Written By Jason Voorhees
The story of the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles is not complete just yet. In case you have not heard, the Eagles beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday evening locking up the last wild card playoff spot in the NFC, after the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Chicago Bears. As improbable of a feat of the Eagles making the playoffs after what went down this season, it pales in comparison to the improbable odds that the team faced in 2017 when they slayed the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Yes, 2017 was and always will be one of the greatest, IF NOT THEE GREATEST MOMENTS in Philadelphia sports history. However, seasons change and so do football team rosters.
Coming into 2018, the Philadelphia Eagles were listed as one of the top teams in the NFL and were picked by many to at least represent the NFC in the Super Bowl once again. The city was filled with joy as well as optimism as Carson Wentz was slated to return from his ACL injury. As great as Nick Foles played during the Super Bowl run, there was no doubt that this was Carson Wentz's team and getting him back was supposed to provide a huge boost. Well, at least that's what everyone thought. Sometimes...I mean many times...things don't always go as planned.
One reason that the Eagles 2017 Super Bowl win was so improbable was the injuries that the team sustained and the fact that they were able to overcome those key injuries and win despite the odds. Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, and Chris Marigos were all lost for the season. The Eagles executed the next man up mentality to perfection as all of these players were replaced by more than capable backups that got the job done. So in retrospect, if you though 2017 was a doozy, get a load at the 2018 version of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The following Eagles are on IR and have been, or are out for the season: Ronald Darby (CB), Jalen Mills (CB), Rodney McCleod (S), Tim Jernigan (DT), Elie Bouka (DT), Derek Barnett (DE), Josh Sweat (DE), Paul Worilow (LB), Chris Marigos (LB), Mike Wallace (WR), Mack Hollins (WR), Jay Ajayi (RB), Corey Clement (RB), Joshua Perkins (TE), Richard Rogers (TE), Bryce Treggs (WR), Toby Wethersby (OT). That's 17 players on IR which does not count the other key players that missed significant time due to injury: Carson Wentz (QB), Darren Sproles (RB), Alshon Jeffery (WR), Sidney Jones (CB), Rasul Douglas (CB), Stefan Wisnewski (OL), Issac Seumolu (OL), Jason Peters (OL). That's 25 significant injuries which is basically half of the roster.
Injuries are a part of the sport but there is a difference between being plagued by injuries and being decimated by injuries. The fact that the Eagles were even able to make the playoffs is an amazing accomplishment. The fact that they went 9-7 after being left for dead in that embarrassing Saints loss was an even greater feat. The Eagles record stood at 4-6 and nobody had them making the playoffs. In fact, many analysts and fans alike were calling for drastic changes; some people even having foolish ideas of benching Carson Wentz or firing Doug Pederson. Well, Carson Wentz did not get benched, but he did sustain a back injury which brought Nick Foles back into the picture and Foles did not disappoint down the stretch. Foles went 3-0 beating the Rams, Texans, and Redskins to help the Eagles sneak into the playoffs. The Sleeping Giant has awakened. The Eagles are once again the Hungry Dogs of last year.
Get your pop corn ready. Get your dog masks...or ski masks whichever ones you prefer. The Eagles are the team to beat once again. I cannot see any team (including the New England Patriots) wanting to face Nick Foles and the Eagles in this years playoffs. Playoff football is a fresh start and the Eagles are primed to make another long post season run. The Eagles first opponent the Chicago Bears are like the 2017 Los Angeles Rams. They are the young upstart team with a fresh offensive coach, cut from the Andy Reid tree. However; we all know how the 2017 story ended for the Rams. A first round knockout by the Atlanta Falcons. Well the Eagles are this year's Atlanta Falcons. And the Bears are running scared if I could say so.
The Eagles makeshift secondary has grown up in front of our eyes. Avonte Maddox may be the best draft pick the Eagles have made this side of Carson Wentz. Rasul Douglas is once again playing with swagger. C'rEveon LeBlanc is even making big plays. The Eagles do expect Sidney Jones back as well. All of a sudden the unit that was the teams weakest link has become one of its greatest strengths. The Defensive Line has been playing like a unit possessed. Michael Bennett may be the best free agent signing the Eagles have made since Malcom Jenkins. Fletcher Cox had three sacks against the Redskins and is trying to make up for his promise to be the Defensive Player of the Year. The linebackers are healthy and anchored by Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham who both have been swarming the football.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles are all of a sudden able to score points having put up 25, 28, 23, 30, 32, and 24 respectively after only averaging 15 points a game through ten games. Nick Foles tied the record for NFL consecutive completions with 25 a week after setting the Eagles passing yardage record with 471 yards and 4TD's. Josh Adams is running with purpose. Darren Sproles is the weapon we all knew that we were desperately lacking. Zack Ertz and Alshon Jeffery are on fire. This team never quits. No matter what happened this season, the Eagles were in every game besides the New Orleans Saints game. Six of their seven losses were by six or less points. They lost a few leads very late that could have made them the division champs instead of the Dallas Cowboys. But that's ok...this team is right where it needs to be. The underdogs once again. The team that no one is picking to win the super bowl. This is where the team shines. Nick Foles relishes these moments. Get ready folks...its gonna be one heck of a ride to the finish line.
Written By Jason Voorhees.
There have been non stop reports, stories, blogs, etc. debating whether the Philadelphia Eagles are a better team with Nick Foles under center or with Carson Wentz as their Quarterback. Let me preface this by saying that I am a huge fan of both quarterbacks and am under the opinion that the Philadelphia Eagles are blessed to have both at their disposal. I am not going to debate which one is better because I firmly believe that they both have their strengths and they both have weaknesses. In reality, its never been about Nick Foles vs. Carson Wentz and it never should be. The Eagles would not have won the Super Bowl last season had they not had both QB's on their roster. Likewise, this season they would not be where they are at without the employment of both players.
Ruben Frank (reporter for NBC Sports) had a report that hit the nail on the head...this debate should not even exist. Here are some quotes from his article that resonate loudly..."Nick won the Super Bowl! What's Carson ever won?! or...Carson's so much better when he's healthy!!! Nick gets the ball deep! Carson only dumps it off to Ertz!!! Carson threw deep all the time last year when he was healthy, what are you talking about?! Nick knows how to win big games. Carson's never won a big game in his life! Nick is so inconsistent. He didn't even throw a touchdown against the Rams and had a bad interception, and everybody's saying how great he played! All Nick does is win. When's the last time he lost a big game? Carson was the league MVP through 13 games! If it wasn't for him going 11-2, Nick never would have even been in the playoffs! Trade Carson!! See ya Nick! Carson Sucks! Nick Sucks!" As Ruben said..."Enough Already!"
I must admit that I am a huge fan of both Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. Carson Wentz is still the franchise quarterback in my opinion and will be for many years to come. That's why the Eagles traded up to get him with the 2nd pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Likewise, the Eagles are damn lucky to have a backup in Nick Foles who could be starter on at least ten other NFL franchises in my estimation. As a fan base, we are extremely spoiled right now. Remember Brad Goebel and Pat Ryan? How about Bobby Hoying and Koy Detmer? The list could keep going and going...Kevin Kolb, Matt Barkley, Sam Bradford, Jeff Kemp...etc. etc. Horrible Quarterbacks. These guys were stiffs. And now we get to watch Carson Wentz and Nick Foles on the same team!!! You tell me what situation you would rather be in.
The bottom line is that both of these Quarterbacks are high level and should be celebrated. Instead, many fans in this town have turned this situation into an all out bashing of either guy and there is no black or white. Compare their stats thus far and they have very similar Numbers. Nick Foles-
So these numbers are eerily similar. The only difference between the two signal callers is Nick Foles playoff experience that Carson Wentz lacks (however he was injured in 2017 so that's why he did not play.) This is where the rubber meets the road as Nick Foles is 3-1 in the playoffs, 8TD/1INT/113.2 Passer Rating and of course the Super Bowl victory as well as the Super Bowl MVP hardware.
Nick Foles is a hometown hero and has become apart of this towns folklore. No matter what happens on Sunday, he will always be beloved in this town and never forgotten. However; this very well could be his last start as an Eagle and that is a hard pill to swallow. In a perfect world, the Eagles could resign Foles at a discount rate and keep him one more year to back up Carson who has been injury prone. This will probably not come to fruition though because Nick deserves to be a starter and there will be teams that line up to give him a big contract. There have been may pundits saying trade Wentz and keep Foles long term. No matter how good that sounds...this just is not an option. The only way that I could see that scenario playing out is if somehow/someway Nick takes this team to a second Super Bowl and wins the game again. Then I could see the argument for that type of scenario. However; this is highly unlikely The Eagles brass has some tough decisions coming up in the near future and I would not want to be in Howie Roseman's shoes.
Nick Foles vs. Carson Wentz. As it stands today I am going Nick Foles. He has more big wins and obviously is a former Super Bowl MVP. If you are asking me long term though, I gotta go Carson Wentz. He is the FRANCHISE. He was drafted to be the star quarterback for the next decade and hopefully carry this team to multiple championships. Its no doubt that the Eagles rushed him back from the torn ACL and obviously that led to the back injury that he is now dealing with. Carson was favoring his other side and that's what caused the back injury, I don't care what the analysts say this is the cold hard facts. Let Carson rest. Hopefully Nick gets the job done Sunday and the Vikings loose. Then all bets are off and maybe we win a playoff game or two. However; this will be the end of the Nick Foles era. I suggest that you sit back, relax, and enjoy watching big dick saint Nick and enjoy what he brings to the table not only on the field but off of it as well. Lets Go Nick and Lets Go Carson!!! Lets get this done Sunday and see what happens in the playoffs. Then next year its back to Wentz and maybe we will be lucky to have Foles back again. Only Time will tell...
Written By Jason Voorhees
The Carter Hart Era for the Philadelphia Flyers officially began last evening. In his NHL debut, Hart stopped 20 of 22 shots for his first career NHL win at the ripe old age of 20 years old. For those of you who are not familiar with Hart; he is the goaltender of the future (or the present as I will state my case here). Carter Hart was drafted 48th overall by the Flyers in the 2016 NHL draft. He was drafted with a very fine pedigree coming out of the Western Hockey League of Canada, where he starred as a 16 year old kid. In his first season with the Seattle Thunderbirds he recorded an 18-5-2-3 record while posting a 2.29 Goals Against Average with a .915 Save Percentage. Ever since that season he has dazzled opponents at every level which included a Gold Medal for the Canadian team during the 2015 Ivan Hinka Memorial Tournament.
Let's rewind back to the 1986-1987 season when a young Ron Hextall had an unprecedented rookie campaign where he took the Flyers to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals before eventually loosing. Hextall did win the Conn Smythe Trophy in the process and became the Flyers best goaltender since Bernie Parent during the seventies who backstopped the franchise to their only two Stanley Cup Championships. Ron Hextall played 11 seasons for the Flyers and finished as one of its all time greats. His best statistical season came in 1995-1996 where he posted career bests with 2.17 Goals Against Average (led the NHL) and a career best .913 Save Percentage. Unfortunately, Hexy as he became known to by the Flyers faithful never was able to bring the Stanley Cup back to Philly. Now let's take a spin on the goaltender carousel we call Gritty.
37. That is the number of goalies that have started a game for the Philadelphia Flyers since the Ron Hextall era. Wendell Young, Mark LaForest, Ken Wreggett, Marc D'amour, Bruce Hoffert, Dominic Roussel, Tommy Soderstom, Stephane Beauregard, Frederic Chabot, Garth Snow, Sean Burke, John Vanbiesbrouck, Jean-Marc Pelltier, Brian Boucher, Maxime Oullet, Roman Chechmanek, Neil Little, Robert Eshe, Antero Nittymaki, Jeff Hackett, Michael Leighton, Martin Houle, Martin Biron, Ray Emery, Jeremy Duchesne, Johan Backlund, Sergei Bobrovsky, Ilya Bryzgalov, Steve Mason, Cal Heeter, Rob Zepp, Michael Neuvirth, Anthony Stolarz, Petr Mrazek, Alex Lyon, Brian Elliott, Calvin Pickard. That's a pretty long list of goalies, some of which were relevant and some which were just a flash in the pan.
The purpose of this list is to show the ineptitude of the most important position in hockey that the Flyers have displayed throughout the years. Sure, there were a few bright spots, most notably Brian Boucher, Steve Mason, and Roman Chechmanek. Likewise, there were one hit wonders like John Vanbiesbrouck, Robert Eshe, Ray Emery, and Michael Leighton. Yes, the one that got away...Sergei Bobrovsky (2x Vezina Trophy Winner). And then there was the nut case Bryzgalov, who I still think is on the Flyers payroll somehow. You get the point...the city of Philadelphia and Goalies does not mix. For over 30 years, the Flyers have been trying to get things right at this one position and for 30 years they have failed. That is up until now.
That is where I am hedging my bet on Carter Hart who will be the face of the Flyers for the next ten to fifteen seasons. I know that he is only 20 years old and this is a ton of pressure to put on a kid that has only a handful of AHL games under his belt. However; I am telling you that the time is now for this kid. The future is yesterdays news. It may have only been injuries that got Hart into an NHL game, but in my opinion the Flyers should keep him on the NHL roster, even when Brian Elliott returns. Hart can be the backup and learn from the veteran Elliott who has some experience grooming young goalies (most notably Jake Allen in St Louis).
Carter Hart has a ton of skill and needs to be thrown in the fire. The modern NHL and MLB does a very poor job of handling prospects in my opinion. Many of these prospects are held back out of fear that they will endure failure thus ruining their confidence. In reality, its the exact opposite. Failure is what will improve their confidence as they are able to overcome adversity and shine on the big stage (just ask Eagles QB Nick Foles). This is where we are at with Carter Hart. The Flyers organization has nothing to loose by keeping him on the roster. Right now today, at 20 years old, he provides them the best option in net and gives them the best chance to win. The New Jersey Devils faced a similar situation with a young Martin Brodeur back in 1993-1994 and we all know how that story turned out. Ride the tide Fly Guys.
This team needs excitement and that is what Hart will bring to the table. He may be young but his skill set far outweighs his age. He is ready for the big stage, you can just tell after last nights win against the Detroit Red Wings. Hart is polished and focused. He was razor sharp in net during his debut. Sure, there will be bumps in the road. There will be growing pains. I see an awakening here. A struggling team that just fired its GM and coach in the past two weeks. A team that lacks an identity. Well that identity has arrived and its # is 79. Carter Hart is not only the Flyers goalie of the future, he is the goalie of the present and the Flyers will be better for it. The carousel may finally be coming to an end and that is sweet news to all of the Flyer faithful that have been nothing but supportive of this franchise, even through all of the ineptitude and dysfunction. Welcome to Philadelphia MR. Hart!
So the winter meetings came and went without even a whisper of a Machado-Harper deal on the horizon. Yes there were plenty of rumors of where the two big fish may sign, but no impending deals coming soon. Sure there were deals that were done and there was even a three team trade. Some thought that Harper may sign a contract in his hometown as a way for Boras to make a splash. Negative. Neither Machado or his agent even attended the meetings as they have their own tour of meetings scheduled for next week. The meetings did see some premium starting and relief pitchers go off the board. The Yankees came to terms with J.A. Happ. The Rays signed Charlie Morton. The Mets went back to the well and signed Familia while Joe Kelly left Boston for LA. Meanwhile, Carlos Santana was traded for the second time in two weeks as he is headed back to Cleveland.
The Philadelphia Phillies organization entered the week looking to make their own splash and spend "stupid" money, as owner John Middleton stated in an interview earlier in the month. While the Phillies did not accomplish their goal of signing one of the two superstars, they did come to terms with free agent outfielder Andrew McCutchen. On paper this may seem like a failure. In reality it was just another step in the Phillies plan to improve the roster by upgrading another position of weakness. There has been so much banter today by baseball insiders whether the signing of McCutchen signals that the Phillies have either moved on from Machado and Harper or that ownership does not believe that they are in the running anymore. I would say that both of these theories are hogwash and that its just more writers trying to come up with stories.
Let's face it. The question truly is not whether or the not the Phillies have the money to land either Harper or Machado or even both. The true question is whether either of these players want to play for Philly. Well, its easy for haters to say that these guys do not want to play for the Phillies. However; money talks and ultimately the Phillies have the most money to throw at these stars. What we have here is a game of cat and mouse. Anyone that thought that the Phillies were going to leave the meeting having signed them really doesn't know how this process works. Its not like it used to be where all the top free agents went off the board right away. In fact, recent years have shown that most of the top guys are not signed until after Christmas or even into the new year (just look at last year with the Phillies and Jake Arieta).
The Phillies went into this offseason with a plan and don't expect them to deviate from that plan. No matter what jargon Matt Klentak tries to spit out; remember the voice behind the face is John Middleton. If Middleton wants Harper or Machado or both then expect that this is going to happen, barring any unforeseen circumstances. The circumstance that could happen would be that Harper and Machado both leave a ton of money on the table to sign elsewhere and that is truly a distinct possibility, although that seems highly unlikely. Expect the agents to continue floating out rumors to drive up the price until it comes down to two suitors. Then it comes down to which team blinks first and which one is willing to extend the dollars or the years. Expect Harper to command somewhere in the range of 10 years 350 million which for arguments sake puts him at the Phillies doorstep. Machado will be in the 8-10 year range and 275-300. Likewise the Phillies are the best match.
Dominoes will continue to fall. Until the news will finally break where and when Bryce and Manny make their decisions. If for some reason the Phillies do not come away with either of these players it will not be for lack of effort or money. It will be based solely on the fact that the players decided to sign for less money to go somewhere else. That's the only reason the Phillies don't get either of them. If this scenario does play out, the Phillies then go to plan B which may be an even better plan anyway. This plan is called Mike Trout. Its no secret that Trout has been linked to Philly for years now. Of course he is a local hometown kid that would love nothing more than to play in front of his friends and family. The Angels may even trade him at the deadline knowing that they will have to compete with the Phillies.
So in retrospect, if the Phillies strike out on Machado and Harper expect them to fill in holes with lower level free agents like Mike Moustakas and Michael Brantley. If someone were to tell you that the Phillies got Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, Mike Moustakas and Michael Brantley as well as one of the top relievers in baseball (Phillies linked to Andrew Miller and Zach Britton) would you say that it was a failure that they did not get the big names. I would say that's an awesome offseason for a team that is trying to improve a roster that was the youngest team in MLB in 2018. 2019 has Mike Trout written all over it as well as some star studded pitching free agents. So lets just be patient and see how this plays out before we all hit the panic button. I still say that the Phillies come away with both Harper and Machado, but then again who am I?!
The next few weeks should be exciting and it will feel like it did back in July at the trade deadline when it seemed like every other tweet was about Manny. Now multiply that by ten and that's how the next few weeks will be as far as social media goes. Kudos to Klentak and the gang so far for getting Segura and McCutchen while adding relief. Expect the Phillies to trade some pieces for a front line starter. Remember, Sixto Sanchez (Top Prospect) is in play. Despite what reports say, the Phillies could also be in line for JT Realmuto. Possible trade pieces include Mikael Franco, Nick Williams, Odubel Herrera and Sixto Sanchez. They could also move Cesar Hernandez, but that seems less likely. Will the Phillies come down with a big game prize? Only time will tell. However, they have done a great job thus far and the sky is the limit when it comes to the organizational plan. GAME ON!
Let me preface this article by saying that in no way did the "terrible" officiating in yesterday's Eagles/Cowboys game affect how poor the Eagles performed in the contest. However; no one can deny that the officiating performance may have been the worst of all time in NFL history. On the opening kickoff, the Eagles appeared to recover a fumble that was clear as day on replay that was not overturned by replay. According to the Replay officials in New York, there was no clear recovery by the kicking team (Eagles) even though you see four eagles in a pile and Kamu Grugier Hill come out of the pile with the ball. Doug Pederson challenged the ruling and of course was denied costing the team its first time out. What a way to start off the most important game of the Eagles season. So right off the bat the Eagles faced an uphill battle.
Now let's get to the actual game. 98 Plays to 43 Plays. 45.33 Minutes to 22.32 Minutes. 576 Total Yards to 256 Total Yards. 434 Passing Yards to 222 Passing Yards. 142 Rushing Yards to 34 Rushing Yards. 10/19 3rd Down Conversions to 1/9 3rd Down Conversions. 32 First Downs to 16 First Downs. These are the game stats and they paint an easy picture. This was TOTAL DOMINATION by the Dallas Cowboys over the Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas beat the Eagles handedly in this game despite the 6 point difference. 29-23 final score in overtime. The fact that the Eagles were even in this game and that they took the game to overtime is a miracle. Dallas is no doubt the better team this season and the results prove that.
This season has been excruciating for the Eagles team as well as fans alike. First of all the injuries. The Eagles have 10 Players on Injured Reserve and that number could grow to 12 after the injuries to Corey Clement (RB) and Josh Sweat (DE) yesterday. Here is the list: Jay Ajayi(RB)-Torn ACL, Derek Barnett(DE)-Shoulder, Elle Bouka(CB)-Torn ACL, Ronald Darby(CB)-Torn ACL, Mack Hollins(WR)-Sports Hernia, Mike Wallace(WR)-Broken Fibula, Rodney McLeod(SS)-Torn MCL, Jalen Mills(CB)-Foot Injury, Josh Perkins(TE)-Torn ACL, Paul Worilow(LB)-Torn ACL. That is just the injured reserve list. Other players that have missed significant time include: Carson Wentz(QB), Alshon Jefery(WR), Tim Jernigan(DT), Sidney Jones(CB), Darren Sproles(RB), Jordan Hicks(MLB), Lane Johnson(RT), Jason Peters(LT), Corey Clement(RB), and Haloti Nhagta(DT). That's 20 players from a 53 man roster that has saw significant injury time.
Both sides of the ball have been decimated by injury, but the defensive side has truly been whacked, mainly the defensive backfield. So that unit is missing its starting Safety (Rodney McLeod), both starting Cornerbacks (Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills) and also its slot Cornerback (Sidney Jones). Yes injuries are apart of the game and successful teams rise above them (just look at the 2017 Eagles); however; this team has been ravaged and you can only take so much before you crack. The starting Defensive backfield yesterday was De'vante Bausby, Cre'veon LeBlanc, Tre Sullivan, Corey Graham and Rasul Douglas. The only remaining starter the entire season has been safety Malcolm Jenkins. As mentioned, the injuries are not an excuse but you have to account for them when judging the performance of the team.
Now on to the game results and what went wrong. Well first of all, of course your defense will struggle when they are on the field for over half the game. The Eagles offense has been a huge disappointment and that has directly impacted the defense. Carson Wentz is not the same Quarterback. If you only look at his stats, the numbers say that he is having a better year: 21TDS/7INT, 3,074 Yards, 102.2QBR Rating, 69.6%Completion Percentage. All of these numbers are on better pace than last year. However; its the eye test that shows that Carson Wentz is not right. Slow starts every game. Lack of execution. Lack of confidence. Lack of accuracy. Totally missing wide receivers that are wide open. Three and outs every possession. The offense has been totally inept and this falls on Carson Wentz. Yes the other players on offense are not performing either, but it all goes back to Carson.
True, Wentz is less than a year removed from his torn ACL. This has to have some impact on his confidence and this may be the issue that he is having. He is still not totally healthy and he is not driving off of the knee. But he is slow on his reads. He is inconsistent. And he has had very poor starts. Carson has not been playing his best football. There is plenty of blame to go around on this roster. However; the person that I blame the most for the Eagles ineptitude is coach Doug Pederson. How do you only give Josh Adams the ball 7 times?!! How do you only rush the football 10 times with your running backs?!! Where was the confidence at the end of the game when you kicked an extra point instead of going for 2 and the win. Doug, you have definitely regressed.
The fact of the matter is that the Eagles season is now hanging in the balance. The team is injury riddled. The Quarterback is playing scared. The coach is making bone head mistakes on a weekly basis. The Eagles have three games left and have to win out to even have a shot at the playoffs. They are a 6-7 team and they have a 5% chance of making the playoffs. There are many questions that remain unanswered. The main thing to look at down the stretch is for Carson Wentz to get his game in gear and improve on the inconsistent play that he has displayed thus far. The other thing to keep an eye on is Doug Pederson and whether he can get this team to finally play well from the first quarter until the final play of the game. Only time will tell the fate of this Eagles team. One thing that remains more clear than the recovery of that fumble is the fact that the Eagles need to get healthy to truly move forward. More to come on Corey Clement and Josh Sweat In the near future. Eagle Nation, please try to take a deep breath and truly understand what has went wrong with this team. After all, they are still the reigning Super Bowl Champs!
All of Major League Baseball's Owners and executives will converge on Vegas this weekend, as Baseball's Winter Meetings are set to kick off on Monday. This means that the Hot Stove which is already boiling over will erupt in to flames. Every general manager's cell phone will be set to speed dial. Every player and agent will be attached at both hips. All eyes will be glued to social media via twitter, Instagram, face book, and ESPN live. There will be rumors galore some that will actually transpire into fact and others that will only be yesterday's fake news. Whatever the case may be, there is one fact that stands true. The Philadelphia Phillies organization is hell bent on signing at least one mega star and possibly more. The two prize pieces that are left to be had are Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
This is the time that we have all been waiting for. The Phillies have finished at .500 or worse in each of the past seven seasons. They have not had a winning record since 2011 which seems like eons ago. During that stretch the remaining pieces of the golden regime came and went (Utley, Howard, Rollins, Halladay, Lee, Hamels, etc.). The Phillies signed some average to above average free agents during that time, but no super star players. The 2019 Season was the year that was pointed to as the time where this would all change. The free agent class was the best in forever and the Phillies would finally have some cash to play with. Well fellas, the time has arrived. It is the perfect storm. As Brett Brown mentioned in the Sixers offseason...the time has come for "star hunting."
Well, in the Phillies case this can be considered Big Game Hunting. Some major trades and free agent signings have already occurred. James Paxton was traded to the Yankees. Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz were both shipped to the Mets. Paul Goldshmidt was traded to the Cardinals. Patrick Corbin (Top Free Agent Pitcher) signed with the Nationals. And Jean Segura was traded to yours truly the Phillies. However; the two biggest fish remain unsigned and this will be the time when decisions are made. Teams will either make or break their plans. Phillies owner John Middleton has already went on the record as saying that the Phillies are ready to spend tons of money and maybe even "be stupid" doing so. They are ready to spend stupid money.
Conventional wisdom says that the Phillies will only come away with one of either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. Some pundits will say that the Phillies will loose out on both players and have to settle for the scraps. But who is to say that the Phillies will not come away with BOTH star players. Let's face it...they have more money to spend than any other team including the New York Yankees. They have a good enough nucleus of young talent to attract these players. I know that it sucks when someone goes all in only to see everything tumble and come crashing down. Nonetheless, this is an exciting time to be a Phillies fan and I am dreaming big here. I am going out on a limb (I am sure that there will be many haters) to say that the Phillies are going to sign both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. The stars are aligned and the opportunity is there so why not!
The Phillies were also rumored to be heavy after Patrick Corbin. In fact, it was reported that they placed a better offer for his services than the Yankees. The teams mind set was that they would not be "out bid." In reality, they in fact were not out bid. The only reason that Corbin is not a Phillie today is because the Nationals went six years, which in my mind is a cardinal sin. In my opinion the Phillies lucked out by not getting Corbin for two reasons. Reason #1-Corbin really only had two good years and the money that was laid out on the table was ridiculous for future return on investment as well as risky due to his injury history. Reason #2-This now gives the Phillies a legitimate shot to out bid everyone by a long shot for both Machado and Harper. Say what you will about a player and their hearts desire and what city they may favor. But when its all said and done...money talks and bull shit walks and the Phillies can break their banks on both of these guys and still have money to play at the table.
Matt Klentak and the gang has their hands full, but no matter what happens, the purse is open and the pocket book is plentiful. The money is there. Now its just a matter of working magic behind the scenes and selling the player and agent on the teams future goals. There are many other needs and holes on this Phillies team, but signing one or both of these players is NUMERAL UNO on the agenda. After this feat is complete, they can continue to address the other areas of need and concern. I would also not be surprised to see the Phillies makes some trades during the meetings. Players like Cesar Hernandez, Mikael Franco, Odubel Herrera, and maybe even some prospects like Adonis Medina and JoJo Romero could be moved if the price is right. I am not particularly thrilled with this year's free agent class of starting pitching and I am guessing the Phillies are not either. Madison Bumgarner and Robbie Ray have both been on the Phillies radar. Corey Kluber is also available. I think the Phillies go trade to get their pitcher and concentrate the free agent money on bats.
As tomorrow comes and goes, so will a million more hot stove rumors. Tweets will fired off in a frenzy. Its hunting season baby and the lights are on. The Phillies are preparing to make their big splash. Does it not seem ironic that the Phillies rumor mill has been eerily quiet as of late, especially the sources closest to the team. I believe this is not ironic but merely purposeful anticipation of what is already a foregone conclusion. The Phillies are getting both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. A little over a month ago, Bob Nightengale said that the Bryce Harper was going to the Phillies and you can "bank on it." Well, this is Jason Voorhees telling you all that the Phillies will be coming away with both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado when its all said and done and you can BANK ON THAT! Happy Hunting Phillies...bring them both HOME!
After watching the Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes put on another clinic today, I couldn't help but think of Carson Wentz and his ongoing regression this season. Mahomes became the fastest player to reach 4,000 yards passing and 40+ touchdowns in NFL history. Since he took over in week 17 of 2017 as the Chiefs starter, he has played in 13 career games. In those games he has 4,000 yards passing and 41 touchdowns. Even more impressive is the fact that Mahomes is only the 9th QB in NFL history to throw 40 TD's in a season. There are only four quarterbacks that have multiple 40 TD seasons and they go by the names of Brees, Manning, Marino, and Rodgers. He is the third to throw for 40 in his teams first 12 games, but he is the fastest to 40 through career starts. In other words, Mahomes has been all world talent this season and has done something the NFL has never saw before and may never see again.
I don't think that anyone would have foreshadowed this type of performance by Mahomes coming into this season; however, many knew that he was a special talent. At this point I am going out on a limb to say that he is definitely a supreme athlete at the quarterback position that may be in a league of his own. He is definitely a better talent than Wentz at this point and believe me it hurts me to say that (being a die hard Eagles fan that bleeds green). However, we must take a look at the bigger picture. While Mahomes hit 40 TD's in 12 games, it took Wentz 25 games which is double the amount of time. The difference here is that in Carson's first season he was throwing the ball to the likes of Jordan Matthews and Dorial Green Bekham and an inconsistent Nelson Agholor. In comparison, Mahomes has Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins both of whom can stretch the field. He also had Kareem Hunt, up until last week who had 27 catches and 7 TD's not to mention Travis Kelce who has 79 receptions for 1,082 yards and 9 TD's.
It doesn't take rocket science to see that Mahomes is surrounded by better and more playmakers. That's not to say that the Philadelphia Eagles are without these type of players but they were and are few and far between, especially during Wentz's first season and also this season with all of the injuries. Wentz put up MVP numbers in 2017 before he was knocked out for the season with the torn ACL. He did it with the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, Zack Ertz, Torey Smith, and Corey Clement. Blount and Smith are gone. Ajayi is out for the season. Jeffery and Clement have both been banged up and missed significant time. And Agholor has been a shell of himself. That leaves a one man island, Zach Ertz, who has 84 catches/895 yards/6 TD's. That's pretty much it. Oh, and they did add Golden Tate at the trade deadline but he has yet to make any type of impact.
Another issue this season has been the lack of execution on the offensive line as well as the injuries. Carson has been under constant duress and has been sacked way too many times. Through all of this nonsense and chaos, let's not forget that Carson is coming off a major ACL and LCL injury that most people say takes at least a full year to even heal to the point of being back to square one. Well, we are two weeks away from the full year so maybe we will see Carson turn the corner here and get back on top. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Eagles lack significant playmakers on offense and I would argue that this is the biggest need in the offseason, regardless how the rest of this season goes down. We need a playmaker like all the other successful teams have.
Let's take a look around the league...starting with the Rams. This is who Jared Goff has at his disposal: Todd Gurley (best running back in football both rushing and receiving), Robert Woods (superb deep threat), Brandon Cooks (Top 10WR), Cooper Kupp (Alshon Jeffery level player). That's 4 Playmakers. Ok, now the Saints. Brees has Mark Ingram (Dual threat out of backfield), Alvin Kamara (Mark Ingram on steroids), Michael Thomas (Top 5WR), Tre'Quan Smith (Deep Threat). That's 4 Playmakers. Dallas and Dak Prescott have Ezekiel Elliott (Top 2 Running Back), Amari Cooper (Top 10WR), Cole Beasley (Top 30WR). That's 3 Playmakers. Patriots and Brady...James White (Top Fantasy Back both run and catch 10 total TD's), Julian Edelman (Deep Threat), Rob Gronkowski (Best Overall Tight End Football), Josh Gordon (Top 5 talent when he's not on the sauce). That's 4 Playmakers. We could continue this playlist but the bottom line is that all of the good teams and quarterbacks are surrounded by multiple playmakers. Wentz only has one real playmaker...Zach Ertz.
I can remember another Quarterback in this town that was never surrounded by enough playmakers and that was Donovan McNabb. And we all know how that story ended. Lets play out the rest of this season and hope that things go in the Eagles favor and they are able to win the division and play in the playoffs. However; I do not see them getting past week one with the talent that they are putting on the field. Yes, Wentz has not played the same and he has declined some from last year. But its true that he needs more weapons on this team if he wants to play with the big boys. If I am Howie Roseman, I am going after L'eVeon Bell in the offseason and I am drafting a Wide Receiver high in the first round. That's what I would do if I was running the team. The morale of the story...get some PLAYMAKERS Baby!!!
About Jason Voorhees
Jason resides in Norristown, PA and writes about all things sports and heavy metal music.