Category Archives: Guest Articles
Once 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
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.
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.
[Note from Vince: This is the first article from Flyers addict Chris Imbrogno, who will be gracing us with his hockey thoughts from time to time. As a contributor, Chris gets the privilege of doing the first installment of our contributor piece From the Bench! Give him a round of applause (in the comments...because he can't hear you)]
With the end of the Olympic break and the last 23 games of the Flyers schedule looming (as well as nothing to do at lunch since I finished Game of Thrones), I wanted to write a bit about my take on how the Flyers have looked so far this season.
Needless to say, the start to the season was as bleak as could be. For fans, it caused a mix of anger, disappointment, and confusion. Confusion as to how a team that manhandled one of the best teams in the league, the Pittsburgh Penqueens, in the playoffs just a short time ago could be doing so poorly.
However, the way the Flyers have turned the season around is nothing short of miraculous. I could only imagine in the first 8 games, it’s what it feels like to be a Florida Panthers fan (do they exist?). What Berube and the other coaches have done to turn this struggling team around is extremely impressive. They still have a lot of work to do, and the defense is clearly still lacking, but they’re moving in a very good direction.
Some credit for the turnaround has to go to Steve Mason. Let’s be real, Mason has stolen games for the Flyers that they’ve had no right winning. The man has surely earned the nickname Stonewall Mason.
When we first acquired Mason, watching him play excited me. It excited me to see someone who would come out of the net and play the puck. It excited me to see someone who was not only big, but extremely athletic and, at this point, he has my exceeded expectations by far.
If the offense can keep putting up the points they were generating consistently going into the break, then, paired with Mason’s play, the Flyers have a very good chance to get into the playoffs.That’s where the captain comes into play.
MFWE is back this week as we talk with Corey Wilson. Corey, who has been an avid Saints fan for life, has unleashed a great wealth of knowledge about the inner workings of the Saints for us in preparation for Saturday. This is great work by a new friend and if you don’t read it you’re insane. If you have any other questions for Corey, email him at [email protected]
1.Rob Ryan turned what was one of the worst defenses ever into a top-tier unit in a year. What’s been the biggest change for the D?
There were many things that factored into having the worst Defense in NFL history last year. Spagnuolo was hired to replace the high intensity, blitz happy, Greg Williams, a scheme that our personnel really fit into. We also had no real #1 CB, rectified by FA Lewis from the Steelers. The absence of Sean Payton for the entire year was also a large distraction as well. Players just were not responding to the changes well.
Now how did Ryan take that bunch and turn them into a top 10 Defense in the NFL? First, he used Cam Jordan the way he was supposed to be used. Cam played 3-4 when he was in College at CAL, which is why he was such a prolific pass rusher to begin with. Next, Rob restructured the secondary and used our #1 draft pick, Vaccaro, to his full potential. Allowing Vaccaro to cover TEs and to come on Safety Blitzes is what he did well at Texas, and Rob let the young man do what he was comfortable doing. Rob also comes with a certain level of intensity as a DC. You see him on the sidelines and he is fired up, cheering on his Defense. He shows emotion when they don’t perform well. Rob Ryan has taken to the city of New Orleans well, and I think that show in his passion for the team/defense.
2. The Saints use a heavy back rotation on their offense with Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, and Mark Ingram. How defined are their roles?
PT Cruiser is the work horse RB in the Saints offense. He is your between the tackles up field power running back. He is also a great out of the back field pass catching RB and great in the screen game. PT is also a great blocking back, one of his most underrated abilities. PT can do it all, and is a huge part of the Saints run game success as of late.
Sproles is the quick, 1 cut and gone, get him the ball in space, does Reggie Bush better than Reggie Bush type of RB. Sproles is a match up nightmare for defenses. Many of the Saints’ offense schemes contain line ups with both Sproles and Graham to get the match up that Payton wants. Putting a LB on Sproles pretty much spells disaster for a defense. Sproles is a GREAT screen RB, though I think many teams have started to figure out when he is on the field to watch for screens, which is why you see more with PT and Ingram as of late.
Mark Ingram. He is supposed to be our hard-nosed, bang you up back. While he has shown glimpses of that in a few games, (Dallas, @ Panthers) this was supposed to be the year that he was truly healthy and we were going to see greatness. Having 3 really good running backs I think has hurt him a bit, not being able to gain momentum during some games, but I think if he got a more steady workload, he could turn out to be quite serviceable.
3. One of the big stories has been that the Saints struggle on the road. Do you believe it to be a legitimate concern heading into Philadelphia?
The year has turned, snow is in the air and the music of the playoffs is in our hearts. Our Birds will be making the push to a Superbowl and we decided to chat with our pals over at 3DPhillySports about what could be a cinderella story. Joining us to break down Saturday’s game as well as the league-wide goodness are Derrick Alvarez, Dave Bennett, Randy Jobst. Hank and I give our take as well.
First, the Birds!
The Eagles are in the playoffs! Does this make Chip Kelly Coach of the Year?
Which player on the team (outside of Foles and McCoy) is most pivotal to the team’s success?
Are you happy the Eagles drew the Saints over the 49ers?
How far do you expect the Eagles to go?
Does it bother you seeing Andy Reid in the playoffs?
Which playoff team is the biggest surprise this year?
Which match-up this weekend do you think will be the best game?
You’re making the odds in Vegas: Who’s your favorite to win the Super Bowl?
I’ll stick with my preseason pick, the Seahawks, because of the home-field advantage and their defense, but I’m not very confident in that pick. Hell I’m almost inclined to pick the Eagles here because they protect the football, run the ball well and the
Vince: Seattle. The best complete team in the league with the best home field advantage will likely play in a cold Super Bowl. Not to know Peyton in the cold, but rather I’m knocking the reliance on the passing game in the cold. Seahawks win. The Peyton legacy takes a tough hit. And Marshawn Lynch lives in a house made of skittles.
The Eagles will be playing the Green Bay Packers this Sunday at the historic Lambeau Field. However, Green Bay will be without it’s leader in Pro Bowler Aaron Rodgers. Can home field advantage help the Pack survive?
To find out, we spoke with enemy turned friend Matt Stein who is the very knowledgeable Lead Columnist for the Packers over at Bleacher Report. Feel free to check out his stuff here to get an even better idea of the Packers or simply follow him on Twitter @MatthewJStein.
And now, cheese…meet steak.
1. The Packers had the top ranked defense in 2011, but have since slipped to 22nd in 2012 and are currently ranked 18th. How much have injuries impacted the D and where do they need to improve most?
When you’ve missed players like Clay Matthews, Casey Hayward and Morgan Burnett for a good chunk of the season, I’d say it’s fare to blame injuries for some of the issues surrounding the Packers defense. However, that isn’t the only issue that Green Bay has.
It needs to become a better at getting pressure on quarterbacks and creating turnovers before it will ever get back to being a top-ranked defense. The lack of pass rush and the fact that the Packers only have three interceptions on the season is extremely troubling.
Until these issues are fixed, injuries can only take part of the blame for the struggles.
2. Jermichael Finley, who seemed like a malcontent at times, is finishing his current contract on IR. Will the Packers allow him to hit free agency?
This is probably the toughest decision the Packers will have to make this year. On one hand, Finley did look much improved and more committed this year than he has in past years. However, it’s unknown what his spinal cord injury will do for the rest of the career.
I think the decision will ultimately be made before Week 17 rolls around. If Finley has completely recovered and is mentally ready to come back to football next year, we could see the Packers sign him to a cheap one-year deal. However, if he is still struggling to get back to full strength, the Packers will likely let him test free agency.
3. Who is the best player on the Packers that no one knows about?
This week the 3-5 Eagles will be taking on the 3-4 Raiders at The Coliseum and for the first time (Ideally of many) we’re introducing a new segment called Making Friends with the Enemy.
The idea is that we’ll bring in someone every week who is a fan of the opposing team to give us some perspective on how they see the game.
For this week, we’ve had the pleasure of asking Jason Speir—an equally obsessed Raiders fan—to enlighten us on the happenings in the Black Hole. Jason goes into the future of the team, a Houston in California, and, of course, the upcoming Eagles game. So strap on your eyepatch and get ready to plunder some knowledge!
Whenever a new coach takes over a team in the NFL, changes will be made. Chip Kelly is a different type of coach, so a lot of people think a lot of changes will be happening in Philadelphia these next couple of years. From a fantasy football perspective, how will those changes affect production? Here’s a look at the top five players, and whether they will be better or worse under Kelly.
Last season was a rough one for McCoy, who struggled with inconsistencies and a concussion. However, 2013 should be a great chance for him to bounce back, as Kelly’s fast offense will allow him to get a lot of touches with space. As long as the passing game is somewhat consistent, McCoy will see a slight increase in production with Kelly at the helm.
Like any wide receiver, Maclin’s production will come down to the quarterback throwing him passes. Kelly’s offense should benefit him though, because he has the physical tools to make big-time plays. This might be the year he finally puts it all together as a true #1 receiver, especially since he is playing in a contract season.
One looks at Jackson’s speed and natural ability and thinks Kelly would make him a star. However, one thing a coach can’t do is teach a guy how to go over the middle. If Jackson can’t do that, his receiving numbers will not be any better than last season. Injuries are also a concern for Jackson, as he missed the last five games of the season in 2012. His numbers might go up simply because he is healthy, but Jackson won’t be able to benefit from Kelly.
After giving the new draft class a chance to simmer, we spoke to our friends from 3D Philly Sports (who you can find on Facebook and Twitter) to see how they feel about the new haul of picks. This time, we get the low down from 3D’s Dave Bennett. If you’re looking for my answers, then check it out over here!
Who was your favorite draft pick?
My favorite pick is 5th rounder Earl Wolff. He has all of the “unteachables” you could ask for; the size, speed, and athleticism to be a solid safety at the next level. The best part is he can sit and develop for a year, which no other safety’s really had the chance to do while Andy Reid and Company were running the show. Nate Allen was a second rounder but should have been given a year to learn the game and develop physically with a full year of a pro workout regiment. Wolff will get this opportunity and a player who is over 6 feet tall and runs in the low 4.4 range, I’m happy with that. Other players will clearly have more immediate benefit but long term he has the opportunity to become a key piece in this defense for a number of years.
What late round pick/unrestricted free agent pushes for playing time? (Rd 4-7)
Jordan Poyer was a 7th rounder who fell out of favor because of ONE off the field citation. Long and short of it he was at a bar and wasn’t supposed to be there, got kicked out and went back. This was a few years ago and not having a single issue since then is telling that he learned his lesson and isn’t walking down the wrong path. Poyer is 6 feet even and was over 190 lbs at the combine, aka he fits the mold of the corners Chip is looking for. Not to mention this kid improved his game year over year at Oregon State. If he hadn’t had his ONE off field issue he probably goes in round 3 or 4 easily. Another player who can benefit from learning/growing for a year but also could be a great special teamer this season with the ability to come in for injury relief. However he has the ability to push for starting snaps, especially if/when Carey Williams has nuclear mental breakdown this season.
If you could have taken someone else outside of the first round who would it have been?
This article was originally conceived and co-written by our longtime friend Ray McCreavy.
Note: This post is not intended to further any argument, whether it be positive or negative, concerning Joe Flacco’s status as an elite NFL QB. Instead, it is meant to be a comment on the conversation that produces those opposing arguments, and more specifically, what that ongoing dialogue says about how instantaneous reactions affect the way sports fans think about professional football.
During ESPN’s SportsCenter broadcast on the morning of February 5th, 2013, NFL correspondent Merril Hoge was asked to name and rank the league’s current top 5 quarterbacks now that the dust is finally settling on the 2012-13 season.
He ranked Joe Flacco as #1.
This nonevent is actually notable, but for reasons other than ESPN presenting a painfully obvious decision as a bold one by naming the Super Bowl MVP as the current number one player at his position just two days after he became a world champion.
It is notable because a) it seems to reflect that the 2013 playoffs are now definitively seen as a turning point in the relentless, obnoxious debate over Joe Flacco’s true talent level at the quarterback position, and b) Merril’s downright confounding list was a fleeting attempt at creating a season ending summary based on unspecified (or nonexistent?) metrics. I, for one, believe that these two points are intrinsically related.
It is not exactly breaking news to declare that the quarterback is the most important position in American football. Everyone who follows football knows that the last decade has seen quarterbacks who led offenses that threw more than ever before, broke nearly every passing record in the books, and succeeded at winning championships in the process. Possessing a QB who can perform at a championship level is undoubtedly the largest competitive advantage a team can have in the modern NFL, and thus it is rightly the most desired. In short, there are sound reasons for our cultural obsession with the best of the best, the “elite tier” of NFL QBs.
But when does an obsession become a problem? In this case, the elite QB discussion has become an issue because it undermines other essential aspects of the sport. Quick reminder: Those other aspects include the other 21 players on the field every down. Oh, and coaches seem to have some kind of effect on the outcomes of football games as well.
The debate over Joe Flacco’s status is perhaps the best example of the ‘elite quarterback’ narrative cheapening the entire dialogue about the sport, even among the most intelligent and informed fans. Read the rest of this entry
No matter how childish and absurd the NHL lockout became, I remained confident throughout that somehow, eventually, a deal would get done. They couldn’t be that stupid, right? The owners can’t possibly wash a second season in eight years after posting record profits for three straight years, could they? And the players, who must be aware of the gulf in popularity that exists between hockey and the three other major sports, couldn’t possibly let the marketable superstar-laden NBA occupy the winter spotlight all by themselves again.
It took entirely too long, but eventually that line of thinking was proven correct.
As fans, we are well within our rights to be upset about this. We likewise have a right to expect that the players and owners would do something to thank us for coming back. I want to preface the following statement by saying that I think Ted Leonsis, owner of my Washington Capitals, is as likable a sports owner as exists in the world. However, the fact that his idea of making amends for half a season down the drain is to waive the $2.00 convenience charge for being able to pick up tickets at Will Call for the first month of the season makes me want to scream. The convenience charge doesn’t affect me hardly at all. It’s a matter of principle. The Verizon Center is packed every time the Caps play, regardless of the opponent. Like most franchises that regularly sell out home games, Caps tickets aren’t cheap. I’m broke and I still go see a few games each year.
Ever since the lockout ended, I feel like I’ve been having an odd sort of internal monologue akin to two shoulder angels arguing with each other. One is telling me that I need to be using my time and energy to better myself and accelerate my transition to adulthood. The other one is saying, essentially, “Well, yeah, but … HOCKEY.” I’m going down the less productive, more frustrating path.
In spite of everything, I’m returning to this sport. I made that decision mostly because, after 15 some odd years, I’m too invested to back out now. I completely understand people who have gone the other direction, though. For every reason I’m returning to NHL fandom, there is a legitimate argument to be made in the other direction. Read the rest of this entry