Training Camp Countdown: FrEaKS

Doorways. Not so easy to get through.

Doorways…not so easy to get through at his size.

Training camp begins truly begins next Friday for the Eagles when all of the players on the 90 man roster report for duty. At that point a slow step means a player is too old, routine plays signify Pro Bowl potential, and everyone recalls things like “Remember freaking out at Carey Williams last year for no good reason? That was fun.”

However, before we get back to badgering and obsessing over the main players of the Eagles’ upcoming season I’d like to take the time to mention some oddities and fringe players that make training camp so much fun. These projects and castaways are the type of guys that make the experience so exciting.

For example, there was a time when the Eagles drafted an absurdly athletic tight end out of Florida named Cornelius Ingram. He was 6’4″ and he was fast and I loved him. But little did I know that the Eagles drafted him with the understanding that his torn ACL was improperly repaired from the following year. Essentially, I later discovered, they put him out on the field waiting for him to tear it again so that they could properly fix it.

With Chip Kelly in town, the obsession has shifted from players from lesser collegiate divisions and torn ACLs to generally monstrous players. Here’s a few freaks that will generate buzz in one way or another:

1.Ifeanyi Momah

At 6’8″, 239 pounds at the receiver position, he’s impossible to ignore. Then there’s also the fact that he ran a 4.4 forty last year. Was he a bit of a dud with nuances of the game? Yes. The Eagles didn’t even bother to place him on the practice squad. However, if he shows some progress from last year’s camp Momah could make some noise for the Eagles as a red zone specialist or come off of the bench for the Sixers.

2. Michael Bamiro

Another 6’8″ giant, Bamiro is trying to make his home with the Eagles as a converted guard. In addition to being oversized for his position, Bamiro is a bit of a freak in the way the he avoided the draft last year entirely due to a loophole and then signed with the Eagles undoubtedly because of his connection to William Tra Thomas. Now that Allen Barbre is filling in for Lane Johnson for the first four weeks of the season, Bamiro has a better chance to sneak his way onto the roster—if only for a few weeks.

3. Alejandro Villanueva

Again, 6”9″, 277 pounds. Are you sensing a theme or should I tattoo it onto your face in reverse so that you can read it in the mirror? Another lowly-projected experiment, this US veteran is competing to take on the role as a space eating defensive end a la Clifton Geathers of last season. Like all of these players, special teams will be a factor for this member of the special forces’ chances of making the team.

4. Frances Mays

At 6’9″, 291 pounds, Mays will be in direct competition for Villanueva on the defensive line. Mays, who had six sacks in 21 games with Texas A&M, started playing football when he was 18 and seems like more of a practice squad hopeful than a surprise star. Though we know the saying, “Big people beat up little people”  (Unless, of course, those big people fight me).

Around the Cooler 7/13/14: Back on the Grid

Snuffy

Here’s what we’re talking about:

  • LeBron James heads to Cleveland. Good move?
  • Another big game hunter hits feminine persuasion
  • Shaking up baseball’s conventions and home run derby team selections
  • We have a special Philly-related spelling bee!
  • Vince makes a weight loss guarantee

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!

Theme done by the amazing Matt Schwalm

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The NFL’s Best of the Best: Part Two

As it has been made abundantly clear in the title, this is the second part. If you’d like to check the top 10-6 players in the NFL, check it out here!

So, let’s get into the top five best players in the NFL…

5. Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson, Connor Barwin

When you look at the Minnesota Vikings over the last few years, it’s inseperable from Peterson. He’s been the heart and soul of the team since his modest rookie season of 1,341 yards and 12 TD’s in 2007. Six Pro Bowls and two rushing titles later, Peterson is still dominating the league. His raw power at the running back postion has led to some of the more memorable perfomances of my lifetime–like Peterson’s 199 yard effort against the Packers that fell just short of the all-time single season rushing record. Despite playing with a bad team, he’s still one of the purest elite talents in the league.

4. LeSean McCoy

McCoy

However, Adrian Peterson in not LeSean McCoy. McCoy gains the edge over Peterson because he demonstrates a more rounded game. His cutback ability and vision makes him a a home-run hitter in the run game, His hands and speed make him dangerous in the backfield, and he’s a capable enough blocker that you can’t justify ever taking him off of the field. Now that he’s paired with Chip Kelly, a currently close debate will no longer be a competition. This is Shady’s world.

3. Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers

Ever since he got out from under the thumb of Brett Favre, Rodgers has been nothing short of spectacular. He’s got the arm, accuracy, and poise to dominate in Mike McCarthy’s spread offensive scheme despite an consistently below-average line.

At this point, Rodgers is the Packers. As long as he stays healthy he’ll single handedly take them to the playoffs every year. He’s just that good.

2. Peyton Manning

Divisional Playoffs - San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos

Though he’s not Peyton Manning. Peyton, despite his age, is still the king at quarterback. His accuracy, resiliency, and leadership have Peyton as arguably the best quarterback of all time.

Then there’s the play calling. Sometimes people say they go from playing checkers to playing chess. In Peyton’s case, he’s gone from toc-tac-toe to Dungeons and Dragons–masterfully creating the traps and terrors that doom an unprepared party.

In short, respect your elders.

1. JJ Watt

JJ Watt

Hands down. Or should I say hands up? After all, Watt’s commitment to batting passes when his pass-rush stalls has become a trademark of sorts. At 6’5″ with a nearly seven foot wingspan, he’s a remarkable pain in the ass to quarterbacks of all sizes.

And then there’s his pass rush. Watt demands double teams (and the not too uncommon triple team) on a play by play basis because he’ll likely destroy the QB otherwise. He had 20.5 sacks in 2012 and another 10.5 in 2013 despite the attention gained from being defensive player of the year. He’s the Juggernaut, bitch–and the best player that the NFL has to offer. All hail the King!

The NFL’s Best of the Best: Part One

Training camp is still just over two weeks away, but damnit I’m a football obsessive and it’s close enough. It’s like sneaking out for a “phone call” to unleash a nasty fart during a date. I need this. So, what I’ve decided to do is give my own opinion on who the ten best players in the league are since the NFL has been doing their own countdown.

Now before I get into this I’d like to clarify a few things. This has nothing to do with career achievement or what necessarily happened in the last season. This is my top players based on who I think are the best players in terms of ability, influence on the game, and proven to not be a Lou Bega-esque one-year wonder.

So let’s get into my first half:

10. AJ GreenAJ-Green1

 

Green, most of the players you’ll see on this list, is a freak athlete. At 6’4″ 207 pounds he has the size and speed to dominate the game by stretching the field and owning the air for jump balls. However, what truly makes Green stand out above the other receivers is his hands. Green is phenomenal at locating the ball and routinely make circus catches appear effortless. Unsurprisingly, he’s now notched 29 touchdowns in three career seasons. The man is not good. He’s unreal.

9. Jimmy Graham

Jimmy Graham

Jimmy Graham is the epitome of what the ideal modern-day tight end should be. He’s 6’6″, has the speed to out run most linebackers, and has a strong body that is capable of dominating in traffic. Unless the Chinese government has secretly bred a love child of Reggie White and Dion Sanders, there’s really no way to shut him down. Graham simply dominates the game. If New Orleans continues to botch the contract situation with him, Graham will be one of those rare free agent mega deals that pans out. He’s a can’t miss player.

8. Luke Kuechly

Kuechly

Power, speed, toughness, vision, effort. Kuechly is the complete package in the middle for the Carolina Panthers. In his two years in the league, Kuechly has 320 combined tackles, six interceptions, and 15 passes defensed on his way to the 2012 Rookie of the Year, 2013 Defensive Player of the Year and 2013 First Team All-Pro selections. He can do anything the position calls for whether it be busting up a stretch play or holding his own in coverage. In an age where the league has trended towards passing, Kuechly will encourage quarterbacks to keep the status quo.

7. Richard Sherman

Sherman

I’ll have to admit some bias on this selection because I’ve already publicly stated that I love Richard Sherman. His attitude, the ability to press, the willingness to tackle—he’s the ideal cornerback in the same way the Graham is the ideal tight end. The NFL is a passing league and as such it’s becoming increasingly important to have a player that can shut down the NFL’s best pass catchers. All you need to do to prove my point is remember the four hours of static that you watched called Super Bowl 48. Point Sherman.

6. Calvin Johnson

Calvin-Johnson

Megatron is the sixth best player in the league. It’s seems wrong, I know, but it’s by no means a slight to the likely Hall of Fame Lion. Calvin Johnson is the Bob the Builder of wide receivers. He has all the tools to get the job done. Jump ball? Check. Blazing speed? Check. Ability to work the middle of the field? Check.

When compared to receivers around the league, Johnson is simply in a class of his own. It couldn’t have been made any more evident than during his 2012 campaign in which he notched 122 catches for 1,964 yards in a single season—though four pro Bowl selections and three First-Team All Pro selections don’t hurt either.

 

So this is my first half of my top five. Check back in a few days for the second half of my rankings! In the meantime, feel free to tell me how much you hate my picks. I get off on that kind of stuff.

 

Around The Cooler 7/6/14: The Boss Is Out

hi-res-175804537-nerlens-noel-of-the-philadelphia-76ers-poses-for-a_crop_exact

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what we’re talking about:

  • We open with breaking down our bucket list sporting events…Masters, World Cup, Olympics
  • We also continue Feminine Persuasion with Kendall Jones vs. Lindsay Lohan
  • Phillies Retooling vs. Sixers Rebuilding…which strategy is better
  • Did you catch Joel Embiid’s Twitter game?
  • LeSean McCoy says Nick Foles is going to exceed expectations this year…will he?

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!

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Follow us on Twitter: @TheWooderCooler

Follow our crew: @BoydOnSports    @Turtle94  @RMcDonald11

Serena Williams Loses Her Powers

So it was brought to my attention the other day, but I haven’t had the chance to post about it with the holidays and whatnot. Serena Williams, who was playing at Wimbledon throughout the last few days, showed up to her doubles match seemingly in fine shape. However, when she started warming up prior to the match she was unable to do ANYTHING related to tennis. It was as though she had the motor skills of a drunken two year old. Take a look (42 second mark on really demonstrates well):

So something was obviously seriously wrong with Serena and she has since admitted to having a serious ‘bug’. However, as stunningly weird as this was, I couldn’t help but think of an instance where this happened to a Philadelphia legend: Charles Barkley.

Creepily similar, no? The slow reaction, the dumbfounded expression—they’re exactly the same. All I’m saying is that if some time in the next few weeks Rafael Nadal goes missing, look up.

Happy Fourth of July!

It’s Independence Day! Go eat some hot dogs, eat some more hot dogs, and thank the soldiers who make all of it possible (with a mouth full of hot dog)! I’ll just leave you with one of my favorite 4th of July related videos.

Hooray America!


 

Graham Left Wanting S’more Changes the NFL Landscape

Jimmy Graham

#GrahamToPhilly2016

Jimmy Graham, the all-world, freak of nature crap my pants if I saw him in an alley tight end for the New Orleans Saints lost a major grievance hearing. This is truly fascinating news for the league landscape.

Tight end is the defining position for this era of football. The combination of size, speed, strength, and coordination that the modern tight end possesses is a skill set unlike anything to ever take the field. Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski—the league is overrun with physical specimens that have changed a once marginalized position into a centerpiece offensive threat.

Naturally, Chip Kelly is on this trend like a Columbian drug-sniffing dog. Brent Celek, James Casey, and most importantly, Zach Ertz are players that are constantly moved around the formation in hopes of creating a strategic advantage. In short, it’s a very effective strategy. Kelly’s offense was second in the league in overall production and produced more big plays than anyone else. The tight end position was a strong, yet more silent partner in that process.

So, now that Jimmy Graham has officially been ruled a tight end for franchise tag purposes I’m expecting a trend that will occur throughout the league and effect the Eagles specifically. Essentially, the tight end position will near extinction.

Read the rest of this entry

Chatting with Derek Bodner

nba-draft-lottery3In case you missed it, we have Derek Bodner of Liberty Ballers and Draft Express with us on Around the Cooler to talk Sixers.

Specifically, we go into Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel playing together, tanking 2014-15, possible free agent targets and more!

You can check it out below or listen to the entire podcast here!

 

Welcome to the Free Agency Midnight Bonanza!

Hextall will be overseeing his first free agency as a GM

Hextall will be overseeing his first free agency as a GM

Yes, folks, the NBA and NHL free agency periods begin tonight at midnight and noon respectively and Twitter may very well implode as a result.

In general, the start of free agency is so much fun because it’s the closest you get to fan fiction. Among tonight’s story lines you’ll most likely see things like “Carmelo has great talks with Bulls—looking like frontrunner”, “Nashville aggressively pursuing Paul Stastny” and “LeBron James kidnapped by Cleveland, brainwashing inevitable.” There’s so much hope and chaos that it’s nearly impossible to not get sucked in as fans bases live and die by the second, breathless as their teams negotiate with the next franchise savior.

However, as much as LeBron coming to Philly makes sense in my untidy bubble, it’s not going to happen. Nor are the Flyers making any big signings until they can unload Vinny LeCavalier. Instead, the Sixers and Flyers will follow the stars a different way—as scavengers rather than suitors. It’s not glamorous, but it’s for the best.

Let’s start with the Flyers. First off, they’re the only team in the league that is currently over the salary cap. Now, while that’s not illegal at this point of the year it matters in a few months. They’re going to need to reduce salary eventually and throwing lots of money at star players is not going to do that. Plus, Ron Hextall has made it abundantly clear with the Scott Harntell move that the Flyers will be more cap conscious moving forward. There’s young talent on this roster that needs to be cultivated and signed-long term.

So, what moves will they make? Back-up goaltender is the most likely position for the team to make noise with, which in itself suggests that they’ll be dull. In addition to Ray Emery, who backed up for the Flyers last year, Jonas Hiller, Thomas Greiss and a whole slew of others will be available to back up Steve Mason. As we discovered during Mason’s playoff absence, back-up netminders matter.

Outside of that, the Flyers could throw some shit at the wall for 4th line forwards and camp fodder defensemen. Offensively they have too many forwards as is which is in part why LeCavalier has been such a disaster. They’ve also got six defensemen under contract for this upcoming season including Andrew MacDonald, who the team signed through 2020, and Kimmo Timonen’s 39 year-old bag of bones. If they resign restricted free agent Erik Gustafsson then they’re really reaching for talent.

Given the team’s mission to unload LeCavalier and his salary, the Flyers will be waiting for the market on centers to thin out so that a team like Nashville returns to the bargaining table. That is far and away the Flyers top priority heading into this free agency period. Get it done, Hexy.

Sam Hinkie

He’s reading your mind right now…and laughing

For the Sixers, they’re in a tough boat as well with signing players. Specifically, they’re so appallingly bad that even Brett Brown has admitted that no one wants to come here. If the Sixers were to bring any players aboard, they’d have to grossly overpay for their services. Given Sam Hinkie’s track record, there’s better odds that you’re bitten by Luis Suarez.

What the Sixers will do is continue to buy low on players with potential (a la James Anderson last year) and try to work their way into three team deals. The free agent frenzy that GMs are in has hit an all time high as LeBron, Carmelo, Kevin Love, and more could be had. The Sixers conveniently pay bottom dollar and would be able to absorb any and all bad contracts in exchange for picks, projects, and a misfits like Tony Wroten. So while the Sixers won’t be involved in any major rumors, you can guarantee they’ll be sniffing around them.

At this point, the best fit and most commonly tossed around name will be Chandler Parsons of the Rockets. Parsons is a young, talented swingman that has connections with Hinkie from Houston and is likely to be shipped out of town if the Rockets can land a star to compliment Dwight Howard and James Harden. At 26, Parsons length, shooting ability, and likely reasonable contract from a sign-and-trade makes too much sense to ignore. His name will pop up frequently.

But like I said earlier, the Sixers have more cash than Scrooge McDuck so I’m going to dream for now too….#LeBronToBrotherlyLove

 

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