Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sixers Stay Quiet At Deadline

Let's just get this out of the way right now; the 76ers have been a big disappointment this season. They are 22-30 and 3.5 games out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. That being said, they still have 30 games remaining in the season which means plenty of time to catch up. The trade deadline was this past Thursday and the Sixers did not do much. 

DiLeo sits put at the deadline
Tony DiLeo, the Sixers GM, did not pull the trigger on any big deals this trade deadline. There was a rumored deal that the Atlanta Hawks offered DiLeo in which the Sixers would have acquired veteran forward Josh Smith. One of the most athletic and versatile players in the league, Smith has been the face of the Hawks for years. Now that his contract is set to expire at the end of the season, Smith will be a free agent and is not expected to re-sign with Atlanta. The Sixers would have given up a package including former 2nd overall pick Evan Turner and big man Spencer Hawes. DiLeo clearly thought this was too much for a player not guaranteed to re-sign. This would have been a big trade for the Sixers because they have Andrew Bynum's return right around the corner and Jrue Holiday playing at a high level; the addition of Smith would have put this team over-the-top. And in the summer if they could have re-signed both Bynum and Smith, they would have a 'big three' with Holiday, Bynum, and Smith. The deal did not go through and now the Sixers are waiting for the return of star big man Andrew Bynum. 

Bynum has not played a game all season for the 76ers but is almost ready to make his season debut. Luckily for the Sixers, Jrue Holiday came to play this season and he came to play at a high level. If Bynum can come back within the next two weeks and if he can play at the all-star level we all know he can play at, the Sixers should be making their way up the standings. This was the reason Tony DiLeo did not pull the trigger on any big moves this season. 

Although the Sixers did not pull off a big trade, they did however a guard to back up Jrue Holiday down the stretch by trading for Charles Jenkins from the Golden State Warriors for second round pick. Jenkins is a young, strong point guard that does not make mistakes. Very low risk deal for DiLeo and the 76ers that they thought could help coach Doug Collins down the stretch. Look for a good second half of the season by the Sixers.


Philly Stars: Ramon Galloway

Even though La Salle is coming off a loss to cross-town and Big-5 rival Temple, Ramon Galloway has been a player to watch all season long; he is having a fantastic season for the Explorers.

Ramon Galloway, 55
Position: Guard
Height: 6-3
Class: Senior
High School: William T. Dwyer (Fla.)
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Ramon Galloway is an astounding guard for the La Salle Explorers who is having an astounding season. Galloway is from Philly but played his high school ball in Florida. The senior guard played at the University of South Carolina for a while before transferring to La Salle.

At the age of 16, Ramon left Philly and moved to Florida to play his high school ball at William T. Dwyer who has a nationally ranked basketball program. Galloway is a very humble, young man who plays to make his family proud. When Ramon was two years old, his father was shot in the head and even though he lost vision in both of his eyes, he luckily survived. Ramon has the highest respect for his father and says how his father has a great understanding of basketball . Galloway returned to Philadelphia because he wanted to be with his family and to be with his ill grandfather who was diagnosed with liver cancer. Ramon received a hardship waiver from the NCAA due to his grandfather's illness, meaning he would not have to sit a season. After transferring to La Salle, Galloway changed his number from 12 to 55 for the address of his childhood home in Philly where he grew up. He is a family man and plays the game to make his family proud.

Last season, Galloway was a key piece on the Explorers averaging 14.1 points per game. This season, Galloway has taken over as the team's main option. He is averaging 17.3 points per game this season which is good for second in the A-10. He is not only a great scorer, he is averaging close to 4.0 assists per game and close to 5.0 rebounds per game this year. Those numbers are nothing to take lightly, especially because some of his biggest games this season have come against tough opponents. Against Big-5 opponent Villanova earlier on in the season, Galloway scored 26 points and was a monster on the defensive end with 5 steals. On January 26 against then #19 VCU, Galloway scored a huge 31 points in a big win. He has proven that he can play at a high level against big teams in big games.

Ramon Galloway is a great player and one of the best in the city of Philadelphia but he is even a better young man. Head coach Dr. Giannini speaks very highly of Galloway and says that he plays for his family and goes onto the court every day to make them proud.

Next up in my Philly Stars series will be St. Joe's CJ Aiken.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Flyers Sophomores Starting to Pick Up the Pace

The Philadelphia Flyers sophomores have a lot of pressure on them this year.  After not resigning Jaromir Jagr and trading away James van Reimsdyk for Luke Schenn.  The Flyers took a chance by believing their sophomores would be able to continue their progress and pick up the slack of these two players leaving.  Early on that wasn't the case Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and Matt Read all started the season off slow and it led to a Flyers team that was struggling to score.  After a solid home stand from the Flyers the three sophomores are looking better and better.

The biggest jump in a players game on a year by year basis is usually from your rookie year to your sophomore year.  While many players have dealt with sophomore slumps in every sport these three guys were expected to pick up where they left off with even more to show.  The lockout didn't help them, as they are still adjusting to the NHL.  A shortened training camp and no preseason games can be tough on young guys who are still trying to figure all the little things out.  Whether it's how they prepare for the game or how they handle their off days they are still trying to figure this all out.  All three played during the lockout, but they were playing against teams that wouldn't stand a chance against NHL caliber talent.

Matt Read went overseas during the lockout playing in Sweden so he could be prepared and ready for when the NHL lockout was over.  He was able to stay in shape and work on his skills, but he wasn't playing against anyone that had the skill set to play in the NHL.  As for Schenn and Couturier they were able to play in the AHL for the Adirondack Phantoms.  They were the team leaders in points as Schenn had 13 goals and 20 assists while Couturier produced 10 goals and 18 assists in their 31 game stint in the AHL.  While that all looks good we all know the AHL talent doesn't come close to what you see in the NHL.  Going from a weak league to the NHL is hard for youngsters as the game is much faster and as you saw it took them a few games to readjust to the talent and speed of the game.

We are now 13 games into the season and they have all been playing better.  All three are settling in on their lines and gaining more confidence with their linemates.  The seem more comfortable and now its time that we start noticing them on the score sheet.

Read, who is the oldest of the three has started to find his scoring touch.  A two-way forward who has is a solid shooter has started to find the score sheet in a big way.  After not registering a point in his first three games Read has followed up the next 10 with 9 points as he leads the Flyers in the category.  He has been all over the ice, he has been better on the penalty kill and that has shown after the Flyers struggled to kill penalties early on and he has been playing very well on the offensive side as well.  He has been making plays and has also been in the right spot at the right time.  Read is looking like he is on his way to being one of the top point getters on this Flyers team.

Schenn, received great news this summer as the Flyers announced they traded James van Reimsdyk to the Maple Leafs for his brother Luke Schenn.  The Schenn brothers were going to be on the same team and that has to be awesome for brothers who grew up playing hockey and are very close.  Thats the good news, the bad news is that Schenn didn't get off to the start he hoped for.  After being a points machine in the AHL everyone was expecting a monster year for one of the top youngsters in the NHL. That did not happen right off the bat though.  Schenn struggled offensively and he worked his way from the first line all the way to the third.  Now that he is centering a line he and developed some chemistry he looks to playing with a lot more confidence.  One thing he has absolutely excelled in this year is his physical play, he is second on the team in hits with 34 on the year.  He has been throwing his body around and has played tough Flyers hockey, he just couldn't get on the scoreboard though.  In the last six games for the Flyers he has produced 6 points and that is a good sign.  He looks more comfortable in the offensive zone and he is starting to get his chances that weren't there to begin the season.  It has taken some time, but it looks like Brayden is starting to find his scoring touch and the Flyers really need it.

Last, but not least is Couturier who is known for his play against the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs where he gave Evegeni Malkin tons of trouble and shut him down offensively.  Couturier came into the league as an exceptional defensive forward as his offensive game, which is certainly there developed to the pro game.  Being matched up against the top scoring line of the opposing team night after night the offensive chances haven't really been there.  He struggled on both ends of the ice early on, but it looks like it was just some rust and that he is starting to settle in.  While he is already on pace to have a better points year than last year the production offensively just isn't where everyone hoped it would be.  Couturier has improved though and we just need to hope that it continues.  Everybody needs to remember that he came right in to the NHL and he is only 20 years old.  While he sits the next few games with the flu we have to be happy with how he has played of late.  Like the other two it has taken some time, but he is starting to make more of an impact on the ice every night.

The pressure is certainly on, but the weight on their shoulders should start to ware off.  They have been playing better and that is certainly a good sign, but it isn't good enough.  We need these three to continue to get better every game if the Flyers are going to make a run this year.  The play is getting better as we wait for them to reach their high expectations for the season.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Philly Stars: Khalif Wyatt

In the coming days, I will be profiling basketball stars from this great city, specifically, from the "Big Five" which includes Temple, LaSalle, Penn, Villanova, and St. Joes. I will take the best player from each team and put them on the big screen for everyone to see. Today's star is senior guard Khalif Wyatt from Temple University.

Khalif Wyatt, 1
Position: Guard
Height: 6-4
Class: Senior
High School: Norristown
Hometown: Norristown, PA

If you were to hear Fran Dunphy speak about this young man, you would think that Wyatt was Dunphy's own son; that is how much praise Fran has for this star guard. But if you were to watch this team play, you would also see that Wyatt is the player that frustrates Fran the most and that's because he expects so much from Khalif. With Ramone Moore, Juan Fernandez, and Michael Eric moving on to bigger things, Dunphy turned to Wyatt to lead the team this season and so far, Wyatt has delivered.

To say Khalif Wyatt has been good this year is a big understatement. This man has been phenomenal and Mr. Do-it-all for the Owls so far this season. Wyatt leads the team and the A-10 conference in points per game with and amazing 18.9 PPG. We all know Wyatt can score but the question coming into the season was, could he lead a team? Well, not only is "Leaf" scoring the ball at a high volume, he is also leads the team in assists with 3.9 per game. Most of Wyatt's success this year has come from his ability to draw fouls and get to the free throw line at an astounding rate, getting close to 6.5 free throw attempts per game. Yeah, many of you are probably saying he only plays in the A-10, so what?

Many of Wyatt's great games this season have come against some of the top teams in the country and against some of Temple's biggest rivals. On December 22 against Syracuse, in Madison Square Garden, Wyatt exploded for a career high 33 points in a big win. Even though it came in a loss, Khalif scored 26 points against top ten opponent Kansas. Against Big Five rival Penn, Leaf dropped 26 points and 5 assists in a rivalry win. Coming in another loss, Wyatt had another superb game against another top ten team in Butler, scoring 22 points and dropping 6 dimes. In a nail biter against St. Joe's, a game in which the Hawks prevailed by one point, Wyatt scored his current career high of 34 points. So, for those people still saying he can't play against the big boys, you might want to reconsider.

When asked what his expectations for this season were, Wyatt responded by saying he wanted to make this the most memorable season of his career as an Owl. Well, he certainly has been doing that and more this year, coming up with highlight plays almost every game. He is the best player on this team and one of the best in the city of Philadelphia.

Next up in my Philly Stars series will be La Salle's Ramon Galloway.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

State Of The Sixers

The Sixers. Ahhh, there are so many words I can use to describe how this season is going for them but those words might be considered inappropriate. We are at the point in the season where most teams start to relax a bit due to the All-Star break that is coming up next weekend. The Sixers, however, have no time to relax or take a back seat because they have had a very disappointing season so far. The state of the Sixers is not good, to say the least.

Let's talk about their performance thus far this season. As of right now, the Sixers are ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, which is not good enough for a playoff spot. Although we are not even at the All-Star break and there is plenty of season remaining, the recorded needs to be noted. Most of their struggles have been a result of not rebounding, as they are only 21st in the NBA in rebounding with a team average of only 41.29 rebounds per game(RPG). This results in giving up second chance points on the defensive end and not enough second chance points for them on the offensive end. Another stat that is just brutal is their scoring; the Sixers are second-to-last (29th), in points per game, which is just unacceptable. Yes, Jrue Holiday is an all star this year for the East and is averaging 19.3 PPG but no one else is chipping in to the scoring effort. Besides a few break-out scoring games from Evan Turner and Nick "Swaggy P" Young, no one has been a consistent scorer to help Jrue carry the load. The one bright side of this season has been their defense. The Sixers are sixth in team defense giving up a mere 95.5 PPG. Safe to say though, the Sixers will need to perform better if they want a shot at the playoffs. 

I know many of you are probably saying that the Sixers are missing Andrew Bynum and that this season hasn't actually began yet, until he returns. Well, that is true but even when he returns will it be too late to turn this season around? Bynum said he is targeting a return after the All-Star break but we will see if any other set backs happen. And even when he does come back, will he be the Bynum we all know him to be? The big 7 footer who dominates the paint offensively and defensively? For that, we will have to wait and see. But for the Sixers to make and compete in the playoffs, they will need Bynum or they won't go anywhere. 

Bynum watching from bench
Last topic I want to discuss is the chance that the Sixers have to make a move in the standings and make the playoffs. First off, they will need help from other teams losing. The Celtics suffered a big loss recently when their star player Rajon Rondo went down with a knee injury and was lost for the season, so you would have to think they will take a step back and fall in the standings. If Bynum can return and return to his full form, you could also say that the Sixers will move into the eighth seed or even the seventh seed. There has been a lot of rumors of the Bucks moving some of their star players via trade so even they could take a step back. Right now, it's safe to say that the Sixers will not be higher than a six seed because Miami, Indiana, New York, Chicago, and Brooklyn are on a different level right now in terms of just talent. That being said, even with Bynum's long awaited return, the Sixers might still need to go out and grab someone else via trade to help Holiday carry the scoring load. They might also need to go get another big man strictly to help with rebounding because when Bynum comes back, even he will not be able to do all the rebounding. The Sixers have a ton of pieces they can move and if they can trade for one, maybe two players, they have a real shot with Bynum returning at making the playoffs. 


The current State of the Sixers is not good, but they have time for improvement. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

How Did We Get Here?


Earlier this week, NBA statistics guru John Hollinger of ESPN released his Sixers 2012-13 season forecast. For those that aren’t subscribed to ESPN Insider (I have it from buying a magazine subscription), I’ll give you a summary. Although the article does present some great stats and info, his conclusions and predictions about this upcoming season for the 76ers are incredibly pessimistic and less statistically based than what his writing is used to. His message is this: the Sixers entered the offseason a very deep and young lineup with the potential to make some strategic offseason moves and be a team to be reckoned with. Every move they made outside of the Bynum deal erased that possibility, according to Hollinger. I, for one, argue most of his thought process on this one. So, here is my review of the offseason and prediction for the upcoming season in contrast to Mr. Hollinger’s.
--The approaching article is around 2000 words. Don't be ashamed to skim--
The Sixers took Larry Hughes with the
eighth pick in the 1998 Draft over
players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce,
and Al Harrington
I’ll start from the same point that he did: Draft Night. Even though they've made some horrible decisions in the past, I've grown to trust the Sixers' front office when it comes to the draft. Excluding Evan Turner due to his clouded future, taking Samuel "Slammin' Sammy" Dalembert 10th overall was the only true "Say What?" decision that didn't turn out to be more of an "I Told You So" one – Since drafting Larry Hughes in 1998, at least. You could argue taking Mo Speights at 16 didn’t work out, but he’s actually shown a lot of promise as an athletic, scoring bigman, so I’m counting him into Evan Turner’s to-be-determined group. With that said, I liked this draft for my own reasons, which could be moronic and completely false in your opinion, but I'll sing my song anyway.
I think Harkless was drafted with the plan to help fill the void that would be left by a potential Iguodala trade (although he hadn't yet, if the takeover by Collins and his clash with Iguodala were as extensive as Hollinger suggests, I'd say Dre' was already looking into cheap airfare), as Harkless is extremely athletic, a very capable defender (though his PF role in college is certainly different than the wing defender Iguodala is), and his height for a SF could have equated to the same benefits that Iguodala's style of playing bigger than his 6'6 frame suggests provided. As for the Moultire trade, nearly every amateur and expert had him going to the Sixers at 15 instead of Harkless. They clearly liked him a great deal, but his price was evidently a lot lower than 15, which is why they waited to pull the trigger until Miami took him at 27. Here's where the middle ground that can't be found between Hollinger and I: he see this team's future a little darker than I do, but I think trading a lottery protected future first round pick for a big man with great size (at the time, they had no size in their front court) and the potential to become a quality starter was well worth it, especially when that Sixers roster was so young and really had nowhere to go but up from their 8th seed finish that resulted in a 15th pick - even if a trade didn't happen. Hollinger also mentioned that Moultrie didn't fill a roster need. That may have been true, and still might be true even with all of the moves this offseason, but his designation on draft night was very clear: Elton Brand's replacement. Regardless of if you agreed or disagreed with Brand’s amnestying, he's both injury prone and approaching elderly, in basketball years at least. The risk and liability that paralleled Brand was either becoming too much to take, or had already reached its threshold. Yes, Lavoy Allen could possibly fill Brands shoes in Philadelphia, but there was no guarantee that another team wasn't going to throw a bunch of money at a prospect that shined in the playoffs, and there is a much better chance in finding a replacement between the two of them rather than just Allen. Throw in the fact that both these players could look good in trades (just as one proved to), and these were great investments.
Lavoy Allen, just a home town kid who few saw succeeding,
matched and contained one of the best bigmen to ever play
the game.
Their handling of Allen's rookie contract was, in fact, horrendous. Everyone saw the trouble that his one year, no team option rookie contract would cause this off season the moment he started producing in the place of Hawes and Brand during their injuries. I'm not defending the decision to needlessly leave out a team option or another season or two at the minimum, but he was, after all, just a local Philly boy that was ranked as the worst player in the NBA by #NBARank in 2011. The deal was obviously done lazily, but they clearly had just as little faith as the journalists did in him making the team, let alone standing out. Regardless, after his very surprising rookie season was capped off by locking horns with Garnett in the playoffs, they needed to sign him back. And a young, defensively gifted PF with loads of potential, respect, and work ethic could be a lot more expensive than 6 million over two years.
Amnestying Brand was the way to go. Yes, the wrap he received was harsh considering he's still an effective and efficient player, but that's only when he's healthy, which rules out most of the 4 years he played in Philly, safe for 2010-11 where he evidenced the player he can be while not being plagued by injuries. When he's hurt, though, his presence on the floor was basically a burden to his teammates. Hollinger mentions his production as a defender, which he displayed even through injuries over the years, but he was bullied throughout the Celtics series by Garnett and seemingly had no effect on Brandon Bass in his breakout Game 5 performance. Lavoy proved his defense was either good enough to counter Brand's departure or surpass it - hell, I think he's already done that. Yes, the Sixers are paying 16 million dollars for Brand to compete against them, but the amnesty clause allows that 16 million to vacate from the salary cap, so it's just coming out of the pockets of the Adam Aron and the rest of the (m/b)illionaires that run the Sixers, which shows me dedication to the team that I never noticed from previous owners that shall remain nameless for fears that his company will cut my cable or internet for defamation. The power forward minutes vacated by Brand will be of much better use in the hands of Thaddues Young, Allen, Spencer Hawes, and Moultrie.
The day that Lou Williams was signed by Atlanta, I did a Judd-Nelson-Breakfast-Club-fist-thrust. He was ineffective at just about everything but scoring, which he accomplished while also frustrating the hell out of his team's fanbase. He was a horrendously streaky three-point shooter who couldn't rebound, pass, or finish strong. He had two moves that ever had a positive result: the long 2, which I recall Hollinger himself saying was the worst quality of this team before the opening round of the playoffs last year, and his drive. To start the season, Lou's drive was basically the only way a foul would be called for Philadelphia, but the fouls stopped being called toward the end of the season and into the playoffs. Since his drive would be committed to the foul and desperation heave, it became fruitless. If Williams isn't getting his foul calls, he's worthless. As evidence, look at any of his postseason numbers:
SEASONTEAMGPGSMINFGM-AFG%3PM-A3P%FTM-AFT%ORDRREBASTBLKSTLPFTOPTS
'07-'08 6022.54.0-10.0.4000.3-1.5.2223.7-5.0.7330.51.52.02.00.01.01.81.212.0
'08-'09 6024.83.5-8.5.4121.0-2.7.3751.7-2.5.6670.32.22.52.80.20.51.72.09.7
'10-'11 5026.03.4-10.4.3271.2-4.0.3002.8-3.8.7370.01.61.63.00.01.01.20.810.8
'11-'12 13027.53.8-10.9.3520.6-3.7.1673.2-4.0.7880.21.92.03.00.01.01.31.211.5
Career30025.73.7-10.2.3670.7-3.1.2372.9-3.9.7500.31.82.12.80.00.91.51.311.1
His replacement, Nick Young, wasn't exactly a bad signing in my opinion. Sure, Williams might be a slightly better defender (Williams' poor defense was called out by Andre Iguodala last season, as detailed by Sports Illustrated), but he suits the team much more effectively. Williams needs the ball and the offense run through him to be effective, where as Young has the jump shot to play off ball. His FG% did regress pretty extensively last season, but even if it doesn't bounce back, it'll be the same 40.whatever percent that Williams has posted in three separate seasons. It's worthy to note Young's outstanding shooting in the post season, as well. A player that shoots 51.5% from the three point line in the post season seems pretty essential to a team that couldn't buy a three during crunch time last post season. All in all, the one year, 5.6 million dollar contract he signed is roughly the yearly salary Williams received from Atlanta, and it comes without a multi year commitment.
Whatever Kwame is bringing to the table,
hopefully wasn't  from Charlotte.
The Sixers sign Kwame Brown. Ugh. I hate even attempting to defend his signing, but I guess he's an alright rebounder and defender, which they needed desperately in the post all season (though Hollinger argued against that need, big men scored at will throughout the season, and the playoffs revealed how easily the Sixers could be out hustled to rebounds and in the post), and he was signed before Bynum was acquired. All I can say is I hope Moultrie can learn to play up and replace Kwame quickly.
Like Hollinger mentions, you can't beat free, which Dorrell Wright was. He's going to be more important to this offense then most think, though. Since the defenses will crash on Bynum, I think the 2012-13 Sixers offense will do what the Magic have done With Dwight Howard since they drafted him, which is to fire, fire, fire from 3. Having the 3 point shooting efficiency of Jrue Holiday, Young, Wright, Jason Richardson, and even Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes being able to stretch the long 2 and occasional 3 will make this offense nearly impossible to stop, especially for 7 games.
Not much to say about signing Spencer Hawes to the tune of 13 million over 2 years. Seems like a pretty safe signing of an above average shooting bigman that already knows the system. Personally, I think he thrives being able to play off of Bynum with his new role at the 4, as his nice jumper will stretch defenses to the point where they can't exactly bear down on Bynum.
Andrew Bynum (rocking the start of a Dr. J afro)
and Jason Richardson (bald-er than all hell) at their introductory
press conference.
The big kahuna: trading for Jrich and Andrew Bynum. This trade was obviously an incredible deal for the Sixers, and that's coming from quite possibly the last fan of Andre Iguodala in Philadelphia. I'm honestly happy for him, though. Hopefully Denver will give him the respect that a poor man (more like, steady income making man)'s Lebron, both offensively and defensively, deserves. And ultimately, it's the at best seventh or eighth best wing player in the league with 3 unproven prospects for the game's second most dominant center and an athletic wing player that knows how to compliment a low post force with some rangeI'll take that...But my Iguodala jersey will be sported at the Sixers Halloween home opener against Denver...count on it.
So where exactly should the Sixers stand come playoff time? That depends on so many variables. Will Evan Turner or Jrue Holiday take their next steps? How will the Sixers' amazingly efficient defense of last season be affected by losing it's best defensive player in Iguodala? Does Royal Ivey bring back his pregame break dancing? How bad is Bynum's knee? As it stands, I see Bynum making it back to action without missing too much time, and the Sixers utilize their range-friendly offense to become a top offensive team in the NBA. They'll need about 55-58 wins to secure the East's second seed, which I see them attaining due to Boston's aging lineup and Derek Rose's knee injury hindering his ability to cut and be an effective playmaker, at least for a large portion of the regular season. Regardless, I'm just happy the season is finally here. Let's all avoid as much speculation as possible, sit back, and enjoy a full NBA season (sorry, NHL fans. We felt your pain last year.). Enjoy everyone!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Eagles: Predictions For the Season

After a very disappointing season in the eyes of all Eagles' fans, this season holds just as many expectations to succeed. The question is; will the Eagles follow through on everyone's expectations or will they falter like last season? The team reloaded on defense with a slew of young players and a veteran middle linebacker in DeMeco Ryans. The offense suffered a big loss with the injury of star offensive lineman Jason Peters. With additions on defense, and another year in Juan Castillo's system, we will have to wait and see how the Birds perform this year. But, with a new season comes new predictions. So, here are my predictions for key players, and my prediction for the team this season: 

Michael Vick, QB: Here is a bold prediction for Vick this season. He WILL PLAY all 16 games of the regular season. Why? I think Andy Reid will convince him to slide when he runs. Yeah I know that does not make Vick as explosive as he can be, but it will keep him healthy, and plus he can do damage with his arm too. And that new flack jacket will help to protect his ribs as well. So, I say Vick stays healthy for all 16 games and puts up monster stats. Stat Line: 4100 passing yards, 30 TDs, 10 INT. 600 rush yards, 5 TDs. Let's hope this line stands true, because a healthy Vick means winning games. 

McCoy ready for another season
LeSean McCoy, RB: Shady had the best year of his career by far, and he had the best year of any running back in the league last year. He was fourth in rush yards, and first in touchdowns with an astounding 17 rush TDs. He stayed healthy, and that was the key to his amazing season. He can run, he can catch balls out of the backfield and most importantly, he can SCORE. With the offensive line looking good again (besides the Peters injury), McCoy should have another great year. Stat Line: 1400 rush yards, 12 TDs. 300 receiving yards, 3 TDs. It's not as many touchdowns as last year, but who really expects he will rush for 17 TDs again? If he has this year, it will still hold up to be one of the best season's by a running back this year. 

Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, WR: For these guys, if Vick stays healthy, they will put up great numbers, because we all know they can get open, and beat the defense down the field. Jackson is a flyer and Maclin is more of a technical receiver, making for a great combination of balanced wide outs. This should be their best year playing together if Vick stays healthy and makes good throws to them. Combined Stat Line: 2200 receiving yards, 18 TDs. This young duo should put up great numbers, with their good route running abilities and ability to burn the defensive backs down the field. 

Juan Castillo ready for his second year as DC
Defense: The Birds led the league in sacks last season, with 50. The Andy Reid system of rotating defensive lineman has worked for years. Same thing will need to happen this year. In order for the defensive backs to succeed, Jason Babin and Trent Cole will have to be relentless in getting to the quarterback. In order for the entire defense to succeed, Babin and Cole will have to be exceptional. Combined Stat Line: 50 sacks, 18 INTs, 18.5 points per game allowed. The Eagles will be one of the best defenses in the league again, in terms of points allowed. But it all depends on if the players will buy into the Castillo system again. 

All in all, I think the Eagles will be one of the great powers in the NFC again. This team is too talented, too deep, too well coached, and too experienced not to be great. Andy Reid is fighting for his job once again, and he knows this could be his last year if he doesn't succeed. And the players for sure have his back, and will play their hardest for him. So here it is, my season prediction for the Birds: 

12-4: I really do think this year's team is too talented to lose more than 5 games. A very balanced team makes a very good teams. This team can run, pass, play defense, and most importantly score points. This team is revived and ready to go for a great year. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Danny Watkins Charity Event


Come out on Tuesday September 11 to support the All Hands Working Charity at Chickie's and Pete's in South Philadelphia.

Danny Watkins, offensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles, is the co-founder of the All Hands Working Charity. 

All Hands Working is a charity founded by Joe Gordon with the help of Danny Watkins.  Working as both a volunteer and career firefighter for over ten years, Joe Gordon noticed a need for programs that assist firefighters when they become injured in the line of duty. Conversations with Danny Watkins about the need to provide a program that would not only help injured firefighters, but work to prevent injuries in the first place, turned the idea into a reality. All Hands Working provides an avenue for under-funded departments to receive life saving training, fitness programs, and equipment necessary to stay healthy.

The event will be fun with an appearance by Danny Watkins, as well as great food and drink.  Make sure to stop by and support this great charity.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sixers Acquire Andrew Bynum


Since Allen Iverson's departure in 2006, the Sixers have been searching for that super star.  For years the Sixers have been desperately lacking that go to guy who can be depended on when the game is on the line.

Finally, it seems that the Sixers have their long awaited super star in center Adrew Bynum.
In a 4 team blockbuster deal centered on the movement of Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Sixers came away with the second best big man in the game in Andrew Bynum.  Here is a complete breakdown of the 4 team mega deal.

Lakers Get: Dwight Howard from Magic, Chris Duhon from Magic, Earl Clark from Magic

Nuggets Get: Andre Iguodala from Sixers

Sixers Get: Andrew Bynum from Lakers, Jason Richardson from Magic

Magic Get: Arron Afflalo from Nuggets, Al Harrington from Denver, Nik Vucevic from Sixers, 1st round pick Maurice Harkless from Sixers, Nuggets 2014 1st round draft pick, Sixers 2015 1st round draft pick, Lakers 2017 1st round draft pick

The deal seems rather complicated, but it's pretty simple when its broken all down.  The Sixers definitely gave up a lot in Andre Igudoala, Nik Vucevic, Mo Harkless, and a 1st round draft pick, but they added a 24 year old dominant center to the team who will hopefully be a force in the paint for the Sixers for years to come.  Bynum is entering into the final year of his contract and I feel like the Sixers will definitely look to sign him to a long term deal.

So what does Bynum bring to the Sixers?  First off he brings size.  Bynum is 7 foot, 285 pounds and an absolute force in the middle.  He is also ferocious on the boards as he averaged 11.8 boards per game last year.  Bynum also has a nice close to mid range jumper that helped him average 18.7 points per game last year for the Lakers.

While Bynum is arguably the second best big man in the game behind Dwight Howard, he does have issues off the court.  Bynum is at times immature, but I think he will be fine under the leadership of Doug Collins.

Overall this deal is huge for the Sixers.  The Sixers were lucky to get out of the first round last year, and the addition of Bynum now makes them a legitimate force in the East behind the Bulls, Heat, and Celtics.  Will they win a championship any time soon? Probably not, but they at least have a star to build their team around, and a blueprint for the future.    

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Eagles Preseason Game 1 Preview


Finally, the season is almost here.  In just about a month, the Eagles will be back and looking to right the ship after a disappointing 2011 season.  Heading into Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, there are many things to keep an eye out for.  Here are some of the main story lines and things to watch out for.

Michael Vick
I’m more interested to see how Vick assumes his role as leader of this team than I am in his actual performance.  It seems like this year Vick has really stepped into the role as the outright leader of this football team.  While I’m certainly interested to see how Vick bounces back after a mediocre 2011, I really want to see how he rallies the troops and gets this offense to respond in pressure situations.

Middle Of Defense
The Eagles spent a lot of effort both in the draft and free agency to improve the middle of their defense.  On Thursday night, keep an eye out for newcomers Fletcher Cox and Demeco Ryans, two new additions that are sure to improve this defense.  The Eagles traded up in the draft to select Cox who is a very powerful defensive lineman.  They also traded for Demeco Ryans who is an All-Pro middle linebacker.

Desean Jackson
Desean signed a big deal during the off season so I will be watching to see how he performs now that he is all locked up and set financially.  Desean really has no excuses now.  The spotlight will be on him to as he attempts to prove that he is an elite wide receiver.

Juan Castillo
Castillo has been given a second chance after a sub par 2011 season as Eagles defensive coordinator.  I will be watching to see how Castillo adjusts during the course of the game.
   
Andy Reid
It is likely that Andy Reid will be back for Thursday’s game against the Steelers.  After the passing of his son Garret Reid, my prayers are with Andy and his family during this extremely difficult time.  Tuesday was Garret's funeral and there was a quite a big turnout as many came to pay their respects.  So far it seems that there has been a lot of support from the Eagles and beyond as the Reids struggle through this extremely difficult time.

Overall there are a ton of things to watch for in Thursday night’s game against the Steelers.  The Eagles have added a lot of key pieces and hopefully it will all come together against the Steelers.