Kate Fagan Has an Idea or Two as to Why the Sixers Are Struggling Down the Stretch Updated with Collins' Reported Response

Kate Fagan Has an Idea or Two as to Why the Sixers Are Struggling Down the Stretch Updated with Collins' Reported Response

We can't say we weren't warned about this. But Doug was back, and he was excited, and he was sweating profusely and the Sixers were winning -- so it didn't make much sense to worry that exactly what turned the team around could one day put it back in the tank.
Doug Collins has a history of turning around young, disoriented rosters and making them play better almost right away. But he quickly wears out his welcome by over-coaching, over-pushing and being over-demanding as the players begin to mature and no longer need his constant guidance nor, for that matter, approval.
You've heard some variation of that before, right? Well, Kate Fagan has put it in more specific terms and is offering it, amongst others reasons, as an explanation for why the bottom appears to be falling out from beneath this Sixers team.
With Kate having moved on from the local media holdings to the WWL, she still offers thoughts about the Sixers on her personal blog, where she wrote this explanation of what's happening between Doug and his players:

"The Sixers have been struggling with [Collins' style as described above] for at least a month, if not longer. This has led to heated interactions, sometimes even in the middle of games. On more than one occasion, players have let Collins know — during a game — that they’re sick of the relentless nitpicking. This incessant nagging (or even the perception of it) leads to fractured relationships. The Sixers have reached the point where, at least some of them, have addressed this issue with Collins. Has it reached the point of tuning him out? At times.

Fagan goes on to note how Doug has attempted to cede more autonomy to the players at certain moments, but can quickly return to harping on "every play, every cut, and every missed screen" even just a day later.
A concern also exists in her mind over the face of the franchise, and how there's, you know, like six of them. Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand. Three of these guys are fresh, young, marketable faces. The other three are veterans who have in many cases expended their good will (especially that the-fans-condone-murder-Lou-Williams-can't-guard-anybody guy).
Once more from Fagan:

"When the new ownership took over, they made it clear that Jrue Holiday (and to some extent Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young) was the new face of the franchise. Where did that leave Iguodala and Brand? It left them knowing the franchise was heading in the other direction, but still they remained the two highest-paid players on the team."

I've been of the opinion that trading Iguodala and or amnestying Brand or anything of the sort isn't an immediate necessity unless the franchise is willing to either sit on that cap space, or is making those moves because they have a specific player or players in mind to bring in and need to clear the room to make it happen. Otherwise, it's just fan appeasement that could only lead to further appeasement when the team blows the newly created space on a Chris Webber-Glenn Robinson-or-(sorry, big guy)-Elton Brand type.
But Fagan thinks it's enough of an issue that it's pulling the locker room in two very separate and equally unsuccessful directions.
Moving back to Doug for a minute, outside of Stan Hochman's random, ominous, almost-omissions, we still haven't gotten much of an answer for what's going on between the coach and Turner. Though, if you look at the way Evan succeeds on the basketball floor, and if you've been around him a bit, heard him speak or even just followed him on Twitter, it's easy to see him as the type who would appreciate the freedom to just be himself in whatever it is he's doing at that moment.
Don't get me wrong: I really like Doug Collins and I think he is one hell of a basketball coach. But the more I watch him, and the more I read takes like Fagan's, the more it's hard not to think Doug isn't better suited for a role at the college level -- where the guys are, for the most part, just more willing to be picked apart, regardless of how overbearing a coach may or may not be.
So Kate's calling it a clash between the players and the coach and the players and the other players. Funny, we were just ready to blame the roster and its inability to get to the foul line.
Update:Howard Eskin was, for some reason, at Sixers practice today, and heard coach Collins talk about the former beat writer's take on his team. Though we weren't there to vouch, Doug seems none too pleased: #embedly_twitter_78537553{background:url(http://a0.twimg.com/profile_background_images/390592333/howard2.JPG) #336666; padding:20px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 0px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .embedly_tweet_content{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:0px;height:40px; padding-bottom: 12px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p span.metadata span.author{line-height:15px;color:#999;font-size:14px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p span.metadata span.author a{line-height:15px;font-size:20px;vertical-align:middle} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p span.metadata span.author img{float:left;margin:0 10px 0 0px;width:48px;height:48px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p a {color: #0084B4; text-decoration:none;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p a:hover{text-decoration:underline} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .embedly_timestamp{font-size:13px;display:inline-block;margin-top: 5px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .components-above span.embedly_timestamp{font-size:10px;margin-top: 1px;line-height:12px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 a {color: #0084B4; text-decoration:none;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 a:hover{text-decoration:underline} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-screen-name {font-size: 14px; font-weight: bold;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-full-name {padding-left: 4px; color: #999; font-size: 12px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-actions{margin-left: 10px;font-size:13px;display:inline-block;width:250px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .components-above span.tweet-actions{font-size:10px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .controls{line-height:12px!important} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-actions a {margin-left:5px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-actions a b{font-weight:normal} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .components-above span.tweet-actions a b{vertical-align:baseline;line-height:12px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .components-above .tweet-text{font-size:13px;vertical-align:baseline} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-image {float: left; width: 40px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-user-block-image {float: left; width: 48px; height: 48px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-row {margin-left: 40px; margin-top: 3px;line-height: 17px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-user-block {margin-left: -40px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .stream-item {padding-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 12p
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@howardeskin
Howard Eskin Sixers Coach Doug Collins criticises former Sixers beat writer @katefagen3 for writing on personal blog sez losing team. Collins sez show up
Apr 06 via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

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@howardeskin
Howard Eskin Collins sez @katefagan3 sez she got nothing to support her comments. She doesn't even cover nba.
Apr 06 via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

It's now officially a he-said-she-said, even if not in that order.

As Aaron Altherr's audition begins, Pete Mackanin says Cody Asche 'needs to step it up'

As Aaron Altherr's audition begins, Pete Mackanin says Cody Asche 'needs to step it up'

ATLANTA — Nearly four months late, Aaron Altherr is finally getting his shot to show the Phillies he deserves to be part of their future outfield plans.

Altherr, 25, was activated from the disabled list before Thursday night’s game against the Braves and was in the lineup, batting fifth (see story). Altherr will see a lot of playing time over the final two-plus months of the season. He’s essentially auditioning.

“We want to see him play as much as possible,” manager Pete Mackanin said before the game. “So if he stays healthy, I’m going to keep running him out there. That’s what this year is all about. We’re finding out about the guys that are here. He is a potentially important part so we want to see what he does. I’m anxious to see what he does.”

Altherr, a ninth-round draft pick in 2009, played in 39 games for the Phillies last season. He hit just .241, but 20 of his 33 hits were for extra bases and he had a .827 OPS. He was slated to be the team’s everyday rightfielder before suffering a wrist injury that required surgery early in spring training.

Altherr is healthy now and eager for his chance.

“I’m good to go mentally and physically,” he said Thursday afternoon. “I’m definitely excited to be back up.”

Altherr took Peter Bourjos' spot on the roster. Bourjos was placed on the disabled list with a sprained right shoulder two days after running into the outfield wall in Miami.

With Mackanin committed to giving Altherr playing time, it will be interesting to see how the skipper divides up playing time with the remaining outfielders, especially when Bourjos recovers. Bourjos was a trade candidate before his injury. He could still be moved in a waiver deal once he’s healthy in August. Tyler Goeddel, Cody Asche and Jimmy Paredes also play corner outfield spots and much heralded prospect Nick Williams is expected to be here at some point (see Future Phillies Report).

Asche is walking a tightrope. He entered Thursday night’s game mired in a 4-for-51 skid and Mackanin seems to be losing patience.

“As I said earlier in the season, this is a very big year for Cody to prove that he can be part of the future and he needs to step it up,” Mackanin said.

Jason Peters impressed by Doug Pederson, questions Chip Kelly

Jason Peters impressed by Doug Pederson, questions Chip Kelly

Heading into his 13th season, Jason Peters has experienced a lot during his exceptional NFL career. So when the eight-time Pro Bowler says head coach Doug Pederson is more respectful of veteran players than the previous regime under Chip Kelly, you take notice.

"I think so," Peters stated frankly on Thursday at training camp. "The last couple years, there wasn't a lot of vets, and any vet that stood up and had something to say, we got rid of him.

"Doug was a player here, he understands veteran players and he understands the game, so I think it's better."

Addressing the media for the first time since last season, Peters faced a series of questions about how Pederson differs from his unique predecessor. Schemes and philosophies were topics of discussion, as well, but perhaps the sharpest criticism levied by Peters was Kelly's lack of appreciation for what an NFL player goes through to be ready on Sunday.

"Any time you've got a coach who's been there, done that, he knows about the trenches and he knows about the two-a-days, it definitely helps with a veteran team as a whole," Peters said.

Peters admitted Kelly's practices took their toll on players. If that sounds like a familiar complaint, it's probably because former Eagles cornerback Cary Williams voiced a similar opinion in 2014. On Thursday, Peters echoed and expanded upon Williams' sentiments.

"The same practices that we did in training camp were the same spring practices, exactly the same, so it's pretty much we had training camp the whole offseason," Peters said. "Even OTAs were the same exact practice. It kind of wore us down."

Peters also maintained the unusual practice schedule during the regular season was no help, either.

Most teams practice Monday and take Tuesday off. Kelly did the opposite, so there was no real break leading up to gameday.

"We practiced on Tuesdays when Chip was here, and you felt it on Sundays," Peters said. "I did anyway."

Pederson has mentioned on several occasions the Eagles intend to do everything they can to keep Peters fresh and prepared for Sundays this season, which the 34-year-old says is "just being smart." One way that could manifest itself is an occasional day off during the week.

Although Peters' criticisms of Kelly weren't limited to the workload on veterans, the left tackle indicated the constant uptempo attack may not have done the offense many favors, either.

"If you run 100 times in a row, back to back to back, don't you think your 50th time you're going to be a little slower?" Peters asked. "But if you get a little bit of a rest, you're going to be a little bit faster.

"It's give and take. When you go back to the huddle and you get that wind, you're just a little stronger when you go back to the line, so I think it will help."

Peters added that the simplicity and predictability of Kelly's system became a problem, as well.

"I mean, this is the National Football League, and if the running back is to the left and you're running the zone read, where do you think the ball is going?" Peters asked rhetorically. "To the right.

"They caught up to us. We had some good years there back to back, then last year we had that down year. We just needed to change a little bit up, especially with [quarterback Sam Bradford] back there. They know he's not gonna run it, so it kind of put our hands behind our back."

While Peters believes the return to a more sophisticated, traditional NFL offense under Pederson — one that uses snap counts and chip block to help its offensive linemen — will be an enormous improvement for the Eagles.

Peters knows it's on the players to do a better job in 2016, too. At the same time, he feels as though the deck might've been just a little stacked against them.

"We can't really blame it on that, we're professionals," Peters said.

"[The coaches] call the play, and we execute it. But when the [opponents] know, and they're professionals too, and they know what the play is, it's tough."

Eagles camp Day 4 notes: Brandon Brooks out; starting O & D

Eagles camp Day 4 notes: Brandon Brooks out; starting O & D

As the Eagles kicked off their first full-squad practice in the bubble on Thursday afternoon, a big part of the offense was missing. 

Starting right guard Brandon Brooks was nowhere to be found. In his place, with the first-team offense, was veteran Stefen Wisniewski. 

Brooks, who signed a five-year, $40 million deal to join the Eagles this offseason, missed practice with a hamstring injury and is listed by the team as day-to-day. 

The only other player that missed practice is running back Ryan Mathews, who is on the Active/Non-football Injury list with an ankle injury he suffered while training last week. 

Offensive starters
Thursday’s light afternoon practice was what Andy Reid used to call a “10-10-10” practice. The term is back under Doug Pederson. Basically, it’s a light practice that goes continually through offense, defense and special teams. But it’s not very conducive for observations because of the format, which is meant to allow the offense or defense to look good. 

But we did get a chance to see the starting units. 

Here’s what the first-team offense (they came out in 11 personnel) looked like to start practice: 

QB: Sam Bradford
RB: Darren Sproles (Mathews was out)
TE: Zach Ertz
WR1: Nelson Agholor
WR2: Chris Givens
Slot: Jordan Matthews
LT: Jason Peters
LG: Allen Barbre
C: Jason Kelce
RG Stefen Wisniewski (Brooks was out)
RT: Lane Johnson

Notes: It’s worth noting that Matthews is still working in the slot way more than he is outside. And Givens, after a nice spring, got the nod to work outside with the first team.

Defensive starters
The defense first came onto the field in the nickel package, so we’ll start there: 

LDE: Vinny Curry
RDE: Connor Barwin
LDT: Fletcher Cox
RDT: Bennie Logan
LB: Jordan Hicks
LB: Mychal Kendricks
LCB: Leodis McKelvin
RCB: Nolan Carroll
Slot: Ron Brooks
S: Malcolm Jenkins
S: Rodney McLeod

Notes: We listed the defense in nickel, but when the Eagles were in base, Nigel Bradham was on the field as the strongside linebacker. The most important thing to note is that when the team was in base, Ron Brooks stayed on the field and moved outside. That’s what the team did most of the spring and it hasn’t changed yet. We’ll have to keep an eye on that. 

North Dakota’s hero
Earlier this week, there were several reporters and a TV crew from North Dakota to watch the progress of their hometown hero Carson Wentz. Wentz said it was cool to see some familiar media faces, especially because he knows how closely fans in his home state are still following his career. 

The rookie hasn’t been home much recently, so he wasn’t sure if the buzz has died down at all since the draft, but he suspects there are many more Eagles fans at home now. 

“I know now that football season is starting to kick up, it’s starting to heat up back home,” he said. “Everyone’s all interested in the Eagles, more than just the local teams around there. It’s pretty exciting. Exciting time for the state of North Dakota, for sure.” 

Odds and ends
• We’ll start with Wentz, who made a great toss on Thursday down the field about 40 yards to shifty wideout Paul Turner. Just a beautiful ball from the rookie. 

• Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Jalen Mills made another play. This time, he was able to get between the ball and Jordan Matthews near the right sideline. Perfect coverage. If he keeps this up once the pads go on Saturday, he’ll earn some playing time this season. 

• Jason Peters spoke for the first time this year after Thursday’s practice. We’ll have plenty on his thoughts and comments, but here’s what stuck out to me: he really didn’t like the way Chip Kelly did some things. He clearly didn’t like the tempo offense or Kelly’s management style. When asked, Peters agreed that Pederson’s staff is way more veteran player-friendly. 

“Any vet that stood up and had something to say, we got rid of him,” Peters said. Yikes. 

• Sproles, Agholor and Rueben Randle worked as the punt returners on Thursday. Obviously, Sproles is the guy, but this gives us an idea of the depth there. 

• Pads go on Saturday. 

• The first open practice (of two) is this Sunday at the Linc at 10 a.m. No tickets needed, just show up.