel in 2012, seven of them have been duds at the NFL level. The other four (Carson Palmer, Mark Ingram, Cam Newton, and Robert Griffin III) have had varying degrees of success. Success in college does not directly translate to the pros. the same even goes for coaches.
  2. First round picks in all sports are based on potential, not immediate impact. Sure, I could use a Thunderstone to evolve my Pikachu at level 5, but my Raichu is not going to be nearly as badass, nahmean? Some top talents need time to develop. Remember Drew Brees in San Diego?
  3. Human error exists. This last fact more or less covers the idea that some players get selected in the first round that have no business doing so. These players were misjudged by often desperate and/or simply bad teams and were then unfairly classified. For examples, consult your local Raiders fan!

With that argument dead and buried, let’s move on to the next major complaint:

“He should get the experience!”

This is slap-worthy as well because the phrase by default means that sitting on the bench is not a means of gaining experience. However, there is value in waiting and watching and learning. The idea of “the game slowing down” is often mentioned by players who are looking to make the leap. The adjustments within the system come naturally, allowing them to play without hesitation. Also, when you consider that a rookie QB has four to five months before the season starts and the majority of that time is spent in shorts against no pressure, it’s reasonable to believe that some aren’t ready to play, no?

So while Bortles, Manziel, and Bridgewater are first round picks and starting experience would be nice, it’s important to understand that sometimes the best way for a turtle to reach the ocean is to zig-zag rather than run a straight line. 

What can the Phillies learn from King Pyrrhus of Epirus?

I’m developing matching calluses on my palm and forehead. This is Ruben Amaro’s fault. Every time the man speaks these days I face an uncontrollable instinct to bury my face in my hand with increasing haste, as if this could somehow shield me from his wanton disregard for reason.

Ugh

Thus far, my efforts have been unsuccessful.

The latest chapter in my increasingly violent distaste for the Phillies’ front office front man comes courtesy of David Murphy.

Amaro: “Right now, we’re trying to win as many games as possible… At the same time, at some point, we’re going to have to start looking to the future. And once we’re ‘eliminated’ … listen, is it a long shot to get back into this Wild Card race? It is. Numerically it’s not impossible, but right now obviously I’d be foolish to say it’s something that’s probable…. And at some point, we may be looking more at what we have to do for 2015 as far as what’s going on, on the field. But until then, we’ll make the decision when it’s the appropriate time, when it’s time to start to looking to 2015 and beyond. We’re not quite there yet.”

Trying to win as many games as possible. While that might be a nice thing to hear from a player, whose present entertainment value and future paycheck rely entirely upon his immediate performance, this is an impossibly ignorant and disheartening thing to hear from the general manager of a woefully uncompetitive major league baseball team. It has become clear at this point that self-reflection is not Amaro’s strong suit.

Perhaps Amaro, Montgomery, and the rest of the Phillies’ brass would be better served by a lesson that comes not from self examination, but from history. Not baseball history, but Mediterranean.

King Pyrrhus of Epirus was always a warrior. He was not a king that came from the political class. While he was indeed the heir to the title by birth, he was expelled from power four years into his reign, and had to take to the battlefield to regain his throne. So in 281 B.C.E., King Pyrrhus was already an expert battlefield commander when he answered the pleas of the beleagured city of Tarentum, which was under threat of destruction at the hands of Rome. Pyrrhus, sensing an opportunity to expand his kingdom, sailed to Italy with an army.

"Pyrrhus and his Elephants" by Helene Guerber - Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Pyrrhus and his Elephants
Story of the Romans – Helene Guerber. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

After early successes in the field, in 279 B.C.E. Pyrrhus turned his troops north towards the city of Asculum. His army numbered around 40,000, and the Romans met him with an equal number. The battle lasted for two days, and at the end of the second day, the Roman forced had been decisively defeated. But Pyrrhus was hardly in a position to celebrate. Although his army had killed twice as many Roman soldiers as it had lost, winning the battle had cost Pyrrhus a strategic defeat.

The Greek historian Plutarch sums up the aftermath: “Pyrrhus said to one who was congratulating him on his victory, ‘If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.’ For he had lost a great part of the forces with which he came, and all his friends and generals except a few; moreover, he had no others whom he could summon from home, and he saw that his allies in Italy were becoming indifferent, while the army of the Romans, as if from a fountain gushing forth indoors, was easily and speedily filled up again.”

This is the event from which we draw the term Pyrrhic Victory: winning the day with grave consequences for the future. Unfortunately for Phillies fans, this is precisely the kind of win that Amaro is referencing above.

The Phillies’ misguided attempts to win today, or indeed during the second half of the 2014 season, have prevented them from making the moves that must be made in order to start building another championship-caliber roster. By holding onto aging, but still productive, talent, the Phillies have already lost out on too many opportunities to get any better in the future. Likewise, they’re pushing themselves further and further away from the highest picks in next year’s draft, which this team sorely needs in order to start replenishing its decimated farm system.

Actually, comparing Pyrrhus to Amaro and Montgomery isn’t very fair to Pyrrhus. At least he realized the cost of glory. He demonstrated an ability to remove himself from his personal pride and see the ultimate consequences. This Phillies management group has repeatedly proven incapable of thinking with such lucidity. Every extra win that this team earns in the waning days of summer could rightly be termed a Phillic victory, and they should be “celebrated” accordingly. It would serve the Phillies – and more importantly, what remains of the Phillies’ fan base – to see that the net result of their current philosophy can only lead to ultimate failure.

It’s Been Fun, Guys

Hey everyone,

So as you may have heard recently Ray, Turtle and I have been given the opportunity to try a podcast with a big company. While I’m really excited for the opportunity it hurts to say that the Wooder Cooler is now officially on hiatus. I’d like to thank you for taking the time to check in on the Philly sports thoughts of myself and our staff over the past two plus years. You’re–as they said back in the day–“the bomb”.

For all of the people that have made this thing happen: Hank, Ray Boyd, Ransom, Nick, Bill, Pete and Ray McCreavy…thank you. I’m still holding out hope for a drunk podcast.

If you’re looking to catch up on what I’m up to follow my twitter feed @ItsVinceQuinn or check out the new show @SBMShow!

So much love and kisses that it would probably weird you out even if we were married,

-Vince

The Phillies think we’re all just jerks with wallets

AmaroYet another trade deadline has passed, and yet again the Phillies did absolutely nothing to alter their course. It’s damned near inexplicable. Not only are they 4 games back from the hapless Mets and 5.5 back from the penniless Marlins, but they also have the league’s second oldest lineup – 31.0 years old – and the third highest payroll in the whole goddamned MLB.

Anybody – I mean really, anybody – can see that this bullshit ain’t gonna get better on its own. Old players are old, and no amount of wishful thinking can make them young again. Sometimes bad players are good, but more often they stay bad. Especially if they are already old. This shit ain’t exactly fucking science.

The period preceding the non-waiver trade deadline is generally the best sellers’ market in the MLB calendar. Unlike the relative mystery of the hot stove, teams know exactly where they are with respect to the league, managers have an excellent idea of their units’ deficiencies, and when contenders make moves, other playoff-bound teams are put under pressure to keep up with the Joneses. The 2014 non-waiver deadline was one of the most active in memory, and a number of marquee players were involved in the deals.

And yet, the Phillies couldn’t pull off a single one. Not one goddamned trade to make this squad better in the future. Nothing to indicate that they have any intention of making it to the World Series again.

Make no mistake, this is a terrible missed opportunity for the future of Philadelphia baseball. But in and of itself, it’s not worth taking personal offense to a quiet deadline. No, what’s truly onerous about the situation is the attitude coming from the man in charge, the grand marshall of this shit parade: Rubén Amaro, Jr.

Amaro: “We were not looking for exorbitant payback, so to speak. We were looking for players that would help us. I think we were very reasonable in the discussions that we had. Frankly, I don’t think the clubs were aggressive enough for the kind of talent we have on our club.” – NJ.com

Let me translate that into human English: “Nobody wanted to sell the farm for the bullshit that I was peddling, so I’m gonna peddle bullshit to my fan base instead.”

I take offense, Rubén. I take offense because you just looked me in the eye and called me a stupid asshole.

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Around The Cooler 8/3/14: The First Live Show!

GeorgeHere’s what we talked about:

  • The Hall of Fame and the players you grew up with
  • Feminine persuasion involves two female firsts.
  • The Eagles offense, training camp, and why Sanchez isn’t such a bad fit.
  • TWCNN gives another news update
  • Paul George, International brands, and the booming love of players.

Follow us on our iTunes Stream, Right Click to Download, or play on your mobile device!

What are you talking about around the Wooder Cooler this week? Leave us a comment!

——————————————

Follow us on Twitter: @TheWooderCooler

Follow our crew: @BoydOnSports     @Turtle94    @ItsVinceQuinn

JOIN US ON THE PODCAST!

This week we’re having a live show!

Look for the link to the show through our social media accounts on Sunday around 3:15 and then listen to us live and CALL IN to our podcast! We’ll be doing the show through blog talk radio. Assuming everything goes well we’ll try to do more of these in the future and other related ideas (Callers only show, live Q and A with a guest) So crack a beer, relax in your living room and enjoy the show this Sunday!

If there’s a question you’d like to have us discuss but can’t make the show leave a comment and we’ll make sure we get to it!

 

Is Chip Kelly in for a Sophomore Slump?

Chip KellyRejoice! The doldrums of summer, and the seemingly-endless stream of unsubstantiated speculation about the coming season is mercifully subsiding. Eagles training camp is here, and thus marks the official unofficial start of the 2014 NFL season. Huzzah! Now we have some actual news to read about!

But games that count are still quite a ways away, and something has been bugging me. While perusing the various forms of Philadelphia sports talk-radio over the last couple of weeks (Hey! Have you heard our excellent podcast yet?), I noticed that one of the more persistent topics of unsubstantiated conjecture debate has been “Are Chip Kelly’s Eagles going to improve or decline in year two?”

The argument generally breaks down into one of two run-on sentences: 1) Chip’s offense has been torn apart in NFL film rooms all offseason, and it’s a college offense anyway, and it was sort of a flukey year, and the defense still sucks, so the Eagles will be worse in 2014, or 2) Chip is a genius, so when opposing teams make adjustments, Chip’ll adjust them right back, the team is used to Chip now, and the defense didn’t get any worse but the offense is gonna get better, so the Eagles will be better than last year.

Frankly, both sides make a somewhat cogent point. What bothers me – what always bothers me – is the lack of context…

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