Blog Archives

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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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.

 

Draft Day Polls!

It’s finally draft day and we’ve decided to have a little bit of fun by asking you some quick questions regarding the draft! Just shoot down the list and give us your thoughts. There’s four questions total followed by unwelcome hugs from Vince.

Marqise Lee (#9) (credit: Sports Illustrated)

Marqise Lee (#9) (credit: Sports Illustrated)

Eagles are in line for another non-sexy pick (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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Mocking the Draftniks: Are NFL draft “experts” actually any good at mock drafting?

“Say what?”

[Note: This is a write-up that Hank did last year following the 2013 draft, but it's still totally accurate and well worth your time.] 

Mock drafts are stupid.

There, I said it. You and I know that as much as we all love them, they’re not consequential. They’re not inherently insightful. They’re often nothing more than speculative conversation pieces. At best, they’re educated guesswork.

Now I’m likely to be dragged to the town square and stoned for saying that, but so be it, it needed to be said. I’ll die a martyr for the cause of reasonable, retrospective sports analysis. A worthy ideal, certainly.

Sarcasm aside, I really was convinced that if there ever were a year when I could successfully prove that the draftniks really are all just soothsaying con-men, this was the year. There were no sure-fire top-5 quarterbacks, no stud wide outs or corners. No truly obvious picks. The consensus seemed to be that the real talent in this draft was along the lines, some of the hardest positions in the sport to scout. If there really is such a thing as a “draft guru,” this is the kind of draft that would expose him as either a true expert or a useless hack.

With this hypothesis in mind, I collected an assortment of 14 “final” 1st-round mock drafts published before the draft started last Thursday. As a control, I asked my buddy Frank to submit his own 1st-round mock. Frank watches far more college and pro football than anybody can reasonably consider healthy, but he’s not a paid analyst, nor does he have a support team, league sources, game film, nor any other resources that pro analysts or sports columnists can access.

Here’s what I found out.

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Vernon Davis is in a Scary Business

davis

Things could get weird for Davis

Monday marked a historic moment in the world of sports. Vernon Davis is for sale.

It’s an awful idea.

The San Francisco 49ers aren’t shopping their 30 year-old tight end. Instead, Davis’ stock has officially launched with Fantex, a sports-centric stock trading platform. The way the program works is that athletes receive a lump sum of money up front in exchange for giving up a percentage of future football-related earnings.

As a result, fans will have a vested interest in the success of athletes because, as share-holders, they directly benefit from the millions of dollars that athletes can make.

One of the biggest problems in sports is that fans sometimes feel like they own players. Essentially, by paying for a ticket or a jersey they have the right to do what they want at games. That line of thinking has led to some of the ugliest moments in sports.

Read the rest of the article on CBSPhilly.com!

Around the Cooler 4/4/14: DeSean’s True Colors (Burgundy and Gold)

DeSean SkinsHere’s what we’re talking about:

Play on your Mobile Device or Right Click to Download: Around the Cooler 4-4-14

What are you talking about around the wooder cooler this week? Leave us a comment!

Follow us on Twitter @TheWooderCooler

Musical theme written by Matthew Schwalm.

Around the Cooler 3/26/14: Ball Hogs

mark-cuban Here’s what we’re talking about:

  • Mark Cuban sees an implosion for the NFL! Ray and Vince fight it out!

 

 

Play on your Mobile Device or Right Click to Download: Around the Cooler 3-26-14

What are you talking about around the wooder cooler this week? Leave us a comment!

Follow us on Twitter @TheWooderCooler

Musical theme written by Matthew Schwalm.

MFWE: New Orleans Saints Free Agents

Saints_LogoOnce free agency settles down I decided to talk with some Saints fans about the newest Eagles additions of Malcolm Jenkins and Darren Sproles.

Jenkins, who was drafted by the Saints with the 14th overall pick in 2009, started the last four seasons at safety. Sproles, who was signed away from the San Diego Chargers, played three years in New Orleans. Based on that time, here’s what Reddit’s Saints fans had to say:

1. What’s the best and worst of Malcolm Jenkins

A_Wild_Slut_Appears:

Malcom Jenkins isn’t a star safety, but he’s a relatively dependable player. I think he’ll do well on Philly and still has some growing potential, considering he’s only 26. He has a tendency to make big plays when it matters, so I’d consider him a “clutch” player. His biggest asset is speed, not covering ability, though his reactions to force INTs are always good too.

From Cloud9Formations:

Jenkin’s best trait would be his intelligence. He rarely is out of position on a play. Yet his tackling ability leaves much to be desired. He will miss quite a few open field tackles that are sure to make a highlight reel for the other team because this usually results in a touchdown. His athletic abilities are very average for his position as well. He does, however, make a few outstanding plays a year which will leave you wondering if he is really the same player. It is totally possible that he will improve his technique and will become a more elite safety rather than average.

From Frohirrim:

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Eagles Free Agency Candidates

whitnerThe weather is warm, the sun will stay out later, and football has returned to the world. Praise be to Allah!

As I mentioned the other day, the team looks really good prior to the start of the league year. The Eagles enter into free agency with an estimated cap room of roughly $29 million, which will be the 8th best in the league. This space gives the team the type of flexibility to do whatever they’d like and, consequently, the dreamers are dreaming.

What big move will the Eagles make?

The problem, however is that EVERYONE has a ton of cap space. The Eagles have $29 million dollars in cap room…and they’re 8th in the league. Last year, when the cap was $125 million compared to this years $133, the Browns had the most cap space in the league with $25 million. The eighth highest team had only $8.4 million.

There’s going to be a ton of money in the market. So, given the likelihood of sky-high prices for the top of the class, who should they be looking to spend on?

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The Eagles Status Prior to Free Agency

The Eagles did a lot of locking up their own players this offseason with the signings of Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Peters and Jason Kelce. They’ve also departed with their third Jason in Avant, who’s release gave the Eagles over three million in cap room. So here’s what the Eagles are looking like in a few major areas going into free agency, which starts on March 11th.

Photo courtesy ESPN

Photo courtesy ESPN

Free Agents:

  • Mike Vick
  • Nate Allen
  • Kurt Coleman
  • Colt Anderson
  • Clifton Geathers
  • Donnie Jones

The first thing that comes to my mind is that this list is fantastic for the Eagles because the primary target here is the punter. Sure, I’m a strong supporter of Vick returning as a backup, but until he tests the market there’s simply no chance that he signs a deal. For the rest of the group the problem is that while some of these guys could possibly be signed as reserve roles there’s really no upside.

For example, Colt Anderson isn’t turning into a starting caliber safety at this point in his career. The Eagles are better off signing youth and drafting replacements in the secondary to build up their special teams and overall depth. It’s the smartest route and most cost effective route. Speaking of which…

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