Is Atlantas Dirk Koetter the Head Coach for Nick Foles?

Is Atlantas Dirk Koetter the Head Coach for Nick Foles?

Within a matter of weeks, Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman
will be interviewing a number of qualified candidates for the Eagles’ head
coaching job. Among the high-profile names already rumored to be in line for
the position are Super Bowl XXXVII champion Jon Gruden, and the innovative Chip
Kelly at the University of Oregon. More are sure to follow.

But coaching searches are not necessarily all about catching
the biggest fish in the ocean – more like finding a pair of pants that fit just
right. If the comfort of Nick Foles is what’s at stake here, Atlanta Falcons
offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter could be just the man to nurture this particular
quarterback.

On Wednesday’s edition of Daily News Live (video below), Ray Didinger
revealed some little-known history – at least in Philly – between the coach and
quarterback. In 2006, Koetter was the head coach of the Arizona State Sun
Devils, Foles his recruit. The long-time college coach was fired at the
conclusion of the season however, setting off the series of events that
eventually led to Foles landing with cross-desert rival Arizona.

Fast forward to 2012, where Koetter is widely viewed as NFL-head
coach material, and Foles is a developmental quarterback with upside. It’s almost
as if the two were meant to be all along.

Recruiting a quarterback for perennial also-ran Arizona
State, and coaching him in the NFL are two very different things obviously. It
doesn’t mean Koetter is automatically enamored with the idea of being chained
to Foles at his next stop, nor does it require the Eagles hire this coach and
only this coach to continue on the path with this quarterback.

Of course, Philadelphia could do worse than Koetter, and he
should undoubtedly be in the mix.

Quick background: played QB at Division I-AA Idaho State
from ‘77-’80 before working his way up through the college ranks for 20 years –
a back-story that includes three run-ins with Andy Reid – eventually earning
head coaching gigs at Boise St. and ASU. After his firing, jumped to the
Jacksonville Jaguars as offensive coordinator, then just this year took the
Atlanta job.

The 12-2 Falcons are ranked seventh overall in total
offense, seventh in points scored. They also feature the league’s fifth-ranked
passing attack, led by Matt Ryan. The Exton, Pa. native happens to be in the
midst of the best season in his five-year professional career, completing 68.5%
of his passes, averaging over 300 yards per game, and tossing 27 touchdowns to
14 picks.

Beyond the numbers, two areas stand out. First, while Ryan
has a better pedigree as a third-overall draft pick, he and Foles do share
similar skill sets as classical pocket passers. Second, Koetter managed to overhaul
Atlanta’s offense in one offseason, turning their somewhat conservative
approach into the modernized, downfield attack that has become increasingly
common in the NFL.

Again, it would be surprising if he was not among the
coaches who receive a phone call on the first of January. By no means is this
to suggest it’s Koetter or bust, but the links to Foles are clearly defined –
not to mention Reid, whose word believe it or not may have some influence in this
matter.

The Jon Grudens and Chip Kellys of the world are out there,
but so too are dozens of relatively anonymous coaches, some of whom have
qualities or connections that might make them a better fit. Needless to say, next
month is going to be extremely interesting.

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Commence the Justin Anderson era

Commence the Justin Anderson era

Last night, the Philadelphia 76ers came seconds away from not just their second straight win since their already shorthanded team was further decimated over the All-Star break, but their second straight pantsing of New York after what should've been an easy Knicks win. Down double-digits for most of the second half -- and trailing by 12 with just five minutes to go -- the Ballers battled back to take a one-point lead on a Jahlil Okafor hook shot with nine seconds to go. But Carmelo Anthony was unstoppable virtually all night, and he victimized Robert Covington at the buzzer with a baseline jumper that avenged the T.J. McConnell shot a couple months earlier. Final score: Knicks 110, 76ers 109. 

Hard to get mad at this L when you're just overwhelmed with love for everyone on the roster. Dario Saric continued his awesome February with 19-15-5 -- the first Sixers rookie to put up those numbers in a half-century -- even though his shot wasn't really falling (7-17 FG, 1-5 3PT). That's what's really remarkable about Dario's recent hot streak, and what separates it from, say, Nik Stasukas' impossibly scorching late 2016 -- he's averaging 20 a game (along with nine rebounds and three assists) over his last seven, and he's shooting over 50% for that span, but he's doing it while only hitting 31% from deep. The fact that he's scoring so prolifically without getting a lot of lucky bounces means it's not just an unsustainable fluke, and that Dario's gonna be a problem for defenses in this league for a long time. 

Speaking of Nik -- he had some embarrassing moments in this one, including a thunderously missed dunk and a thrown-away pass while leading a 3-on-1 break, but he redeemed himself with some big shots in the fourth quarter, and ended up with a nice 14 points on 5-9 shooting. It's his seventh game in a row scoring double digits -- all since moving back to the bench, which is particularly remarkable when you consider that in his 21 games before that as a starter, he only scored in double-digits five times. His starting/reserve splits for the season remain absolutely absurd, but if his NBA destiny is just to be an awesome seventh man for us, we'll certainly take it. 

And as much crap as Jahlil Okafor has gotten from Sixers fans the last few weeks -- few more than me -- as the unlucky child left behind in the Sixers' divorce with Nerlens Noel, I gotta say: He was awesome in this one. 28 points and ten rebounds, and even though the Knicks paraded to the rim early (Okafor-Saric frontcourt, yikes), Jahlil got stronger as the game went on both sides of the ball, in a way I don't ever remember seeing from him before. He saved a good deal of his damage for the fourth quarter, with 11 points, including two absolutely gigantic buckets late, including the hook on the Sixers' scattered final possession that could've been the game-winner. The Nerlens trade will never be justifiable, but if Jah can keep playing like this, it'll certainly take some of the sting out.

So much more to rave about in this one: T.J. McConnell was as clutch late as Jah, even hitting a rare three-pointer (just his second of 2017) to nearly become a repeat Knicks-killer. Covington couldn't handle Carmelo (37 points on 15-25 shooting) at really any point in this one -- thus putting him in good company with every other Sixers wing defender of the past decade -- and his own shot wasn't falling, but he still powered his way to 20 and 10, and had three steals, making it six straight games with at least that many, the longest such streak in the NBA this season. Sergio Rodriguez had about the worst game a point guard could have (2 points on 1-8 shooting, with just one assist and terrible defense), but he's just about the only Sixer you didn't want to hug after this one. 

And oh yeah, welcome aboard Justin Anderson. Our latest acquisition didn't get to do a ton for us in this one, playing just three minutes and attempting one shot (a badly missed corner three), but he had some eye-catching moments on defense, and gave us all some nice Jason Richardson flashbacks wearing the #23. Looking forward to getting to know you, J-And.

Brandon Manning to face hearing for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

Brandon Manning to face hearing for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

As if Saturday night's deflating loss to the Penguins at Heinz Field wasn't enough, the Flyers could be coming out of the defeat minus a defenseman in the lineup.

Brandon Manning will have a hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety on Monday morning for his hit on Pittsburgh forward Jake Guentzel during the second period of the Stadium Series game.

That means a suspension is looming.

Just over three minutes into the second stanza on Saturday, Guentzel tried to corral a bouncing puck as he exited the Penguins' zone. He did not see Manning, who flattened him with a huge hit.

While the hit did seem a bit late in real speed to the naked eye, no interference penalty was called and play continued. Manning did look to leave his feet to the deliver the hit and make contact with Guentzel's head, though, so both could work against him during the hearing.

Video of the hit in question can be seen above.

Guentzel was not injured on the play, stayed in the game and finished the evening with two assists.

Manning has a clean history as he has never been suspended in the NHL.

If Manning does get suspended by the league, Michael Del Zotto is likely to draw back into the Flyers' lineup Tuesday against visiting Colorado.

Del Zotto, who is a prime candidate to be moved before Wednesday's trade deadline, has sat out the past three games as a healthy scratch.